The cause of Mgr. Joseph C. Panjikaran, the founder of the Congregation of the Medical Sisters of St. Joseph (Dharmagiri) has officially taken up for canonization by the diocese of Kothamangalam, Kerala. The official announcement to this effect was made on 18th July, 2010 by Mar George Punnakottil, the Bishop of the diocese of Kothamangalam, at a public ceremony held for the purpose in the auditorium of St. George’s Cathedral. Speaking on the occasion, the Bishop Mar George Punnakottil declared that all preliminary procedures essential for initiation of the process of canonization of the Servant of God as laid out in ‘Sanctorum Mater’ (the official document of Catholic Church on the subject) have already completed. The Diocese has set up a board of Enquiry to see that all things are done in order, according to the law and due procedure. All taking part in the process as officials including the diocesan Bishop, took oath of office during the function to fulfill their duties faithfully and to maintain secrecy.
Summarizing the life and activities of the Servant of God the Bishop said, “By his exemplary Christian life and glorious virtues, Mgr. Joseph C. Panjikaran was a ‘Man of God’; by his pioneering works of mercy in the field of health and social justice specially among the less privileged and marginalized, he proved himself as a ‘man for others’. A life, fully active and alive in both letter and spirit”. Mgr. Joseph C Panjikaran was born on 10th September, 1888 in Uzhuva, Shertalley Ernakulam District. He was the first to obtain a M.A degree from among Syrian Christians, in 1913 from St. Joseph’s College Trichy, after which he joined the diocesan seminary at Candy (Sri Lanka) and became an ordained priest in the year 1918.
As a zealous missionary, Mgr. Joseph Panjikaran devoted his entire life for the upliftment of the poor and marginalized, specially the untouchables - the Ezhawas and lower castes. His ineffable works in the fields of evangelization and social justice earned him the titles of ‘Bene Merendi’ and ‘Papal Chamberlaine’. He was the pioneer to start a Christian Hospital in Kerala and was the founder of a religious congregation, the Medical Sisters of St. Joseph, solely dedicated to the care of the sick.
The Servant of God, Mgr. Joseph C. Panjikaran died on 4th November 1949 and his mortal remains were laid to rest in the cemetery attached to Dharmagiri, Kothamangalam, the Mother House of the congregation of Medical Sisters of St. Joseph.