Manila – July 27th-28th the new seminarians and postulants of the Servants of Charity went on recollection at the Augustinian nuns’ retreat house, Mother of Good Counsel Monastery in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan with Fr. Ronnie Samaniego as the main facilitator of the retreat. The recollection was designed to help the seminarians become well-oriented and informed about the stage they were about to enter and to develop a deep sense of fraternity to enhance community life. The first day was for aspirants and the next day was for postulants.
Vatluru – During the months of May and June people in Andhra Pradesh begin to think of weddings. They are often arranged marriages; events in the family where a lot of money is spent. Many were not getting married because they were lacking in finances. Following local customs, many ceremonies are included which all the relatives attend. A blessing with rice and yellow power turmeric is common here and gifts are exchanged. Let us pray for the unity of families and for successful married life.
Legazpi – Disability audits are a part of the activities during National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week celebrations. Establishments such as food chains, malls, offices and public places are visited by a group of representatives from DOJ, DILG, DPH, CHR, DENR, SIMON of CYRENE and SAGRADA FAMILIA, which checks if these establishments comply with the accessibility laws. The ramps, parking area, priority lane, discounts and comfort rooms are also being evaluated. Proper measurements of ramps and comfort rooms are also evaluated in order to be accessible for PWDs. For those buildings operating without proper accessibility, a report is given to the engineering department for them to validate, which may result in cancellation of the permit to operate for non – compliance of the law. For those who comply, a certificate of compliance is awarded to show their support to our brother’s and sister’s with disabilities.
Sivagangai – There are plenty of ways to attain enjoyment but a small loop is the only way to enjoy happiness. It was the greatest opportunity for postulants of Sivagangai to experience and to enjoy God’s love with practical knowledge of the mission of the Servants of Charity. Therefore Fr. Superior and the formators initiated the ministry for the postulants to experience filial affinity with those who say, ‘I have no one.’ They began this mission experience with the ‘Anbagam Special Children’ on July 6th. As part of the mission, special children were elevated through doing the charitable works and making them feel happy for the love of God. Indeed, it was a blessed day for all who recognized the charity and loveable heart of St. Louis Guanella.
Legazpi – On July 13th, the novices began their academic year with the topics Constitutions and Regulations, Formation and Basic Psychology. The Life, the Spirit and the Works of St. Louis Guanella, the Founder, is the main text for their studies.
The school year for the novices also includes their apostolate which officially kicked off by celebrating holy Mass at Purok 6, the poor area in Albay Bicol on July 22nd. The novices will accompany the poor children with games and catechism classes.
Chennai – Don Guanella Evening School inauguration for this scholastic year 2017-18 was held on June 27th. Fr. Samson, Rector of Don Guanella Major Seminary, opened the event by lighting the lamp representing the light of Christ. The event included a speech by the chief guest where he asked the children to “gain knowledge that can never be stolen but rather shared with others.” Some of the students delivered speeches on the theme ‘How to be a successful student in the current scenario.’ Fr. A. C. Perianayagasamy appreciated their work and distributed prizes to the students from our evening school who secured high marks in their board exams last year. The program ended with the colorful songs and dances of the students and in the spirit of happiness snacks were distributed before the children went home.
By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC
From the moment Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio adopted the name “Francis” the world has seen a Pope for whom the virtue of humility is primary. His outward gestures of humility are famous. He turned down the papal car and took the bus to St. Martha Guesthouse. The day after his election he quietly slipped out to pay his hotel bill. The symbolic gestures continued: his permanent residence at St. Martha Guesthouse, his welcome of trash collectors and cleaners to daily Mass, his outreach to the homeless and all those on the margins. These outward gestures preach the gospel of humility in a powerful way to a world hungry for the beauty, truth and goodness of the Gospel.
Pope Francis’ gestures of humility are important: washing the feet of prisoners, embracing people with disfiguring diseases and reaching out to the mentally ill, the disabled and the poor are wonderful examples. Is it really humble to kiss lepers and wash the feet of prisoners?
It is important that we do not misunderstand the prophetic nature of the papal office. One of the main functions of the papacy is that of a figurehead. The pope symbolizes Catholicism. As the head of the Catholic Church every pope plays a symbolic and ceremonial role through which he incarnates and lives out the values and beliefs of the Catholic religion. Each pope does this in a different way, bringing his own gifts and personality to the task.
Throughout his ministry Pope Francis has been a man of the people. He has lived in a modest apartment, done his own cooking, taken the bus to the office and remained close to the poorest of the poor. It is natural and right that he brings these same gifts to the office of the papacy. The papal office magnifies these gifts and amplifies them to proclaim to the whole world that the primary virtue for all Christians is humility.
Being submissive and oppressed by another person is not humility. Being falsely pious and lowly is not humility. Being overly scrupulous in religion is not humility and neither is service to the poor necessarily a sign of humility.
The best way to understand humility is to first understand pride. Pride is the vice that counters humility. We often think of arrogance as pride, but that is only a superficial manifestation of pride. At its heart, pride is the attitude that I have done nothing wrong and that there is nothing to apologize for. A proud person believes himself or herself to be okay. They honestly see themselves as good and righteous and not in need of help. A self-sufficient person is proud. A self-righteous person is proud. Anyone who believes himself right and good is proud. The proud person is pictured in the Gospel by the person who says, “I thank you God that I am not like that sinner over there…”
If that is the definition of pride, then it becomes obvious that there are very many people in the church itself who are guilty of the worst sin of all: pride. We therefore come to understand that humility is the basic understanding that we are not good and not righteous. Humility is the awareness that we need others. We need grace. We need help. We need God.
Now we come to understand Pope Francis’ emphasis on the poor, the needy, the immigrant and the disabled. Now we understand why he shines the spotlight on the homeless, the AIDS victim, the starving, the martyrs and the murderers. He reaches out to the refuse and the debris of society because there he sees humility. There he sees humanity’s need for God. There he sees the Gospel in action, for the Gospel is the message of God’s good news for those in peril.
By focusing on humility, Pope Francis brings the world back to the most basic of Gospel truths: that mankind is needy. The human race is hungry for the Bread of Life. Humanity is thirsty for the Water of Life. The human family is poor, and in this essential need we find a humble humanity desperately in need of Divine Mercy.
July was a special month for our congregation. On July 1st, Br. Dao, Br. Dien and Br. Mark, made their first profession of vows. Although they are from Viet Nam and Philippines with many differences they are united as one in the congregation, the Servants of Charity. With hearts full of love they professed their faith to God who will always be with them during their times of need. That day was a special mark for them because they officially started a life of a religious with the vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience. Through and in these vows, they will live a life which no longer belongs to them but to Jesus Christ who has called them and continues to call them again and again to follow Him and serve Him through the charism of the Servants of Charity.
Besides that, we also were glad to welcome six new Vietnamese novices who have been in formation in Manila. They will be guided by Novice Master Fr. Sagayaraj, SdC who is from India. With his guidance, they will learn more about the religious life through which they want to dedicate themselves to the Lord whom they love.
Provincial Superior, Fr. Soosai Rathinam, told them, “In this particular year, you will search for the Lord and answer the question ‘who is he?’” The novices were touched by this because as the apostles did, the novices need to answer this question, “But who do you say that I am?”(Luke 9,20). Novitiate is a special and beautiful year for them to understand the life which they desire to live and to serve through God’s love.
On another special occasion with Fr. Gustavo, the novices received a beautiful message from him:
“At the beginning of this new year of novitiate, what I desire is that you be open to the Holy Spirit, who is the one that shapes your person for consecration.
If we want the Lord to consecrate us like the Virgin Mary, we have to be docile and so in this way the Holy Spirit can penetrate our souls.
The novitiate is a particular stage of our formation that requires openness to His action to live more deeply the grace of this particular call in our lives.
Dear novices, remember that you were the ones who committed yourselves to this particular year. If you give great importance to it you will be successful in your future religious life.
A religious vocation is like a seed, that, watered by grace, sets good roots and we hope you can develop good soil so in this way the strong plant of religious life may grow fruitful.
The Blessed Virgin, St. Louis Guanella and St. Joseph be not only your constant intercessors, but also your models by indicating how to surrender your lives to the Lord as they have done.”
Let us continue to pray for them, so that the Lord will guide them, make them understand His call through the year of Novitiate, and then, they will respond to His call as our beloved Mother responded to the greeting of the angel Gabriel and trusted in the will of God in her life with the heart of humility.
A life long acquired experience in the poor countries of Africa and the Far East have taught me to keep my mind and eyes open. A simple consideration is the fact that in the opulent West, the god Mammon is often the only ruler. We are all blind and deaf. But there, where poverty is at home and everyone must fight daily for their basic survival, one is inclined to reflect and act in a different manner. Because of this serious contraditional attitude, we have noticed an increasing spiritual poverty in the West during the past thirty years. On the other side, there is an increasing spiritual thirst for God! In Old Europe, the enormous scarcity of religiosity produces a great decrease in vocations. The logical consequence is that Europe needs more priests from Africa, India and the Philippines. Nowadays in the south German regions of Badenia and Bavaria, many churches could not exist without the massive presence of ‘foreign priests’ supporting the serious attempts at a real new evangelization.
Consequently during these past months, I have reflected deeply on the intrinsic meaning of the Mission Procure. Our vocation as the third branch of the Guanellian Family is to act as ‘Procurator’ of urgently needed funds in our Missions around the Globe.
After mature consultation with my friends and supporters in the Catholic solidarity agencies, we have decided to attempt a project based on the formal request of our DPP Council to seek funding for the twenty-six Indian Theology students and the four Filippinos in Manila. The first project was handed over to Dr. Peter Birkhofer on March 15th at the World Church Office in the Archdiocese of Freiburg. We are expecting a grant sometime soon for an annual sponsorship of these thirty theology students from our Province.
Due to this initial attempt we have encouraged the African Delegation to submit a similar project. Delegate Fr. Uche Desmond recently submitted the documents. The specific project will be conveyed this week to the very generous Msgr. Thomas Schlichting from the Bishop’s Office of Munich-Freising, and who has recently approved another promising project in our Province at Manila. The Good Samaritan Pharmacy is a real gift of Holy Providence in the Township of Quezon City.
For a good outcome of both projects let us pray and ask the Lord to send more workers to his increasing Vineyard; because a great harvest is ready to be gathered. Soon we’ll celebrate the Dogma of Mary’s Assumption into Heaven. I was there on Nov. 1, 1950, as an altar boy, seated near the gestatorial chair of Pope Pius XII! Fr. Guanella put all his projects in the hands of Our Holy Mother of Divine Providence and of Our Patriarch, St. Joseph. Therefore join us in this hopeful prayer
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procure
Indeed it was a moment of grace and fraternal communion to have the superiors and in-charges of residences of the Guanellian communities of India around Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior, at Don Guanella Major Seminary, Chennai. The primary focus of the two-day gathering (July 25th-26th) was the animation of communities and accompaniment of confreres, which was viewed as the dire need of the time. There were input sessions from the part of the Provincial Superior who highlighted self leadership and relationship with the community. Other resource persons Fr. K. V. Abraham, Sdb; Fr. Francis Devasagayam, CRS; Fr. Peter Jeyagandan, SSS discussed in detail the role of the superior, the service of authority, and decision making. As a whole, the discussions reiterated very strongly some fundamental principles of animation of community life: primacy of God over all, mercy over justice, collegiality and participation in planning, patient listening in decision making, continuous proposal and dialogue in discernment, sustaining confreres in difficulties with prayers above all, regularity with room for exceptions and intervals, allowing space and time for maturity and growth of the individuals or in other words to walk an extra mile. In addition to these, some urgent orientations were given by Fr. Soosai in view of the forthcoming Provincial chapter and General chapter. He urged the animators to involve the entire community more effectively toward fruitful celebration of the chapters. During the program, there were moments of prayer and fraternity. The participants were given the opportunity to express their views, clarified certain doubts and thus contributed for the planning of the new scholastic year. To put it in a nutshell it was an exchange program, where confreres felt the bond of charity, encouraged one another and enriched one other. May the good Lord continue to guide and animate the communities.