The Medical Sisters of St. Joseph have a highly obvious and elevated niche among the Religious Congregations founded in Kerala. The congregation owes to the deep spirituality and the merciful love of its founder, the Servant of God, Msgr. Joseph C. Panjikaran (1888-1949), for this high position and recognition. Msgr. Panjikaran was a genius with a divine vision, a man of courage and initiative, free and spiritually sound. He devoted his entire life to the poor and marginalized, especially the untouchables, the backward and other lower castes. Way back in early thirties of 19th century when health was not considered as a priority issue, the heart of a visionary was set on fire with zeal and compassion for the suffering underprivileged brethren of our country. Rev. Msgr. Joseph. C. Panjikaran who was the director of the propagation of faith in the Vicariate of Ernakulam had taken interest in his life to proclaim the good news of Jesus to the poor. As a zealous pastor Msgr. Panjikaran had directly seen the pain, hardships and loneliness of the sick and the poor. It was one of his deep convictions that the Church had the responsibility to provide medical service to these people. Having drawn spiritual power and strength from the words of Jesus, “as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40), he searched for ways to serve the least of the brethren and translated this vision into a reality.
As a result of His earnest prayer and hard work he opened a hospital named Dharmagiri (Charity Mount) at Kothamangalam, Kerala in 1934. At a time when not many in the Catholic Church in Kerala had opted to nurse the sick, our founder decided to found a religious congregation for women that have care of the sick as its apostolate. He was strongly convinced that only consecrated persons can see Jesus in the sick and lead them to salvation by their compassionate service.
On 31 October 1944 the then Metropolitan of Ernakulam Archdiocese, Mar Augustine Kandathil, granted official permission and with the profession of seven sisters on 3rd July 1946, the Religious Congregation, under the title “Medical Sisters of St Joseph” (MSJ) was canonically erected in the Church.
On 4th November 1949 the founder father left the Congregation in the hands of St. Joseph and passed away for his eternal reward. From 4th May 1950 to 31st January 1969 Msgr. George Menachery guided the congregation as director.
After his death the congregation was successfully led by different Mother Generals whose term is 6yearsa. It had a steady growth and now the Congregation is spread out all over India and abroad.
On 19th February 1990 the congregation was raised to the status of a Pontifical Congregation and on 5th August 1994 the congregation was divided into four Provinces for administrative effectiveness.