Fr. Joseph Vithayathil was a Diocesan Priest, Spiritual director of Bl. Mariam Thresia and the co-founder of the Congregation of Holy Family (CHF). His deep faith, trust in God, integrity and honesty made him a holy priest.
His wisdom, Spiritual vision and prudence enabled him to discern the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of Bl. Mariam Thresia. His Pastoral commitment and zeal for Christianization of families made him a father (Pithavu) to all with out caste and creed.
Family of Fr. Joseph Vithayathil
Joseph was born on 23rd July, 1865, as the second son of Lona and Thanda Vithayathil, a prominent family in the parish of Manabady, Puthenpally. He had two brothers Varkey and Paily and Two sisters Annam and Mariam.
Vocation of Fr. Joseph Vithayathil
The parish Priest of Manambady Fr. Zacherias could read the aspirations of young Joseph. With the consent of his parents Joseph stayed for one year with the parish priest and learned to serve at holy mass and discern his vocation to priesthood.
Seminary Life and Ordination of Fr. Joseph Vithayathil
On 30th may, 1881, at age of 15, he joined the seminary annexed to the Carmelite Monastery of Elthuruth and Began his Priestly training. In 1887 he along with his companions was transferred to St.
Thomas seminary in Thrissur and then to Puthenpally Major Seminary. On 11th March, 1894, Joseph was Ordained a priest by Bishop Adolf Medleycott - the Administartor of Thrissur Diocese in the parish church of Ollur together with 11 others.
Pastoral Service of Fr. Joseph Vithayathil
Fr. Joseph Vithayathil was first appointed as assistant parish priest of Ollur on 23April, 1894. Soon he was promoted as Vicar of Mukkatukkara. Other Parishes where he served were Kandassankadavu, Chalakudy, Edathuruthy, Pariyaram, Kottekad, Mala and Puthenchira.
The people of Puthenchira were very much impressed with his prayer life, simplicity, austerity and commitment to pastoral work. The present Puthenchira parish church stands as a magnificent monument of his pastoral dedication and farsightedness. He has served this parish for Twenty years.
Spiritual Director of Bl. Mariam Thresia
From 1902 to 1926 Fr. Joseph Vithayathil was the spiritual Director of Bl. Mariam Thresia. It was he who stood by Bl. Mariam Thresia and guided her in the struggle of her soul and search for a life of religious commitment, and her vision of family Apostolate.
when she was misjudged and criticized and even branded as whore, it was a heroic act on his part to support and guide her.
Fr. Joseph Vithayathil, Co- founder of the Congregation of Holy Family
On 14th May, 1914 with the co-operation and support of Rev. Fr. Joseph Vithayathil, Bl. Mariam Thresia founded the Congregation of Holy Family. He took care of the congregation as St. Joseph did at Nazareth.
From the death of the holy founder in 1926 till the first General Council was formed in 1942, it was Rev. Fr. Joseph Vithayathil who reared the infant congregation carefully and nurtured it properly.
Fr. Joseph Vithayathil - Pithavu
The Sisters of Holy Family and the people around, Claimed him "Pithavu" an endearing term for a loving father and sign of respect. In 1915 the first school of the congregation started.
Social Vision of Fr. Joseph Vithayathil
Rev. fr. Joseph Vithayathil was responsive to the social issues of his village. He championed the cause of the poor and the exploited. He stood for the uplift of the poor and the downtrodden. People often came to him with their family problems and the doubts to seek his advice and he was able to settle their disputes. usually his was the last word.
Rev. Fr. Joseph Vithayathil considered education an effective means to eradicate the social evils, and to foster family apostalate. It was with such a spirit of service that he endorsed the plan of mother Mariam Thresia to start a Primary school at Puthenchira in 1915.
He believed that the services of the sisters in the field of education are very essential to inculcate virtues of truth and honesty in young minds and to keep alive the touch of faith in them.
In 1929 he started an industrial school at Kuzhikattussery to train girls in stitching, tailoring, weaving, knitting etc. Schools were adjunct to all newly started convents.
Fr. Joseph Vithayathil - Man Of Prayer
Rev. Fr. Joseph Vithayathil was a man of prayer. Early morning he used to got up and move (sneak) quietly to the chapel to indulge in long hours of prayer.
He knelt before the lord and unleashed all the burdensome the Lord. His prayer life, rooted in the love of God sprouted forth natural goodness of truth, integrity and self sacrificing spirit.
Fr. Joseph Vithayathil - Man Of Obedience
His Obedience is ecclesiastical and political authorities was commendable and exemplary. He Obeyed all the directives of the Bishops. Even though he had to go through the fire of misunderstanding and ridicule, he did not deter from his loyalty to authority. In all decisions of the authorities he could see the divine providence.
Last Days and Death of Fr. Joseph Vithayathil
Rev Fr, Joseph Vithayathil was blessed with a long life of 99 years. On 8 June, 1964 he was called to his eternal abode, in the same date of the death of Bl. Mariam Thresia, his spiritual daughter. This was not a mere coincidence, but a divine endorsement of their spiritual union.
Four bishops more than150 priests, large number of sisters, relatives and crowds of people from all walks of life were present for his funeral ceremony on 9 June, 1964. He was buried at Kuzhikkattussery adjacent to the tomb of Mariam Thresia.
Fr. Joseph Vithayathil - The Servant of God
Pope John Paul II has declared Fr. Joseph Vithayathil, Kerala-born priest who co-founded the Congregation of Holy Family, as Servant of God, in the first step towards conferment of sainthood.
The official ceremony in this regard held at Mariam Thresia Pilgrim Centre at Kuzhikkattussery on June 7. Fr. Vithayathil (1865-1964) was declared as Servant of God by the Pope on May 18.