Chennai – It was indeed a happy moment to cherish the love of the Mother of Divine Providence on her solemn feast day. To increase devotion and love for the Blessed Mother of Providence, the theological seminary brothers held a triduum with specific themes and reflections. The festal celebration was colored with Guanellian priests, sisters, brothers, lay Cooperators, beneficiaries and friends. Fr. Ligory, SdC, celebrated Holy Mass; speaking the Word and breaking the bread in a gracious manner. To make the day more significant, the foundation stone for the enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue was laid in front of the portico.
by Fr. Joseph Rinaldo
Saigon – On March 24, Congregation Day, the Servants of Charity dedicated their first formation House in Vietnam. The choice of this day was extremely meaningful. On this day in 1908, St. Louis Guanella and ten of his religious companions professed their vows at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Como, Italy.
The red ribbon, as the local custom calls for, was cut by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Saigon, Paolo Bui Van Doc. In attendance were Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior of the Divine Providence Province (USA, Philippines, India and Vietnam), and Fr. Gustavo De Bonis, Secretary General. Besides the local pastor, many religious from other institutes, in a communion of faith, blessed the chapel, the sacred vessels and the living quarters. Mass was celebrated at the nearby local parish church.
The three story building, with 250 square feet on each floor, was built in a small area donated by two former Vietnamese sisters. It can house up to twenty young men discerning the Guanellian religious vocation. In the future, they would like to serve the poor in their country according to the charism and the tradition of St. Louis Guanella.
The facility is dedicated to Mary, Mother of Divine Providence. In her honor a large statue was placed at the entrance. Presently, it is not possible for us to open any activities of charity. It is necessary to wait for the young Vietnamese to be ready to take over and spread the Guanellian charism in their own society. The Guanellians have been working in Vietnam for the last four years. Fr. Felicks was the first Guanellian to enter Vietnam. The following year he was helped by Fr. Jerin. In the beginning they relied on the Salesian community until they rented a modest house where they lived with a group of young men. The difficulties in the beginning were overcome with prayer, sacrifices and an adjustment to the new culture. They had to learn the language and develop a relationship with the local youth as well as their neighbors who accepted them with generosity and friendship.
The young men’s formation and education is proceeding well. One of them is in Legazpi, Philippines for his Novitiate. Two others are getting ready for it. The faith in Vietnam is very strong. We hope that our Congregation will be enriched and increased by the love, enthusiasm and the work of these young men, the pioneers of the Guanellian Charism in Vietnam.
Saigon – The purpose of this visit was to solidify plans for the land and future construction. Their visit was truly providential, they arrived on the Feast of Our Lady of Divine Providence, the day after our new land was registered, a nearly 7 month process. Fr. Rathinam and Fr. Joseph met the engineer and they were satisfied with the proposals. Mass was celebrated by Fr. Rathinam for the feast day. During his homily he shared the providential care of Mother Mary in our lives and in the life of our Founder.
It was a blessing to have Fr. Joseph, who was recently recognized for his lifetime achievements, present. Fr. Felicks presented as a role model of commitment and the missionary spirit to our students. He was given a small gift, wished well and asked for his continuous service. Fr. Rathinam and Fr. Joseph met Sr. Soi and Sr. Sang, the sellers of the recently registered land, and a fraternal dinner was shared. Upon their departure the confreres invited us to pray more and increase our trust in the providence of God for our project.
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.
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.’
Holy Mother Church acclaims, in celebrating and venerating All Saints Day, that the church was built upon the foundation of the apostles, martyrs and saints. The blood of the martyrs is the seed in the ground of the church. The beloved emeritus Pope Benedict, in his homily on the Solemnity of All Saints 2008, spoke of the Church as a “botanical garden” where the Creator spread a variety of colors of holiness on the luminous faces of the saints. As we are filial sons and daughters of St. Louis Guanella, we are crowned in pride of celebrating the 2nd year of his canonization and the centennial celebration of his birth in heaven within two years. It is a special month for the Divine Providence Province as it celebrates its first birth anniversary of its second term. It is a vibrant and young Province within our congregation having much richness in the midst of many challenges and difficulties, joys and sorrows. It has its very special features and characteristics which are very unique and awesome- that is unity in diversity and unity of direction. It is comprised of four Nations namely India, USA, Philippines and Vietnam. Each nation is well known for their spirituality, tradition, language, heritage, culture, art and architecture, customs and so on yet we have a unity of direction and a unity in diversity. As one province, we need to be proud of being together in carrying the fire of charity to every nook and corner of the world. Albert Schweitzer says- “Life is short. Do not forget about the most important things in life such as living and doing good for other people. I don’t know what our destiny will be, but one thing I do know; the only ones among you who will really be happy are those who have sought and found how to serve”. “To suffer for God is glory, and to take the trouble for the sake of souls is the greatest enjoyment” said Fr. Guanella in the Spiritual Pages. So each and every confrere of the province is called to show initiative and to be enthusiastic, innovative, and energetic; only then will our aspirations turn to inspiration for others. We can also avail the words of our founder into our own terminologies that the ‘whole world is our homeland’ and let us work like a honey bee in order to build the province into the realm of charity which our founder envisioned: “We will persist until we succeed. We were not delivered into this world into defeat, nor does failure course our veins. We are not a sheep waiting to be prodded by our shepherd. We are a lion and refuse to talk, walk and to sleep with the sheep. We will persist until we succeed.” So Dear Confreres, I invite you all to partake in this joyous celebration of our birth anniversary. We have to work on it with a vigorous determination and with a joyful spirit, so that pleasing God we may give others a good example of abnegation and so attain the goal to which God has called us. I also acknowledge the confreres for their tireless hard work in sustaining the growth of the province. As we celebrate All Souls day, may we also have the pleasure of remembering and praying for our confreres. May the blessings of all the Saints be with you all and may you enjoy a blessed Feast of the Mother of Divine Providence!
Fr. Soosai Rathinam