Pforzheim Celebrates St. Guanella Day!

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Pforzheim – For the first time, the Italian community and the German friends of our town and district celebrated October 24th as an official event for the whole community. Both confreres have been fully immersed in the details of this celebration. Fr. Rocky is now converting  his Indian driver‘s license into a German license to become mobile for a larger pastorate in the northern part of the MCI territory where eight villages with nearly five hundred Italians are waiting for regular holy Masses in periodic sequence. Furthermore, Fr. Rocky has had the chance to accompany a group of believers from our parish to the Marian Shrine of Medjugorie in Croatia. The photograph shows the group in front of the well known shrine. Every year, thousands  pilgrims travel there where apparently the Virgin Mary appears frequently to the vigilent. Although the Vatican has not yet given a formal approval to these apparitions, the Marian devotion attracts yearly devotees from everywhere. The Italian community has been pilgrimaging there for two decades, and now our Guanellian parish priests have continued to cultivate this devotion.
As far the activities of our procure are concerned, on September 14th we had the chance to make a stop in front of the burial shroud of our Founder and that of Blessed Clara at Como. During the long and silent colloquy with Saint Louis Guanella, Inge and I asked for his intercession and spiritual help in order to overcome our unforseen difficulties. I have promised our holy Founder that I would not give up until my other dreams in Germany and in other parts of the world are carried out.
In Como we also met with Brother Mauro, who was preparing his few belongings before joining our Manila Community where he has now arrived, and has been received by our dear confrere Fr. Charlton Viray. From him and previously from Fr. Luigi De Giambattista, we came to know that the so called “Don Mimì Project for Children of Leperous Parents” is starting to form and slowly headed in the right direction. It is an inter-congregational project between the FMM, the Franciscan Sisters of Tala and our Manila-Philippines Houses. I have already received part of the file from Sister Cecille Martinez, and as soon as all of the documents are here, we’ll start our submissions and requests for additional funds from the German Relief agencies. One part of  the legacy left by Sister Giulietta Saginario has now arrived at its destination. I am convinced that Fr. Mimì laughed when he heard the news! From Mexico we received a new request for  financial help from our new Guanellian parish church. We’ll convey the request of Fr. Andrés Velasco to the appropriate Department in the Archdiocese of Cologne, and hope to receive a substiantial donation. Asci Como and Puentes Spain have each granted 7000 Euros for the erection of a provisional barn until a more solid construction can be built through the help and efforts of the many friends of Fr. Velasco, now acting at Amozoc-Puebla.
May All-Saints show us the right path to the heavens and teach us everyday that the essence of our faith is an open heart to the needs of others, with open ears to the imploring voices of the Unknowns! Stay blessed and humble!
Regina Sactorum ora pronobis! Queen of all saints pray for us!
Gero Lombardo,  German Guanellian Procura

The Visitation

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Saigon – The Servants of Charity in Vietnam were very happy to receive Rev. Fr. Crippa, Superior General and Rev. Fr. Luigi. It was the first official and canonical visit of Fr. Crippa to Vietnam. His presence brought encouragement and joy amidst the confreres and students. First  he was scheduled to meet all the students and start a friendly discourse with them. The students asked many questions in regards with the congregation and Fr. Crippa answered them all. There was also an early celebration for Fr. Crippa’s birthday. In addition to the confreres Fr. Crippa and Fr. Luigi went to meet the new Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, Rev. Fr. Paolo Bui Van Doc. During this meeting, His Grace advised the confreres who are working in Vietnam, “Don’t be too noisy,” by which His Grace told them to be silent in words and in deeds. The presence of Fr. Crippa and Fr. Luigi was encouraging to everyone.

25 Years of God’s Love and Fidelity

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Manila – The Servants of Charity in the Philippines celebrated their Silver Jubilee. A week-long celebration was organized culminating in a Eucharistic Celebration on June 12th at San Isidro Labrador Parish Church. The Holy Mass was presided by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, and Bishop Antonio R. Tobias, of Diocese of Novaliches, and concelebrating priests. Among the concelebrants were Fr. Alfonso Crippa, Superior General of the Congregation, and Fr. Luigi de Giambattista, General Councilor and first missionary in the Philippines. Rondalla on Wheels, a group of physically handicapped men and women and a ministry of Sr. Roos Catry and the ICM sisters, welcomed the attendees with their beautiful rondalla music. Former members of the internationally renowned Philippine Madrigal Singers filled the church with their heavenly songs. About six hundred people, including  beneficiaries of our programs, religious men and women, benefactors, lay mission partners and friends attended. A reception was held at the Servants of Charity compound with a program presented by the Guanella Center beneficiaries.

Canonical Visit

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Manila – Fr. Alfonso Crippa, Superior General of the Servants of Charity made a canonical visit to the Philippines May 30th-June 15th, including a visit to Vietnam June 8th-11th. The visit was an opportune time for Guanellians in the Philippines to review their life and mission. Considered as the “contemporary Father Guanella” in the Congregation, so it was a visit of a “father” who cares for his children and as a “brother” who is always open to listen and offer words of wisdom. He reminded us of the importance of fidelity to our promises as religious and to our charism as Guanellians. He has given also simple but profound words in trying our best to love our confreres and our mission with the poor. He attended the Annual Assembly of the confreres from the Philippines and Vietnam, the launching of the Pious Union of St. Joseph-Manila, Louis: One Life, One Song (a musical concert prepared by GYM) and the Silver Jubilee celebration of the Guanellians in the Philippines. He met the beneficiaries of our programs, Guanellian Lay Cooperators, Daughters of Saint Mary of Providence, Bishop Antonio Tobias of Novaliches and Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi, visited Guanella Center and the mission in Legazpi. Fr. Luigi De Giambattista, General Councilor and pioneer missionary in the Philippines, accompanied him on the visit.

Physical Therapy Room Dedicated

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Manila – On May 31st, the Feast of the Visitation of Mary, the new Physical Therapy Room at Guanella Center was dedicated and blessed. Present for the inauguration was the Superior General of the Congregation, Fr. Alfonso Crippa, General Councilor, Fr. Luigi de Giambattista and the confreres of the Philippines. With heartfelt gratitude, the Servants of Charity-Divine Providence Province would like to acknowledge the following instruments of Divine Providence for their generous support in building the new Physical Therapy Room: Archdiocese of Munich & Freising-Germany, Msgr. Wolfgang Huber, Fr. Eric Englert OSA, President of Missio Munich, Mrs. Stephanie Schüller, Mrs Heidrun Göttler and  Mr. Gero Lombardo and family. We are deeply grateful also to Mr. Stark and Missio Munich-Germany for their major contribution in building the Guanella Home for Special Children, a residential facility for abandoned persons with physical and intellectual disabilities. As of now, there are 21 residents benefiting from this beautiful house for those neglected by society and even their own families. The physical therapy room is equipped with instruments needed for the rehabilitation of patients that need treatment who could not afford those being offered at private clinics and hospitals. Thank you once again to our German Benefactors. May God bless your generosity.

The Long Journey from Naro to Pforzheim Ends after 65 years!

Thre Guanellians in downtown Pforzheim

It was a sunny day on September 1, 1948 when a young aspirant, Gero Lombardo, was introducted to former Father General Luigi Alippi. He was happy to greet this first young Sicilian boy who had asked to enter the Guanellian seminary, and since that day, many goals have been achieved. However, back then no one could have imagined that he alone would bring the Guanellians to Germany; those funny priests who had arrived only months before in his beloved Sicily. Now this long difficult journey has come to an end, and why the Lord linked Gero to His wise plan is now clear. Although he would not become a priest, he remained deeply commited to the ideals he was taught as a Guanellian seminarian.

Today’s story unfolds with Father Luigi DiGiambattista accompanying Fr. Baniak, SdC from Krakow to Germany. Before their arrival, Mother Inge Lombardo worked tirelessly to make a positive first impression for the German culture. Her patient, attentive dedication made the task possible. She did a good job, meriting the gratitude of many Guanellians who enjoyed her hospitality during the preparations. After visiting Dean Ihle an inspection took place of the flat at St. Josef House in downtown Pforzheim, the official residence of the German Guanellian community.

On Sunday, June 30th our confreres concelebrated Holy Mass for the Mother General of the Daughters of St. Josef and two parish priests. After Mass Fr. Luigi presented them each with a blessed medallion in gratitude for their long relationship with the Pious Union in Rome. Gero then took the opportunity to thank the nuns for the work at their hospital in Pforzheim, where many Italian children were born, including his dear son Fabio! The group proposed to their Mother General a closer relationship between the SdC and the DSJ in India, where they are present at Kerala, TN, AP.

The next day the group travelled to the St.Trudpert Abbey, home of the German Pious Union since 1919. There are more than 100,000 members, significantly more than Gero‘s earlier estimate of 15,000. Provincial Mother Germana and Sr. Bernita, director of GPU, and Sister Emmanuela, well known among the Italians of Pforzheim because of her 25 years of service at the Catholic Hospital of St.Trudpert welcomed us. Superior Msgr. Eric Hensler also welcomed our confreres during a short meeting after dinner.

On July 1st the group met with Vicar Bishop Klug and introduced Fr. Baniak before beginning his full immersion in the German language. Bishop Klug invited them to discuss the accomodations for both confreres at the MCI Pforzheim and their residence at St. Joseph house. Bishop Klug then made a generous promise to finance the purchase of all needed furniture in the religious residence!

A week later the group picked up Fr. Antonyraj from Stuttgart and gave him a quick tour of his future Pforzheim home. He was happy to stay at the Guanella House in our small town and enjoyed the warm Italian welcome for the night. On July 10th we accompaned him to Freiburg to meet the bishop’s secretary, Deacon Roth, at Borremaeum College to initiate his six month German language course. We visited the famous Freiburg cathedral with Fr. Baniak, Deacon Roth and Fr. Arokiadoss, and then returned home; mission accomplished! Thanks be to God and to the Blessed Mother, our Patroness of Holy Providence. We were filled with joy and gratitude. Now with united forces we can accomplish more from Old Germany! Viribus Unitis fortior sind!

Despite the intensive work involved in organizing all these steps, we have not forgotten the pending projects that the Procure proposed to our benefactors. Those in the Philippines seem to have been approved: PT Manila and Nourishment Program Legapzi. Frs. Viray and Omodei will receive official confirmation shortly. We also hope that both the Sivaganai van and Vatluru kitchen will receive generous donations. Two projects in „Mother Africa“ Kinshasa for Children Aids Prevention and a van will be accepted with great joy by our tireless Brother Mauro and the Lemba community.

May God continue to bless all our mentors in Germany as well as our Curia in Rome and of all our

brothers on the front lines of charity in Philippines, India, Vietnam and Africa!

Gero Lombardo GGP

Guanellian Journey to GermanyGuanellian Journey to Germany

German Report

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The activities in January were dominated by the most important goal of our procure to complete the long silent march for legal and canonical approval of the our project of bringing the Guanellian family into Germany. Following extensive preparation, Fr. Luigi and our Polish confrere Fr. Wieslaw, reached our town on January 23, 2013. Together we traveled to Freiburg i.Br and met Vicar Bishop Rainer Klug for the second time. After the formal introduction and presentation of our first parish priest for the spiritual assistance of our large Italian community at Pforzheim/Black Forest, Mons. Klug outlined the preparatory itinerary for the two Guanellian priests who will take over the care of souls beginning in 2014. For this parish, our General House in Rome will send Fr. Wieslaw Baniak of the Polish structure at Skavina/Krakow, and a young Indian priest from our Chennai community. They will begin German lessons at the Göthe Institutes of Krakow and Chennai until the end of June. From July 1, 2013 they will attend intensive language courses at the Telekolleg University of Freiburg. Following this full immersion in German, they will get practice in the spiritual guide and administration of the sacraments. The trial phase will end on Dec.13, 2013, and we will anticipate the joyous enthroning of our confreres in mid-January 2014.

During this three-day stay, we paid a visit to Doyen Fr. Bernhard Ihle at the Francis Church as well as to Dr. Johannes Mette, parish priest of St. Anthony Church where the official seat of the Italian Catholic mission is sited. Our confreres have been heartily welcomed and invited to begin close and constructive cooperation among the German parishes and our Italian Mission. For a short time, we also paid a visit to the religious order of St. Joseph’s Daughters at the Catholic hospital of St.Trudpert in our city, who since 1920 have spread the Guanellian Pious Union in Germany. An obligatory meeting with a small Italian community of Friolzheim gave the opportunity to experience the reality of the Italian immigration in our State of Baden-Württemberg. For our German and Italian cooperators we organized a pizza dinner at il Giardino, where abundant beer and Sicilian red wine animated the conversation, sometimes with eloquent gestures. A unique experience for our confreres, Fr.Luigi and Fr. Wieslaw, was the visit of a poor person’s table which takes place every year in the Lutheran Central City Church. During extremely cold winter days, almost 500 poor people who are stranded take a warm meal for a symbolic 1 Euro. Pastor Rev. Eisinger-Gölz welcomed our confreres and stretched his hand for close cooperation in the future. The lesson they took home was that charity is a precious gift of God that we Guanellians must lavish with full hands everywhere, even in wealthy Germany. Following the motto of Fr Guanella “Distribute bread and paradise to the poor because in their features is hidden Jesus.“ And so a newly active area of the Guanellian Family has been marked onto the German map as a binding corridor between Switzerland and Poland. Will it be a future constellation in Central Europe? May God let this little shrub grow into a shadow giving tree. We wish to all of our readers to open their minds and hearts during our approaching Lent, to be regenerated with the Saviour’s Blood during Holy Week.

Misericordia Domini lavat pecata nostra!

The Mercy  of God washes our sins!

Gero Lombardo

German Guanellian Procure

Fr. Guanella’s Triumphal Entrance into Germany

After 50 years of carrying the torch of the Guanellian charism in silence for the German Diaspora, it gives me great joy to announce the fulfillment of an age old dream. Just before the first anniversary of the Canonization of Saint Louis Guanella, our long attempt to bring his sons to this promising vineyard has been approved. My circle of life will now be complete through Divine Providence, as everything has happened as foreseen. Our vicar Bishop, Monsignor Rainer Klug, wished to discuss the details of the arrival of two Guanellian confreres at the end of 2013 with a delegate of Father General Alfonso Crippa. As agreed, on October 16th I joined acting provincial Fr. Luigi and Fr. Tobia Bassanelli, the general delegate of Italian missions in Germany, at the bishop’s office in Freiburg. Mons. Klug welcomed the Guanellians to his Archdiocese and thanked Fr. Alfonso for keeping his word to send two priests of our congregation as soon as possible to Germany. After stating the conditions of the physical presence of Guanellian religious on German soil, he urged the two candidates to visit in January 2013, to participate in a German language study program on the Telekolleg, and prepare for a six-month immersion in our language within the archdiocese. An interesting fact is that two former pupils of the St. Calogero Seminary at Naro/Sicily will be the carriers of the Guanellian spirit to Germany. I for the past 50 years now, along with one of the other two priests who will be joining us, are also natives of our faraway, generous island. Now Fr. Guanella will definitively have put not one, but both feet in a new geographic area of activity. It was a memorable day not only for our Procure but also for the entire Guanellian family.

The following day, I took Fr. Luigi to the Catholic hospital of the Daughters of St. Josef at Pforzheim, who with their sisters at the Abbey of St. Trudpert in the Black Forest, have been the real precursors of this success, because they have been promoting the Pious Union since January 10, 1920! We also visited Deacon Ihle in the Deaconate of Pforzheim and had a short talk with Prior Theis of the Knights of St. Lazarus nearby in our district capital. These emotional days closed with a simple ceremony at St. Alexander Church in Tiefenbornn where Fr. Lugi celebrated a Mass in Italian with German translation, and two new Italian brothers took our habit. Ignazio Minotta and Enzo Urso of the Italian Cultural Club will become supporters of our Guanellian Mission. I’ll propose to dedicate the same to Divine Providence or simply the Don Guanella Mission in Deutschland. There will be a lot of work to do when our confreres arrive, but we are all confident that our Lord has already chosen the right paths, solutions and partners. Yes, now the long journey from Sicily to Germany comes to an end, and the circle of life makes sense! Magnificat anima mea Dominun! Praise the Lord my soul for all his gifts!

Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian  Procure (GGP)

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The Divine Providence Province New Provincial Council

Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC
Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC
New Provincial Superior of the Divine Providence Province: Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC

Dear Confreres, Sisters, Guanellian Cooperators, Friends and Benefactors,

Following the Superior General’s instructions, I will gladly communicate the names of the confreres who are called to lead and animate the Divine Providence Province in the next triennium.

            The composition of the new provincial council has taken into consideration the proposals of the two consultations, as well as the availability of the confreres to take up the difficult responsibility entrusted to them according to our constitutions.

            To Fr. Soosai Rathinam, the new Provincial Superior and his councilors, Fr. Charlton Viray, Fr. Visuwasam P., Fr. Dennis Weber and Fr. Kulandaisami A., go our warm wishes and assurance of our prayers for a fruitful ministry at the service of our Province, of the fraternal communion of all its members and of the beautiful mission entrusted by the Spirit to our Founder and his religious families.

            It is certainly a providential and meaningful coincidence that this renewal of leadership in the life of the Divine Providence Province takes place during the solemnity of All Saints. Among them, the shining example of Saint Louis Guanella, whose canonization’s first anniversary we have just celebrated, is urging us to aim high and heed the call of today’s Church to take seriously and courageously our vocation to holiness.

            We are convinced that the New Evangelization begins in our personal life and in our communities. Allow me to ask you to gather, in the next few days, around the altar of the Lord to celebrate the Eucharist and an hour of adoration, in thanksgiving for all the graces we have received and for generous vocations to the priesthood and religious life to our Congregation.

            I would like to quote, in closing, the Synod of Bishops’ message to all the believers in the Gospel.

            “With humility we recognize that the poverty and witness of Jesus’ disciples, especially of his ministry, weigh on the credibility of the mission. We are however also convinced that the Lord’s spirit is capable of renewing his Church and rendering her garments resplendent, if we let Him mold us. It is our duty therefore to conquer fear through faith, discouragement through hope, indifference through love.” (Message of XIII Synod of Bishop, October 26, 2012).

Fr. Luigi De Giambattista, SdC

New Provincial Council Members

Fr. Soosai Rathinam A., Provincial Superior

Fr. Charlton Viray,         First Councilor and Vicar

Fr. Visuwasam P.            Second Councilor

Fr. Dennis Weber,          Third Councilor

Fr. Kulandaisamy A.,     Fourth Councilor

Baptism: Birth into God’s Family

Manila – On August 15th the Servants of Charity community celebrated not only the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but also the birth of five special children into God’s family through the sacrament of Baptism. The Holy Mass was celebrated by the Provincial Superior himself, Fr. Luigi De Giambattista. The five newly baptized special children are: Bernie, JP (after Blessed John Paul II, as per Fr. Luigi), Ronnie, Josephand Lito. Father Luigi focused his homily on the role of godfathers and godmothers in the absence or in place of the parents. He stressed the guiding principles; that the responsibility of the godparents is not merely the “pakimkim (gifts)” that they will give to their “inaanak (godchild)”.

Truly, God shows His love and grace through the sacraments. Thank you Lord for constantly inviting us into Your family, for calling us to be Your sons and daughters. Amen.