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Already in the beginning of the twentieth century the Eucharistic- centered re-awakening, initiated by St. Pius X, had its impact in the Syro-Malabar Church. The missionary awareness and enthusiasm of the period also had its influence on this Apostolic Church. The Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament was born in this historical context.
The idea of a new religious community originated in Fr. Mathew Alakalam. His companion, Fr. Joseph Paredom co-operated with him in nurturing it. They, with the blessing and permission of Mar James Kalachery, the late bishop of Changanacherry, had the congregation founded on 7th May 1933 at Mallappally. Before long the residence was shifted to Kaduvakulam, and the Little Flower Ashram there is considered to be the Mother House of the congregation.
The founding Fathers of the congregation have entrusted to its members, as their spiritual heritage, a religious life marked by love and single-minded devotion to the Eucharistic Lord and missionary vitality. Its charism is to live and proclaim the Eucharistic Mystery that is celebrated, to gather the children of God around the altar, to ‘praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in her sacrifice and to eat the Lord’s supper’ (SC 10) and to uphold the real presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The members try to obtain this through their dedicated life and various apostolates.
The congregation has, at present, 392 professed members. There are 33 novices and 170 minor seminarians. It has 87 Houses and Institutions in various dioceses in and outside India.
Fr Mathew Alakulam MCBS
Fr Mathew Alakalam, the architect of the Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (MCBS), was born on 30 th March 1888 at Poovathode near Bharananganam. After his primary and high school education he joined the Puthenpally Seminary as a scholastic of Changanassery Archdiocese. On 21 December 1913 he was ordained a priest by Mar Thomas Kurialassery.
Fr Mathew, a zealous young shepherd, served as assistant parish priest at Kurusumkal, Koonammavu, Mundankal, Cheruvandoor, Elamthottam, and Pravithanam and as parish priest at Poovathode, Edamaraku, and Elamthottam. Since 1919 he was professor of Syriac at Puthenpally Seminary. When Mar James Kalassery became Bishop of Changanassery he found none other than Fr Mathew as his first secretary. He was superior of the Franciscan Third Order, and the mastermind behind the Orphanage Press and Priests’ Provident Fund in the diocese of Changanassery.
Foundation Of MCBS
On 7 th May 1933 Fr Mathew Alakalam together with Fr Joseph Paredom founded the Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (MCBS) at Mallappally Mission church. Today MCBS, a religious congregation of the pontifical right, is known as the Benedictines of the Syro-Malabar Church due to her unique liturgical, Eucharistic, and missionary charism and contributions.
Loud Speaker Of The Holy Spirit
Even when Fr Mathew was a young priest he was renowned for his inspiring speeches. His writings and sermons on Holy Spirit were so famous that he came to be known as the ‘Loud Speaker of the Holy Spirit’. Attuned to the voice of the Spirit and walking long distances barefooted, he preached hundreds of retreats in every nook and corner of Kerala.
Like St Ephrem Fr Mathew was a powerful instrument in the hands of the Holy Spirit. He was sub-editor of the magazine Eucharist and Priest published from Puthenpally Seminary and was the founding editor of Vedaprachara Madhyasthan, the official tongue of Changanassery Archdiocese. He wrote many articles and authored 24 theological books.
Missionary And Mystic Of The Eucharist
Fr Mathew, a great mystic and missionary of the Eucharist, often exclaimed in joy and wonder, “praised be to the Most Holy Mystery of the Eucharist full of goodness and glory. Let there be worship and glory to the Most Blessed Sacrament as innumerable times as there are stars in heaven and clouds in sky”. He was called for eternal reward on 21st December 1977 and his mortal remains were buried in the church at the MCBS mother house,Kaduvakkulam.
Fr Joseph Paredom MCBS
Father Joseph Paredom, one of the most brilliant and saintly sons of the Syro-Malabar Church , was born on 15 December 1887 at Mutholapuram in Palai diocese. After high school studies at Puthuvely and Mannanam, on 9 January 1908 he joined the Puthenpally Seminary as a scholastic of the Changanassery Archdiocese. There he found his closest friend and the greatest personality, the Most Holy Eucharist. On 28 th December 1914 he was ordained a priest by Mar Thomas Kurialassery.
Father Joseph, a good shepherd who won hearts of his sheep by his love and gentleness, praiseworthily served at various parishes such as Mutholapuram, Bharananganam, Muttuchira, Thathampally, Kainady, Vadakara, Chemmalamattam, and Marangattupally.
The deep desire of Father Paredom to become a religious was consented on 19 April 1933 by Mar James Kalacherry, the Archbishop of Changanacherry. Led by the Holy Spirit, on 7 May 1933 Fr Mathew Alakalam and Father Joseph Paredom founded the Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (MCBS).
Trusting fully in the Eucharistic Jesus and heeding always to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, Father Joseph, the first Superior General of the Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, courageously led the congregation during its initial 22 years.
Prophet Of The Most Holy Eucharist
As John the apostle at the bosom of Jesus in the Upper Chamber (Jn 13,25), during his old-age Father Joseph spent most of his time before the Blessed Sacrament, thanking, adoring, praising, and glorifying Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist. Like a branch united to the vine (Jn 15,5) he experienced God’s love and intimacy in a special way in the Holy Eucharist, which is evident from his words, “How lovely to dwell in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament! What there can be more joyful than this! That is what God has given us”. Light Lit On The Mountain Father Joseph Paredom, the role model for the Eucharistic Millennium and the Eucharistic Year, received his eternal crown on 21 August 1972. His mortal remains were kept at the MCBS Mother House, Kaduvakulam, Kottayam. Today, like a light lit on the mountain, Father Joseph illumines everyone in the Third Millennium by teaching us, “the goal of apostolic endeavour is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of his Church, to take part in the Sacrifice and to eat the Lord’s Supper” (SC 10).