Father Joseph Vithayathil

Venerable Father Joseph Vithayathil has played a unique and decisive role in the life of St. Mariam Thresia and in the early years of the Congregation of Holy Family so as to merit the title of co-founder. Since much of the evidence concerning the life and sanctity of St. Mariam Thresia is drawn from his writings, it seems good to give here a brief account of the life, activities, and personality of this holy man.

He was born on 23 July 1865 as the son of Joseph and Anna Vithayathil, a prominent family in the parish of Manambady, Puthempally in Kerala. He had two brothers, Varkey and Paily, and two sisters, Annam and Mariam. Quite early in his life, he showed an ardent desire to be in the service of God. Therefore, with the consent of the parents, and prompted by his own desire, he lived one year with the parish priest Fr. Scaria Naganoolil and learnt to serve at Mass. On 30 May 1881 when he was 15 years old, he began his priestly training under Fr. Rector Rev. Alphonsus, T.O.C.D., in the seminary annexed to the Elthuruth monastery. In November 1883 he received the first tonsure from Bishop Marcellino, who had been appointed in 1877 Administrator for the Christians of the Syriac Rite. He received the first, the second and the third minor orders in 1884, 1885 and 1886 respectively.