Laity Called to Guanellian Mission

Bangalore – It was the dream of our Founder to have the laity participate in the Guanellian mission and spread charity in the world. From the time we started the Guanellian Lay Movement in Bangalore, we have seen how the laity has shown interest in growing in the mission started by our Founder. Many were introduced to the Congregation through fathers, brothers, sisters and friends. Today they stand with the Guanellian Family as one with a true spirit, participating in our celebrations and in our challenging moments. For over six years now, we have seen the spirit and enthusiasm with which the laity has embraced the mission, and they have not hesitated to step forward in their commitment. Eight members have moved from the GLM to become the first eight Guanellian Cooperators in India. We started as a small group but based on the numbers, we truly believe that the Spirit of the Lord is moving through them.
A recollection was organized and led by Fr. Ligory, who prepared the members and strengthened them with his talk. This was the preparation for the Guanellian Cooperators to renew their promise, the Guanellian Lay Movement members who were to renew and the many that were making their first pledge. The members were formed by Fr. Adaikalam, who nourished them spiritually and guided them in the Guanellian spirit. The members take up their responsibilities and participate in the planned activities.
May 31st is a very important day for the Congregation, wherein our Founder celebrated his first holy mass at Prosto. On this day, eight GC renewed their promise and seventeen GLM members made their pledge. The numbers for the GLM members who have made their pledge has moved from 10 to 17. This is only a reflection on how well the flock has kept together and formed. The credit goes to Fr. Adaikalam, Fr. Gnanaraj, Fr. Visuvasam and above all Fr. Soosai Rathinam, who has encouraged the participation of the laity. A divine spirit was in our members while saying ‘yes’ to the call and continuing their journey as Guanellians. The Holy Mass was celebrated by Fr. Soosai Rathinam along with his Councilors and other Fathers from the Guanellian Community. In his homily, Fr. Rathinam appreciated the commitment of the laity who have sacrificed so many things and remained committed. He said this was the vision of our Founder and it’s a joy to see how things are going in India. It was great joy for the Cooperators when Fr. Provincial released the English version of the ‘General Statutes’ of the Guanellian cooperators officially. It was also an overwhelming joy to have been part of the First Profession of our Brothers when we made our commitment. Now the Laity can spread throughout the world like yeast and share the Guanellian spirit, which is to provide special love to the one who says, ‘I have no one’.


Mission Experience

Thalavadi – Lent is a time when everyone makes an effort to grow in spirituality. This year, the Guanellian Lay Movement (GLM) and Guanellian Cooperators (GC) from Bangalore went on a mission experience to Thalavadi to serve intellectually and developmentally disabled patients (I/DD). It was a two day program aimed at Good Samaritan work. On the first day, the members received an orientation from Fr. Lawrence, the Director of the mission house. The members were amazed to learn how our Fathers, Brothers and helpers can take this mission forward with great compassion. We also learned that some patients were transformed and returned home. Several homes catering to these patients chain them and at times treat them harshly. This was not the case here. Fr. Lawrence and Fr. Ligori told us we only give them love and dignity, and it is God who leads us all in what we do. This was a wonderful lesson learned as a Guanellian. We organized ourselves to get closer to these patients and share their stories. The members actively participated in the residents’ physical activity and we entertained them in the evening with music and dance. The following day the members cooked two sumptuous meals. The Community accommodated us with great care and we appreciate their hospitality.

Recollection for Guanellian Cooperators

Bangalore – One’s soul is nourished through spiritual formation, serving the poor with love and compassion. A first recollection was organized for our Cooperators on March 11-12th, building the group spiritually and providing an opportunity for everyone to get to know one other. The event was led by Fr. Prakash and Fr. Adaikalam. Fr. Prakash led the group with the theme, “The Aimed and Expected Purpose of a Guanellian”. He emphasized that our Founder considered relationships very important and always respected the feeling which is “Love”. He took this from scripture, where he adored the love of Abba Father, and always loved everyone. Fr. Prakash took the parable from John 15:1-17 “The Vine and the Branches” and explained how we need to stay connected to God down to the roots, so that we will bear fruit. The Cooperators meditated on each verse in the Guanellian Way and reflected on how Father Guanella would have responded. Fr. Adaikalam then emphasized the formation to help each Cooperator see God in everything. The day concluded with a talk by Fr. Gnanaraj who spoke of the Paternity of God. As a Cooperator, the life of every individual must be based on spirituality and moral values.

Lay Good Samaritans Gather

Chennai – For the 5th consecutive year forming and bringing the GLM together was indeed a blessing. Our Founder taught that the Laity must participate in the Guanellian mission. It is evident where the GLM is present in Andhra, Bangalore, Chennai, Kumbakonam, Sivagangai and now Krishna Berry. Around 40 representatives from each location gathered in Chennai for a 2 day retreat which involved seminars on Christian Values, Guanellian Spirituality, duties and responsibilities of the laity as mentioned in Vatican II. The group was enriched with these sessions by Fr. Visuvasam, Fr. Adaikalam and Fr. Francis respectively. The members were happy to look back and share their success stories. The baseline was that we walk together to be a Good Samaritan. The Guanellian Cooperators were also invited for the meeting as a means of grooming and mentoring the GLM members. The GC Secretary made a presentation on what is necessary to be a GC member, what is the vocation, how to prepare oneself, how important is the formation and that it is truly an independent decision made by a GLM member to become the third wing of the Congregation. The spirit of the group must be appreciated because the event took place during the festival time. The festival was celebrated as Guanellian Family with games to bond them and lift their spirits.

Holy Hour for Life

In an effort to bring the Guanellian Cooperators together spiritually, a Holy Hour was planned for January 26th. To help deepen each Cooperator in the Guanellian charism, the hope is that each month a Holy Hour will be offered.

The first Holy Hour was held as pilgrims were headed to Washington DC for the 2017 March for Life, the Guanellian Cooperators gathered in the St. Louis Center Chapel to pray for their safety, a successful March and for an end to the evil of abortion. Fr. David Stawasz, SdC, offered Adoration and Benediction for the occasion. Jerome, an SLC resident, played hymns on the organ and Cooperators read scripture that reminded us of the importance of choosing life. Deuteronomy (30, 15-20) tells us that God always gives us the opportunity to choose Him and implores us that by doing so we will be abundantly blessed.  The second reading from Romans (12, 1-2, 9-18) urges us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice not to be conformed to this age but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. We are to give ourselves fully for the good of others and to live in peace with all.

The Gospel of John (15, 9-17) about loving your neighbor as yourself was the backdrop for Fr. David’s homily.  He wanted to convey how much the Church values life from conception to natural death. Though most everyone understands the Churches views on abortion, he taught that in cases of persons with terminal or debilitating illness the Church does not require any extraordinary means to sustain life, but what is basic for the dignity of a human person.

Judy Koenn gave her personal testimony as a mother, wife and Christian. Because of her personal trials and hardships she wants everyone to understand that, “God is the restorer of all things. There is nothing that God won’t forgive us of. The only thing that can separate us from God are the sins of our past.” She encouraged everyone to seek His forgiveness; to turn and follow Him. She even spoke of the experience of sitting on a bench in Grand Rapids with a full size statue of Jesus reclined there. She said that you can nestle in close and feel His embrace in a moving way. She encouraged us to imagine ourselves, especially in our darkest moments, to be in the arms of Jesus. She used the gift of her beautiful singing voice to enliven her message.

The Holy Hour, which attracted 25 participants, was very moving and a great kick-off for more spiritually enriching activities sponsored by the Guanellian Cooperators. Special thanks to Sr. Andrea Curran, DSMP; Fr. Amal, SdC; and Fr. Franklin, SdC for their assistance in preparing the Holy Hour.

Cooperators’ Christmas

Manila – The Guanellian Cooperators organized a Christmas Gift Giving and Outreach Program for the Guanella Homes Housing Project. The beneficiaries of the Housing Project are poor families with a special child/children who do not have decent housing. The children and parents also receive services at Guanella Center. Fifteen families received gifts and food and enjoyed several games and presentations during the event. Thank you to our Guanellian Cooperators who continually support the activities of the Servants of Charity and Guanella Center.

Guanellian Family Celebrates a Saint

Chelsea – The Servants of Charity and Daughters of St. Mary of Providence communities came together on Saturday, October 29th to celebrate the Feast Day of St. Louis Guanella (October 24th) with a special Mass and dinner at nearby St. Mary Parish in Chelsea, MI. Most Rev. Bishop Emeritus Carl Mengeling of the Diocese of Lansing presided over the Mass, and was joined by Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, Provincial Treasurer; Fr. Enzo Addari, Administrator; Fr. David Stawasz, Asst. Admin.; Fr. Satheesh Alphonse, Director – PUSJ; new Frs. Franklin, Amal and Leo Joseph;  Most Rev. (Canon) William J. Turner of St. Mary Parish; and DSMP Sisters Ann Hubler and Andrea Curran. During his homily, Bishop Mengeling spoke of the history of St. Guanella, and repeated his most famous phrase that, “It is God who Works!” He went on to talk about the importance of caring for persons with disabilities and the elderly, and our responsibility to carry out God’s mission here on earth. Following the Mass, a dinner was held in the parish hall for over 100 people who enjoyed food donated by Gina Pantely of the Chelsea Grill, and the Guanellian Cooperators who were present came together for a photo with the religious who were present.

Mission Experience for GLM

Andhra Pradesh – The Guanellian Lay Movement and Guanellian Cooperators from Bangalore paid a visit to the Andhra Mission house October 8-9th. An orientation was given by Fr. Sunil about what mission activities are carried out by Guanellian priests and sisters in Andhra. The Bangalore group had an opportunity to meet with the GLM members of Andhra to exchange experiences and address questions. Amongst them were some youngsters who were inclined to join GLM. They will soon begin formation in the Guanellian Youth Movement, eventually with membership in the GLM. The seminarians spoke with the members from Bangalore and learned the involvement of lay persons within the Guanellian family and how they form the 3rd leg of the Congregation. There was also time to spend with the differently-abled who joined in the Eucharistic celebrations and lunch. The Andhra & Bangalore GLM, 35 members strong, visited the village, extending their support to a poor family where the breadwinner was differently-abled. This mission experience which integrated Bangalore and Andhra was organized by Fr. Peter Sebastian and executed by Fr. Ronald and Fr. Sunil. Special thanks to Fr. Visuvasam and Fr. Adaikalam for bringing the group together.

Renewal of Vows

Grass Lake – “’Til death do us part.” Many people have trouble making commitments, especially life-long commitments. True, it can be a little scary when you don’t know what’s ahead, but if we let the Lord into our lives and remember that He holds us in the palm of His hand, it becomes just a little easier, and we know that “all will be well.” Two good friends of the Shrine, and Guanellian Cooperators, Jim and Sue Phillips, let the Lord into their lives 40 years ago and recently celebrated their 40th Anniversary. They received a special blessing from Fr. Satheesh after Mass and their rings were re-blessed. It’s so good to see couples celebrating these special milestones, and is also encouraging for the younger couples.

Learning to Include the Disabled

Manila – During the monthly meeting of the Guanellian Lay Cooperators on June 18th, two people from the Archdiocese of Manila (Kuya Jon) and Diocese of Novaliches (Ate Josephine) came to teach how to establish ministries for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities(I/DD) in parishes. One of the problems of many parishes in the Philippines is the lack of systematic and established pastoral programs for persons with I/DD. Although there are increasing numbers of cases of persons with I/DD, many times the special children are left on their own, if not totally excluded especially from liturgical celebrations. With the talk of Jon and Phine, we hope that in the future, Guanellian Cooperators will spearhead the establishment of Ministry for Persons with I/DD in their respective parishes.