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

Completing the Circle of Life: From Sicily to Germany

The Guanellian adventure on the sun drenched island of Sicily began just two years after WW II in early September 1947. Since then, thousands of poor children and hundreds of elderly have experienced pure Guanellian charity during times of extreme poverty and abandonment. I discovered by pure chance, the humor of those strange priests who did not hesitate to lift up their cassocks and run behind a ball made of rags for soccer. They were just the opposite of our stiff Sicilian diocesan priests. I was so fascinated that I simply asked my parents to let me go to them to enter their seminary school in Naro, and then in Rome.

Since then Naro, a small town on the southern coast of Sicily, has become the beginning and the end of many hopes and dreams. From this potential reservoir of vocations, many young men have become Guanellian priests and good laymen; active in many parts of the world and supporters of the typical Guanellian style of charity. From 30,000 inhabitants in the war years, our home city now holds only 10,000 people. Great communities arose in northern France first, then in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland and Venezuela. Essentially, the adventure of the northern Italian congregation in the deep south (Sicily), has proven to be a successful strategic decision.

Since then many alumni like me, and friends of the San Calogero home and shrine have spread the sympathetic Sicilian touch among many new friends around the world. Like Fr. Joseph Rinaldo in Chelsea, Michigan, USA, other Sicilian Guanellians work tirelessly throughout our provinces.

There is one exception however: Fr. Giorgio Simion who arrived fifty-five years ago in our facility at Naro. Back then, it was full of poor children, who were the sons of emigrated  parents. He was for many of us, our anchor and our guide through many journeys. He was an electrician, an agricultural expert, a horticultural expert and a good shepherd of the pilgrims devoted to our holy Patron. Fr. Giorgio was a working  priest who never gave up. He was tireless as he fought for the transformation of the old orphanage into a beautiful elderly care home. Fr Giorgio is a native Venetian and my schoolmate from the novitiate! It seems that we Sicilians are like the eels who often swim to the end of world to deposit their eggs before they die. They always return to their natural habitat.

Now I too, advancing in age, feel an inner impulse to return home to enjoy the memories of my youth .During the short visit to the San Calogero home, Inge met an old resident who thirty-five years ago, worked in the same factory where she was the chief secretary. Lillo Baldacchino cried from overhelming happiness, because he could once again meet his former friend. Fr.Giorgio spent several hours with us and the sick residents. After a thanksgiving Mass, given by the young director Fr. Salvo Allegra, we descended to the Shrine of Holy Calogero, and prayed for all of the  benefactors and alumni who spent part of their lives in the shadow of our black patron in joy and the full protection of the angels of Guanellian Holy Providence.

We returned home satisfied and restored after this recent full immersion in the warm Guanellian bath of authentic and long lasting love among brothers of different cultures, languages, and colors.

May our Mother Mary and our holy Founder crown our dream this month, to bring the first Guanellians to our adoptive city, Pforzheim. On October 15th, Fr Luigi, our Provincial Father, will visit the Procure and our vicar bishop to negotiate the additional details of this new adventure of Fr. Guanella in Germany . What fun; this time under the cooperation of his first children from Naro in fare Sicily, the country of volcanos and hot blooded sons! So in the circle of life, our destinies become complete. Laudate Dominum!

Gero  Lombardo,   German Guanellian Procure