The Congregation of the Order of the Imitation of Christ is also known as Bethany Congregation. The religious Congregation was founded by Servant of God Mar Ivanios in 1919 August 15 at Mundanmala, Perunad in Pathanamthitta District of Kerala, India. The Congregation is an autonomous Congregation having Pontifical status and rights and is rooted in Syro Malankara Rite, following Antiochian liturgy. It is the first indigenous Religious Congregation started in the Malankara Church and the congregation with unique feature of harmonious blend of Christianity with the Indian Spiritual Culture, the Antiochian liturgy and the Catholic faith. Bethany Ashram entered into Catholic Communion in the year 1930 and was raised to Pontifical status by Rome in 1966. Above all, the Bethany Congregation is a clerical Congregation (c 505 2. 1, 3) of religious priests and brothers. It completed its Centenary in the year 2019 August 15.
The charism of the Order of the Imitation of Christ is “to follow Jesus Christ in his life of prayer and action, which can be realized in and through Oriental monastic traditions and Indian sanyasa and aims at the evangelization of India through the spiritual renewal of the Malankara Church.”
The term ‘Bethany’ represents in the gospel as the village and the family where Jesus Christ visited frequently. 'Ashram' is a term from Sanskrit which means the residence of Monks. And the family of Bethany in the gospel are Lazarus, Martha and Mary and symbolise Resurrection, Active life and Prayer life respectively. The patron saints of our Congregation are the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Thomas, the Apostle of India, St. John, the Evangelist, the Saints of Bethany, St. Basil and St. Therese of the Infant Jesus. More over, the Bethany Ashram harmoniously blends Eastern Christian Monastic traditions and Indian Spirituality. The members of this Congregation follow Christ in his life of prayer and action.
The 16th General Synaxis decided to erect two provinces in Bethany Ashram for an administrative convenience and growth. The two Provinces of Order of the Imitation of Christ are Bethany Navajeevan Province and Bethany Navajyothy Province.
Bethany Navajyothy province was erected in the year 2000 and was inaugurated at Thiruvalla Bethany Ashram on 26th September 2000 by Arch Bishop Cyril Mar Baselios OIC. Later the Provincial House was shifted from Thiruvalla to Aluva for administrative purposes in 15th of May 2001. At present the Provincial House of the Bethany Navajyothy Province is situated in Desom, Aluva on the banks of river Periyar. The members of the Province serve in the Archdiocese of Thiruvalla, in the Diocese of Bathery, Diocese of Moovattupuzha, Diocese of Puttur, Diocese of Gurgaon, Diocese of Khadki-Pune of Syro Malankara Catholic Church, in the Diocese of Embidir of Alexandrian rite and Nekamthe in Latin rite; in Ethiopia. Our members also work in different dioceses of Catholic Church in Europe and America.
The life and vision of our founder, Mar Ivanios, is a source of inspiration for our lives. His intercession helps us to realize the charism of our Congregation.