Vatluru – The memorial mass for the departed soul of beloved Rev. Fr. Thanasekar, the first Guanellian parish priest in Vatluru, was held on June 20th. Around 30 priests were present for the celebration including Rev. Fr. Bosco Rajendra, Chancellor of the diocese, and the newly ordained diocesan priests. Many lay people attended to show devotion for their beloved priest. Choir members sang liturgical songs from ‘Anveshana Neeve,’ the Telugu Version of ‘Een Thedal Nee,’ a devotional album released by Fr. Thanasekar commemorating the 10 year anniversary of the Guanellian Parish in Cuddalore. Fr. Peter Joseph and the community had arranged the entire celebration including the agape meal.
The Guanellian adventure on the sun drenched island of Sicily began just two years after WW II in early September 1947. Since then, thousands of poor children and hundreds of elderly have experienced pure Guanellian charity during times of extreme poverty and abandonment. I discovered by pure chance, the humor of those strange priests who did not hesitate to lift up their cassocks and run behind a ball made of rags for soccer. They were just the opposite of our stiff Sicilian diocesan priests. I was so fascinated that I simply asked my parents to let me go to them to enter their seminary school in Naro, and then in Rome.
Since then Naro, a small town on the southern coast of Sicily, has become the beginning and the end of many hopes and dreams. From this potential reservoir of vocations, many young men have become Guanellian priests and good laymen; active in many parts of the world and supporters of the typical Guanellian style of charity. From 30,000 inhabitants in the war years, our home city now holds only 10,000 people. Great communities arose in northern France first, then in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland and Venezuela. Essentially, the adventure of the northern Italian congregation in the deep south (Sicily), has proven to be a successful strategic decision.
Since then many alumni like me, and friends of the San Calogero home and shrine have spread the sympathetic Sicilian touch among many new friends around the world. Like Fr. Joseph Rinaldo in Chelsea, Michigan, USA, other Sicilian Guanellians work tirelessly throughout our provinces.
There is one exception however: Fr. Giorgio Simion who arrived fifty-five years ago in our facility at Naro. Back then, it was full of poor children, who were the sons of emigrated parents. He was for many of us, our anchor and our guide through many journeys. He was an electrician, an agricultural expert, a horticultural expert and a good shepherd of the pilgrims devoted to our holy Patron. Fr. Giorgio was a working priest who never gave up. He was tireless as he fought for the transformation of the old orphanage into a beautiful elderly care home. Fr Giorgio is a native Venetian and my schoolmate from the novitiate! It seems that we Sicilians are like the eels who often swim to the end of world to deposit their eggs before they die. They always return to their natural habitat.
Now I too, advancing in age, feel an inner impulse to return home to enjoy the memories of my youth .During the short visit to the San Calogero home, Inge met an old resident who thirty-five years ago, worked in the same factory where she was the chief secretary. Lillo Baldacchino cried from overhelming happiness, because he could once again meet his former friend. Fr.Giorgio spent several hours with us and the sick residents. After a thanksgiving Mass, given by the young director Fr. Salvo Allegra, we descended to the Shrine of Holy Calogero, and prayed for all of the benefactors and alumni who spent part of their lives in the shadow of our black patron in joy and the full protection of the angels of Guanellian Holy Providence.
We returned home satisfied and restored after this recent full immersion in the warm Guanellian bath of authentic and long lasting love among brothers of different cultures, languages, and colors.
May our Mother Mary and our holy Founder crown our dream this month, to bring the first Guanellians to our adoptive city, Pforzheim. On October 15th, Fr Luigi, our Provincial Father, will visit the Procure and our vicar bishop to negotiate the additional details of this new adventure of Fr. Guanella in Germany . What fun; this time under the cooperation of his first children from Naro in fare Sicily, the country of volcanos and hot blooded sons! So in the circle of life, our destinies become complete. Laudate Dominum!
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procure