Later under the charismatic leadership of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, many dedicated priests of the Kerala church joined this spiritual movement.On December 8, 1855 the religious community received full ecclesiastical recognition and the first eleven father under the leadership of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara made the first profession of religious vows. They were given Carmelite rules with certain modifications and were known as â€˜Servants of Mary Immaculate of Mount Carmelâ€™. Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, the first â€˜Priorâ€™ of the congregation passed away after a fruitful life of sanctity on 3 January 1871.
He was declared â€˜Blessedâ€™ by Pope John Paul II on 8 February 1986 at Kottayam, Kerala and was canonized by His Holiness Pope Francis I on 23 November 2014 at Vatican. Since the ordinaries of Verapoly were Carmelites, under whose jurisdiction and guidance was the congregation in its early days, a Carmelite influence was obvious.
In 1860, the general chapter of the OCD named Religious Institute as â€˜Third Order of the Discalced Carmelitesâ€™ (TOCD). In 1958 the name was changed to â€˜Carmelites of Mary Immaculateâ€™ [CMI] with the approval of its revised constitution by the Holy See. It was granted pontifical status in 1885 and was declared exempted pontifical religious congregation in 1967.
The congregation was involved from its very beginning in pastoral care responding to the need of the then church in Kerala. One of the other important apostolate of the congregation was training priests to serve the church effectively. The members met the challenge of educating the youth and disseminating Christian literature, laboured for the evangelization of the Non-Christians and for the reunion of the separated brethren among St. Thomas Christians and undertook works of mercy and started charitable in situations. Pleased with apostolic activities of the Religious Institute, the Holy See, entrusted to it a number of mission territories beyond the boundaries of Kerala in 1960s.
The Congregation was divided into three provinces on 2 March 1953 for the administrative reasons. Later on as the members and the activities increased, further divisions became necessary. At present the congregation has fifteen provinces, two mission regions, seven sub-regions, five mission dioceses spread across 29 countries.