It was a sunny day on September 1, 1948 when a young aspirant, Gero Lombardo, was introducted to former Father General Luigi Alippi. He was happy to greet this first young Sicilian boy who had asked to enter the Guanellian seminary, and since that day, many goals have been achieved. However, back then no one could have imagined that he alone would bring the Guanellians to Germany; those funny priests who had arrived only months before in his beloved Sicily. Now this long difficult journey has come to an end, and why the Lord linked Gero to His wise plan is now clear. Although he would not become a priest, he remained deeply commited to the ideals he was taught as a Guanellian seminarian.
Today’s story unfolds with Father Luigi DiGiambattista accompanying Fr. Baniak, SdC from Krakow to Germany. Before their arrival, Mother Inge Lombardo worked tirelessly to make a positive first impression for the German culture. Her patient, attentive dedication made the task possible. She did a good job, meriting the gratitude of many Guanellians who enjoyed her hospitality during the preparations. After visiting Dean Ihle an inspection took place of the flat at St. Josef House in downtown Pforzheim, the official residence of the German Guanellian community.
On Sunday, June 30th our confreres concelebrated Holy Mass for the Mother General of the Daughters of St. Josef and two parish priests. After Mass Fr. Luigi presented them each with a blessed medallion in gratitude for their long relationship with the Pious Union in Rome. Gero then took the opportunity to thank the nuns for the work at their hospital in Pforzheim, where many Italian children were born, including his dear son Fabio! The group proposed to their Mother General a closer relationship between the SdC and the DSJ in India, where they are present at Kerala, TN, AP.
The next day the group travelled to the St.Trudpert Abbey, home of the German Pious Union since 1919. There are more than 100,000 members, significantly more than Gero‘s earlier estimate of 15,000. Provincial Mother Germana and Sr. Bernita, director of GPU, and Sister Emmanuela, well known among the Italians of Pforzheim because of her 25 years of service at the Catholic Hospital of St.Trudpert welcomed us. Superior Msgr. Eric Hensler also welcomed our confreres during a short meeting after dinner.
On July 1st the group met with Vicar Bishop Klug and introduced Fr. Baniak before beginning his full immersion in the German language. Bishop Klug invited them to discuss the accomodations for both confreres at the MCI Pforzheim and their residence at St. Joseph house. Bishop Klug then made a generous promise to finance the purchase of all needed furniture in the religious residence!
A week later the group picked up Fr. Antonyraj from Stuttgart and gave him a quick tour of his future Pforzheim home. He was happy to stay at the Guanella House in our small town and enjoyed the warm Italian welcome for the night. On July 10th we accompaned him to Freiburg to meet the bishop’s secretary, Deacon Roth, at Borremaeum College to initiate his six month German language course. We visited the famous Freiburg cathedral with Fr. Baniak, Deacon Roth and Fr. Arokiadoss, and then returned home; mission accomplished! Thanks be to God and to the Blessed Mother, our Patroness of Holy Providence. We were filled with joy and gratitude. Now with united forces we can accomplish more from Old Germany! Viribus Unitis fortior sind!
Despite the intensive work involved in organizing all these steps, we have not forgotten the pending projects that the Procure proposed to our benefactors. Those in the Philippines seem to have been approved: PT Manila and Nourishment Program Legapzi. Frs. Viray and Omodei will receive official confirmation shortly. We also hope that both the Sivaganai van and Vatluru kitchen will receive generous donations. Two projects in „Mother Africa“ Kinshasa for Children Aids Prevention and a van will be accepted with great joy by our tireless Brother Mauro and the Lemba community.
May God continue to bless all our mentors in Germany as well as our Curia in Rome and of all our
brothers on the front lines of charity in Philippines, India, Vietnam and Africa!
Gero Lombardo GGP