The Congregation of the Immaculate Conception (CIC)
The Congregation of the Immaculate Conception, Madurai had its inception at Panjampatti at the end of the 19th century. When Fr. Julius Larmey S.J., was its Parish Priest, a middle-aged man, Augustine Pereira, by name, was preparing himself for priesthood under his able guidance. He was also assisting the parish priest in the pastoral works. He was from an aristocratic family in Tuticorin.On account of the motivation given by these holy men, a group of the first four dedicated women entered into a hut with a single purpose and started their community life on 2nd Feb., 1899. Rev. Fr. Julius Larmey, S.J., Rev. Fr. Augustine Pereira and Rev. Fr. Eugene Nespoulous, S.J., are honoured as the founders of the Congregation.
Bro. Augustine was ordained a priest in Tuticorin in 1900 and then he became the Director of the small community of our sisters. With the permission of the then Bishop of Trichy, Fr. Nespoulous S.J., sought the help of the sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph of Lyons in Madurai to start a Novitiate for the candidates and to form them for religious life. Under this arrangement Fr. Augustine Pereira and Fr. Eugene Nespoulous S.J., led the first batch of 7 sisters to Madurai and left them to the care of Rev. Mother Patrice. This was on 2nd July, 1911 and it was this event which made the first important landmark in the history of the Congregation.
The first batch of five nuns took their first professionon 8th Sep., 1913. Like a mustard seed that fell on the good soil, the Congregation grew step by step into a big tree in length and breadth of the Indian sub-continent, and other continents. Some of the countries are Zambia, South Africa, Italy, Sri-Lanka and Germany.In order to secure more efficient administration, the Congregation was divided into 3 Regions namely, Madurai, Paramakudi and Palayamkottai on 25th March 1984.
On the occasion of its Platinum Jubilee on 7th and 8th May 1986, efforts were taken to make it a Congregation of the Pontifical right. Subsequently it was promoted to the ‘Pontifical Status’ by His Holiness Pope John Paul II on 19th Jan 1993.In the Interim Chapter held from 5th to 9th Feb 1997 after the 12th General Chapter, three Regions were promoted as three Provinces namely, Madurai, Sivagangai and Palayamkottai with the following Mottoes.
MADURAI – To Build up the Broken Humanity
SIVAGANGAI – To be in relationship with those deprived of their human rights especially the women
PALAYAMKOTTAI – To set free the oppressed
With deep confidence in the Lord, we renew ourselves totally in the spirit of the charism and in the spirituality of the Congregation and commit ourselves zealously to the upliftment of our target people. We had the 15th General Chapter followed by the 6th Provinces Chapter in May 2013. That was a moment of grace and spiritual renewal. Yearlong preparation and the responses from our sisters earmarked the need for a genuine and deep spiritual renewal. Based on those deliberations group discussions were held every day on different topics and finally the revelatory message of the Chapter emerged to be “meaningful and renewed journey of CIC in search of deep spirituality”. Hence the delegates brought out action plans in order to actualize the thrust of the 15th General Chapter and 6th Provinces Chapter.
The Centenary of “Amalorpaviyin Veedu” (1899 – 1999) was celebrated at Panjampatti and the Monument Iraisakthiyagam was erected on 02.02.1999.
The year 2011 is doubly blessed in the history of the CIC, since it witnessed two Centenaries;
On this memorable year, the Congregation also celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the origin of the Mission in North India, on the closing day of the centenary year 02.07.2011. The long cherished dream and fervent efforts came true on 26th April, 2015. The Holy See has granted “Nihil Obstat’’ – “No Objection Decree”for Rev. Fr. Augustine Pereira through Cardinal Angelus Amatho, the prefect of the curia of the congregation for the sainthood, Rome, dated 26th April, 2015. This is the first stage as the preparation towards his Beatification which will eventually lead to his canonization.