Our confreres at the ‘front’ of our missions and evangelization are the real heroes of our humanity, because they save innocents from famine, illness, abandonment and sin. During a recent trip to Italy, I enjoyed a common scene; three seagulls landing on a rocky cliff, with one daring a risky pirouette on a white foamy wave. At that moment, I thanked God for this metaphor of our long dream, as the birds seemed to interpret my thoughts. In July three confreres will finally arrive in Germany, as we accompany Fathers Baniak and Arokiadoss to Freiburg to begin their six month German language course. Our procure has matured after five years of effort, having finally realized ‘Project Germany.’ We will now don our wings and fly to other countries where, with God’s grace, we will pray for quick decisions.
For nearly five years, we have been negotiating the possibility of opening a center for the disabled in the Arab Emirates. In Abu Dhabi, I have been meeting with Fr. Gandolf Wild and Faris Al Mazroui, while in 2012 we visited the other Emirates, where building costs are lower and the Salesian institutions are present. The Anglican Bishop of RAK has encouraged me to actively press for the fulfillment of such an urgently needed center, and after intensive negotiations with the General Council, Fr. Luigi DeGiambattista has hinted that Bishop Paul Hinder might consider the presence of the SdC in that country. We can count on several sources of financial support, as half a million Christians and more than 300,000 Catholic expatriates from the Philippines and India live in this country. At least 5,000 disabled children and elderly would benefit from such a blessing. Fr. Gandolf is a friend of our congregation from his long stay in Rome and he updates us often with new events in their large territory. Recently on June 14th, a majestic Church was blessed and inaugurated at the RAK capital with the participation of Cardinal Fernando Filoni and the apostolic Nuncio, Petar Rajic. Emir al Qassimi also honored us with his presence. I have invited Fr Luigi to accompany Inge and I on a possible exploratory mission this fall, to provide our General Council with an objective evaluation of the needs, means and potentiality of vocation promotion among our many Catholics.
Our next target is Tanzania. Fr. Paul Oggioni visited a disabled center in Mbeya in 2010 when he visited a young priest who had shown interest in joining our congregation. After a bumpy start, Fr. Furaha has approached our procure seeking financial support. He and Sister Mary take care of about 40 disabled boys and girls, and in front of the main building they already grow a small garden with vegetables and orchards. He needs a donation of 4,000€ for building a poultry and pig farm. The egg and meat sales would also help with the center’s operating costs, and the project has been submitted to Kindermission and Bankers Sparkasse Pforzheim.
Since St. Guanella has now established himself in West Africa, this potential new tent would cover a larger area in Tanzania, where about half a million Indians are living. My friend Julius Makundi, a businessman in Dar es Salam, will support our efforts in this project if Fr. Furaha and other priests decide to enter our congregation.
May our holy Founder and the Lord link our small steps for His glory and the benefit of our suffering brothers. The whole world will become our homeland!
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procura
Pforzheim – The past few weeks have flown by, and many events have confirmed that a small entity like ours can make a contribution to better a little corner of our tormented world. After the clamorous election of Pope Francis, we prepared a special article in our regional press to point out the deep connection between the new Pope and the Sevants of Charity during his pastoral work in Buenos Aires. The German article contains a nice photo we received from our contact at the Mother House in Como; a special Pope for our “special benjamins” children with down syndrome. This connection has increased our reputation in our Archdiocese, and with the parish priests of our large diaconate. Because of the new position of our Congregation in Germany, we have asked Fr. Luigi to create a special link in German to the official Guanellian organization; due to the constant increase in the number of German readers who are visiting our website daily. Visit the German link, donguanella-mission.de, to read the latest flyer: Guanellian Presence in Germany 2/2013.
In March,we paid a visit to our birthplace in Barza to celebrate my seventy-seventh birthday and meet our relatives living in the area. Now three generations of the Lombardo family have visited the place where I had grown spiritually for almost five years. On Good Friday an ensemble of lay actors performed the Passion of our Redeemer at St. Anthony Church in Pforzheim, because our own Church, Barfüßer in the city center, is too small for all of our Italian believers.
The past month has been marked by many relevant events and initiatives. After a long reflection, our General House in Rome has been in contact with His Excellency, Paul Hinder, Bishop of Abu Dhabi and the South Arabian Peninsula. The new ability of our Congregation to consider long term plans for the so called Arab world, fills me with joy and hope, as my old dream of bringing the Guanellian charism to the Arab Emirates seems to be materializing. There, we would not only have the support of the ecclesial authority, but also the cousin of Sultan Al Nayan, Sheik Faris el Mazroui. There is also an initiative to set up a new tent of Guanellian charity in tormented Afghanistan. I am proud to point out that it was my former pupil, Fr. Giancarlo Pravettoni, who initiated contact; with other international relief organizations to insure human respect, equality between men and women, brotherhood and Guanellian sympathy for the disabled, elderly and suffering.
Our continued support remains with our brothers in faith, the Melchite Christians in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt. Our contact with Patriarch Gregorios III continues, and with other charitable organizations of our State, Baden Württemberg, where we collect medical equipment. Recently we published an interesting article in our local Pforzheimer Zeitung, where it was also mentioned that the German Guanellians are closely involved in supporting this project. Patriarch Gregorios III is scheduled to vist our Procure in July 2013. This will be a great honor for our small community.
Finally, another effort of our procure is with the medical center at Kinshasa, DR Congo. We have great hope that the friends of Kindermission/Aachen will approve the Aids Prevention Center for the 2200 boys and girls at our Mateké center. The German Embassy there has been interested in helping, and the Ambassador‘s wife has visited the center recently. After this visit, Brother Mauro Cecchinato was informed that our Embassy will mediate a donation for the purchase of land where the medical center will be built. Let us praise the Lord for all these signs of His paternal Providence! My reflection for the Marion month is that all of us increase our faith in God the Father’s love toward our Mother Mary and her silent, glorious husband, St. Joseph. We must also reflect on the dreams of our Holy Founder, who was surely the precursor of our current projects; reaching all German speaking countries, and extending our charity to the Middle East, like he did when, in his advanced age, he visited Palestine.
Maria, Stella Maris ora pro nobis!
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procure