S.O.S. to the Heavens

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

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New Release from Guanellian Publications

Cuddalore – Guanellian Publications from Divine Providence Province has happily yielded another new fruit namely “Manasu” a psychological book on June 23rd the solemn Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, by Most Rev. Dr. Singarayer, the bishop of Selam diocese in Sacred Heart Shrine, Pondicherry. The book is a compilation made up of the choicest articles that were published in ‘Anbin Suvadugal’ magazine for past few years. The book comprises of all the life issues and solutions for all life stages and all kinds of people. Fr. Amalraj is the editor of this beautiful book.

Devotional Renewal

Manila – On June 23rd, our Priests and perpetually professed brothers, Fr. Charlton, Fr. Dong, Fr. Charles, Fr. Loyola, Fr. Battista, Bro. Mauro and Bro. Alfie, renewed their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The Holy Mass was presided by Fr. Ronnie Samaniego, and was concelebrated by Fr. Charlton, Fr. Dong, Fr. Charles, and Fr. Loyola and was attended by the whole seminary community. They renewed their vows before the communion rite. The day of the renewal was also on the feast day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and our sisters of the Daughters of Saint Paul came to celebrate with us.

The Winning Route on the Road-map of Charity

Fr. Guanella had a well focused dream when he decided to, “Go North,” adapting his feeling compass to a genial intuition during the Int. Marian Congress at Treviri, a part of the former Roman Province. At a very crowded assembly in the Cathedral of St. Helena, he implored the Forum to help his charitable work, which by August 1912 was quite established. In his prophetic allocution he was begging for ‘small streams of charity’ for his daughters and sons at his Italian and Swiss institutions from Germany. We believe that he intended to give this message and roadmap to a flock of former Sicilian alumni first. After a century, this has become a tangible reality through God’s Providence: his sons carrying out his dream!
After ten years of baby steps, Guanellians have made giant progress in weaving a blessed net of benefactors among the generous Catholic solidarity agencies. The Guanellian Procure was diligent in seeking and finding ‘busy bees’ at Catholic Missio agencies, first at Aachen in 2008. The present Salesian General Treasurer, Bro. Jean Paul Muller, introduced us and mediated the first donation of a mini-bus for Fr. Frantellizzi Hogar at Ciudad DF, Mexico. Convinced by this successful trial, the DPP Provincial Council courageously established the Missions Procure in March 2009. The strong insistence of Fr. Mimi from Manila and a ‘good word’ of Fr Joseph Rinaldo at the General Council in Rome made the rest possible.

Msgr. Wolfgang Huber
Heidrun Gottler
Stephanie Schuller

This is a real charity Telenovela! Now after the first decade, it is time to thank Divine Providence which continuously opens doors and incredible possibilities for all projects presented to the Procure from the Guanellian provinces. The most generous Institution in fundraising is Missio Munich supported by Bavarian Catholics of the Archdiocese of Munich. To their President, Msgr. Wolfgang Huber, and his amazing assistants, Mrs. Heidrun Göttler and Stephanie Schüller, goes our deepest gratitude. Since 2009, Missio Munich financed the construction of the new, modern Fr. Guanella Disabled Center in Quezon City; and later, the well-equipped physiotherapy wing.

Msgr. Thomas Schlichtig

Recently, after an intensive search of donors, Msgr. Thomas Schlichtig of the Awarding commission in the Munich Archdiocese, accepted the challenge of Missio to create a great stock of life-saving medicine for the Guanellian ‘Good Samaritan Pharmacy!’ To him, his archdiocese, the Missio staff and to all Bavarian donors, “Vergelt’s Gott!” which means Blessings will remunerate your generosity.
We also convey our sincere thanks to Missio at Aachen, which in the past 10 years has been an attentive partner for our presence in Legazpi with five nutrition programs, physiotherapy of special children. They also pioneered support in many Guanellian Projects in Central Africa. In 2014-15 a new ambulance for transporting children, AIDs sufferers, and the poor from the infernal streets of Kinshasa, RD Congo, through a 24-hour daily service was purchased and Bro. Mauro can fill their listening hears and open hearts. Thanks also to Mrs. Beate Jantzen for projects within Kinshsa and Mrs. Elaine Steiner for supporting the projects of Fr. Battista Omodei at Legapzi Philippines.
This story contains an encouraging message to our confreres in Africa and Asia to be confident that every request, every small project, has for us absolute priority! This is our vocation and commitment, to be the ‘third child in the Guanellian family!’ We do not baptize, nor confess, nor preach, but all our mental resources and ‘savoir faire’ are in service to the poor, because they reflect the image of God on Earth!
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus bless all our donors, supporters and friends of our Procure for remaining beside us as bridges to the German charity sources.
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procure

Traces of God’s Presence and Human Quests and Desires!!

My head was aching, heart was heavy, spirit quite low and there was a spiritual desertification! I felt that I needed a spiritual revitalization and then I went for an annual retreat to research the traces of God’s presence in my consecrated life journey. I thought that this desire would be helpful due to the unfavorable situation around me, negative criticism, unfair and unloving attitudes. A deep despair was setting in… and I knew I could not change this situation. When I attended the retreat and listened to the preacher and spent more hours in silence I got this unexpected surprise! The Lord said, “My son, it’s not the lovelessness, imperfections of others or your non-stop visits causing this pain, you are in pain, you have withdrawn your love from Me and, are focusing on others’ momentous concern, love and friendship. And whenever anyone blocks the free flow of this energy of love they are bound to suffer.” By becoming hard, insensitive, unloving, and judgmental, we harm ourselves and become nervous but often we do not realize this. The master creator has designed us very wisely. In our bodies, there is a system of ‘chemical reward/punishment’ that acts instantly. A single negative thought about someone is enough to generate toxins in our body that manifests itself not only in our emotions, but also on our very countenance!
Since I am on my canonical visitation in Vietnam/Philippines I would like to emphasize the aspect of ‘interculturality’. Today our Congregation is made up of members from many different countries, that is international/multicultural. Now-a-days no one is surprised to hear questions like: present society bets on mono-culture or multicultural? Internationality is not just an accidental happening, related to the numerical composition of the groups and communities, but it is leading people to make valuable choices, being capable of appreciating in them the birth of a very positive missionary attitude, such as: tolerance, openness, receptivity, dialogue, creativity, appreciating of whatever is different in others. As W.H. Auden says “civilization should be measured by the degree of diversity attained and the degree of unity retained.”

Ascension Day

E. Providence – To celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord on Thursday, May 25th, the students of Sacred Heart School planned a May Crowning and special Mass. The tradition is to crown a statue outdoors, but this year the weather did not cooperate. Mass and the Crowning were held inside. Fr. Franklin Michael, SdC, who was visiting the Rhode Island Community assisted Fr. Silvio at the school Mass.

Joy of Renewal

Chennai – On May 26th, for the occasion of the 151st Ordination Anniversary of St. Guanella, 25 of our temporary confreres joyfully renewed their vows by pronouncing ‘Yes’ to the Lord to keep vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior, presided over Holy Mass and received the vows of the confreres. In his homily, he focused on the faithfulness of the confreres to the Congregation. He stressed that faithfulness is one of the important aspects of living a Guanellian religious life. On behalf of the brothers and the community, DGMS Superior Rev. Fr. Samson thanked God and the Provincial Superior with his grateful heart. To make the celebration more grand, Rev. Fr. Gnanaraj, GPN community Superior, Fr. John Peter and Fr. Anil and the DGMS community fathers, con-celebrated with Fr. Soosai.

Where is God in my Suffering?

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

I was ordained on December 21, 1967. The preparations, the emotions and the reality of the priesthood lifted me to another planet. I felt like a jumping robot moving from one event to another, one celebration to another. The Christmas holidays made the days even more crowded.
The New Year brought me back to the reality and the consciousness of having been ordained a priest and all the duties and responsibilities connected to it. I was so happy. I felt so blessed and tried to imagine my future life, duties and assignments. My parents and relatives treated me like an extraterrestrial. The celebrations were over and I was prepared to report to my superior. I was still preparing when I got a letter from my superior. Thirty five words told me to report to the Mother House and prepare myself to move to the United States as soon as possible. I could not believe it! What happened to my dreams, my teaching certificates? My degrees, my languages! I did not know a word of English as opposed to Italian, French and Spanish. These are not my fathers, they are my torturers! Why are they punishing me? What happened to charity, compassion, human understanding? These were my feelings: anger, discouragement and a sense of emptiness.
And so, incapable of understanding my emptiness, I arrived in the United States. I knew no one. I felt lonely and isolated. And where was God in my suffering? In Philadelphia I had the grace to meet Bishop Sheen. I remember his words: “I am glad you are not spiritually comatose. It is normal to question and to doubt when you are hurting and feeling vulnerable. You have to look deeper inside, seek out the place of faith in your heart and re-examine the promises of your ordination and the vows of your religious life. God does not promise you will never suffer; life is joy and sorrow. However God does promise to remain with you in your suffering. Bishop Sheen asked me to reconnect that invisible cord that bonded me to God. I soon found my connection with God. My job was to take care of forty children with intellectual and physical disabilities. They quickly understood that I needed more help than they did. They kindly and gently told me where everything was located. They taught me the English words of items and things. They showed how things were done and what my job was. They became the greatest gift God gave me. I loved them like they were my children. They stopped calling me ‘Father’ but Joe, and I loved it. I learned in this way that God stays with us even when the road gets rocky. When you reach those dark and rough places, doubt can still creep in. God doesn’t abandon us. If we remain open and allow God to enter our pain, we can experience God’s compassionate presence. God touches us through other people.
As I sat with Bishop Sheen, crying and distraught, he suddenly got up from his chair, dropped to one knee in front of me, and just put his arms around me. I held on tightly. That comfort, that healing touch of love, was just what I needed.
I am so grateful to Bishop Sheen and the special children who continued to show me their love. In time I also learned that their love was God’s love. Fifty years later I am so grateful and happy for giving all my life caring for special children. They were God’s messengers who taught me to love and how to love by understanding that God is love and wants us to exchange this love with Him.

Heart of Jesus – A Home of Love!

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the living and vivifying source of eternal life, infinite treasure of divinity, and burning furnace of divine love. It inflames our hearts with the ardent love of the Father, pours into our hearts the graces of His source and grants that our hearts may be so closely united to His; so that His holy will may be done in and through us. The Sacred Heart is the bedrock of Divine Providence. This explains why for so many centuries, most facets of our devotion revolve around the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Even the Eucharistic devotion which has become the source and summit of Catholic worship is predicated on the outpouring of the Love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Therefore the Heart of Jesus is truly the home or the sanctuary of Love. To certify this truth, the stories and parables of Jesus in the Bible will guide us well.
One of the most compelling revelations of the Heart of God in Scripture is found in ‘THE FATHER OF THE PRODIGAL SON’. The younger son, returning home, approaches the father completely broken; yet the love in the heart of the father sees only that his son is back and his response was fully an explosion of love! The next evident parable is ‘THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN’. It captures in a very vivid way, love in action. The heart of the Samaritan went out to the victim in love, compassion and total identification. The very essence of his ‘altruism’ was precisely the essence of love – to give, give some more and to keep on giving until one is totally empty.
Another confirming event is THE STORY OF THE WOMAN WHO WAS CAUGHT IN ADULTERY and brought before Jesus Christ for “judgment”. It amply demonstrates His revolutionary love. The woman’s accusers could not see beyond the sin. But Jesus Christ, whose heart is the fountain of love saw it differently. His response was a challenge that eventually silenced the accusers. With love comes the knowledge that all are sinners in need of redemption. With love comes the realization that we are all beneficiaries of God’s abundant mercy that needs to be extended to our brothers and sisters.
Next, on seeing the multitude of people by the lakeside, Jesus felt sorry for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. On that occasion His compassion led Him to FEED FOUR THOUSAND PEOPLE in the same manner as God had fed the Israelites with manna in the desert. Finally, while HANGING ON THE CROSS, JESUS PRAYED: “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus’ prayer amply demonstrates the truth that the very nature and essence of Jesus’ heart is love.
Therefore, the heart of Jesus Christ as the home of love cuts across all boundaries – race, culture, gender, class etc, thereby making all into one family with one history and one destiny. It is so total and unconditional that we are reluctant to accept it. For us it is much easier to accept love that is conditional with the hope that love would be reciprocated, but Jesus’ is different. His love precisely demonstrates a unique and revolutionary form of love which is unconditional, unhurtful and descending upon us. Unlike the limited heart of man and woman, the heart of Jesus is limitless in love. The nature of Jesus’ heart is love par excellence. It is not that Jesus has love and Jesus can love but the essence and nature of Jesus’ Heart is Love for ‘God is Love’.
His love accepts us as we are and completely. We are invited to that LOVE. It sets us free to love as Jesus loves. The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a training in the love of Jesus. As religious ‘the more one is devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the more the person is expected to manifest Christian virtues especially LOVE. Let us strive to become the personified witnesses of Christ’s love for it is the Heart of the World.
Hail, Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Fr. Soosai Rathinam

Holy Celebrations

Bangalore – St. Guanella Mercy Church celebrated Holy week in a prayerful manner. It was more meaningful that the entire community participated with great joy and enthusiasm throughout the events during Lent. The Way of the Cross was organized and led weekly by each different group. Each day of Holy Week was planned and executed in a way that set a bench mark for us. Both Tamil and English Masses were well attended. Mass of the Lord’s Supper and washing of the feet went well. On Good Friday the confreres, Cooperators, GLM and parishioners enacted the passion of Christ as a live Skit, touching many hearts. The scene at Calvary could be visualized by everyone who participated. Veneration of the Holy Cross followed in a service combining Tamil and English. The Easter Vigil was solemnly celebrated by the presenting of the Resurrection in an imaginative way, with thunder our Lord rose in Glory. The faithful reacted by singing the Gloria. The house was decorated beautifully with lights and flowers for this glorious occasion. After Mass we shared Easter eggs, cake and milk.