Monsignor Joseph Kuzhinjalil
The pioneer of Syro Malankara Catholic Church His Grace, the Servant of God, late Archbishop Mar-Ivanios after the historic event of the communion with the Universal Catholic Church in 1930, made an extensive appeal and sought help from the Syro- Malabar and Latin catholic churches by means of clergy and religious personnel for the spiritual benefit of the people. Mar Ivanios visited St.Joseph’s seminary, Aluva and requested the assistance of the future priests. So, after his ordination the young, dedicated zealous missionary priest, Fr. Joseph Kuzhinjalil, of the Archdiocese of changanassery born in the village of Pravithanam, Palai in a traditional Syrian Christian family and ordained on 17 December 1933, came to the Archdiocese of Trivandrum with the determination to carry on the mandate of the Divine Master to preach the word of God to the poor and marginalized. The young Fr. Joseph left his hometown, family, friends, native culture and material belongings with the intention of serving the people of God of the newly erected rite of the Universal Church, Syro Malankara Catholic Church
When he came to Trivandrum in 1934, Mar Ivanios sent him to Marthandom, the southern section of the Archdiocese were no establishments, structure or erudite members had in the society. The majority of the people in the region were Hindus, socially backward, unemployed, destitute, illiterate, ignorant, slaves, of local landlords and indulged in superstitions. They frittered their limited remuneration of hard labour on black magic and devil worship believing to get protection from famine, drought, poverty and sickness.
Fr. Joseph resided in a small rented mud hut in the midst of the poor inhabitants. On a rented bicycle he moved around in several villages and visited people and families, giving counselling, praying for the sick and suffering. They started to share their difficulties with him and in return Fr. Joseph shared his faith experience.
Within a short span of time several hundreds of people received baptism and, spiritual centres were established in various remote villages. Administering the sacraments and faith education to the increasing number of people became impossible for him alone. He was restrained to provide effective pastoral care to female members due to the barriers of cultural and religious uninfringeable traditions. He was inspired to start a women religious congregation to assist him in the work of Lord. Thus a missionary congregation, named DAUGHTERS OF MARY was founded on 8 May 1938 at Marthandam, Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu, South India.
In his old age Msgr. Joseph Kuzhijalil was a silent missionary. He entered for himself the fame as the greatest missionary of the Malankara Catholic Church, a fame that no one else shares with him. On 27th January 1978 the Church, as a token of its acceptance and acknowledgement of the valuable services of Fr. Joseph, raised Him into the status of Monsignor. Joseph Kuzhijalil. At the age of 80 after offering 3 Holy Masses in different stations, finishing his daily routine and prayers he went to bed on August 22nd and he fell asleep in the Lord in the morning on August 23, 1983, due to heart failure