Nutrition Month 2013

Special needs vegetable parade

Manila – Every year, the Guanella Center offers the same activities being conducted in “normal” schools to let special children and other persons with disabilities (PWD) feel that they belong. On July 19, 2013, Guanella Center staff and teachers from Non-school for Crippled Children-Guanella Center Annex planned a program called “Gutom at malnutrisyon, sama-sama nating wakasan,” (Together we can end hunger and malnutrition).  One of the most important areas associated with the PWDs is their health and since July was Nutrition Month; programs were offered to raise awareness of nutritious foods that will help maintain a healthy body.

Hearing impaired adviser, Mr. Marvin Lava, and Physical Therapy intern, Ms. Haja Bansil, were the masters of the ceremony; kicking off the event with a costume parade. Bro. Solomon Raja, SdC led the opening prayer; followed by singing of the national anthem by Mr. Lava and the hearing impaired students. Presentations were given by Daisy’s Special Education class; by the Hearing Impaired class and a song from Christopher Pellejera of Gloria’s Pre-Vocational class were performed. Announcement of the top 20 candidates for Nutrition Month winners followed. The final performance came from the Guanella Home boys and caregivers from Dr. Carlos Lanting College.

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Participants who competed for best costume were judged individually by Fr. Eduardo Cerbito, SdC and art teacher-benefactor, Ms. Jenny Villanueva. Among the twenty participants, five were given awards: Maricar Maravillas for Early Bird award, Darling of the Crowd to Marwin Ostras, Nicole Roux for Best in Costume, Most Creative to Richard Pamintuan, and Mr. and Ms. Nutrition Month to Joshua Cueno and Nicole Roux.

The newly elected officers for the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) took their oath before the program ended. Fr. Eduardo Cerbito, SdC closed the program with a prayer. Food sharing capped the event by the snacks brought by the parents. The event was successful: everyone had a good time and the PWDs felt loved.

Classes Begin at Anbagam

Indian priesta and poor beneficiaries

Indian priests celebrate MassSivagangai – On June 26th Don Guanella Anbagam, a school for special people, was re-opened after summer holidays by the power of the Holy Spirit. Honorable chief guest Mr. Arockia Samy, Chairman of Kalayarkovil, Fr. Soosai distributes the Eucharist lighted the traditional kuthuvilaku and gave a speech. He said, “I am very happy to be with these children, and I admire the ministry the Guanellian fathers are doing for the people of Kalayarkovil and Sarugani.” He compared the Guanellian fathers to Mother Teresa by seeing their works. He affirmed his cooperation in the care of these special children.  The Anbagam director, Fr. Paul Raj, Fr. Kulandai, superior, and the Madurai and Yesuvanam confreres attended the ceremony and the Mass that followed. Classes began after the ceremonies.Indian priesta and poor beneficiaries

We are sent

Candida looks over her daughter, Carmen

Manila – On Monday March 18, 2013, The Servants of Charity, from Guanella Center in Tandang Sora reached out and performed a rescue of two elderly women from the local area.  Candida (83 years old) and Carmen (57 years old) Ramirez are a mother and daughter who had been participating in various activities in Guanella Center for the past few years.  However, over the past 6 months their attendance was less and less often.  It was reported that Carmen had become completely blind due to diabetes, and was suffering from a large wound which had become infected.  Candida, because of the effects of her age was unable to take proper care of herself or her daughter.  Their living conditions had become sub-human, as the house had become full of garbage.  On Friday March 15th, Fr. Charlton Viray went for a pastoral visit and immediately decided that something had to be done.

On the day of the rescue Servants of Charity brothers, novices, seminarians, staff, and volunteers helped to carry the women from their home and transport them to our housing project near Guanella Center.  Once they arrived, the women were given baths, food, and medical attention. (Bro. Bob Neimeyer)

Candida looks over her daughter, Carmen
Candida tries to assist her daughter, Carmen.

To Serve

Priest washes the feet of AIDS victims near Saigon in Vietnam.

Saigon – For Sunday Ministry, the Servants of Charity usually go to a house. The house has some HIV patients, old people and handicapped. In the past, no priest went there to say Mass. But this year, Fr. Felicks and Fr. Jerin have made a point to go there alternately to say Mass. On Holy Thursday Fr. Felicks, accompanied by the students, went there to celebrate Mass. It was a good experience for priest, students and the residents. In the history of that house, this was the first time someone washed their feet. Give thanks to God for the opportunity to serve the most needy brethren.Fr. Felicks washes feet in an AIDS home on Holy Thursday 2013Priest washes the feet of AIDS victims near Saigon in Vietnam.

Saint Martin’s Medical and Dental Mission at Guanella Center

Luz0403med missionManila – On February 09, 2013, Guanella Center hosted a medical and dental mission as an outreach to the elderly, children, and developmentally disabled in the Tandang Sora area.

Elsa Montegrico, a Guanellian Cooperator, was the organizer: she coordinated with Saint Martin’s Foundation—a charitable group formed by a joint effort between the Dominican Sisters and a number of lay medical professionals such as doctors, dentists, and nurses.

There were three doctors assigned to examine and treat the nearly 100 elderly patients; three doctors to examine and treat the 170 children; and two dentists to offer tooth extraction to more than 75 patients (including 16 special boys and men from Guanella Home.)  Besides the free medical and dental services offered during the mission, Saint Martin’s Foundation also provided free prescription medication to those who needed them.

Guanellian seminarians, novices, and religious brothers were on hand to assist in any way that they could such as setting up, directing patients, giving water to the thirsty, and providing sanitizing agents for the medical instruments. The day ended with a delicious lunch prepared by the kitchen staff.

Meeting Christ at Tala Hospital

Manila – Ever since the second day after my arrival in the Philippines seven months ago, when Fr. Charlton informed me of several possibilities for a week of immersion with different groups of poor, I had been eagerly awaiting the experience that we (Br. Joseph and myself) just participated in from January 27th to February 1st, 2013: an encounter with and the opportunity to minister to those who suffer from the effects Hansen‘s disease (the name now used for the disease commonly known as leprosy) at Tala Hospital, Caloocan City. What I did not realize until later is that this experience would turn into a double blessing because besides our time ministering to the Hansenites from 8 am- 5pm each day, we also lived with an impoverished family from Tala during the other hours of the day.
These experiences touched me profoundly on many levels—in fact, I am still struggling to put into words and am unable to adequately share what happened during that grace-filled week. But suffice it to say that I was keenly aware of the presence of the Lord in and among the Hansenites, and through kindness shown us and the extreme sacrifice made on our behalf by our host families. When we arrived in Tala on Sunday afternoon we met our host families, and right from the first minute they welcomed us and made us part of their family. My host family was a bit larger than most families in the USA. In fact there were 15 members staying in a house approximately 15‘ x 20‘. Although the house was small, the love was great. Throughout the week, the little children played and prayed with me, the older ones and the parents told me their stories, and they all sacrificed so much in order to share their meals with me. I was filled with admiration at the hard work done by the mother and father—most days they were taking care of the needs of their family from 4:00am-11:30pm. The little bit of work I offered was really quite meager in comparison. Likewise I was filled with respect for those persons with Hansen‘s disease who are permanent residents of Tala Hospital. During my experience among the Hansenites, I was reflecting upon the Gospel passage from Saint Mark that says, “A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Although Jesus willed to heal that particular person with Hansen‘s disease, I often wondered why He did not will to heal them all. While I still don‘t know the answer, after meeting and getting to know the men and women at Tala Hospital I think I have a little better understanding why. First, so that Christ could manifest Himself to His followers through them; thus giving us an opportunity to give ourselves to the most abandoned and suffering persons. Second, that we may become Instruments of God‘s Providence—awakening the virtue of Hope in them and revealing the love of the Father to them. It is certainly true that Hansen‘s disease can be a debilitating and devastating disease; and that there is still a stigma attached to (and a great misunderstanding of) the disease by many people—even by the family members of those who suffer from the disease—that is why many of the residential patients at Tala Hospital have been completely abandoned by their families. One of the most common myths is that Hansen‘s disease can be caught just by touching a person infected with it. While at one time the disease was easily spread from person to person, now the disease is easily treated, and the only way to get it is through continued and prolonged exposure to untreated patients, or by inhaling the airborne bacteria from an untreated patient. In fact, many of the healthcare professionals at Tala have been there for more than twenty years, and have been in constant contact with the Hansenites, and have not caught the disease.
In closing I would like to offer as a reflection the following quote from St. Francis of Assisi and then to encourage you to take time to visit and meet Christ in Tala: “This is how the Lord gave me, brother Francis, the power to do penance. When I was in sin the sight of lepers was too bitter for me. And the Lord Himself led me among them, and I pitied and helped them. And when I left them I discovered that what had seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness in my soul and body. And shortly afterward I rose and left the world.” (Bro. Bob Neimeyer)

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simbang gabi (2) 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.

simbang gabiAt 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!

Christmas in Vatluru

Please enjoy these photos from our community in Vatluru. The Aged people received much needed gifts and the church was decorated beautifully for the Christmas season. The liturgical celebrations were meaningful and well-attended.

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Guanellians Help the Old, Dying, Destitute and HIV Patients in Vietnam

working at HIV home 3

Servants of Charity priests and students of the Divine Providence Province serve the poor in Vietnam in many ways. This video shows them assisting the residents of an HIV ‘home.’

The Joy of Giving to DGRC

Indian school children give gifts to Developmentally disabled children

Indian school children give gifts to Developmentally disabled childrenChennai – The government schools of the Thiruvallur District celebrated “The Joy of Giving Week”.  This “festival of philanthropy” aims to engage people through “acts of giving” – money, time, resources and skills – connecting the corporate, NGO and government sectors, schools, colleges and the general public. To raise awareness of disparities between the rich and poor, the visit of the mainstream school children from Bon Secours Middle School to the special school at Don Guanella Rehabilitation Center gave hope to those being served. The 9-12 year old visitors appeared a little nervous when they first met the ‘good children.’ Still, they carried small gifts in their tender hands to joyfully present to the special children of Don Guanella Special School. To their surprise no child opened the gift to see what was inside. They were happy to show the bright packages to the teachers, brothers and priests. The Director asked, “What you are going to give in return to these children who are smaller than you?”  “We will offer song and dance!” they joyfully replied.


The Joy of Giving Week is celebrated every October as a part of ‘Gandhi Jayanthi,’ The Birth Day of Mahatma Ghandhi – the Father of the Nation of India.