Christ Academy Institute of Law is run by the “Devamatha Educational Foundation’, formed by the members of the Devamatha Province of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), the first indigenous religious congregation in India. This congregation is the embodiment of the dream and vision of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, who was a nineteenth-century educationist and social reformer in India. Kuriakose Chavara was born in 1805 in Kainakary, Kerala. In 1829, he was ordained a priest after his early schooling in the native village and priestly studies at Pallipuram Seminary in Alapuzha.
Kuriakose Elias Chavara, though he hailed from an upper-caste Syrian Christian family, played a major role in educating the people of the lower ranks of society. In 1846, Kuriakose Elias established St. Joseph’s Press at Mannanam, a remote hamlet near the town of Kottayam in central Kerala. This was the third printing press in Kerala and the first press founded by a Keralite without the help of foreigners. From this printing press came the first Malayalam newspaper, Nasrani Deepika, which later became a daily in 1887 and is circulated even today as Deepika. He also started a school at Mannanam in 1846. He was responsible for introducing noon-day meals in schools, a practise later adopted by the rulers of Travancore and then by the Indian government. In 1864, while he was serving as the Vicar General of Syrian Catholics, he ordered every church to start a school, which was successful in making free education available for everyone. Thus, schools in Kerala came to be known as ‘pallikudam’.
In cooperation with Palackal Thoma Malpan and Thoma Porukara, Kuriakose Elias founded an Indian religious congregation for men, now known as the ‘Carmelites of Mary Immaculate’ (CMI). He believed that intellectual development and the education of women were the first steps towards overall social welfare. Towards this end, he founded the ‘Congregation of the Mother of Carmel’ (CMC), the first religious congregation for women Kuriakose Elias attained eternal peace on January 3, 1871, aged 66, at Koonammavu, a 1986, and later, on November 23, 2014, he was canonised at St. Peter’s Square by Pope Francis.
The service of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara has been acknowledged and lauded with gratitude by the Government of India, and to honour him, the Government released a postal stamp with his portrait in 1986. The CMI congregation, with a membership of 2300, serves humanity in educational, social, healthcare, and other activities, aiming for the prosperity and well-being of society. Though Christ Academy is a minority institution, it strives to impart quality education without distinction of religion, caste, or creed.