Fr. Xavier Khan Vattayil (Vattayilachan), born in the Pulapatta Parish of the Palakkad Diocese, is the sixth child among the seven children of Varghese and Tresya. From his youthhood, he did not find any happiness in worldly achievements, powers, or positions. Rather, he desired to renounce the world to possess God. The Holy Spirit gave him the grace and enthusiasm to take on struggles and sufferings to gain souls. During his seminary formation time, Fr. Vattayil, who had a heart burning with the love of God and a personality full of zeal, took the Bible, the biographies of the saints, and other spiritual publications to different parishes and carried them door-to-door and tried to bring the souls back to Jesus. Fr. Vattayil’s effort to live with his eyes fixed on the Crucifix was evident from his seminary days itself.
Realizing his inner call for penance and atonement along with the salvation of souls, during his philosophy studies, he used to go to the forest with some of the brothers to pray. He shared his inner call with the the authorities of the major seminary and His Excellency Bishop Mar Joseph Irimpan who was the Bishop of the diocese during his studies in theology. When Mar Irimpan heard of this, he replied, “All these will be fulfilled when you do your priestly ministry”. Fr. Vattayil, who saw the voice of the authorities as God’s will, accepted it and surrendered to the will of God.
He was ordained priest in the Diocese of Palakkad on 28 April 1994.
When he started Sehion Retreat Center on 28 April 1998, as its first director, he again realized that his inner call was to ignite the entire world with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
In 2009, when Sehion began the Retreat for Priests, Fr. Vattayil desired to give up everything he had and come down for the salvation of souls and world evangelization, and to start priestly consecrated communities. He expressed his desire to His Excellency Bishop Mar Jacob Manathodath, the Bishop of Palghat.
Our three Founders, who had the spark of the same inner call, but grew up and were formed in different life situations, were brought together by Divine Providence at Sehion in the year 2007. This get-together was helpful for the three to dive deeper into their inner call. They foresaw with their long vision the disastrous effects of the spirit of apostasy, that would make the people of God and the chosen ones deviate from their path, raging into the Church of Kerala, enriched with faith, and then gradually into the Church of India, after sowing destruction inside the Eastern Church, as prophesied by the Lord. They understood Jesus’ heartbreak that ‘when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’ and found a way to soothe Jesus’ pain in the Word of God to ‘glean the remnant of Israel as thoroughly as a vine; pass your hand over the branches again, like one gathering grapes’ (cf. Jer. 6:9). The ASJM monastery is their faithful response to God’s call to empower the chosen ones through evangelization founded on asceticism, acts of penance and deliverance ministries, and to build up the Church by seeking and finding the people of God scattered across the world and deepening them in faith before spiritual darkness covers the earth and the thick darkness of apostasy covers the peoples (cf. Is. 60:2).
The Lord chose the Eparchy of Palghat, which includes the Sehion Retreat Centre, as the birthplace of the ASJM monastery. The pastor He found for the fulfillment of this Divine plan was His Excellency Bishop Mar Jacob Manathodath, the Bishop of the Eparchy of Palghat. His Excellency, who always works zealously to build up and protect the inner call and inspirations of the Holy Spirit given by God to His pastors, was willing to fulfill God’s will about ASJM no matter what the cost. By considering the Founders’ request, after several days of prayerful discernment to test the fruitfulness of a new lifestyle, His Excellency permitted, along with the permission of the CMC Superior General, seven CMC sisters with the same inner call under the leadership of Rev. Sr. Amy Emmanuel, to come together and form a small community near the Sehion Retreat Centre on the Feast of Divine Mercy on 11 April 2010.
By seeing the powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit and the salvation of souls flowing through this community, under the spiritual guidance of Rev. Fr. Vattayil and Rev. Fr. Binoy, many religious of other religious communities came forward with the desire to embrace this lifestyle. Their life was according to the draft of the Typicon offered during the Eucharistic celebration on 15 August 2009. Together, they strengthened the life of penance, asceticism, contemplation, and the preaching of the Word of God. The Lord’s works and the visible presence of the power of the Holy Spirit through this community quickly spread at home and abroad. God opened up many religious communities, seminaries, and parishes for their ministries. Many youths, attracted by their lifestyle, came forward with the desire to become sisters. Realizing the work of the Holy Spirit, His Excellency Mar Jacob Manathodath let these aspirants join and gave the community permission to begin a pious union to be raised as monastery sui iuris in the future. Thus, ASJM Monastery was born as a pious union on 8 September 2014.
A few of the religious who lived for years in the community with Sr. Amy, let the Founders know their desire to join the monastery of Abhishekagni Sisters. When His Beatitude Cardinal Mar George Alencherry came to the monastery with 12 other bishops on 2 August 2017, the good God allowed them to say that our charism and lifestyle are inevitable at this time. Rev. Fr. Vattayil, Rev. Fr. Binoy, and Rev. Sr. Amy let His Beatitude know their inner call. On realizing God’s intervention and plan, Cardinal Mar Alencherry and Bishop Mar Manathodath permitted them to move forward with this inner call.
Six sisters who had been with Sr. Amy told the Bishops their desire to be a part of this plan of God. His Beatitude did not push aside the Sisters’ petition, but by keeping for more discernment and consultation for its possibility according to the Canon law, He took a favorable stand to fulfill the duty entrusted to him by the Church. Following this, on writing the petitions to Rome, when the instructions they received became favorable, all the six sisters with Sr. Amy met with their respective superiors and asked for permission to follow their inner call. Even though this was a very painful decision, the authorities permitted all seven sisters without standing as an obstacle to the will of God.
His Excellency Mar Jacob Manathodath raised the community of Abhishekagni Sisters as a monastery sui iuris (Autonomous) on 14 December 2017, the Feast of St. John of the Cross, who reached the heights of spirituality being enflamed by the fire of God’s love through a life of asceticism and penance. Rev. Sr. Amy did her perpetual profession by receiving the name of Sr. Amy Emmanuel of the Holy Spirit and the Immaculate Heart of Mother Mary and the six other sisters received their monastic habit, in the presence of His Excellency Mar Manathodath. His Excellency appointed Rev. Fr. Xavier Khan Vattayil and Rev. Fr. Binoy Karimaruthinkal as the directors and Rev. Sr. Amy Emmanuel as the Superior of the monastery.
The Lord who is always faithful in His promises, abundantly blessed the ASJM monastery to be people, a name, a praise, a glory that clings to God (cf. Jer. 13:11). Six senior sisters did their perpetual profession and seven novices of the first batch Novitiate did their first profession on 3 January 2019, the Feast of St. Chavara Kuriakose Elias. In the following years, the Lord has been bringing lots of vocations to live ‘for Christ and His Church’.
PREACHERS OF DIVINE MERCY
Motivated by the love of Jesus, the Preachers of Divine Mercy Monastery (for men) voluntarily accept rough living conditions by abandoning the comforts of this world, giving up even what is permitted by law in all areas of life, such as food, lodging, clothing, travel, and living a life of asceticism for the sanctification of the consecrated communities that God willed through our spiritual directors. Thus, the Lord laid the foundation for the ascetic way of life for their empowerment. It is the call of ASJM and PDM to lead a life of contemplation and evangelization and to always raise intercessory prayers for the Church and the entire world.
On 24 April 2018, His Excellency Bishop Mar Jacob Manathodath issued a decree establishing the community of brothers as a Pious Union to become a monastery in the future, and then on 30 May 2021, with the permission of the His Beatitude Cardinal Major Archbishop Mar George Alencherry, His Excellency Mar Jacob Manathodath issued a decree elevating PDM as a monastery in the Syro-Malabar Church. Today, apart from Attappadi, PDM has started other houses in Kuravilangad and Thrissur as well.