St. Leonard Murialdo, born on October 26, 1828, in Turin, Italy, instituted the Congregation of St. Joseph, on the feast of their heavenly patron, St. Joseph, on March 19, 1873 in Turin. The members of the Congregation, anointed or lay, leading a community life endeavour for the perfection of their love, professing the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. The Congregation dedicate its efforts towards the welfare of the youth who are poor, abandoned and in greater need of help and the extension of Christian education.
St. Leonard Murialdo was called to his heavenly reward on March 30, 1900. Within a short time the ideal of the Congregation he established was recognised and its Constitution was approved by the Church in 1904. It is an Apostolic Congregation of Pontifical Right now and is commonly known by the names Josephites of Murialdo, Giuseppini del Murialdo, Fathers of St. Joseph and the Congregation of St. Joseph. The founder, Leonard Murialdo, was canonised in 1970.
While in Rome in 1996, His Excellency, Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Kureethara was invited by the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Rosary who have their Rosary Convent at Palluruthy to their convent at via Ricaldosco, Rome, to dinner on December 13. Rev. Fr. Tullio Lacatelli and another priest of the Congregation of St. Joseph called on the Bishop there and expressed their ardent desire to open a House in India in the Diocese of Cochin.
His Excellency took the visit and suit as part of usual experiences but an official request from Rev. Fr. Luigi Pierini, the General, reached the Diocese on March 13, the following year, seeking permission to institute a seminary. The Bishop approved their request and subsequently on July 10, 1997, V. Rev. Fr. Luigi Pierini, the Superior General and Rev. Fr. Vittorio Garuti arrived at the Bishop's House. They were taken on visits to different religious monasteries and convents in Cochin Diocese and the Bishop himself took them to Thiruvalla for an Episcopal ordination in Malankara Rite.
During their short stay, the Bishop's Secretary, Fr. Joppy Koottumkal showed them a property at Aroor south with a chapel of St. Antony within the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Cochin which His Excellency was prepared to donate to the Fathers of St. Joseph. They also saw another property near St. Philip Neri Convent in the Parish of St. Thomas the Apostle but preferred the place at Aroor. So, soon after the Fathers reached Rome they sent a fax message informing the Bishop of their decision to accept the property at Aroor.
Fr. Tarcisio Riondato and Fr. Agostino Manfredini arrived on 18th February, 1998 and Fr. Joppy helped them with the purchase of a property adjacent to St. Antony's Chapel. Fr. Agostino returned to Italy but Fr. Tarcisio stayed back at the Bishop's House, to learn the vernacular, Malayalam. In the meantime the day was fixed for the inauguration of the monastery of the Josephites of Murialdo, on 29th of the very next month.
The parochial house at Chandiroor was then vacant after the Fathers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus had shifted to their newly constructed monastery at Pazhangad. As the great day dawned, Fr. Tarcisio Riondato, accompanied by many priests, Fr. Joppy Koottumkal, the Procurator, Fr. Josy Kandanattuthara, the Chancellor, Fr. Augustine Nellikavely, Fr. Luke Puthenparambil, Rector and Vice Rector of the Diocesan Minor Seminary respectively and some other priests reached the parochial house. Rev. Fr. Francis Xavier Kalathiveetil was also present together with the Parish Priest of Eramalloor under whom the Chapel at Chandiroor comes. The parishioners, together with all the Reverent Fathers, welcomed Fr. Tarcisio.
A Deacon, Antony Anchukandathil was to stay with Fr. Tarcisio to help him with Malayalam but when the Deacon had to leave to join the seminary in June, Deacon Sebastian Kakrancherry moved in. On the same evening, 28th March 1998, Fr. Tarcisio was invited to attend a Family Unit meeting in the parish. The bishop was also present when he visited the family where the meeting was being held that evening. His Excellency blessed all the people who had gathered there.
Soon Fr. Tarcisio started getting vocations and all those candidates were accommodated at the Diocesan Minor Seminary. Rev. Fr. Angelo Zonta from Los Angles, California also arrived to assist Fr. Tarcisio. The Congregation is here "to offer to the Church in India the opportunity to know and to share in the charisma of St. Leonard Murialdo, a gift given to the whole Church and as God wills, to raise vocations who will continue the way of life of St. Leonard Murialdo, living on God's love and sharing it with the needy boys". Hence they engage in pastoral work, vocation promotion, Christian education and faith formation of the young.
Written by His Excellency, (Late) Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Kureethara