Servant of God Thomas Poothathil
Founder of St. Josephs Congregation
Rev. Fr. Thomas Poothathil was born on October 24, 1871 in Neendoor, Kottayam District, Kerala. After his early education at home and in Trichinappally with the Jesuit Fathers, he had his minor Seminary training at Varapuzha and Brahmamangalam. He entered the Major Seminary of Varapuzha Puthenpally, on October 9, 1889. He was held in high esteem both by the authorities of the seminary as well as his companions for his holiness of life, great learning, musical talents and gentleness of behavior. He was ordained priest on December 28, 1897 by Mar Mathew Makil, the Bishop of Changanassery. The following year he was appointed to teach Latin and music in the Puthenpally Seminary which he continued almost three years. He had a long pastoral carrier as the vicar of the parishes of Kumarakom, Kidangoor, Kurumulloor (two times), Neendoor and Chamakala. He also served as a Chaplain of the Visitation convent, Kaipuzha and Manager of St. Margarets School.
Fr. Thomas Poothathil was a man of God, assiduous prayer and intimate union with Jesus. He drew his spiritual strength and nourishment from the Blessed Sacrament and meditation on the Word of God. Right from his infancy he had an inborn sense of empathy towards the suffering and abandoned. As a priest of exceptional love and sympathy for the poor and the afflicted, his greatest desire was to start an Asylum for the physically disabled women who had no means of livelihood. He collected funds both locally and from abroad for that purpose, and despite so many oppositions and seemingly insurmountable difficulties, he managed to obtain the permission of Bishop Choolapparambil to start the Asylum which was blessed by the Bishop on May 3, 1925, the feast of St. Joseph.
With the opening of St.Thomas Asylum he felt the need of a small number of committed women to take care of the disabled therein. In view of that he asked permission to start a religious congregation for women in the name of St. Joseph, which was started on July 3, 1928 with the permission of Bp. Mar Alexander Choolapparambil.
In addition to the Asylum, Fr. Thomas Poothathil founded the St. Thomas U.P. School adjacent to St. Stephens Church, Kurumulloor in June 1927, with a view to imparting education to the poor and illiterate children of the locality as well as raising some financial help for the maintenance of the disabled of the Asylum.
The Congregation continues to fulfill the legacy of Fr. Thomas Poothathil, its founder, by engaging itself, both in India and abroad, in the various apostolates of mercy such as care of the physically and mentally disabled, Old Age Homes, Centres for the terminally ill, Care and Support for HIV/AIDS Patients, Hospitals, Schools, Hostels, Parish Ministry, Centres of Social development of the poor, women etc.
Fr. Thomas Poothathil had a holy and saintly death on December 4, 1943. He was buried in the Little Church, Kaipuzha and his mortal remains were transferred to the St. Josephs Convent Chapel, Kaipuzha on December 4, 1983 with the permission of Bp. Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry.
The cause of the beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Rev. Fr. Thomas Poothathil was initiated by Mar Mathew Moolakkatt OSB on the Archdiocesan level on January 26, 2009. Besides the sisters of the St. Josephs Congregation, a large number of people of all faiths and confessions regularly come to pay with faith at his tomb and receive manifold graces and favours. Every day the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, together with prayers for the beatification of Poothathil Thommiachan, is being conducted in this chapel. Let us earnestly pray the intercession of our heavenly patron St. Joseph so that our Founding Father be raised to the veneration of the altar soon.
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