Fr Canisius served the CMI congregation and Church at large as
  • Professor of Sacred Scripture and Spiritual Father at Sacred Heart Seminary Chethipuzha (1953-57),
  • Professor of Scared Scripture and Spiritual Father at Dharmaram College Bangalore (1957-60),
  • Rector of Dharmaram College for two terms (1960-1966),
  • CMI Prior General (1966-1972)
  • Provincial of Devamatha Province (1972-1975),
  • Superior of Dharmaram College (1975-1978)
  • and Vicar General of the CMI Congregation (1978-1982).
All through his life Fr.Canisius was convinced of the fundamental principle that one should lead a life according to the Will of God expressed through the ecclesiastical and religious superiors.
Motto was always “God’s will… that alone … that in full”
Fr. Canisius was born on May 12, 1914 as the seventh and the youngest child of Lonappan and Mariam in the family of Thekkekara Pothaparambil in Anandapuram parish in the diocese of Irinjalakuda. He was baptized on June 6, 1914 with the baptismal name Ouseph. His father, Lonappan was known for his hard working nature and sense of justice, and his mother Mariam was admired for her piety and affectionate nature. According to Fr.Canisius he learned the ideal of his life, “God’s will… that alone … that in full” from his parents. With gratitude he testified, “The most important grace that the Lord bestowed on me is my father and mother. Their law of life was this: God’s Will: All of it and that alone.”
School Life
Young Ouseph did his primary school studies in the local government school and his upper primary studies as a boarder in St. Aloysius Boarding House at Elthuruth, Thrissur. He was an intelligent and docile pupil in the school.
As early as a boy, before starting his High School studies, Ouseph had the longing to become a priest of Jesus Christ and therefore had his state of life chosen with clear vision and firm conviction. Two diocesan priests hailing from the same parish would often visit young Ouseph at his home. Seeing the piety, noble character and intelligence of young Ouseph they wanted him to join the seminary. Young Ouseph, however, told his parents in quite unambiguous terms: “I want to become a priest, but I want to become a religious priest in the Carmelite Order”. As per the account of his sister, Rev. Sr. Sarseela F.C.C. the reason for the boy to mention the name of ‘Carmelite Order’ was that he once experienced the apparition of the Mother of Carmel holding a scapular in her hand. He felt then in his heart a strong inner attraction for the CMI Congregation. Without any hesitation he uttered his fiat to the divine will. In his final years he thus wrote in My Life experiences “Briefly speaking, this was my firm decision – to be only there, where the Lord demands me to be; to do fully whatever He asks me to do, without any further worries. I have tried my best to firmly persevere in that determination, without caring what the flesh and blood were saying. This was also my attitude towards accepting responsibilities and their execution.”
Ouseph Joined the congregation of CMI as an Aspirant and completed his matriculation at St.Joseph’s High School, Pavaratty. Subsequently he went through the religious formation imparted in the Novitiate of CMI congregation at Ampazhakkad and made his First Profession on 24 November 1935. The religious name he was given at the time on the First Profession was Canisius of St.Teresa. In the Novitiate his Novice Master was Rev. Bartholomew, a saintly Father who was later elected to the post of Prior General of CMI congregation.
Brother Canisius was chosen to do his philosophical and theological studies outside Kerala, at the well known St. Joseph’s Seminary, Mangalore, Karnataka State. On 23 January 1938, Bro. Canisius made his final profession during his ecclesiastical studies. His Seminary Master was Rev. Fr. Maurus, known for his holy life and administrative skill, who was later twice elected Prior General of the congregation. Brother Canisius, on successful completion of the required studies in Philosophy and Theology, reached the realization of his long-cherished and joyful moment of Ordination and was ordained a Priest on 21 December 1942.
Bible Scholar and writer
After the Priestly Ordination Fr. Canisius took his Doctor of Divinity degree at Kandy in 1945, and in 1952 he secured D.S.S (Doctor in Sacred Scripture) from the Biblical Institute in Rome. His doctoral thesis was Cardinal Seripando: an Exegete and Biblical Theologian. Thus he became the first ever Indian and second Asian who was awarded with doctorate in Sacred Scripture. Fr.Canisius has authored a few books, rich in content and theological insights and a few biographical sketches and prayer books.