Manila – On December 15th, Simbang Gabi begins. The Simbang Gabi originated in the early days of Spanish rule as a practical compromise for farmers who started their day before sunrise to avoid the heat while working in the fields. Priests began to say Mass in the early mornings instead of the evening novenas more common in the rest of the Hispanic world. This cherished Christmas custom eventually became a distinct feature of Philippine culture and is a symbol of sharing. During this season, many people come to the church to join and participate in this event with different prayer intentions. People believe that if you completed the 9 day novena masses their prayers will be answered. But it isn’t only intend for that, this tradition demonstrates how religious the Filipinos are.
At around 8:00 in the evening, Simbang Gabi started at the Guanella Center. Hundreds of people attended the mass including residents from the Guanella Home. Each night, different groups from the ministry sponsored the mass. The nine-day novena of masses ended with the celebration of Missa de Gallo, held on the ninth day. Before Holy Mass ended, the people lined up to pay homage and kiss the statue of baby Jesus. After Missa de Gallo, the Religious Community with the residents enjoyed and shared Noche Buena, a traditional salo-salo, as a sign of one happy and united family. After Noche Buena, there was a short program, games, dancing and other exciting activities which everybody enjoyed. During the program, Bro. Bob Neimeyer, dressed as Santa Claus, distributed gifts to the residents and to the priests, brothers and seminarians. The whole night was filled with joy as they celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. May this New Year begin with a big smile not only on our faces but most especially in our hearts. Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to all. God bless!
Cuddalore – The Community witnessed an extraordinary moment of charity when the First Year College going Seminarians of St. Joseph Seminary came forward to offer their laptop computers to the students at Don Guanella Boys Home. Five students were given laptops under a Tamil Nadu Governmental program, and since there has been a well-equipped computer lab at St. Joseph Seminary, the students were motivated to offer the computers to the orphanage for the benefit of the students there. A new computer lab has now been erected at DGBH. Joy exists in the hearts of both the seminarians and students at DGBH.
“The goal of consecrated life is the configuration to the Lord Jesus in his total self-giving; this must also be the principal objective of formation (VC 65). It is a journey of gradual assimilation of the thoughts of Christ; in particular, we make the traits of benevolence, compassion and solicitude our own (Bdgm 32-34) which were of Jesus, the Good Shepherd and compassionate Samaritan.”
Chennai – A course for updating the Formators in India was held at Don Guanella Major Seminary December 20th – 21st on the theme, “By the ways of the Heart…Formation and Transformation.” Formation to consecrated life is a work of God, who creates and molds. It is also a work of man, who in freedom and love, chooses to be transformed. “The vocation ministry and formation” (initial and permanent) is also one of the main concerns of the 19th General Chapter and the Divine Providence Province. The intent is to promote a serious, challenging, Christ-centered, mission oriented and charism-inspired religious and priestly formation. The presenters, Fr. Theophilus Sdb, Fr. Rathinam SdC, Fr. Visuwasam SdC, Fr. Samson SdC, highlighted the biblical, charismatic, pastoral, spiritual and psychological dimensions of formation. The course was a useful and timely aid to the formators as witnessed by the participants. Thanks to the Organizing team and the Provincial and his Council.
Mysore – The residents of Mysore jubilantly celebrated the first anniversary of St. Guanella’s Canonization on October 26th. The head of the local church, Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Antony Vazhaphilly, was the main celebrant; concelebrated by Fr. Paul Chandrankunnel, SAC, rector of Pallottine Theologate, and Fr. Visuvasam, the Superior of the community. Mass was celebrated in the Chapel of Prabhodhana during which the Local Ordinary highlighted the life and works of St. Guanella. It was an inspirational gathering for about 300 men and women religious. Following the Lord’s Supper, a delicious meal was served, bringing the spirited celebration to a close.
Madurai – Fr. Lawrence, in collaboration with Deacon Jegan and Regent Arockiadoss, organized a ten-day work exposure camp for Postulants on the Madurai land. From October 9th-18th the Postulants were literally exposed to field work to learn that Guanellians are not only good at looking after the special children but also setting examples to them and the world; showing them that Guanellians are hard workers. It was a fruitful experience for them to remember that St. Guanella said, “Work, Work, Work until you reach heaven.” Through this exposure camp Postulants were able to understand the importance of manual work to their religious life.
Chennai – In the evening on October 21st, the Evening School children and staff were invited to participate in the first day of the ‘Triduum to the Founder’ on the theme “Guanella and His early years”. The service was organized by the IV Year Theologians of the Don Guanella Major Seminary. The service began with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The children were allowed to carry the relic and the portrait of St. Guanella during the procession. Bro. Arputharaj presented the early years of St. Guanella’s life in such a way that the children took active participation. The children were allowed to kiss the relic of our founder. After the prayer service a delicious dinner was served during which the Don Guanella Evening School Children performed a dance to the hymn of our founder.
Chennai – On September 6, 2012 students of Theology from Don Guanella Major Seminary went on a walking pilgrimage with Rev. Fr. Adaikalam and Fr. Rajesh to Besant Nagar Marian shrine. The group left at 6:00am and reached their destination around 11:00am; reciting the rosary, singing hymns and expressing their devotion to our Lady along the way. Upon arrival, Holy Mass was celebrated as a community and prayers offered to all the devotees thronging in the various Marian shrines. This pilgrimage is arranged to grow in devotion to Mary and to be in solidarity with thousands of pilgrims walking to the Velankanni shrine in the Nagapattinam District of Tamil Nadu.
Cuddalore – After cyclone Thane crossed Cuddalore, leaving its destructive impact on the campus, St. Joseph’s Seminary and Don Guanella Boys Home have slowly worked to return both places to normalcy. Broken, dead trees and plants were removed and replaced with fresh young plants; vast lands were converted to rice fields and part of the land is being prepared for hundreds of fruit yielding plants that will soon be planted. The whole campus has turned green.
Orissa is a state in North India known for atrocities against Christians. The seed of Catholicism in Orissa can be traced back to the 17th Century, when it was under the care of the Madras – Mylapore Diocese. By 1845, the region transferred to the Vishakapattinam Diocese. In time, the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, MSFS, evangelized the hilly regions including the diocese of Berhampur. In 1992, Spanish Vincentian fathers took over the mission.
On July 6th, Frs. Charles and Rajesh went to the Diocese of Berhampur and were cordially welcomed by Most Rev. Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak. He directed them to Mohana, a very large, traditional parish. The congregation gave them a warm welcome and expressed enthusiasm for the ‘New Evangelization.’ The following day featured the diaconate Ordination of three brothers from that parish. Frs. Charles and Rajesh were able to meet many priests of the diocese who offered them assistance. Thus began visits to families of the boys recommended by their parish priests. With permission from their families and approval from their priests, three boys returned to Cuddalore with Frs. Charles and Rajesh to discern a call to the Servants of Charity. Divine Providence was truly their guide.
Bangalore – The month of June was special to Guanella Preethi Nivas; it was blessed with many joyful, grace-filled events:
On June 3rd, people of Holy Rosary Church, Yelangha came to GPN to share their love with the elderly by performing skits, dancing and singing. They were very inspired by the mission and the elderly enjoyed their performance. At lunch, Fr. Visuvasam presented St. Louis Guanella key chains to the performers.
An inauguration ceremony on June 7th kicked off the year for philosophy brothers studying at Kristu Jyoti College. Holy Mass was celebrated by the Provincial of the Salesians in the Bangalore Province and concelebrated by Fr. Samson, Rector of Philosophy Students.
On the feast of St. Antony of Padua, June 13th, Fr. Samson and Deacon Kanikairaj went on a pilgrimage with their elderly beneficiaries. They began their spiritual journey joyfully; spending time praying to the Lord. After the Eucharistic celebration, they went site seeing and had tea and snacks before returning home.
The Feast of the Sacred Heart began early in the morning with prayer and meditation led by Fr. Samson at GPN. The priests and brothers played basketball with the elderly as ‘cheerleaders.’ In the evening, Fr. Visuvasam celebrated Mass; reminding everyone that the Sacred Heart is the heart of love, forgiveness and compassion which all Christians are called to possess. During Mass, the priests renewed their vows. The feast day ended with a fellowship meal.
- On June 23rd, a grand Mass was celebrated by Fr. A. P. Samy to commemorate the 1st anniversary of his ordination. The entire GPN Community was inspired by his words, “be strong enough to face any challenge.” Dinner, fellowship and games followed. The evening ended by reciting the Lord’s Prayer.