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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.