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His God Experience

The little Joseph once as a middle school student was seriously ill with typhoid and high fever, his elder brother, cousins and many others were also affected by the same. There was no proper medication at that time and our little Joseph was at the point of death. It is miraculously he got some medicine which was brought for his uncle who died in Trichy due to the same illness. The medicine was brought from a foreign country as it was not available in India. His relatives got the coffin ready, in order to bury him. He and his youngest uncle escaped from death while seven of his family members died. This amazing intervention of the loving and healing touch of the Lord to Joseph was only for the reason that, he was being chosen from all eternity to join in His redemptive work of Mercy and Kindness, therefore extended his life span for a greater cause.

While he was in seminary, in Kankanady, a little away from Muller’s General hospital in Mangalore, Dr. Muller was managing a hospital for treating leprosy patients. Bro. Joseph frequently visited this hospital from where he understood the extent of misery of the leprosy patients. He also observed how the doctors there lovingly and patiently treated these repulsive patients and dressed their wounds. Moved by the divine intervention of the Lord in the life of Bro. Joseph, he dedicated his future apostolate to alleviate the suffering of the lepers. We read the following note in his diary. “During the ecclesiastical studies in Mangalore Seminary, due to some sickness I was admitted twice in Fr Muller’s hospital. The chief physician Dr. L.P Fernadez used to visit me. He gave me some advice about leading a truly priestly life. Behind the Hospital of Fr Muller I used to visit the leprosy Asylum from where I got the idea of helping the leprosy patients.” The very instructions received from the doctor and the enriching experiences of the life in the seminary and his humble service in the Fr Muller’s hospital motivated him to live his priesthood very radically centered on the love of Jesus the Crucified.

After the mass in his mother’s parish, instead of visiting the houses of his kith and kin and enjoying receptions and festivities as newly ordained priests usually do, Fr Joseph stayed in a Bungalow at Chengal near Kalady, which was the house of the Archbishop. Fr Joseph imagined his would be mission and spent the entire time in intense prayer and study. He wanted to do something great for the Lord especially through service to the suffering humanity, the abandoned and neglected sections of the society. He remained here in intense prayer and reflection until he got his first appointment. It was an experience of meeting the Lord very personally.

Fr. Joseph was in dilemma with regard to the opening of the new congregation and that he began to pray and think deeply about it. Fr. Joseph writes regarding an experience that supported and strengthened his desire. He writes; “I was preaching a retreat to the Carmelite Sisters Muttom Convent. I was also making a retreat myself. One day, after an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, I went to sleep. During the sleep I had a vision. I saw Crucified Christ embracing St Francis of Assisi. Up to that time I had not cherished any special devotion to St Francis of Assisi. But this vision changed my mind. I began to study more deeply the life and work of St. Francis of Assisi.” The spirit made him realize that the new religious congregation which the Lord wanted him to found should be a Franciscan Congregation drawing inspiration from the spirit and charism of St. Francis of Assisi. He continued his prayers. He specially sought the intercession of Mary Immaculate and Little Flower for the foundation of the congregation. This was an occasion of his deep intimacy with his beloved Lord.

Fr. Kandathil had a filial love and devotion to Mary Immaculate and his last mass also was on the feast day of Mother Mary. And on our surprise it was during the mass on December 8th the feast of Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary his vision blurred, and there after he did not say Mass. He received Holy Communion in his room; he seemed to have an intuition of his approaching death.


God has called and revealed Himself to his chosen one Msgr Joseph Kandathil at a particular time in a particular place, empowering him to fulfill a particular mission within the Church. He had a particular spiritual vision which he desired to communicate with others. Therefore the vision of this holy man was always centered on the Crucified Christ. His call as a founder is not only to practice virtues like poverty, obedience, work of mercy or the apostolic activities like curing the sick, serving the lepers and so on. But following the person of Christ is fundamental. The spirit of Christ conformed Father founder’s life to the life of Christ by a continuous action through penetrating the spirit of caring for the sick, the suffering and especially the leprosy patients, bringing the compassion, mercy and healing power of Jesus to the needy brethren. He intensely desired that the sisters continue this loving service in all the communities of the congregation. Therefore he started from the very beginning leprosy hospital, leprosy asylums, general hospitals, foundling homes, orphanages, schools for the poor children and homes for the handicapped and the aged. He always instructed and encouraged the sisters to imbibe the spirit of St Francis and mould their lives according to Franciscan traditions. He was indeed a great visionary with goal oriented mission.


When Msgr Joseph Kandathil founded the congregation of the Assisi Sisters of Mary Immaculate, the Church in Kerala was not very familiar with his particular charism to follow the humble, poor and crucified Jesus and to radiate His compassionate love in joyful service to the sick, the needy, the poor, and rejected of the society as means of evangelization. So he was prompt to adopt it as the traditional means of preaching the Gospel to respond to the needs of the Church and time. Msgr Joseph realized that the pulpit alone is not sufficient to preach, but to be the merciful heart and hand of the Lord to the needy brethren in loving service. For Fr. Joseph, Jesus Christ is the compassion of God. It is the compassionate love of Jesus that enabled him to found the congregation mainly for the afflicted brethren to transmit the compassion and healing power of Jesus to them. As long as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren you did it to me (Mt 25:40). These are the words of the Lord Jesus that resounded in the heart of the founder of ASMI, giving content to their specific charism. Inspired by these words he faced the sufferings of the people and realized that his call is to be compassionate as our Father in heaven is compassionate. Today dedicated and alert to this specific charism and to its impulses, Msgr. Joseph’s life was a living witness to the compassionate love of Christ. He grew in this compassion as the days passed by. He never sent away anybody who came to him in distress. He was not afraid to break down the barriers which separated the poor leprosy stricken brethren form the society. The power of compassion sustained him to stand with the others so that the empowerment form within could happen. Sharing the charism of Msgr. Joseph, compassion is the way of life and source of strength for every Assisi sister.

So To diffuse the message of the Gospel through the means of the hospitals and other foundlings were the objective of Msgr Joseph at the beginning of his foundation. The progress of time saw the transition from Apostolate of the hospitals and other foundlings, and then to the apostolate using all the other weaker sections of the society such as caring for the handicapped children such as Hearing Impaired, Blind and Mentally Challenged and . This progress underlines the conviction of the Founder to care of the people to today with the means of today. He was convinced of the words of St Francis, “Preach the Gospel at all the time if necessary use words”

Fr. Joseph was deeply aware that the totality of religious consecration requires, that the witness to the Gospel be given publicly by the whole of life Values, attitudes and lifestyle attest forcefully to the place of Christ in one’s life. In order to share the compassionate love of Christ he gave primary importance to help the sisters to have a deep experience of the lord’s compassionate love in their own life and to help them to discover their true identity in the compassionate love in of God  because compassion must be received and experienced before it can be given. It is the love of God which makes us united to each other and leads us to acts of charity.


His Spirituality

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