Society for Unity Integral Progress
Chittazha, Vattappara P.O, Trivandrum, Kerala, India 695028
Society for Unity and Integral Progress

Our History

Home » Our History

A Brief Historical Profile

Unity of the Christian Churches and the Evangelization of the Peoples were the two goals that Rev. Fr Thomas Kulangara cherished right from childhood. Mar Ivanios, the pioneer of the reunion movement and his mission work in the Malankara Church, inspired and fascinated him. However, during the nine years of his formation in the Papal Seminary, Pune, the vision of his life goals became broader and deeper.

The ‘Kingdom of God’ symbolized for him all what pertains to the salvation that God has offered through Jesus Christ. The best that one can wish for the happy fulfillment of the universe, including the human kind, is also contained in the kingdom of God. The chief component and means for the realization of the kingdom of God is unity as revealed in the prayer of Jesus, “that all may be One”. These basic convictions oriented Fr. Thomas to dedicate his life totally at the service of the ongoing endeavor of the Risen Christ to bring about unity among all peoples in the world in view of the Kingdom of God.

However, it was through his involvement in the Focolare Movement, an ecclesial movement that originated in Trent (Italy), that he attained a new depth in his mission of unity and its practical dimensions.

During the time of his priestly formation especially while doing regency in the present Eparchy of Marthandam in Tamil Nadu he visited most of the parishes in the Kanyakumari district and studied the situation of the newly become Catholics there. God made him to understand that in order to build up genuine Christian Communities what is required is the evangelization of the way thinking and acting. After his ordination to priesthood he continued to work among the children and youths with the same mission while teaching philosophy in the St. Mary’s Malankara Seminary, Trivandrum.

During his five years of stay in Europe (1989-1994), it was gradually revealed to him that God wanted to do something new for His Kingdom through him. If the Gospel is the means for total liberation of people, it occurred to him, the poor who accept the Gospel should undergo a process of integral progress. Poverty and underdevelopment, he believes, are primarily the consequence of a way of thinking. “What you think, that you become”, says an upanishadic verse. Hence, he thought that the best service that he could offer for the integral progress of the people is to facilitate a transformation of their way of thinking by a systematic and deliberate method of living the Gospel of Christ.

Upon returning to India from Rome after obtaining a doctorate in Philosophy he shared his vision and insights with His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Lawrence Mar Ephraem, the then Administrator of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum and His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Cyril Mar Baselios, who soon became the Metropolitan Archbishop of Trivandrum. With their permission and blessing, together with some friends, Fr. Thomas ventured to initiate a movement, called ‘Children For Unity’ in January, 1995. The first event of this movement took place in the parish Church at Aruviyode in which around 30 Children, some adult volunteers, a few Rev. Sisters, Fr. Samuel Kattukallil (now Bishop Samuel Mar Ireneus), Fr. Thomas Kulangara and Mr. George Paul Huber, a friend from Switzerland, participated. The goal was to train children and youths in living the Word of Life and sharing the experiences in view of making unity and achieving integral progress in life. The movement was formally inaugurated with the blessing of the provisional structures built up in Aruviyode in Trivandrum, Kerala by His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Mar Ephraem. During his inaugural address His Excellency stated: “This is a fire and this fire (of love) will spread to the whole Church.” Fr. Thomas Naickamparambil, now bishop Thomas Mar Eusebius, has been closely associated with Fr. Thomas Kulangara in the evolution of the vision and activities of this apostolate right from the first spark of inspiration. Reverend Sisters from various religious congregations have been actively involved in the apostolate of unity right from its inception in 1995.

The Association continued its mission with the permission of the bishops and abiding by their directions. Consequently, His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Cyril Mar Baselios, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Trivandrum suggested in 1998 that the apostolate of children for unity should be formally erected in the Church in accordance with the canonical norms. According to His Grace’s advice Fr. Thomas prepared the rules and regulations of the children for unity. However, His Grace suggested that, since this apostolate involved also sisters and lay people, new statutes should be prepared giving it a wider scope.

Gradually evolved the idea of starting a new community of sisters with the specific charism of unity, based on living the Word of God, in order to witness to the ideal of unity and to give leadership for the apostolate of unity. The first response to this vocation came from N. Pushpaletha in 2001. She had been serving in the Unity House at Chittazha as a qualified teacher already for two years. Later she obtained two years formation in the spirituality and life of communion in Philippines in the Focolare School of Unity. Then she received a new name Tesita (Tesoro del’ unita) and a word of life directly from Chiara Lubich, the Founder of the Focolare Movement.

Lay Missionaries have been actively involved in the apostolate right from the start. There are about 150 lay volunteers who are responsible for the groups of children for unity in the parishes and about twenty lay missionaries who support the apostolate in various ways. They gather together regularly in order to share their experiences of living the Word of Life in view of growing in their spiritual life of unity and also to pray for and plan out the activities of the apostolate.

After His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis becoming the Major Archbishop-Catholicos of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, he visited the centers of Children for unity many times and encouraged the endeavor. His Beatitude moved the procedures of erecting it in the Church formally in accordance with the canonical norms and regulations. On 15th December 2011 he appointed Fr. Kochuthundil (Yoohanon Mar Theodosius) to prepare a revised set of statutes for the Missionaries of Unity, in view of constituting it as a pious association in the major Archdiocese of Trivandrum. Fr. Kochuthundil submitted the final draft of the statutes of the AMU to his Beatitude on15th July 2013. ;

In the meantime some more candidates joined to become consecrated members of the Missionaries of Unity. His Beatitude appointed Rev. Sr. Immaculate D.M. to be responsible for the formation of the first batch of the candidates of sisters. She led a six months formation program for the first batch of sisters in view of making their profession. On 28th February 2014 the Association of the Missionaries of Unity was canonically erected as a pious association within the Major Archieparchy of Trivandrum. On the same day, during the Holy Eucharistic Celebration presided by His Beatitude the Catholicos Baselios Cardinal Mar Cleemis at the tomb chapel of Mar Ivanios, the first five sisters of AMU made their profession of the three evangelical vows and AMU was officially inaugurated. Fr. Thomas Kulangara was appointed as the founder director of the AMU. Sr. Tesita Mary was appointed as the first General Servant of Unity of the unity sisters. At present AMU has ten professed sisters and a few associated members. They reside in three unity houses and bear responsibility for the entire unity apostolate. On 26th May 2016 Fr. John Punnara was appointed as the Assistant Director of AMU.