Pilgrimage Reflection

Shrine in Antipolo, Philipines

by Novice Alfie Matulac

 Half naked children scavenging for food in piled up garbage, a group of youngsters smoking in the waiting shed, construction crews working very late, a homeless family sleeping under the bridge, and young women dressed in seductive attire in front of a beerhouse waiting for their customers to come; these were some of the harsh and disparaging realities of the people we encountered on the long and tiring trek toward our destination. On January 15th, Novice Master, Fr. Charlton, Novice Adornaldo and I started our first-ever pilgrimage by means of walking. From Quezon City we walked to The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Voyage in Antipolo City, Rizal (also known as Antipolo Church). The 35 km walk took six long hours, making our legs ache and our feet sore. I remembered that during that long walk, we came to the point that we were dragging our feet just to keep going. When at last we reached our destination, though exhausted, I sensed the fulfillment deep within us as we recited the Hail Mary while holding onto the grills of the gate at the Shrine. Ours was an exhausting but enriching experience; the realization that life is a long and tiring journey, and in the process along the way there comes a point that we want to give up, saying to ourselves that we can’t go on anymore even a single step. But if we have something to aspire for, it will empower us and bring us to the awareness that we can go beyond our expectation. The first hand encounter of the people along the way of our pilgrimage made us realize that we who are aspiring to be religious should be sensitive to the needs of these people, and that our prayers should focus on alleviating their suffering.Shrine in Antipolo, Philipines

A Month of Prayer

Priest offers prayers in villagers' homes

Priest offers prayers in villagers' homesVatluru – Fr. Moses and Fr. Vijay Anand, Redemptorist priests from Tenali, were invited to Sacred Heart Parish for a 5 day mission of house counseling and preaching. They visited every home in the village, praying and counseling the families; accompanied by the Legion of Mary. In the evenings they preached the word of God and celebrated the holy Mass. Also during the Month of October, which is especially dedicated to praying the Rosary, the faithful in the parish showed their devotion to our Blessed Mother. According to tradition, a ‘one day one house’ prayer meeting was arranged. The members of the Legion of Mary carried the statue of Mother Mary to each house; praying the Rosary devotedly, sharing the word of God, and receiving the prayers and blessings from the priests.

DGMS PILGRIMAGE ON FOOT

Seminarians walking to shrine

Seminarians walking to shrineChennai – The brothers from Don Guanella Major Seminary went to the shrine of Our Lady of Good Health, Besant Nagar, on September 19th, the month of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The pilgrimage began with a prayer by Fr. Rajesh in front of the Grotto. They set out on foot towards the Shrine, located about 30 KM away from DGMS, with enthusiasm praying the rosary, singing hymns to Mother Mary and praying the litany. Despite the heat, the divine energy and Grace of God urged them on. Upon arrival, they realized the presence of Mary throughout the journey and all fatigue was relieved. The pilgrimage culminated with Mass celebrated by Fr. Rajesh.

Birthday of Mother Mary

Fr. Soosai Rathinam blesses statue of Mary

Fr. Soosai Rathinam blesses statue of MaryBangalore – The elderly of the aged home organized a novena for the Nativity of Mother Mary with intention of praying for the construction of a new facility. Every day as a family they gathered, recited the Rosary and offered special prayers for the same intention. Some of the lay cooperators also participated. At the culmination, the feast was celebrated on September 9th. Mother Mary processed around the campus in a decorated car, blessed by Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior. It was vivifying to see the Guanellian family walking along with Mary, praying the Rosary. As recommended by Pope Francis, they also prayed for peace in the world, especially in Syria. The procession ended at the chapel for Benediction, in which all received the blessings of the Lord. The elderly continue to pray for the dying in the Wednesday Mass and during the daily Rosary. Prayer intentions are welcome.

Life is a Festival… Mother of the World’s Savior!

Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC

Life is a unique gift, a beautiful celebration, a span of love. On September 8th, we celebrate the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of the Savior and spiritual mother of us all and thus we rejoice in her birthday. Ann & Joachim “made a sanctuary” of the infant girl’s room, and “allowed nothing common or unclean.” St. Augustine described the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary as “the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley.”

The role of the mother in human history cannot be missed or surpassed. Moses became the deliverer of God’s chosen people because of the courage and commitment of his mother. She risked her own life, determined to protect her son, even though Pharaoh had ordered every newborn boy to be drowned.  We have our own mothers who brought us into the world, then bathed, nurtured and cared for us while we were helpless infants and they are the ones who sacrificed their lives to provide food, clothing and shelter. Henceforth, let us have an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude.

The Filial invocations to Mary by St. Louis Guanella are praiseworthy, he says: “O Mary, make my heart similar to yours;” “the world needs the fragrance of a virtuous life;” “free me from bad examples and bad people” and “may I be a beautiful flower in your garden!”

In the western world, September 8th also marks the approaching end of summer and the beginning of fall so let us wish for them a fruitful, innovative and joyful pastoral year.

In South India, the shrine of “Our Lady of Vailankanni”( Our Lady of Good Health ), known as the ‘Lourdes of the East,” witnesses to millions of pilgrims, even from other religions, who march by foot to feel and touch the curative power of the Blessed Mother. So she is a gift to the whole world and the dawn of our salvation.

The recent Encyclical letter of Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei (“The Light of Faith”) carries the implicit portrayal of the faith of the Virgin Mary as an “honest and good heart, in receiving the message of the angel, conceived in “faith and Joy. Let us rejoice over her birth and be grateful and thankful!

FREEDOM OF HEART

Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC

As India prepares to solemnly celebrate its 67th Independence Day in a grand manner, filling each and every citizen of the country with pride; let us take a moment to consider the current state of the world. We continue to advance in technology, scientific research, space exploration, reproductive technology, the accumulation of weapons, nuclear arms race, missile race and launching satellites into space for various reasons. There is excessive use of mass media communications via the internet and cloud technology. People die every day as a result of natural calamities such as floods, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, droughts, earthquakes and so on. There is a degradation of the moral identity of human beings, their image and likeness to God is thrown into the dust bin because many treat others as sub-human beings. Equality, fraternity and justice has lost its flavor; sadism, cruelty, assassination, murder, rape, terrorism, hijacking and other malpractices have the “ball in their own court” and people are flocking towards it.

At this juncture, our beloved pope, in his first encyclical letter Lumen Fidei, says, “Only love can strengthen our faith. Our hearts are imprisoned, our human minds are corrupted, our emotions are massacred and humaneness is broken, so it is the appropriate time to have a freedom of heart as St. Paul said beautifully, “let us bear one another’s burden because we have come to fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6,2).

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin MaryHoly Mother Church rejoices with the celebration of the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who conquered the world by her love, simplicity and total surrender to the will of God. That’s why she was taken up to heaven with her body and soul. Therefore, our beloved mother teaches us to choose freedom of heart in order to orient ourselves fully and absolutely to broken humanity and our founder would say to “Those who cry, ‘I have no one,’” let us turn our hearts as a beacon to radiate the light of faith and to show love in fullness to broken humanity. This is the gift we offer to the whole world which is in an arms race rather than the race of love. “Let us have one heart and one mind” (Acts 4,32) to resolve the annihilating methods of mind and to have the heart of love which led the freedom fighters of India to shed their blood for India’s independence and the love of Mary who watched her son shed his blood on the cross to redeem us from the slavery of sin. Let us come out of our “locked-up” mentality and become universal lovers.

My heartfelt wishes go to the 12 New Evangelizers from the Divine Providence Province who will be ordained on August 6th! What a blessing while, at the same time, a great responsibility! “It is good for us to be here”- the awesome experience of the disciples! There is hope for all of us as God has promised his abiding presence. Thus, we have the assurance in Jesus Christ that the twelve will become Holy and Humble Priests in the vineyard of the Lord!

Your Face, O Lord, I Seek… in His Will is our Peace!

Fr. Soosai gives a gift to a student

We are in the joyous season of Easter and, as consecrated persons, our search that leads to the experience of peace, “in His will is our peace.”

As you come to know the New Religious Assignment proposals in our communities, we seek together and carry out God’s will generously and, for that, we need to grow positively in fostering our free will. We are all believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and in the God of Jesus Christ who, “although he was a son, he learned obedience.” Abraham left comfort and security and, without hesitation, he “obeyed and went” even when obedience was difficult. His faith is an example for all of us. Obedience means to hear with glad acceptance. The vow of obedience is undertaken in a spirit of faith and love.

In the present cultural context, we are tempted to search for personal well-being and to show a “Why me?” and a “but” attitude. Following the advice of the Founder, we obey not merely out of servile fear or out of human submissiveness, but we strive to obey like sons in order to please the heart of the Father.

When we look at religious assignments, we look at the good of the confrere, the good of the community and the service of the poor. We could compare our journey to an “Exodus” which is guided by the cloud, both bright and obscure, of the Spirit of God. Are we willing to obey God even when it’s not easy and when we don’t understand? “Gli occhi hanno pianto vedono meglio” (eyes which shed tears will see better). We obey by spending time in prayer, listening as well as speaking, and by allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us. Our beloved Holy Father Francis says, “Obedience is the means by which a man puts himself at the service of another.”

Through St. Joseph the Worker, we can learn and appreciate the value of all that is humble, simple, hidden and, above all, to work according to God’s will. Thank you for hearing and accepting the new assignment proposals. May our Blessed Mother, perfect model of obedience, bless your generosity of mind and heart!

Charismatic Prayer Service for Tower Feast

Charismatic Prayer-vatluruVatluru – Jesus Jubilee Tower Feast is an occasion for the entire parish family and the local community to participate. In preparation for the feast, a Charismatic prayer service was held February 24th to 26th. Fr. John Kalicherry and his team from Mangalagri, near Guntur, led people into a powerful Pentecostal experience including a  healing service for the faithful, many of whom were healed by him through the Holy Spirit. On the 27th a great celebration was held in which Most Rev. Dr. Prakash Mallavarapu, Archbishop of Visakhapatnam and Apostolic Administrator of Eluru, celebrated the Holy Eucharist with a college of priests. Many faithful gathered for the community meal service, in which more than 5000 people participated. In the evening there was a car procession around the village and everyone gathered to praise the Lord and honor our mother Mary.Charismatic-vatluru

Christmas in the Streets

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– December was a month of great activity for the Latino community. Its religious activity is marked by a great variety of national devotions whose common denominator has to be found in the Blessed Virgin Mary, venerated under many names, in Christmas, the Holy Family, and the Magi. Latinos find in these religious activities their identity, and from them they draw the necessary strength to face the trials of their daily life.

“Our Lady of Journey” was the song that accompanied their spiritual journey during the month of December and its many festive celebrations that will find their conclusion on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on January 13th. Every evening, groups of families gathered together in one of their homes to pray the Rosary, to read God’s Word, and to ask for God’s help. Thus they celebrated the Christmas Novena, immersed in the warmth and usual fervor, like Mary and Joseph looking for a place to give birth to Jesus.

On Christmas Day, at noon, there was a public show of their faith, the faith of a people walking in the midst of a society closed behind the doors of conformism and cold toward Christian values. A thousand Latinos walked in the streets in a “live” representation of the Nativity, the great mystery of our redemption.

To curious spectators, the whole thing was just a colorful show worthy of a quick picture. To the faithful Latinos, it was the public proclamation of their Catholic faith and heritage.

Father Paul took the opportunity to say his good-bye to all of them after four years of pastoral ministry among them. He is going to continue his ministry in the streets of Michigan with other people who want to embrace and experience the Emmanuel, the “God-with-us”, the only God who brings salvation.

Aged People Visit Our Lady of Velankani

Bangalore – Faith is fundamentally important for the fulfillment of experiencing God. In the first month of the Year of Faith, the elderly of the Don Guanella Aged Home exercised their faith on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Velankani Shrine in the Nagapatinam District of Tamil Nadu with Fr. Samson, Fr. A.P. Samy and Bro. Xavier (regent). November 24th began their journey of faith, with seven inmates who were able to walk and four staff of our community who are non-Christians. They inaugurated their faith by the blessings of Our Mother; they also enjoyed some sightseeing, boating and other places. Sincere thanks to Fr. Samson and his family for providing meals while on the journey and arranging vehicles for local travel. They returned safely on November 26th.

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