The Society of Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, a society of apostolic life of priests was founded by me along with the sisters of Daughters of Mary Immaculate in the year 1998 in the Archdiocese of Campo Grande, Brazil.
It was the inspiration that came through the Archbishop of Campo Grande Dom Vitoria Pavanello, SDB that made me initiate this process in which I felt I was highly unworthy. In 1990, when I visited him in Brazil, he requested me whether it was possible to found a Society of priests to take care of the pastoral needs of Latin American countries. Even though the seed was sown at that time, it took many years to mature. His continued persuasion through Rev. Fr. Jesudass J Fernando who is my brother, and by way of various letters sent to me, and to the Archbishop of Madras and also to the President of Tamilnadu Bishop’s conference can never be forgotten.
The Grace of God had its own way and I proposed the MMI in the year 1998. The Diocesan Council of the Archbishop of Campo Grande willingly accepted it and officially gave me a letter. Unlike the humble beginnings of the DMI, the sister Society provided everything for the beginning of the new Society of MMI. They gave them more facilities than what the sisters themselves had.
The DMI sisters not only financially supported the society but also stood along with me, in caring for the spiritual, personal and priestly formation of the members of MMI. The MMI process of evangelization today is viewed as one of the DMI’s continued efforts in serving the poor. From the beginning, the aim of MMI Society was not to produce more priests but to bring in more trained and motivated missionaries to serve in the most difficult missions of the world.
Running parishes has never received priority in our thought. The missionary idea of MMI is to take up large independent, difficult area of the world and create regions and dioceses through holistic, human and evangelical development. Even though this has been our aim, it has always been in question whether it would be possible to get places like that to work.
I always pray for signs from God. On 20th September 2007, we received the answer from God. The answer came in the form of a letter of invitation from the Bishop of Borba, Amazona, Brazil which said that the MMI’s could develop a mission having hundreds of kilometers. It also gave the power to bring in missionaries of our choice both men and women with independent financial administration while adhering to the spirit of the Dioceses and the Bishop.
Within a short period of time, we were also able to make an impact in Tanzania through our ministry and proceeded to Zambia. We have also expanded our mission to Ethiopia and South Sudan. We see South Sudan as God’s own land where people need to be shown God’s love. We have named it “Abba Father Mission” and have many strategic plans in mind.
Everyone wonders how the MMIs get their vocation. But I understand God wants dedicated and committed missionaries, so He sends laborers to His harvest. Since most of our vocations are from India and almost all our formation houses are in India, the Principal House of MMIs has now been shifted from Brazil to Meerut where His Lordship Most Rev. Francis Kalist is the Bishop and our spiritual father.