St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born in 1805 to pious and devout Catholic parents of Syro-Malabar Church, Kainakary, Kerala, India. After his early schooling in the native village and priestly studies under Fr. Thomas Palackal at Pallippuram, he has ordained priest in 1829 and celebrated the first Holy Qurbana at St.Andrew's Forane Church Arthunkal Alappuzha.
In 1831, co-operating with Fr. Thomas Palackal and Fr. Thomas Porukara, he founded the first indigenous religious congregation for men, now known as the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), a vision to serve the marginalized and underprivileged. Before he became a Carmelite priest, Kuriakose was an educator and social reformer. Though he hailed from a Syrian Christian family, he played a significant role in educating the people of the lower ranks of society. In 1846, Fr. Kuriakose started St. Joseph's Press at Mannanam, the third printing press in Kerala and the first press founded by a Malayali without the help of foreigners. He started the first Sanskrit School at Mannanam in the same year. He implemented the concept, 'A School for a Church' (Pallikudam) when he was the Vicar General of Kerala. He recognized that children needed to be fed in order to learn, so he instituted a midday meal to feed the children.
St. Chavara believed that intellectual development and women's education was the first step towards overall social welfare. Hence, he founded the Congregation of Carmel (CMC), the first religious congregation for women, in 1866. In 1871, on January 3, Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, after a short illness, passed away at Koonammavu, preserving his baptismal innocence unto death. He died on January 3, 1871, and was canonised by His Holiness Pope Francis on 23rd November 2014, at Saint Peter's Square by Pope Francis and Euphrasia Eluvathingal.
St. Chavara was a visionary leader who envisaged many plans for the spiritual and social progress of the Church and society. He was a man who took the road less travelled. His educational contributions laid a strong foundation for a just society in which all human beings were worthy of erudition, justice, respect and dignity. St. Chavara's education vision envisaged inclusion, expansion, equity, excellence and a comprehensive outlook.