The month of November for the Catholic Church is special because the militant church commemorates its relationship with the triumphant church and the penitent church through the celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. These two celebrations remind us of the temporality and the eternity of human existence. In other words they reiterate our fundamental vocation as Christians to become holy or saintly. Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. (Mt 5,48)
This month gives us, Guanellians additional privilege and joy since we celebrate the feast of the mother of Divine Providence. It is very evident from the life of our founder that the concept of Divine Providence was very close to his heart that he named his autobiography The Ways of Providence, that he named the first institution House of Divine Providence, that he called the bulletin of that house The Divine Providence and named the sisters the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence.
In general Divine Providence would mean that God governs and directs everything and therefore the entire universe is under His control. Moreover even when things go wrong, he can straighten up the crooked designs of human beings (Saul becoming Paul, the story of Joseph in the Old Testament) and produce good out of the bad which human minds design. Personally one can think of Divine Providence in terms of his existence, his family, his education and well-being etc.
Our founder does not stop with this idea of Divine Providence as God’s intervention in one’s life. He moves further to assert that human cooperation is a must to avail this gift: “It is God who does; we are only instruments in the hands of God”. He recommended his followers to merit Divine Providence through trust, work and sacrifice. For example, he was fully convinced that Divine Providence and poverty go hand in hand: “if you want to weaken the institution, let it become rich, to live in much poverty and to entrust ourselves completely to Divine Providence is a virtue of high perfection”. Divine Providence means human charity too: when the fortunate helps the unfortunate, the haves hold up the have-nots, when the healthy accompany the crippled.
Providence does not mean looking at the roof and waiting for some treasure from nowhere, it is doing what one can in his concrete situation: “If a man limits himself to be a zero, he is nothing and will never do anything. If instead he tries to be something, he does whatever he can, he becomes a positive reality, after all he has only to ask Providence to add one zero, two zeros, three zeros to his small number and immediately the small things become large”. As members of the Divine Providence Province with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, youthfulness and vitality, let us inculcate this teaching and exhortation of our founder in our minds and hearts: you try to provide first with what you are, what you have and God will do miracles.
I wish you fruitful celebration of the feast of the Mother of Divine Providence. On behalf of the province I extend my sincere wishes and prayers to our Guanellian sisters as they bear this name. I make this special plea for your ardent prayers (both common and personal) for the good health of our confrere Rev. Fr. Bala Yesu who is under treatment.
Fr. Ronald J, SdC
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
Fr. Guanella first dreamed of beginning his charity march northward into German speaking Grison (the easternmost canton in Switzerland), but for him, the Alpine barrier was too narrow. He dreamed of other ways for his daughters and sons to expand, and in 1903, went on a pilgrimage to Damas, Palestine, showing us the way to Asia. Then in 1912 he came to Germany, and shortly after that blessed visit, he journeyed to the United States in 1913 to visit the Italian immigrants who were there asking for help. In a certain way, he had drawn a master itinerary for where his missionaries needed to move and establish new shelters of charity!
According to his letters published in the Divine Providence Newsletter of Sept. 1912, he was invited to participate in the International Marian Congress, held in the former capital of the Western Roman Empire. At the end of his intervention he addressed the assembly of Marianists, and implored his Patroness, Holy Mary of Providence, to channel a generous flow of funds to his numerous institutions, celebrating them during the days the Silver Jubilée. This was a clear revelation of his German Dream, dreamed since the first years of his priesthood, and looking northward from his native Alps. During that stay he visited the Cathedral where the Empress Helena brought the Tunic of Jesus in 312 C.E., which also contains splinters from the Holy Cross. He then visited the birth place of St. Ambrose, the Porta Nigra (city gate), and many first Christian churches.
His dream started to become reality, exactly five years after his physical presence on German soil, on January 20, 1917. His brilliant inspiration of the Prayer Chain for a Good Death arrived in the former German region of Alsace. The present German Pious Union of St. Joseph Confraternity moved in January 1920 to the Black Forest, and from there it expanded into neighboring countries. Because of its continuous growth, the St. Joseph Daughters became the hidden hand of Holy Providence during the slow march of the former Guanellian alumni into Germany.
From the St. Trudpert Abbey, our Procure is still receiving generous donations for the new Good Samaritan Pharmacy at our disability center in Manila. Sister Bernita has also entirely financed the printing of our first German biography of Fr. Guanella. Since the arrival of our confreres at Pforzheim in 2014, we began searching for aspirants among both ethnicities in order to stick with our expansion efforts elsewhere in Germany. The selection of collaborators to become friends of the Guanellian family always takes place at Guanellian House, the Lombardos home. This photograph shows the promising members of our newly founded German Guanellian Lay Movement, (GLM), under a German flag and the laughing eyes of our Founder. On July 16th a group of eleven aspirants of the GLM received the devotional scapular of our Lady of Mount Carmel in the small Italian community of Friolzheim.
Our daily work here has concentrated on reactivating old contacts. We have received no further projects from our DPP Missions in India/Philippines, but we can only help others if we receive projects for submission. When that happens, attentive follow-up will occur through our generous Catholic solidarity agencies like Missio/Munich and Kindermision/Aachen.
As we approach the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, I am reminded that Nov. 1, 1950 was an unforgettable day for me as an altarboy taking part in a unique procession behind the gestatorial chair of Pope Pius XII in front of a half million believers in St. Peter‘s Square. The celebration was an appeal for peace following the destruction of WWII.
May God’s Protection, implored by our Patroness and our Saints, Louis and Clara, accompany all of us, and reinforce our spirit and hearts for a new loving charity season! Remain blessed, and remember that we are here, waiting with confidence for any future requests.
Gero Lombardo Guanellian German Procure
The world, like an area subject to earthquakes, suffers tremors and shocks threatening to destroy it. Yet, it will survive because the spirit of charity, spreading in our midst, will disable the evil activities of the spirit of darkness.
Charity will rekindle Faith. In turn, Christian practice stirs up charity. How can we love our suffering neighbor without loving God, without giving Him the worship of our faith? How can we believe that we see the face of God in the poor when we do not hasten to help and serve them? To help this work of charity and faith and to assist the poor, gathered in the Houses of Divine Providence, it will be useful to establish Committees or Pious Associations in each House. The Servants of Charity, the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and local Superiors should follow them with great zeal and imagination. It serves no purpose to assume this is too difficult an undertaking. All good works meet great difficulties. It is precisely these difficulties that are a sign that what we do is good. Where there is a will there is a way. We should first gather one or two people; then we will add more as Divine Providence will send them to us. It is not realistic to establish a master plan valid for everyone and everywhere. Experience teaches that we should adapt and review it case by case according to the regions and their means. Pious Associations, even the small ones, are admirably useful to the development and stability of the Houses, and do great good for families and places where they are active. It is essential that the Houses of Divine Providence do not isolate themselves. They should share their spirit and activity all around because their nature is wide-ranging and has to be expressed, not only inside the walls of the House but also outside, in the cities and towns where the Houses are located, trying their best to spread and stir up faith and charity everywhere. Many good people do not engage in meaningful activity. Sometimes a simple invitation to cooperate or some good is enough to transform them into active workers in the field of charity. Each House should make effort to spread our Magazine that carries the monthly news regarding noteworthy events happening in the House, in general, and the ministry, in particular. The more distribution the Magazine has, the more the House will be helped. The Magazine will be useful to increase the connection of the Houses to the Motherhouse to keep alive the relationship between the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and the Servants of Charity, to enkindle their determination, and increase their zeal. All Houses should show great regard to the Cooperators and Benefactors. Keep a list of their names and keep them in your prayers. Invite them to the celebrations held in the House and take an interest in their life’s events. Be present to comfort and help them when in need. The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and the Servants of Charity will see their Houses prosper and their efforts succeed when, by acts of charity, they work hard to gain not only the hearts of the good people but also the hearts of the irreverent ones. They should be discrete in their action, and moved only by the right desire to do good. The Salesian Cooperators are not just thousands but hundreds of thousands. The Association is increasing in number and no boundary of town or country can stop it from spreading. We should do the same thing and imitate our teachers Fr. Bosco and Fr. Rua. It will be healthy publicity, a protest against false respect in obedience to the evangelical precept, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” We would like to extend this exhortation to all our faithful friends because nothing goes beyond our desire for the good of society for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
One last prayer: We encourage the committees and sub-committees of the big and small towns to care for this humble Magazine whose purpose is to share the news of Divine Providence’s family to far away children and friends.
To make it more interesting, I ask those who are capable of writing articles, to send us the news and events of your Houses. The more the Magazine of Divine Providence is spread and read, the better the Houses will be supported.”
By St. Louis Guanella
We are going to memorialize the 149th ordination anniversary of Father Guanella on May 26th. It is worth reflecting on his vision and virtues of the priesthood and, above all, of his aspirations, attitude and motto “a fiery sword” in the divine ministry. What was his lifestyle and way of holiness and perfection? Nothing but the way of the cross, self-denial, struggle and mortification- his 49 year priesthood experience was both a tremendous and terrible one.
We could analyze three phases of his priesthood:
- Before the failure of Traona (Prosto, Savogno, Turin and Traona);
- After Traona- the nine months of confusion and humiliation (Morbegno, Milan, Gravedona, Olmo) and
- The years of his adventure (Pianello, Como, etc.)
There were internal as well as external hurdles and difficulties Father Guanella underwent- a wall of opposition expressed in distrust, envy, suspicion, malice, and prejudice. He also faced disappointing divisions, conflict, resentment, and discontent in many of the communities.
What is the “key word” Father Guanella used? This is none other than “God is good”- trust in God and His Providence. The so called evil forces had been transformed into graces because of his faith experience in the kneeling position before the holy tabernacle which led him to hope and certainty. A month before his Sacred Ordination, Father Guanella wrote about the gift of Priesthood as the “Blessed and glorious and the most beautiful day of my life!” The anointing is for a prophetic mission and, like Jesus, suffering in favor of the poor. Therefore our founder served with dedication, divine jealousy, burning zeal, maternal tenderness and, above all, the goodness of heart. As the sons of this affectionate father, let us resolve to renew our enthusiasm and our conviction.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam
Manila – During the visit of Pope Francis in Manila, four tickets were given to our community to participate in the gathering with families at the Mall of Asia Arena. Two of our active Cooperators, Jun Hizon and Sonya Pilarta were given the chance to attend this gathering because of our resident persons with disabilities; Tommy and John Paul. Because of his wheelchair, John Paul was placed in front with his companion, Jun Hizon. To their surprise, when the Pope arrived, they were greeted personally by the Pope. John Paul was blessed and touched by Pope Francis on his head and Jun kissed the ring of Pope Francis. Jun said: “My having been blessed to have kissed the ring of Pope Francis is an experience I will cherish forever. I was so overwhelmed at seeing his kind, serene and gentle face that I was not able to say a word of thanks for his blessings to John Paul and me. While awaiting his arrival I said to myself that given the opportunity I will kiss the ring of Pope Francis, and Divine Providence intervened.”
Sivagangai – “Until there are poor to be assisted our charity never ends,” St. Louis Guanella. Yes this is true. Our words were fulfilled on this day of celebration. Trust in Divine Providence. If you have trust in providence surely you will receive. On December 21st there were two celebrations. In the morning Fr. Kulandai and Fr. Paulraj took the Anbagam children to Idhaya College to celebrate Suppose Christmas. Idhaya College principal, Sr. Jothi, distributed gifts to the good children, delighted them with cultural programs and provided a delicious meal for them. On the same day, Lions Club members from Karaikudi came to Anbagam to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. They provided equipment for our children, planted some trees around the house and served cake and snacks to the children. When the president spoke, he promised that they would help as much as they can.
“Receive with two hands, and Give with four hands,” St. Guanella.
Chennai – The Feast of Divine Providence was celebrated in a pious manner by the DSMP sisters of Thirumavoyil and Don Guanella Major Seminary. Remembering the role of Mary in salvation history and thanking the Mother of Divine Providence, patroness of our congregation, Fr. Rajesh and Fr. Dominic Baskar celebrated Mass. Bro. John Kennedy, soon-to-be deacon, shared a reflection on the readings of the day emphasizing the virtues of Mother Mary, which should be cultivated by every Guanellian. After Mass, special prizes were given to those who could solve the Marian Quiz. The hospitality of the DSMP sisters was expressed by their loving concern. The celebration ended with a delicious meal.
Mysore – ‘Preeethiya Sevakaru,’ the house for vocation discernment, has received 15 new candidates this year. Through trust in Divine Providence and the work of the confreres during May, candidates were found even in Raichur, Diocese of Bellary. The priests visited families of the brothers in Mysore as well as families of the new candidates. Best wishes to Fr. Louis Baskar as he departs for his new mission in Brazil after two years of valuable service at Preethiya Sevakaru. On June 10th an Evening School was launched at Jaipura. There are currently 40 children in the program.