Inter-Novitiate Conference

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Bangalore – If we ask, how can we tell if a person is mature? We can say, if a person consistently acts in a mature manner, he or she is a mature person. However, if he or she consistently acts in an immature manner, we can be certain that he or she is an immature person. To have a comprehensive understanding and to develop human maturity, the Guanellian novices attended a 5-day course on Affective Maturity given by Fr. Deva Doss, CMF at Prem Anjali convent of the Charles Borromeo sisters. At the outset, the course was very practical which helped them to understand the human feelings of each other and to act accordingly. It further moulded the novices to form themselves in conformity with Christ and his teachings endowed in the Gospel.

Incarnation of Love

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Chennai – The incarnation of Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God’s eternal love and mercy. It assumed the whole of humanity. Jesus especially identified the poor, suffering, and the weaker of society with Him and took the human flesh as One among them and One for them. Today’s world, in the name of newness and constant change exploits these people and further victimizes them. Therefore, to heal broken and exploited humanity, our beloved pope, in his recent apostolic letter “Mercy and Misery,” to close the Year of Mercy, solicits all humanity to the pragmatic aspect of Mercy. He calls on Catholics to work to “restore dignity to people, especially those who do not have work, do not have homes, are marginalized, are hungry, must migrate, are in prison in inhuman conditions or do not have access to education.” To practice human kindness and love Don Guanella Evening School organized a suppose Christmas celebration for all the poor children from the slums and impoverished families. The simple service rendered to those faces of Christ made a greater witness to the surrounding which is filled with people of other faiths and traditions. Everyone irrespective of social boundaries joined as one family of love and fraternity to celebrate the birth of peace, justice and joy. The celebration included cultural programs and gift distribution. The confreres and children made the day a very meaningful preparation to celebrate Christmas.

A Gift for a Saint

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Manila – Bro. Erwin Azurin renewed his vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for one year on December 19th, birthday of St. Louis Guanella. Holy Mass was presided by Fr. Charlton Viray, Vice Provincial Superior who also received the vows of Bro. Erwin. Fr. Charlton focused his homily on the vows and asked Bro. Erwin to be faithful to his promises. Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Battista, Fr. Charles and Fr. Loyola and attended by the whole seminary community and Guanellian Cooperators representatives, Jun and Alice Hizon. Bro. Erwin hails from Legazpi, Albay and is now in his first year of Theology at Recoletos School of Theology.

Christmas Fest

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Bangalore – Don Guanella Oratory in Bangalore celebrated suppose Christmas at Guanella Preethi Nivas in a grand and meaningful way. With a gracious spiritual start the program began its richness with singing, dancing, party games, gifts sharing and other competitive programs. The dignitaries present at the event were very happy and amazed by the little works and gifts of charity rendered to the poor children. A thought provoking message about Christmas and New Year was given. The motivation and encouragement of the speech made the gathering more energized and strengthened.

Cooperators’ Christmas

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Manila – The Guanellian Cooperators organized a Christmas Gift Giving and Outreach Program for the Guanella Homes Housing Project. The beneficiaries of the Housing Project are poor families with a special child/children who do not have decent housing. The children and parents also receive services at Guanella Center. Fifteen families received gifts and food and enjoyed several games and presentations during the event. Thank you to our Guanellian Cooperators who continually support the activities of the Servants of Charity and Guanella Center.

Happy Birthday, Father!

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Cuddalore – Every birthday makes a testimony that God still loves the world and showers his unceasing grace upon it. In return, if the life received from God makes its best on earth through holy living and serving, then it becomes a gratuitous gift to God. Our Holy Founder, St. Louis Guanella, exemplified this and made his life a gift to God through his spiritual vibrancy and selfless service. In view of honoring his holy birth, life and his charitable patrimony, the Guanellian Family of St. Joseph’s Seminary, Don Guanella Boys Home, Sagaya Matha Parish, Divine Providence Convent and Hostel, GLM and all the beneficiaries joined in celebrating the 174th Birthday of St. Guanella, with solemn Mass, cultural programs, gift sharing and a meal. It was a moment of revitalizing the spirit, mission and vision of our Holy Founder. Thanks be to God for the gift of St. Louis Guanella, the Saint of Charity!

Special Children Receive Sacramental Grace

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Manila – On December 8th a group of persons with disabilities received the Sacraments of Baptism and First Holy Communion. Presided by Fr. Charlton Viray and concelebrated by Fr. Battista Omodei and Fr. Loyola Diraviam, it was a joyful event not only for the families of these children but also for the Guanella Center community. Our Founder, St. Louis Guanella always insisted the importance of giving not only bread but first and foremost giving our Lord. As they received the Lord and the graces because of the reception of the Sacraments, let us pray that more and more special children may be privileged to receive the Sacraments. Unfortunately, very few parishes or dioceses have programs on how to catechize children with intellectual disabilities so that they can eventually receive the sacraments like ordinary Catholics do.

Family Day

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Bangalore – Family Day is an opportunity to renew the bond of family spirit that makes all united for the common good. The Guanella Preethi Nivas community celebrated family Day coupled with suppose Christmas and the commemoration of the founder’s birthday on December 19th. Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, Guanellian Cooperators, GLM members, benefactors, well-wishers, beneficiaries, staff and all faithful attended the event. It was gratifying to celebrate the joys and happiness of the year with one another. The event began with solemn holy Mass celebrated by the superior. It also included innovative party games and a cultural program. The Guanellian Family shared Christmas gifts with the staff and a meal was offered by the Cooperators and GLM.

Silver Jubilee

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Cuddalore – The Divine Providence Province, as one family of God gave thanks to God for the 25 years of sacerdotal blessing to Fr. A. John Bosco, SdC, the first Indian Guanellian confrere, on December 16th during the annual provincial assembly. The Guanellians present made the celebration very grand. The festive mood of celebrating the Jubilee inspired many young confreres to be more authentic, enthusiastic and committed in their priesthood. Fr. John Bosco thanked and blessed the gathering with his words of love and gratitude. He encouraged all to taste and see the goodness of God through the holy priesthood. He requested everyone to be more faithful to their vocations and to be fully consecrated to God.

New Home for Charity

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Cuddalore – The Charity of Christ should urge all souls dedicated to Him to be dedicated to those who say, “I have no one in the world.” Extending charity draws souls closer to sanctity, for charity will save the world. With this spiritual vibrancy the Guanellian family under the guidance of Fr. Visuwasam SdC, with the help of local sources, has prepared a new House for the works of charity in the area. This is meant for daily evening school programs for the poor children nearby and Sunday open house ministry for the homeless without food, clothing and shelter. The house was inaugurated and blessed by Fr. A. John Bosco SdC in the honorable presence of Fr. Soosai, Provincial Superior and his Council and other Guanellian confreres. The words of the Founder, “as long as there are poor to be assisted in the world, there is no end for the works of charity” was in the hearts of those present.

Annual Assembly in India

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Cuddalore – The Annual Assembly for the Perpetually Professed Indian Confreres of the Divine Providence Province was held December 14th–16th at St. Joseph’s Seminary. Forty-five Guanellian priests working in India attended the assembly. Fr. Soosai Rathinam was the president of the assembly. Rev. Fr. Samson and Rev. Fr. Francis Assisi were nominated as the moderators and Fr. Benson and Fr. Amalraj were elected as the secretaries. The precedent of the assembly cheerfully invited and encouraged all the office bearers and the participants to be more dynamic and authentic. The major themes dealt in the assembly were as follow;

  • “Outward-Bound” Servants of Charity – By Rev. Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC

The Crux of the Session: It is to have fidelity to the charism and newness well tuned in order to express it today in a society which is very different from that of our Founder. Church by its very nature is missionary and it needs the spiritual and apostolic contribution. The consecrated life is being characterized by the constant search for God and the constant re-visitation of its identity. One needs to overcome the wrong perspective of religious life and learn to find God in all things. The prophetic character of the consecrated life is to nurture, nourish and evoke a consciousness. Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God, celebrating sacraments and exercising the ministry of Charity.

 

  • Together as DPP “Upholding your Spiritual Vibrancy and Mission in India”

– By Fr. Antony Joseph, SDB

 

The Crux of the Session: The spiritually vibrant person would be with fire, passionate and their motive is to love God and people. The feeling of being loved and the best interest to live the Christian life move a person to be spiritually vibrant. He gave five keys to find out the spiritually vibrant, they are member’s contribution, assimilation, trust in leadership, community impact and health growth.  They live a life bible based, Christ centered and spirit led. He added twenty one (21) points to be spiritually vibrant. Be a giver and not a receiver, identify blessing, speak words of blessing, nurture a shared prayer life, take a step of Faith, restore someone’s faith, be a grateful person, share the journey with others, serve, cultivate the solitude, fast and pray, turn worries over to God,  spread love wherever you go, keep your priorities straight, strive for excellence, use it or lose it the talents, meditate on scriptures, be reliable, ask God make you a blessing, Spend time with nature, exercise the power of choice. After the questions and clarifications the assembly left for midday prayer and lunch.

  • Guanellian Identity and Mission in India Today: “Paradigm shift from Mono-Cultural to Multi-Cultural phase”                 – By Fr. Kulandaisamy, SdC

 

The Crux of the Session: He took root from GC 19, Evangelized to Evangelize No: 5 Establishment of International communities, and from 7th General Consultation’s General Issues “confreres should be prepared to inter-cultural life and values. He defined world “culture”, mono – culture and multi-culture. He explained clearly quoting from Pope Francis “Tradition is not the worship of ashes but the preservation of fire”. One has to know how to preserve what is essential and open ourselves to the newness of the Spirit. It is only in this way that a presence can lasts, even for centuries. In transmission of Charism, the identity must not be lost. The transmission of a charism has a charismatic nature rather than an institutional nature (Mono culture to multi culture). It is inexorably linked to people, who make it a living experience. Guanellian Charism has experienced many cultures in the world and it would be more enriching in Indian pluralistic culture without losing its origin. The Guanellian focus must be on the people who have no one disregarding the religion, caste geography etc. After the clarifications the meeting came to an end and assembly proceeded for the health break.

 

  • “Updating on legal compliances such as FCRA, taxation and financial situation of DPP”                                                                 – By Fr. Visuwasam, SdC

The Crux of the Session: He started with the quote of Mother Teresa, “It is not that we are called to be successful rather faithful”. He explained the present situation of India and invited everyone to be aware of FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act), the exemption from the income tax, and charitable purposes according to the income tax act. He listed out the documents to be maintained properly in a all the communities, pointed out the list of frequent mistakes and rectifications in maintaining the bills and accounts. He added the eligibility criteria for section 80G, donations permitted under section 80G, Exemptions under section 80G, the main purpose of the societies’ registration act. He gave the clear idea on the term society and way to manage the society. Eventually he brought to the notice of the confreres the assets of the congregation in India. After giving the details of the account of the different communities he gave some suggestions for the progress.

  • The Journey of Guanellian Lay movement and Guanellian Co-operators: ‘Richness and Diversity of experience and co-operation’ in India

– By Fr. Visuwasam, SdC

The Crux of the Session: He started his narration with the sayings of our Founder “He who is called by the Lord to be an Instrument of his Divine Providence, must have great Faith and the Right Intention.” He gave clear idea about GLM and GC, the statistics, vision, purpose, members, type of formation given to them, the difference between GLM and GC, the journey accompanied with them and the activities of GLM and GC in different communities.  At the end of his talk he gave some proposals in the province level in order to motivate the GLM and GC members.

 

  • “Along the River, Outside the Gate”        – By Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC

The Crux of the Session: As we are going to celebrate 174th birthday of our merciful founder indeed it is a providential moment to revision things, new directions and new ways of looking at reality. Father Guanella was a visionary and great missionary. Henceforth we are called to re-incarnate his presence, vision and mission contextually. Creative fidelity is a fundamental theme in the Consecrated life..the fundamental question is not , why be a religious? but rather ‘for whom and with whom? Today we live the culture of the ‘disposable’ of the collapse of ideology like anti-values, no long term commitment, greater speed, crisis of consecration etc.. in this context the  quality of our love for Christ and for humanity is equally important. The important features for the promotion of the charism are Qualitative progress of charism, fraternal solidarity in the furtherance of the spirit of the mission, visibility of the religious witness and etc.,  

 

Exclusive of the all the resourceful sessions, there was a meaningful group discussion and valid report making on questionnaires drawn from the different sessions. At the climax of the assembly there was enough time given for ‘open forum and dialogue’ where the participants made their ‘Concrete proposals for the renewal of DPP in order to grow in fraternal communion and mission was made’. Finally, there was a great joy and festive fragrance in all to celebrate the 25th Sacerdotal Silver Jubilee of our first Indian confrere Rev. Fr. A. John Bosco, SdC. It was a grand celebration with solemn Holy Mass, Felicitation and Cultural Program. On the whole, with the spirit of contentment and family spirit the assembly came to its end. Rev. Fr. Provincial superior with his cordial love thanked and greeted everyone with Christmas gifts.

Struggling to Pray

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By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

A good friend, who also is a good father, husband and benefactor, came to visit for the usual Christmas wishes. He asked me what I was reading. I told him I was trying to read the letters of St. Paul, taking up the theme of prayer in his letters. He was in a talking mood and continued saying that he loved the Jubilee Year of Mercy for its themes of fasting and almsgiving. However, he added that he had difficulties with prayer. “The Hail Marys and Our Fathers have become meaningless. Mass, including the homily, is boring. I keep hearing that we need to pray more, but I fail to pray.”
We all are struggling to pray until we learn what prayer really is. We need to reflect on the essential role of the Holy Spirit for those who wish to communicate with God.
Prayer is not a fruit of human effort, but a gift, the fruit of the living, vivifying presence of the Father of Jesus Christ in us. We, the believers, have the human desire for prayer. We want to pray, but God is far off, we do not have the words, the language, to speak with God, nor even the thought to do so. We can only open ourselves, place our time at God’s disposal; wait for Him to help us to enter into true dialogue. St. Paul says: this very lack of words, this absence of words, yet this desire to enter into contact with God, is prayer that the Holy Spirit not only understands, but brings and interprets before God. This very weakness of ours, through the Holy Spirit, becomes true prayer, true contact with God. The Holy Spirit is the interpreter who makes us, and God, understand what it is we wish to say. Prayer brings us to understand that we are weak, poor creatures. And the more we advance in listening and in dialogue with God, the more we also perceive the measure of our limitations, not only in the face of the concrete situations of everyday life, but also in our relationship with the Lord.
It is the Holy Spirit who helps our inability, who enlightens our minds and warms our hearts, guiding us as we turn to God. Prayer is above all the work of the Holy Spirit in our humanity. He takes our weakness and transforms us from men bound to material realities into spiritual men, when we allow the Spirit of Christ, and not the spirit of the world, to work in us as the interior principle of all our actions.

From the blog of Fr. Ed Broom, OMV (http://bit.ly/2iF2gxP)

Prayer animated by the Spirit enables us to abandon and to overcome every form of fear and slavery, and so to experience the true freedom of the children of God.
We then come to understand that, through prayer, we are not delivered from trials or sufferings, but we are able to live them in union with Christ, with His sufferings, and participating also in His glory. Prayer, sustained by the Spirit of Christ who speaks in our interior depths, never remains closed in upon itself, it is never only prayer for me; rather, it opens out to a sharing in the suffering of our time, of others. It becomes intercession for others, and thus freedom for me; a channel of hope for all creation and the expression of that love of God, which has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit who has been given to us. And this is a sign of true prayer, that it does not end in ourselves, but opens out to others and so liberates me, and so helps in the redemption of the world.
Dear confreres, we have a treasure in our faith and in our heart: the power of prayer. We need to enter in communion with the Holy Spirit and He will teach us how to love Jesus the Redeemer and the Holy Spirit the Sanctifier. I wish all of you a Happy New Year, a year when, accompanied by the Spirit we can discover what an incredible treasure the power of the Spirit is in our souls, our Order and all believers.

Formators and Vocation Promoters Meet

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Bangalore – The annual meeting for the formators and vocation promoters of the Divine Providence Province was held on November 29th at Guanella Preethi Nivas. The central theme of the meeting was “a new pedagogy for integral formation to the priesthood and consecrated life in India.” The meeting was led by Fr. Soosai Rathinam SdC, Provincial Superior, with presentations by Fr. Joe Mathiayas SJ. Frs. Samson, Gnanaraj, Francis, and Prakash SdC organized the event. The central messages drawn from the meeting were:

  • Formation is not just a mere human action but is also Trinitarian and divine. God the Father is the formator and “the activity of the Father through the Spirit molds the hearts of persons in formation according to the mind of the Son”.
  • God the Father, in the continuous gift of Christ and the Spirit, is the formator par excellence of the one consecrated to Him. But in this work God is also served by the mediating role of human persons, matured in faith and discipleship.
  • The one who serves in such a ministry is placed as a mediator between God’s action and the human response and must therefore be one who knows both the human and the divine heart well.
  • Formation “ought to be formation of the whole person” in every aspect of his or her individuality, behavior, and intentions.” The heart, reason, will, memory, imagination, senses, desires, tastes, the conscious and unconscious everything ideally ought to be the object of attention in formation; so that the new person in Christ can really come to life.
  • Moreover, “formation, in order to be total, must encompass all the aspects of Christian and consecrated life. Thus there must be spiritual, human, intellectual, cultural and pastoral preparation which aids the harmonious integration of the various aspects.”
  • For vocation promotion, all the members of the congregation must toil and sweat. All must attract candidates by witnessing through their lifestyle, spiritual grounding, maturity and innovative programs. After recruiting candidates, the formators must accompany them and assist them to know and discern the choice and service.

…A Gift from God!

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Our lives are beautiful gifts from God, and how we live them out is our prayer of gratitude for such a gift.
-St. Louis Guanella

The New Year’s fragrance staggered around the globe with its varieties of dreams, expectations and plans. We welcome the end of one calendar year and the beginning of a new one so happily. The manner of celebrating may differ from place to place. Nations use different calendars, but the passing of one year to the next is universally marked by deliberate reflections ‘change, to begin anew or making the gifted life as the best offering to God’ in the year to come. This is because we all hunger to be made new and, intuitively, we all know that means we must change within if we want to experience change around us. Today in this extremely-advanced world, this common hope ‘Changing or Newness’ stirs up everyone towards the ultimate destiny from where everyone sourced. But as for the truth, it can find its ultimate fulfillment only by turning to the One who can make all things new, Jesus Christ.
Adding significance to it, St. Gregory of Nazianzen once wrote, “The object of a New Year is not that we should just have a new period of time. It is that we should have a new soul and a new heart; new feet, new hands, new ears, and new eyes with the springs of Gospel and Christ. A life gifted by God must become reborn, renewed, rejuvenated in the Spirit of God, for unless a person be re-born and re-rooted in Jesus, he shall by no means cherish the life, the wondrous gift of God and make it a gratuitous prize for God.” For this, we are obliged to do three important projects in life: ‘Encountering God, Experiencing God, and Evangelizing God’. Encountering God or knowing the heart of the Father, through daily spiritual nourishment, Experiencing God, in conformity with Christ through personal holiness and moral maturity and Evangelizing God, through a life witness based on Gospel and natural norms.
Over the years, we have come to realize that every end truly can become a new beginning for the man or woman who has living faith in a living God who invites us to begin again, again and again. This invitation does not glow only with a bed of roses but is always accompanied by a bed of thorns. But God endowed upon us or has sown in us a divine gift to battle against all the challenges and clutches of the world. This gift is called grace – and through receiving this grace we become what the Apostle Peter called “Partakers of the Divine Nature” (2 Pt 1:4). For our sustenance, God gave us an example of how we are to live, by sending His Son to preach forgiveness and mercy for repentance and to allow Himself to be the final and complete sin offering for all the collective sins of mankind for all time.
The next greatest example is Mary, the Mother of God. Mary is sometimes referred to in Catholic circles as the Mother of the New Creation because the One whom she held in her womb is the only One who makes all things new! Mary was the first disciple, the prototype, the symbol of the whole Church. Along with her Son, she sought for peace and holiness in the world. We who are members of the Church, the Body of her Son, are invited to emulate her ‘Yes’ to the invitation of God and make it our own. We are called to make a place for Him within us and become bearers of Christ to the world. For He alone can make us new.
Therefore, I pray that in the Year of Our Lord, 2017, as a province taking refuge in the providence of God, we may all find the fullness of grace and the new beginning which comes through entering into a living relationship with the One who makes all things new, Jesus the Christ. (Rv 21:5). Let us make a renewed effort at daily prayer and spiritual reading, as well as regular participation in the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church. Let us renew our commitment to those given to our care to always appreciate the beautiful gift of life in them. Let our sins be turned into virtues and be the gifts we give to God the Son. Let us renew our willingness to die to all within us that is offensive to the God Child and renew our commitment and love for the Mother of God. Each day, let us rejoice at the wonderful gift of life in abundance and an eternity of bliss and live our lives to the fullest capacity we can. Let us invest our talents in service to our Divine Lord and thank Him every day for the splendid graces He brings us. Let us thank Him as well for those times of travail, for these too are a gift from Him designed to strengthen our patience and compassion for those who are also suffering.

“Whoever is in Christ is a New Creation: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come.”
(2 Cor 5:17)

Prayer for the Intercession of Blessed Clare Bosatta

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O Jesus, Savior of the lowly, WClare13ho made Blessed Clare Bosatta shine through the spirit of sacrifice, by rendering her an untiring apostle of Your Gospel among the poor; teach us her total abandonment in Divine Providence, her love of prayer, her patience in suffering, and her spirit of dedication to the most needy. Grant us, through her intercession, the grace … that we ask you for trustingly through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …
Blessed Clare, intercede for us!

Lay Good Samaritans Gather

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Chennai – For the 5th consecutive year forming and bringing the GLM together was indeed a blessing. Our Founder taught that the Laity must participate in the Guanellian mission. It is evident where the GLM is present in Andhra, Bangalore, Chennai, Kumbakonam, Sivagangai and now Krishna Berry. Around 40 representatives from each location gathered in Chennai for a 2 day retreat which involved seminars on Christian Values, Guanellian Spirituality, duties and responsibilities of the laity as mentioned in Vatican II. The group was enriched with these sessions by Fr. Visuvasam, Fr. Adaikalam and Fr. Francis respectively. The members were happy to look back and share their success stories. The baseline was that we walk together to be a Good Samaritan. The Guanellian Cooperators were also invited for the meeting as a means of grooming and mentoring the GLM members. The GC Secretary made a presentation on what is necessary to be a GC member, what is the vocation, how to prepare oneself, how important is the formation and that it is truly an independent decision made by a GLM member to become the third wing of the Congregation. The spirit of the group must be appreciated because the event took place during the festival time. The festival was celebrated as Guanellian Family with games to bond them and lift their spirits.

Harvesting the Fruits of our Labor

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Cuddalore – “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for His harvest.” (Lk 10:2). It was with joy the priests and seminarians of St. Joseph’s Seminary offered a fruitful and beneficial harvest out of their hard labor of cultivating the farms with paddy and other vegetables. As our holy founder St. Guanella said, “Pray and Suffer” for a holy way of living. The young seminarians, with due formation and holy ascetic experience through this labor, enthusiastically contributed their energy for the community. This further developed their sense of belonging and family spirit in the congregation. As God blessed the harvest in fruitfulness, He also blessed these servants with greater virtues and values. All praise be to God!

Feast of Santo Niño

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Manila – Annually the Servants of Charity celebrate the feast of St. Niño. The day before the feast, the seminarians went around the area to invite children to come over for the feast. This year the celebration started with a procession on January 15th followed by Holy Mass presided by Fr. Charlton Viray, SdC. About 200 children came to participate. During the homily, Fr. Charlton gave the children some examples of how we should be humble and how easy we should forgive. After Mass, games were arranged for the children. The seminarians and the (GYM) Guanellian Youth Ministry were main facilitators of the games. The children really enjoyed the games and went home smiling. This day was really a celebration for the children.

Holy Hour for Life

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In an effort to bring the Guanellian Cooperators together spiritually, a Holy Hour was planned for January 26th. To help deepen each Cooperator in the Guanellian charism, the hope is that each month a Holy Hour will be offered.

The first Holy Hour was held as pilgrims were headed to Washington DC for the 2017 March for Life, the Guanellian Cooperators gathered in the St. Louis Center Chapel to pray for their safety, a successful March and for an end to the evil of abortion. Fr. David Stawasz, SdC, offered Adoration and Benediction for the occasion. Jerome, an SLC resident, played hymns on the organ and Cooperators read scripture that reminded us of the importance of choosing life. Deuteronomy (30, 15-20) tells us that God always gives us the opportunity to choose Him and implores us that by doing so we will be abundantly blessed.  The second reading from Romans (12, 1-2, 9-18) urges us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice not to be conformed to this age but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. We are to give ourselves fully for the good of others and to live in peace with all.

The Gospel of John (15, 9-17) about loving your neighbor as yourself was the backdrop for Fr. David’s homily.  He wanted to convey how much the Church values life from conception to natural death. Though most everyone understands the Churches views on abortion, he taught that in cases of persons with terminal or debilitating illness the Church does not require any extraordinary means to sustain life, but what is basic for the dignity of a human person.

Judy Koenn gave her personal testimony as a mother, wife and Christian. Because of her personal trials and hardships she wants everyone to understand that, “God is the restorer of all things. There is nothing that God won’t forgive us of. The only thing that can separate us from God are the sins of our past.” She encouraged everyone to seek His forgiveness; to turn and follow Him. She even spoke of the experience of sitting on a bench in Grand Rapids with a full size statue of Jesus reclined there. She said that you can nestle in close and feel His embrace in a moving way. She encouraged us to imagine ourselves, especially in our darkest moments, to be in the arms of Jesus. She used the gift of her beautiful singing voice to enliven her message.

The Holy Hour, which attracted 25 participants, was very moving and a great kick-off for more spiritually enriching activities sponsored by the Guanellian Cooperators. Special thanks to Sr. Andrea Curran, DSMP; Fr. Amal, SdC; and Fr. Franklin, SdC for their assistance in preparing the Holy Hour.

Time for All

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Chennai – Don Guanella Evening School celebrated the Pongal Festival on January 14th. The people of Tamilnadu mark this festival by making pongal, colorful Rangoli art and thanking the Lord for the harvest. Br. Praveen conducted party games and awarded prizes to the winners. All the children thanked Fr. Samson from DGMS who gave a beautiful explanation of the festival and blessed the pongal pot. Sweet pongal was served to all the children before they left went home. The following day Ms. Stella, a Guanellian Cooperators from Bengaluru, offered a class on “Motivation” for the Evening School youth. She began by stating that the future depends on each young person, therefore everyone needs to maximize themselves for the good of all. The youth had the opportunity to ask questions and share puzzling aspects of their life. The class ended by singing a Marian hymn.

Month Begins with Blessings

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Chennai – Don Guanella Special School had multiple occasions to celebrate and to be happy. To celebrate New Year’s Amazon staff from the online company, sponsored school uniform T-Shirts for DGSS children. They entertained our children with a creative cultural program and various games. Staff and students were very thankful for the generosity of Amazon and the staff members.
Pongal is a festive celebration throughout India, but especially in Tamilnadu, as it is infused with their culture and tradition. On this special day, DGSS celebrated Pongal by sharing Indian traditions with the entire community. We also remembered and thanked God, nature, formators, and all those who helped us to celebrate the feast.

A Journey of Faith

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Manila – On January 11th the postulants went on a walking pilgrimage from the Servants of Charity Seminary in Quezon City to four churches in greater Manila: St. Domingo Church in Quezon City (where they prayed the Holy Rosary), San Sebastian Church, Quiapo Church (Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene) and St. Cruz Church (Parish of Our Lady of the Pillar). The journey took about four hours of walking through the busy and polluted streets of Quezon City and Manila. Although it was quite challenging, the annual pilgrimage taught them lessons that will remain in their hearts: perseverance, patience, compassion for the poor, fraternity and the joy of communion. This is the third year of for the event; the first was in 2014 when the seminarians walked from the seminary to Antipolo Church and last year was a five hour walk to Baclaran Church, the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Honor for Hard Work

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Chennai – A sports meet called, “Special Olympics Bharat” for differently-abled children was held on January 21st with the motto “let me win but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”. Don Guanella Special School students participated, winning the Gold medal in Throw Ball and 50M Running. The well-known actor, Mr. Santhanam, celebrated his birthday with the special children and during the program encouraged everyone to have patience with children and spent the day meeting each school.
Another celebration was in honor of Republic Day of India. LC Project Nagapatinam distributed candle making certificates for DGSS students who were trained in candle making. Two of our school staff gave the training, producing various models of candles for students to get ideas of the concept of candle making. The work of staff and students are praiseworthy.

On Holiday with God

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Cuddalore – “Our hearts were made for you; they cannot rest until they find rest in You”. – St. Augustine. In order to help the young seminarians to rest for a while with God, the annual retreat for St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary was offered January 13th–16th. The retreat theme was “Holidaying with God in order to cherish the Love of God and nourish the Soul with Holiness.” The preacher was Rev. Fr. Xavier, a well known priest from Pondy-Cuddalore Archdiocese. The preacher meticulously guided the young scholastics on an inner journey with God and to have a richer spiritual experience. It was a blessed moment for all of them to discern and strengthen their vocation. Each day of the retreat ran in sacred silence and meaningful reflection. Finally the seminarians with a meaningful sacrament of reconciliation, solemn Eucharistic celebration and personal resolution ended the annual spiritual exercise.

Relax a While

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Chennai – The very moment we get up, we have plans to accomplish a lot before going to bed again. We sometimes forget to eat; parents even expect their students to excel and be over-achievers. We must be aware that students especially need to relax between activities to be successful. As part of the program at Don Guanella Evening School, a one-day picnic was organized for the children. Sixty-five children, seminarians and staff traveled to MGM, a theme park in Chennai. The morning was reserved for the different rides and afternoon for the water games. The children had a lot of fun and relaxation. They all expressed their joy for being involved with DGES which helps them have fun, learn educational values and gives guidance.