That I would become a Claretian Missionary – such a thought never crossed my mind until my 15th year. Surely I wanted to become a priest although I, the 7th one in the family of 8 children, saw 4 of my elder ones going to embrace the religious life. 3 sisters became consecreated Religious and my next elder brother, Mathew went to Germany to become a Claretian. My intention was to join the seminary to become a priest. After the Secondary School final exam, when I was seriously thinking to apply for the diocesan minor seminary of Palai, a letter came from my brother Mathew who was at that time in Germany doing the Claretian novitiate year at Dreifaltigkeitsberg, Spaichingen. He started the letter quoting Psalm 133: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
My brother Mathew invited me to join the Claretian Congregation and I accepted this invitation considering it as God’s will for me. And this year, after 50 years living as a Claretian I have no doubt about it. At various times we had occasion to live happily together in the same community. During the initial years of Claret Bhavan, Karumathur, Tamil Nadu we were the only priests in the minor seminary community.
God has granted me the grace to be born in a deeply rooted religious family. I was born on 20th June 1949 at Teekoy, diocese of Palai in Kerala State, South India as the 7th child of my parents and last of the 4 sons. Sisters are also 4 in number. It is not a secret that our father had nursed the idea of becoming a priest himself, but being the eldest son his dream of becoming a priest did not get realized, but could witness during his life time that two of his sons became Claretian missionary priests and 3 daugters consecrated religious. Other 3 are married. One grandson became also a Claretian missionary after my father’s death. He is now working as a missionary in Taiwan.
In 1964 I joined the Good Shepherd Minor Seminary, Palai with the intention of becoming a Claretian. Already before my batch comprising of 7, 3 batches had already left for Germany, the first batch in 1961. My group reached Germany in 1966. After one year of learning of German language I started my novitiate year in 1967 and made my first profession along with my 6 companions on 15th April 1968 which was Easter Sunday. I had my study of philosophy at Sankt Georgen, Frankfurt. After one semester of theology, an option was given to go to Spain for the study of theology. I made up my mind to study theology at Teologado Claretiano in Salamanca which was closed after one year. Then I moved with the companions of a few provinces to Residencia Rosales in Madrid, where our prefect was the present Cardinal and former Superior General Aquilino Bocos Merino. After finishing the study of theology with B.Th at the Pontifical University of Comillas, I returned to Germany for one year of pastoral theology at the Salesian Theologate at Benediktbeuern, Bavaria. On the occasion of the golden jubilee of the Claretian foundation in Germany, on 9th June 1974 I received the priestly ordination from the hands of the Cardinal Arturo Tabera at Dreifaltigkeitsberg, Spaichingen where I had made the first profession.
Claretian Congregation in India was slowly getting settled. The first foundation in Kuravilangad, diocese of Palai started in 1970s. My first assignment was to Claret Bhavan, Kuravilangad in 1974. I remember with joy that the present Superior General, Fr. Mathew Vattamattam joined the minor seminary of Kuravilangad in the same year. After spending years at Claret Bhavan, Carmelaram, Bangalore and Claret Bhavan, Karumathur, Tamil Nadu, I was given chance to go for higher studies in Rome and in fact I did my doctoral studies at the Gregorian Pontifical University, Institute of Spirituality. I did my doctoral thesis on the Christocentric aspect of the spirituality of St. Anthony Mary Claret. After my specialization, for 9 years I was at the Claretian Seminary, Malleswaram, Bangalore as prefect and Rector of the scholasticate and simultaneously for 4 years as Executive Director of the Sumanahalli Society for leprosy patients. In 1992 I was requested to be available for the building up and consolidation of our Claretian branch in the neighbouring country of Sri Lanka which I continued until 2015. At the end of 2015 I was assigned to the Claretian community of Vienna where I am now doing pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Vienna and animating our Claretian community residing at Haus Claret, Bennogasse, 21 where the charismatic personality of Fr. Josef Garcia Cascales lived and worked for 50 years taking care of the Cursillo Movement.
The Definition St. Anthony Mary Claret, left for each and everyone of the Claretians has been all along my Claretian life a sure guideline and beacon of strength for me. When situation became at times unbearable in Sri Lanka, still these guidelines sustained me along with my childlike devotion and love for my Blessed Mother Mary. Not knowing much about St. Claret and the Congregation founded by him, still I ventured my entry into this Congregation relying on Psalm 133 quoted by my Claretian brother Mathew. Now on this year of the golden jubilee of my religious profession as a Claretian religious, “my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord..” for the wonderful graces he has showered upon me and making me a humble instrument in the beginnings of our Congregation in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.
Cyriac Njayarkulam, CMF
Short biographical details:
Birth : 20 June 1949 at Teekoy, Kottayam District, Kerala, South India(Diocese of Palai)
1st Religious Profession : 15 April 1968 at Dreifaltigkeitsberg, Spaichingen, Germany
Priestly Ordination : 9 June 1974 at Dreifaltigkeitsberg, Spaichingen, Germany
Mainly active in the Formation ministry for the Claretian generations…in Kuravilangad, Carmelaram, Bangalore, Claret Bhavan, Karumathur, Claretian Seminary, Malleswaram, Bangalore, Claret Nivas, Kandy, Claretian Novitiate Fussimanya, Kandy, St. Claret Seminary, Kattuwa-Negombo, Sri Lanka.
Specialization 1979-83 at Gregorian Pontifical University, Institute of Spirituality.
Teaching in Seminary : St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary(1984-1992); National Seminary of our Lady of Lanka, Sri Lanka (1993-2012).