Retrospectively, 2017 was a very blessed year, filled with small and large providential gifts. In fact, at the end of the year Holy Providence had touched many hearts and opened many plentiful pockets. The sowing began September 16 but the harvest was completed in December 2017. Most of the projects benefit the following Divine Providence Province entities:
*A new award from Missio, Munich went to Good Samaritan Pharmacy, Manila, just months after they accepted a program to educate parents of the ‘good children’ there. This new donation will purchase life-saving medicine for the Quezon City Inferno.
*Our contact with the Archdiocese of Freiburg reaped a positive award in December. World Church capitular, Dr. Peter Birkhofer, accepted our request to give financial support for the 26 Indian and four Filippino Thelogy Students. The generous donation was dispersed to the respective Major Seminaries through DDP treasurer, Fr. Rinaldo.
*Constant precious contact with the German Pious Union has secured small, continous donations for the Manila Pharmacy and for the new charity shelter at Iwindi, Tanzania. Their Mass intentions helped our confreres there to survive the ‘Guanellian Spartanity.’ For this new entity in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro we have applied for a donation from Missio, Munich to build a medical center for 300 disabled persons. This project may receive an award as soon as the beginning of February 2018
*Since our visit to the German Caritas Office at Pforzheim with Delegate Fr. Luigi in September we have been working on another urgent Project at Noro, Solomon Islands. With an interesting flyer for fundraising among supporters in our confederate State Bad-Würrt, Director Lemke initiated press conferences. Both German Guanellian entities are also seeking to fund a multi-purpose hall at Noro. This campaign will continue through the end of January 2018. We hope that the targeted sum will be collected by then.
*Guanellian Caritas also tried to help our Guanellian Sisters in Iasi, Romania in their request of financial support to purchase a Minibus, for urgently needed transportation for the disabled, elderly and students. The project was accepted by the Bavarian Solidarity Agency Renovabis in Eastern Europe just days before Christmas. This was somewhat of a thankful gesture to them, because 2 years ago they accomodated the first Indian confreres and built the first Guanellian seminary in Eastern Europe.
Last but not least our Procure is already working on 2018 projects. The most important are the rebuilding of the Cuddalore Church and a new project for Manila. Brother Mauro has prepared a project for self sufficiency through his Piggery Project near the Good Children’s Residence there. It should provide enough food for residents and enough to create an income. Also from the Philippines Fr. Viray is involving the Procura to fund a new shelter of charity in Northern Mindanao.
We are open to all requests from the Guanellian Missionary World, like those recently received from Mexico and Guatemala. We invest patient and silent work for the reactivation of our old contact with another solidarity agency: Kindermission, Aachen which for a decade was the other important solidarity agency involved in projects in Legapzi, Philippines; RD Congo and Mexico. Each received an Ambulance that operates 24 hours daily for at-risk girls and boys or Aids infected youth; and an irrigation system for disabled kids in Bateké, RD Congo. Exactly like Fr. Guanella did in Nuova Olonia, rehabilitation of the disabled through manual work, in his first pioneering endeavor.
In this New Year we should practice the warnings of Pope Francis to make 2018 an ‘active year’ as a Chruch and Community en route.
May the Lord through the intercession of our Lady of Providence help us always be ready to focus our efforts and listen to the whispers of our unknown, poor sisters and brothers. Have a blessed and graceful 2018.
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procure
E. Providence – Each year the students of Sacred Heart School celebrate All Saints’ Day November 1st by dressing as a saint. The entire school attends Mass which is followed by a parade of the Saints. The main purpose for this activity is to help the students learn about the lives of the saints, the Church Triumphant, and the contributions that they made to the Kingdom of God on earth. The parents get involved too, because they are helping to create the costumes, therefore the Annual All Saints’ Parade is an event to enrich the lives of the extended Sacred Heart School Community.
Pondicherry – The Divine Providence Province’s Fourth Provincial Chapter began as the chapter fathers gathered at Prsahanth Vanam on November 20th. Fr. Alphonso Crippa, Superior General, enlightened the confreres with inspiring thoughts during his recollection talk. He highlighted three important points: Wisdom of God, Guanellian Simplicity and Mission. He underlined the fact that we are gathered here not merely just to make some governing proposals or administrative rules, but to seek what the Lord wants from us. He stressed the importance of dialogue and fraternity. The chapter continued until the evening of the 24th. The chapter fathers went to St. Joseph’s Seminary for the Silver Jubilee of their presence in India and Golden Jubilee celebration of Fr. Joe.
E. Providence – Students at Sacred Heart School prepared for the feast of St. Louis Guanella by learning more about his life. Each grade did projects for the event. First graders drew portraits and created alphabet books that used words to describe the life of the saintly Founder. The entire school community celebrated solemn Mass in his honor.
Legazpi – To commemorate the feast day of St. Louis Guanella, the Servants of Charity went on a pilgrimage to Naga City October 20th for all who had helped organize “Dinner for a Cause”. This trip was not only for relaxation, but also to discover new places and to go to the source of faith: Basilica Minore, the church dedicated to Our Lady of Penafrancia Patroness of Bicolandia. Even though everyone was tired they were very happy for visiting this church and bringing many of our confidences in prayer before Our Lady. Their hope was renewed and peace deepened in the bottom of their hearts, strengthening them to face the reality of daily life. May our Lady of Penafrancia pray for all of us and bring us to her son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Legazpi – “The Human Heart is made to Love and Share with Others” was the theme of the annual ‘Dinner for a Cause’ held on October 7th at Harong Kan Sagrada Familia. The event was to benefit our mission of caring for those who are in need, a voice for the voiceless in society. It woke up the hearts that are sleeping in the busy-ness of society. By doing the work of special education for special children, the Servants of Charity strive to give them what they deserve to have in life. Through simple teaching, they are guided to do the simplest things which are necessary for them to support themselves in daily life. As Cardinal Francis Savier Nguyễn Văn Thuận wrote in his book The Way of Hope, “The hopeful way starts by every single dot of hope. The hopeful life starts from every hopeful minute.” The program was successful by the many small presentations by the special kids, the people from the feeding program, youth choir, parents, residents with physical disabilities and staff … We put our hope in what we are doing in order to serve them as best as we can. Many thanks to our benefactors.
Vatluru – On October 4th the community bid farewell to Fr. Peter Sebastian, former superior, who served the community for the past four years. To express gratitude and commemorate his good works the confreres, sisters, boys and seminarians gathered at Guanella Bhavan. There was a cultural program organized to felicitate him. The dances and songs expressed deep sentiments of sorrow for missing him and at the same time wishing him well for a greater mission. Fr. Sunil Francis shared his experience with him and thanked him for being a model priest to all. Fr. Peter Sebastian was very emotional and he expressed his heartfelt thanks to all for being supportive. “Though I fly to a far off nation, still my heart remains here. I will miss you all,” he said. The evening came to an end with a sumptuous meal.
In our lifetime we try or like to play different roles and we think that we are going to live forever in this world! I asked the Lord, “If I am not playing these roles, then WHO AM I?” All I could see and feel with closed eyes was ‘infinite waves of ocean’! In that sacred moment I knew my real ‘SELF’ and tasted the immorality of this self. The words of scripture resounded in me, “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?”
It was a profound experience, being an inseparable part of the cosmic energy… the energy that runs this body, this mind, and so on. In spiritual language we name it: being, consciousness, light, spirit, power, soul… Any word would do. What is important is the realization that I am the ‘being’, using this body and playing so many roles and responsibilities.
Navigators are trained to find the ‘eye of the storm’ where they can stop for safety in the midst of a storm. And in the storms of life, for us to find our safe refuge and stability is to be rooted in the immortality of our very being.
I have referred a book ‘On the Tombs of the Deceased’ by Fr. Louis Guanella who wrote this series of meditations on the Christian cult of the dead following the traditional setting of a novena in preparation for the feast of ALL SAINTS and the Commemoration of ALL THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED. The family of the just on earth rejoice with the family of the blessed in paradise! What a delightful spectacle, what an illustrious and numerous family! Our founder is asking a powerful assistance for the sake of ourselves and for the sake of the souls of our deceased brothers and sisters and feel compassion toward the souls in purgatory.
On October 25, 2017 Pope Francis, during his general audience, spoke about hope’s fulfillment in heaven and reminded the faithful that no one should despair because God’s grace is always present for those who put their trust in Him. “Paradise is not a fantasy land or even an enchanted garden. Paradise is an embrace with God, infinite Love, and we enter it thanks to Jesus, who died on the cross for us.”
Our fraternity, considered by the Founder “a small communion of Saints” goes beyond the mere level of human relations and also with gratitude we cherish the memory of those members whom the Father has already called to his house and let us commend divine mercy upon them.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam
How is Fr. Guanella connected with the missions? He never went to any mission country as a missionary does. Since his years in the Como Seminary, he had a soft spot, a strong desire to join PIME, and go to India or China. He even asked his Bishop to have the opportunity to fulfill his dream, but he was denied. “Your India will be here at home”, his Bishop replied. His strong missionary desire was passed on to his Religious, “The whole world is your homeland”. The first mission territory he served was Switzerland, filled with many Protestants, which was just outside of his own native place. There, he sent his priests to take care of the Italian immigrants plus the few native Catholics. A small step, but a step that became a big one when, later on, his Religious crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to bring Catholic and non-Catholic alike, the message of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd and Good Samaritan, to His creatures in need of faith, hope and love.
Recently his Religious even touched the ‘Solomon Islands’ in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia are now the homeland of a great number of Servants of Charity and Daughters of St. Mary of Providence. They are the fulfillment of Fr. Guanella’s dream, bringing “Bread and the Lord, to those who need them, material bread and spiritual bread.
Was Fr. Guanella a missionary? A resounding “YES” is his presence in 24 nations through his spiritual children, religious and laity. He wrote, “We are Servants of Charity, because the Charity of Jesus Christ has called us. Let us practice with fervor the works of mercy, and we will obtain the mercy of the Lord! The poor are our favored ones. They are our masters. We must work and suffer for them. Is it not what Jesus, the Divine Missionary, has done for us by His mission of Salvation?
As we celebrate 102 years since the heavenly birth of our Holy Founder, let us resolve to re-incarnate his presence, vision and mission contextually. Thus we become a border-crossing person: across cultures, religions, genders, race!
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