Guanellians in Germany Discover Christmas Traditions

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Pforzheim – The weather has become really chilly, but the squares of our adoptive town are decorated with many splendid arches. Every corner attracts with illuminated windows, and the air smells of fresh Christmas cakes. The Old German Christmas traditions are still alive, although old Pforzheim has become a cosmopolitan ambiance; especially on weekends when you meet people from all four corners of the globe. This is because Germany is still an open society and offers many employment opportunities to thousands of new Italian immigrants. As you see I’m not a missionary at the Guanellian front narrating religious events, but a simple layman who is trying to bring Germany and its traditions closer to the readers of the DPP newsletter.
During the first Sunday of Advent, Inge and I made a promenade into downtown. The pictures we’re sending you should bring you to the place where our two confreres have created the 21st tent of charity. Pforzheim has become the German “motherhouse” for present and future activities. On December 14th we’ll have the honor and pleasure of introducing the successor of Father Guanella to his 21st daughter. During their visit to the MCI Italian mission, they and our confreres as well the Guanellian Procura will meet with Dean Berhard Ihle and his Vice-Dean Dr. Johannes Mette who is the parish priest of St. Anthony Church. It is just 100m from the offices of the first Guanellian mission in our beloved country.
Furthermore, we are going to accompany Fr. Alfonso and Fr. Luigi to the annual Lutheran Desk caring for homeless people, poor and abandoned children, and immigrant families under the significant Motto, “I was hungry and you invited me to share with you bread and water.”
Other intended meetings will be with the local Charitas because of its impact in the city spectrum as a lantern of charity. Mr. Lemke, Director of Charitas Pforzheim, is a friend of our MCI because he has known the charism of the Guanellians from my former employment at Charitas since 1966.
Before next Christmas, we will re-activate our old contacts at Missio-Munich, Kindermission at Aachen, Adveniat and Miserere Catholic and Lutheran Solidarity agencies. As thanks for their constructive help during the past year, we’ll send them a Sicilian almond cake so that in 2015 when we knock at their door, they will not disregard our applications and requests for financial help for our Missions.
Finally we have the pleasure of informing our English readers that our Procura has been officially incorporated into the entities depending on the General House in Rome. We intend to continue sharing our activities with all Guanellian provinces. Therefore we’ll also send our news stories to our Spanish and French publications, as well as to the official Guanellian News.
May the start of Advent link us to prepare our hearts and minds to the arrival of the Savior Child.
Venite adoramus Dominum, qui hodie pro nobis natus est.
Come and adore the Lord, because today he was born for us.
With best wishes for a grace filled Christmas Night, we offer our prayers for a new, holy and blessed 2015.

Gero Lombardo,  German Guanellian Procura

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

Rainbow of Charity and Love – From Germany to our Missions

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Pforzheim – Yesterday I was sitting on our terrace and enjoying a wonderful sunset, when suddenly on the other side a splendid rainbow appeared; wide and well-planted as a sign of peace. It seemed to be embracing mother earth and the heavens in a tender burst, and I was imagining that this rainbow was also touching our brothers on the opposite corners of the globe. This symbol of reconciliation, union and fraternity was the key to our experience and the expression of sincere engagement when we met at Barza recently. Many confreres from Congo, Nigeria and Ghana, as well as Provincial Fr. Marco Grega and the African delegate, Fr.Uche, were sitting in front of us, and not talking via email. We finally had the opportunity to discuss the projects which the small German Procure has carried out in those countries.
Brother Mauro shared the results that have been achieved with the 24 hour ambulance service in the streets of Kinshasa, rescuing Aids affected boys and girls. Stranded youth are being transported to our treatment center in Lemba. This ambulance was donated by our friends at Kindermission after the long and intensive efforts of Brother Mauro and Mrs. Beate Jantzen. The Procura will apply for a second ambulance for the other Guanellian structure at Bateké. For the physical redemption of our disabled children at Cité Guanella, we have obtained an additional donation from this generous Catholic agency; funds for an irrigation system conceived for irrigation of the vegetables and fruits needed to enhance their nutrition with fresh produce.
With Fr. Uche we worked on additional new projects for our structures in disabled centers in Nigeria and Ghana. Fr. Provincial Grega was amazed at the close relationship we have with our missionaries in Africa. We have focused on new targets, like substantial help for the theological seminary in Kinshasa and our Theologate at Bangalore. For this, we have knocked at the door at our Bishop‘s office. Discussion with Archbishop Burger‘s new secretary has peaked the interest of our German dioceses to finance our theological semnaries, because today the lack of local vocations require the bishops to search in India and Africa for missionaries wishing to become pastors in German  parishes. This proves our committment to other Guanellian provinces as a sign that our motto “The Whole World is your Homeland” is our leitmotif!
Remaining in Africa, we are happy that through our diocesan friend and parish priest, Fr. Furaha in Mbeya, we were contacted by a young girl who is becoming a teacher in 2014 and wishing to enter the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, our Guanellian nuns. Conjesta Ljiumba has sent her CV and picture, which we transmitted to Mother General Serena. This could be the first African flower on the Guanellian altar. My joy will be great, when and if in the near future, some priestly vocation rises from and for Tanzania.
Finally, we continue our work with Sr. Bernita, Dirctor of the German Pious Union, who is mediating  precious contacts with new clerical German and Austrian members of the Confraternity of St. Josef and maintaining contact with Mother General Simone for the creation of a similar confraternity in India. This would be through unification of their forces in Kerala and Tamal Nadu. During the visit of Fr. Provincial Rathinam in Germany, we dealt deeply with this project, and hope that during his next visit, a meeting at Münstertal with the Saint Josef Sisters might be organized.
The dream of Fr. Mimi and I for a medical center at Tala/Philipines,is still under consideration, and Fr. Charlton Viray is coordinating the file with Sr. Cecille Martinez. Even though Sr. Giulietta Saginario has returned to the House of our Father, we shall continue our campaign for new donations through Kindermision and the local Charitas staff in Pforzheim. Let us pray this month for the eternal rest of my beloved adoptive Sr. Giulietta, the last member of a family of saints who granted the Guanellians three priests and one sister.
Requiem eterman dona Eis, Domine !
O Lord Grant to them your Eternal Love!
Gero Lombardo,  German Guanellian Procura

Back to the Roots

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Pforzheim – June was an intensive month.  It was rich in events and new experiences, but it also provided us with an opportunity to reflect deeply to rediscover our old roots, our own DNA. We found our traditions, family ties, and devotion to our saints with plenty of hilarity! After the first pilgrimage to Lourdes, our two Guanellian parish priests accompanied an additional pilgrimage to a famous German shrine. This one is known as, Our Lady of Zwiefalten, where more than 1000 Italian devotees of our confederate State of Baden-Württemberg met with the archibishop of our original diocese in Agrigento; Monsignor Montenegro. The Pforzheim Group enjoyed the opportunity and made our confreres happy by demonstrating so much faith and devotion to God’s Mother!
In mid-June we had the pleasure of a visit from Vicar General Fr. Umberto Brugnoni, who stepped onto German soil for the first time and felt with his hands and heart the progress of our presence in this beautiful and generous country after only six months. After a casual meeting at our Procure in Tiefenbronn, we toured the northern part of the large Guanellian parish, which will be served by Fr. Rocky after his vacation in India.
On June 21st we celebrated the traditional St. Calogero Feast. Father Umberto presided at the solemn Mass, and was assisted by Frs. Wieslaw and Rocky. Every last seat in the small Church was full. A short procession with the statue of our black patron, Calogero, took place through the city center of Pforzheim, and ended with the benediction of homemade devotional bread. As Sicilians practice around the globe in all Naresi communities, many devotees offered donations.  At the end, our co-organizer and President of the St. Calogero Committee, Mr. Ignazio Minotta, presented an envelope with 400 Euros for the disabled children at Poonamallee, India. My emotion and that of our confreres, was overcome by the presence of twelve former alumni of the St. Calogero Institute at Naro; crowning the feast with a souvenir picture of he and our confreres. Most of them arrived in Pforzheim in the early 60s, and are still great supporters of the Guanellian parish along with their growing families and friends. The next appointment will be at the 2015 St. Calogero Feast when the newly re-founded Commitee of the Friends of St. Calogero will be more active in fundraising for other Guanellian projects in the missions of Africa and/or Asia.
As far as our work at the Procure is concerned, we patiently wait for an answer concerning the Sivagangai Projects. We spoke recently with Fr. Kulandaisamy during the Provincial Meetings in the USA, and asked for his patience until the end of June. Please pray that this project, the other new projects for Vietnam and the supported “Don Mimi Leprosy Center at Tale/Mindanao, Phil.” may find generous donors in the coming weeks. For these specific projects, we have entered a new phase with Sr. Cecille, FMM, who is coordinating the documents with Fr. Charlton Viray so that the testament of Fr. Mimi can be combined with them.
I would like to say a few words about beloved Sr. Giulietta Saginario, the last surviving member of this generous family who has granted the Guanellian family three priests and a nun. She has given a testament and left the inheritance of her family to the Leprosy Center at Tala for children of leper parents. She is very sick and all the friends of Fr. Mimi should accompany her in this delicate moment of her earthly life. As an adopted brother of the Saginarios, I invite you to join me in this prayer crusade around the world: But Fiat Voluntas Dei also for Sr. Giulia!
Let us praise the Lord that he allows us to be his “cooperators” in seeking and distributing funds to his “precious and weak sisters and brothers.”
Laudate Dominum quia mirabilia fecit :
Praise the Lord Who works miracles every day!

Gero Lombardo,  German Guanellian Procura

First Guanellian Pilgrimage to Lourdes

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Pforzheim – On May 27, 2014 the first Guanellian pilgrimage led by Fr. Wieslaw Baniak, parish priest of the Italian community at Pforzheim, will mark an epocal event for the whole congregation. I’m really sure that Father Guanella will be pleased to see that his dream of August 1912 has now been fulfilled.  For the first time, a son of Fr. Guanella will accompany fifty-five Italian pilgrims to Lourdes. Following their return on June 2, 2014, we’ll be able to share with you many impressive and emotional pictures.
We have sent along a humble photo of our departure to Lourdes. After the joyful meetings of Palm Sunday and Easter, our Guanellian Parish of Barfüßer Church is going to prepare the celebration of our black Patron of the far and beloved home Naro: San Calogero, who for 50 years has been honored by the devoted community of Pforzheim and the hinterlands with affection. Because of this, an old project for fundraising in favor of the Guanellian missions has been re-activated. Two decades ago the San Calogero friends Club had contributed a substantial donation for the building of the new San Calogero elderly home to replace the old home for poor and abandoned children during darkest period in Sicily after WWII. It was special for me because of my birth in the Guanellian family in 1948.
The liturgical feast is June 18th but for practical reasons we’ll celebrate it on June 21, 2014. First with a solemn Mass in our small church, then a long procession with the statue of San Calogero and finally a traditional ‘spaghetti dinner’ featuring long and joyful dances. The offers donated by the devotees will be sent to our General House in Rome for the rehabilitation center for the developmentally disabled at Poonamallee. This is also an homage to our believers in India for having donated one of their sons to us, Fr. Rocky Antonyraj.
The pastoral activities of our Guanellian mission is increasing with the sympathy of our neighboring parish priests Dr. Johannes Mette and Dean Ihle, as well as that of our neighboring Italian missionary Father Antonino Grassia at Mühlacker. The counterpart of the Guanellian parish is dedicating time and efforts to provide expected financial help, allowing for the purchase of a mini-bus for the disabled boys and girls of Sivavangai. A recent call from Mrs. Lioba Stenner announced that this project will be submitted in June 2014 to the awarding commission. At the same time we are searching out new sources for the Saigon Projects.
Special thanks from Missio Munich goes out to Fr. Charlton Viray, for his initiative in dedicating two commemorative plates for their generous donations at Quezon City, Manila Main Building and the Physiotherapy center. Shortly, a report on the visit of the Kindermission Delegation to Legapzi will appear on the local German press of Aachen.
It has been announced that our great benefactor, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch is about to be replaced by a new Archbishop by the name of Domkapitular Stephan Burger. Archbishop Zollitsch has been a great ally, who formally accepted our Guanellian presence in the great Archdiocese of Freiburg. We thank Archbishop Zollitsch for his service, and welcome our new shepherd Archbishop Stephan Burger, wishing him well as he assumes his new position.
Finally, June in Germany is traditionally a harvesting month, and both German entities, the Parish and the Procure must thank the Lord for his copious signs of benevolence. May Holy Providence continue to hold its hands upon us and assist us to be true and tireless Servants of the Poor.
Benedicat Dominus operam nostram!

Gero Lombardo,  German Guanellian Procura

Late Epiphany

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Pforzheim – On Palm Sunday the two Guanellian confreres made their official Epiphany with the celebration of the solemn entrance of Jesus in the historical Jerusalem. More than 500 believers of the Italian Community participated at St. Bernhard Church at Pforzheim-Arlinger for this first solemnity of Guanellians on German soil. It was clear proof that Frs. Wieslaw and Rocky have been well accepted by their parishoners. The religious service was accompanied by beautiful Italian songs and music by our organist, Enzo Camella. The organization was supported by long time secretary of the MCI, Mrs. Tina Marsella, and the affectionated sacrestan Mr. Antonio Trovato. I was allowed to capture the emotional moments with my camera, and the pictures speak for themselves.
On Easter Sunday the Holy Mass was celebrated in the Italian parish church Barfüßer Kirche. During the ceremony little child Daniele D’Eugenio was baptized. His father, the famous tenor actor of German television, sang a joyful Halleluia! As the mother of the neophite is from Naro, the church was mostly occupied by Naresi emigrants.
During the past week Holy Providence was generous with our Procura, because our friends and benefactors of Kindermission at Aachen made a significant financial donation in support of our irrigation project at Beteké, Kinsaha Congo.
Unfortunately our Vatluru kitchen project was rejected due to repeated discrepancies found in the documents. For the mini-bus of Sivagangai we can report that the corresponding project was submitted to the awarding commission. After the return to the office of the responsible director, Mrs. Lioba Stenner, we will seek a final response.
We are also in touch with Frs. Felicks and Jerin as well as our Provincial Tresaurer, Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, to receive a completed file for the new project in Ho-Chi-Minh,Vietnam. This project will be submitted to our fellow Catholic agency, “World Religious Buildings Support Organization,” in the Archdiocese of Cologne, who supported the construction of the Kumbakonam Church.
May is the floral month dedicated to our Lady of the Rosary. For the first time our Guanellian parish, MCI of Pforzheim, will guide a pilgrimage to Lourdes. This is a new milestone in our fresh presence in Germany. Members of the MCI and the Procura will also activate many meetings with the diaspora for our large territory.
Finally a nice picture of Our Lady of Divine Providence is now decorating the religious chapel and our Procura’s office. May the Lord through the intercession of our Patroness and our Saintly Founder, sanctify our work and efforts in order to intensify the search of other generous benefactors.
Maria stella maris ora pro nobis!

Gero Lombardo,  German Guanellian Procura

German Guanellian Commuity Increases Presence

With the arrival of Fr. Rocky Antonyraj to the first Guanellian entity at Pforzheim, the German community diversifies the field of pastoral and solidarity activities. Both confreres will dedicate their pastoral life not only to the large Italian community, but also to other immigrant groups living in our district.German Guanellian missio map.
During the past month Fr. Wieslaw, director of the Guanellian Mission, faced many new activities, contacts and assisted with the pastoral needs of the small Spanish community due to serious illness of Rev. Juan. He was requested to help the Polish mission with confessions throughout lent and preparations for the Easter feast. The district dean, B. Ihle, would like him to be ready to help St. Francis Church with confessions for groups like Croatian Catholics. On March 23rd he offered a sort of Spiritual exercises for the first time and we were suprised by the amount of believers attending. He has been well accepted by all communities.
Since his arrival in Pforzheim Fr. Rocky also began to preach and hear confessions every weekend. He has started catechesis for first communion and premarital counseling.
The Procura, through support of both confreres, will abandon administrative tasks and concentrate all efforts to seek new sources of solidarity in the Catholic and Lutheran churches. Personally I’m really happy that the preparatory work has come to an end. As the demand for financial support increases each year, I need more time to seek and activate these channels of Holy Providence.
We have been in continous contact with our best benefactors, Missio Munich and Kindermission, concerning the pending projects for Vatluru and Sivagangai. I’m very confident that by the end of March the funding for a mini-bus for the disabled children at Sivagangai will be approved. Mrs. Steiner’s last letter sounded positive. The Aids Medical Center project of Bateké was submitted to the approval commision at the end March.
Finally, we started a close cooperation with Mission Procura of our Salesian cousins and have received much precious information about approaching the Archdiocese of Cologne. Now we know on which door to knock for Project Vietnam, which Fr. Rinaldo has been preparing since his recent visit to Saigon.
All this information has convinced me to stick to my prefered activity: provider of Providence and fundraiser for the poor in the Guanellian missions.
An accessible Jesus ! 001Now we are preparing to celebrate the Easter festivity and hope to meet our Redemeer at the end. I found a significant picture on the German Salesians news of an imaginary Jesus. When I pray, I search the familiar picture of the Nazarene and I should confess that it is difficult to create our own image of God. The best way is to try everyday to discover HIM in our poor Brothers. I wish to all our readers a Happy Easter. May the Resurrected heal our wounds and bless our efforts for his Glory and service of our beloved “Patrons.”

Gero Lombardo,  German Guanellian Procura

First Steps at Pforzheim

Bishop Ranier Klug

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Time to withdraw and leave younger people to building the future in this new tent of charity. As the rumors of the official introduction of our new confreres has passed and all visitors have returned to their apostolate domiciles, the daily normality has begun for Fr.Wieslaw as the director of the Guanellian community, while Fr. Rocky continues his German lessons at Freiburg until April 1st. Everyone knows that new beginnings are quite difficult, and one must be careful moving during the first steps in an unknown environment. But our two pioneers are doing their best to obtain sympathy in their new pastoral field.
The daily work of the MCI absorbs the attention of Fr. Wieslaw, and the weekends also fulfill the apostolate of Fr. Rocky, who is working between Freiburg and Pforzheim.
New relationships have been established with the St. Josef nuns at St.Trudpert Catholic Hospital, where our confreres are celebrating Holy Mass twice a month for the thirty sisters there; most of them from Kerala, South India.
Fr. Wieslaw has been introducted to the director of Charitas Pforzheim, Mr. Lemke, who during the meeting on February 6, 2014, made a surprising offer to help our confreres obtain practical experience in his numerous disabled and elderly homes. He also offered to channel the efforts of our Procura into a districtwide fundraising campaign in favor of the project which Fr. Mimi had so longingly dreamed; the creation of a special center for the children of parents with leprosy on Mindanao in the Philippines. He was also open to eventually support our new presence in Ho-Chi-Mihn, Vietnam. Meanwhile we are waiting for feedback from Fr. Charlton Viray in Manila and Provincial Treasurer, Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, for the new religious and disabled residence in the former City of Saigon.
Another interesting initiative was our contact with the Mother General of the St. Josef Daughters in the Abbey of Münstertal, in order to join forces in India between the Guanellians and the DSJ in Kerala, AP and TN with the intention of creating a common Pious Union in India. During the short visit of Provincial Fr. Rathinam, we have detailed this project, and in a short time we shall get a formal reply of the DSJ of St.Trudpert after the return of Mother Simone from India and the translation into the Keralian/Tamilian language of the Pious Union targets.
Holy Providence has furthermore blessed our efforts for a significant Project in R.D. Congo, where Fr. Guido Mattarese has conceived a five hectars irrigatiton project at Bateké in order to redeem several disabled boys and girls through manual labor. This project will be approved on 3/27/14. We ask our Indian communities to pray also for the positive results of both projects; a van for Sivagangai and a kitchen for Vatluru. Both will be submitted at the end of March to the awarding commission of our greatest benefactors, Kindermission at Aachen.
Finally in my introduction, I stated my firm decision to slowly withdraw from my activities. Starting in April, Fr. Rocky will begin contributing to our DPP bulletin, while Fr. Wieslaw will write about some issues for the Italian and Polish news.
The time of Gero as precursor is coming to an end, and soon I will take up a better task; that of the silent carpenter Josef helping my community to construct a new building on a solid basis. In case the procurator nomination is not renewed in December 2014, I’ll resign and eventually find someone else to continue the precious work of this Guanellian entity. Somehow it will be a pity because “begging” for unknown poor people is a very sensitive art which requires tact, savoir faire and a real passion to dedicate someone’s whole personality into the solidarity of love. If this happens “our Patrons” will be the ones who are abandoned, and they will continue to suffer injustice! Still, I did not start singing the ‘Canticle of Simeon,’ because I’m convinced that in God’s vineyard there is still a need for old, experienced arms, minds and especially inflamed hearts!
To all our readers around the globe, I wish copious Blessings from God, and a Joyful Easter Season. May the Lord inspire and link the minds of all those who have to decide about the future presence of Guanellians in my blessed and very generous adopted Homeland.
Et nunc, Domine, dirige animam meam quia nemo Profeta in patria sua est!

Gero Lombardo,  German Guanellian Procura

Germany has Welcomed the Guanellians

Bishop blessed new house

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Pforzheim – On January 19th even the sky was laughing. It was a splendid sunny day and the entire Italian community was filled with the joy of finally having two “San Calò priests,” as Guanellians are commonly called by my countrymen because in 1948 the first Guanellians arrived to care for the many poor, orphaned and abandoned children in the poorest corner of Sicily: Naro. On that beautiful morning we gathered in the new Guanellian residence to pray the Lauds. Fr. Nino blessed the rooms especially the small chapel which was prepared following the roots of our tradition: stay close to the blessed Sacrament all day. The Italian marble cutter, Guida erected the mini altar using 3 slabs of Italian granite. I was overcome with emotion and tears of joy flowed abundantly. Finally the long journey was over, the deepest dream fulfilled and new horizons became attainable; from and through Germany, Guanellian charity will be “exported” to targets in the Emirates, Tanzania and South Africa as a natural flow of our Indian brothers to those countries where millions of their forefathers have been going for generations.

The presence of Nino Minetti, general superior emeritus; Fr. Luigi, delegate for General Superior Alfonso; Fr. Soosai Rathiman, provincial father of Fr. Rocky; and me, oldest Guanellian presence in Germany, were also honored by the national delegate of Italian missionaries in Germany and Scandinavia, Fr. Tobia Bassanelli, a Dehonian friend of the SdC.

The small Barfüßer Kirche was full of Italian friends who welcomed both confreres. The organist, Enzo, played the best Italian hymns while Antonio, our sacristan cried with joy. After the solemn Mass the Italian community served a light lunch. Vespers and a short visit of the former parish priest Fr. Santi and Fr. Bassanelli closed the unique feast. Now our Polish confrere, director of the new mission, has begun his apostolate. We, as lay supporters will give him and Fr. Rocky a better understanding of the critical ambiance, new culture and difficulties among the many facets of the Italian community.

At the end of January, we celebrated Fr. Wieslaw’s birthday at the Italian Culture Center where the Italian social worker, Mr. Galluzzo, and Mr. Minotta, Italian representative to the city council, and Mrs. Morabito, active member of the City youth ring, met the two Guanellians entrusted to God’s people in our adoptive hometown, Pforzheim, for the first time after a long silence.

We are also planning visits to our neighbors in Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg,  UK and the Italian community of Alsace-North France for new fundraising endeavors in those countries. Our friends at Missio and Sternsingers already provided us with the names and addresses of the persons who might be sensitive to the charity programs God calls us to.

We thank all confreres of our Province as well those in Italy, Africa and South America for their wishes and prayers. The way we have yet to go is bristly and long. May our Lord accompany us in this new task; and the most Blessed Virgin Mary show us the right way and means.

Have a blessed lent time and remember us in your prayers!

Laudate Dominum, quia nunc totum factum est!

Gero Lombardo, GGP

A German Guanellian Reaches Pope Francis

Bishop accepts gift

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It is not an April Fool’s joke, but a joyful truth!

What a unique and precious gift. A Guanellian confrere was recently received by Pope Francis at his private residence, St. Marta House inside Vatican City. My former seminarian pupil and now director of the Mother House in Como, Fr. Angelo Gottardi, was a private guest of Pope Francis on his 70th birthday. I assisted Fr. Angelo, a Swiss confrere of Bale, in 1958-59 before he went to the novitiate at Barza. After his ordination, he was sent at length to South America, where I met him several times in Chile and Argentina. During his pastoral time at the Guanellian Basilica of St. Josef in Avenida Castro, he was often in touch with the former Archibishop and later Cardinal Bergoglio.

Since that time contact with this Church prince remained very close so that many confreres like Fr. Silvio Sperotto, Fr. Gustavo De Bonis, Carlos Blanchoud and my novitiate classmate, Fr. Settimo Zanella, have recently spoken of their edifying experiences with this great Pope, who has had the courage to burst open the windows and encrusted gate of our Church.

Following the pastoral letter of Archibishop Dr. R. Zollitsch, we have intensified our efforts in preparing a large pastoral view in our adoptive ambiance, and increased our contact with the local Charitas. Through the Guanellian charism, sensible attention is being paid to the severely disabled, care of the elderly, and the supportive initiatives of Catholic solidarity agencies like Missio and Stern Singers, who are now our best benefactors; recently awarding 40,000 Euros for a van in Kinsasha. As previously reported, Charitas Pforzheim has a large center for the disabled, which curiously was built on an ancient Roman villa. Haus am Kappelhof hosts more than 150 disabled girls and boys. Director Lemke has also constructed a special school for the physically disabled. In the two senior centers, St. Marin and Albert Stehlin Haus, many neglected elderly have found not only medical assistance; but warm, fraternity and love.

As our German Procura owes gratitude to our Salesian cousins, this month we supported their funding appeals for the street children in Congo and the victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines. But our main task was finalizing the pending projects of our mission stations. So we praise the Lord for His Providence. Fr. Battista received a donation of $20,000 for his nutrition and PT center at Legapzi, and on November 21st, Missio Munich will submit our project for PT at Quezon City, Manila. Our generous ladies there, Mrs. Heidrun and Stephanie, believe that 30,000 Euro will be approved for their project.

For our Indian confreres in Sivagangai, the hour of Providence will begin in December, when the medical commission will give the green light to purchase a van to transport the disabled. The project of Fr. Peter Sebastian for the kitchen in Vatluru has now been submitted. Pray that Providence will enlarge his maternal mantle on all our benjamins, worldwide.

The German community would like to report that both confreres are working hard. Fr. Wieslaw is at Boxberg, training for his German pastorate; including wedding celebrations, funerals,and taking Holy Communion to the sick and elderly. Fr. Rocky is becoming familiar with the German culture and receiving excellent marks in his lessons.

Finally, we congratulate Vicar Bishop Rainer Klug on his 75th birthday. As a sign of our respect, devotion and gratitude, we are asking our Curia in Rome to procure a parchment for him. We’ll miss his paternal attention and protection, and assure him of the prayers of our German community for the introduction of our Congregation into Germany. For the first time since the prophetical dream of Fr. Guanella in August 1912, during the Marian congress at Trier, we are now the carriers of Guanellian charity. We look with hope for the long line of our saints to grow. While in November we celebrated the Feast of All Saints, we now look forward with trepidation to Christmas. Let us be the silent sheperds and new evangelizing Magi at his cradle! Gaudium magnun anuncio vobis, quia hodie Verbum DEI Caro factum est! (We announce today that the Word of God has become flesh!)

Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procura