At the age of five, he began his studies in the village school, called Kalari under a village master called Ashan. There he continued his studies until he was ten years old. The Malpan Fr. Thomas Palackal invited him to his seminary at pallipuram. Subsequently as he was too young he spent about two years in the parrish rectory under the care of the zealous and loving parish priest. Here his parents also discerned his divine call in the year 1818 he joined the Pallipuram seminary under the tutelage of Malpan Thomas Palackal. Not long after the tonsure he received, there was an epidemic in Kainakary and surrroundings. His loving father, his good mother, and his only brother fell prey to the epidemic.
As there was no heir in the family, relatives compelled him to discontinue seminary life and come to the family. But he arranged the family affairs in such way that he could continue his priestly studies. On 29 November 1829, at the age of 24, Bishop Maurelius Stabilini, Vicar Aposatolic of Verapoly ordained him priest at St. Andrew’s Church Arthungal.
Fr. Thomas Palackal, Thomas Porukarra and Kuriakose Chavarra having the same motivation of starting a religious community life, had founded the Congregation at Mannanam on 11 May 1831. This was the first indigenous religious institute fo men in the Indian Church of modern times, known now as Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI).
Starting seven religious houses, besides the first one at Mannanam, in different parts of Kerala, the new congregation made great strides in the spiritual renovation in the Kerala Church. Seminaries for the education and formation of clergy, introduction of annual retreatsfor priests and laity, publishing house for the propagation of Catholic doctrine and social information, Home of Charity for the destitutes and dying, special attention to start catechumenaies, for the general education, were among the few of various activities under Fr. Kuriakose Elisa’s leadership. The Sanskrrit’s school he started in 1846 at Mannanam and his mandate to start schools attached to every church in 1864, made social changes in the education scenario of Kerala. Many valuable innovations in the Syrro Malabar liturgy are largely to his credit. He was the Vicar General of the Syro-Malabar church and he could keep the unity and control the schism of 1861 in the church. In 1866, with the cooperation of Fr. Leopold Beccaro OCD, he started the Congrregation of Mother of Carmel CMC (TOCD) for women, the first one in the Kerala Church and the first school and boarding house for girls in 1868.
Amidst his diverse and manifold activities, he found time and leisure to write a few books, both in prose and in verse like Anasthaciayude Rakthasakshyam (The Marrtyrdom of Anasthacia), believed to be the first Narative Poem in Malayalam and Shepherds play, the first dramatic presentation in the Indian Languages. Essentially a man of prayer and intense charity, he stayed in close communion with God amidst his several religious and social activities, permeating his spirituality to all around him; so much so that he was accepted and referred to as a man of God during his life time.
Chavara spent his last days at Koonammavu. In October 1870 be became very sick. During this period he fixed a small note on the door side requesting visitors to speak with him only spiritual matters. When all assembled around him in tears at his death-bed, on the eve of January 2, he said to them: ”Why are you very sad, and are crying? Every man whoever he be, has to die one day. Now it is my time. As I had the protection of the Holy Family, I have never lost the grace I received in the baptism, I dedicate our little congregation and each of you to this Holy Family. May the Holy Family reign in your hearts”. After these words he asked fot the sacrament of anointing. On 3 January 1871 at 7.30 in the morning he calmly slept in the Lord. His mortal remains were later transferred fom Koonammavu to Mannanam in 1889 and are venerably entombed in St. Joseph’s monasterry church.
On 7th April 1984, Pope John Paul II solemnly declared Chavara,evaluating the heroic virtues of the Servant of God. On 8th February 1986, during his historic visit to Kottayam Kerala, Late St. Pope John Paul II, raised Venerable Kuriakose Elias Chavara to the honors of the Altar declaring him the ‘BLESSED’/ India Government also honoured him by releasing a postal stamp for his social reforms.