Legazpi – Part of the ministries of the novices during this remembering year for them is ministry to poor children. In this modern life, many children are lacking in love, which must start from their own family but reality is a bitter pill. Instead of receiving the love of their parents, they are neglected by their parents. Many spend the greater part of the day as orphans. We bring them what we have, holy Mass, with the hope of a bright future. We hope that through Mass they could see that life still has love for them through the ministry of the Servants of Charity who are now with them and bringing them love. What we have, we share as St. Louis Guanella said “if we receive from the Providence of God with two hands, we should give to the poor with four hands”. We not only bring them love but also hope for their future.
Manila – The Ven. Aurelio Bacciarini Theologate (VABT) in the Philippines under the supervision of Fr. Rajesh conducted its 1st Theological Symposium on October 13th. The topic was ‘The Childhood of Fr. Guanella’ 1842-1854. Br. Mark Lanuza, 1st year theology student, presented the story of the early life of young Louis, and it was followed by Br. Erwin Azurin, 2nd year theology student, with his theological perspective. Br. Christian Magdaong, 2nd year theology student, facilitated the simple panel discussion with Fr. Charles, Fr. Charlton and Br. Mauro as special guests. The VABT community is grateful for the active participation of the confreres and seminarians. This event prepared them for a solemn celebration of the feast of St. Louis Guanella this year.
How is Fr. Guanella connected with the missions? He never went to any mission country as a missionary does. Since his years in the Como Seminary, he had a soft spot, a strong desire to join PIME, and go to India or China. He even asked his Bishop to have the opportunity to fulfill his dream, but he was denied. “Your India will be here at home”, his Bishop replied. His strong missionary desire was passed on to his Religious, “The whole world is your homeland”. The first mission territory he served was Switzerland, filled with many Protestants, which was just outside of his own native place. There, he sent his priests to take care of the Italian immigrants plus the few native Catholics. A small step, but a step that became a big one when, later on, his Religious crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to bring Catholic and non-Catholic alike, the message of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd and Good Samaritan, to His creatures in need of faith, hope and love.
Recently his Religious even touched the ‘Solomon Islands’ in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia are now the homeland of a great number of Servants of Charity and Daughters of St. Mary of Providence. They are the fulfillment of Fr. Guanella’s dream, bringing “Bread and the Lord, to those who need them, material bread and spiritual bread.
Was Fr. Guanella a missionary? A resounding “YES” is his presence in 24 nations through his spiritual children, religious and laity. He wrote, “We are Servants of Charity, because the Charity of Jesus Christ has called us. Let us practice with fervor the works of mercy, and we will obtain the mercy of the Lord! The poor are our favored ones. They are our masters. We must work and suffer for them. Is it not what Jesus, the Divine Missionary, has done for us by His mission of Salvation?
As we celebrate 102 years since the heavenly birth of our Holy Founder, let us resolve to re-incarnate his presence, vision and mission contextually. Thus we become a border-crossing person: across cultures, religions, genders, race!
Koppaka – On July 17th, there was a Holy Spirit Mass at the Minor Seminary, Guanella Bhavan. It was the official inauguration of the academic year for the Seminary. Fr. Ronald was the main celebrant for Mass. There are twenty students from four different States: Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Karnataka and Andhra. Fr. Ronald insisted the candidates be happy and obey the formator with love. It will help them to discern their vocation. Every student likes to eat, play, and watch TV; but they must also cultivate love for prayers, study and work which are the key elements in seminary formation. May the Holy Spirit guide the seminarians throughout this year.
Manila – July 29th seven new seminarians of the Servants of Charity were accepted along with seventeen postulants at San Isidro Labrador Parish, Tandang Sora, Quezon City. The event also included the initiation of temporarily professed brother and acolyte, Bro. Alfie Matulac. The Holy Eucharistic celebration was con-celebrated by Fr. Charlton, Fr. Ronnie, Fr. Loyola, Fr. Charles, Fr. Rajesh and Fr. Battista as the main celebrant. The acceptance, initiation and the institution of the acolyte was done after the Liturgy of the Word and was followed by the Homily given by Fr. Battista. After Mass, a simple meal at the Servants of Charity covered court was served for the confreres and the families and friends of the seminarians.
Sivagangai – The finest music often comes out of the saddest moments in life. As the postulancy program began with great joy and pleasure by the ways of the heart of St. Louis Guanella, July 7th-9th a music class was conducted for the brothers to improve their quality of learning music with special care. Fr. Arputha Raj, SdC, was invited to teach the music class. He led the class with full involvement and commitment. He enlightened their minds to assimilate music in many possible ways. Karnatic and Western lessons were taught through scales and mind blowing songs. “Music is a universal language of mankind,” he said. At the very atmosphere we nourished our minds and thoughts through his homily. All those who participated benefited by this music and vocal class.
Manila – July 27th-28th the new seminarians and postulants of the Servants of Charity went on recollection at the Augustinian nuns’ retreat house, Mother of Good Counsel Monastery in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan with Fr. Ronnie Samaniego as the main facilitator of the retreat. The recollection was designed to help the seminarians become well-oriented and informed about the stage they were about to enter and to develop a deep sense of fraternity to enhance community life. The first day was for aspirants and the next day was for postulants.
Sivagangai – There are plenty of ways to attain enjoyment but a small loop is the only way to enjoy happiness. It was the greatest opportunity for postulants of Sivagangai to experience and to enjoy God’s love with practical knowledge of the mission of the Servants of Charity. Therefore Fr. Superior and the formators initiated the ministry for the postulants to experience filial affinity with those who say, ‘I have no one.’ They began this mission experience with the ‘Anbagam Special Children’ on July 6th. As part of the mission, special children were elevated through doing the charitable works and making them feel happy for the love of God. Indeed, it was a blessed day for all who recognized the charity and loveable heart of St. Louis Guanella.
Legazpi – On July 13th, the novices began their academic year with the topics Constitutions and Regulations, Formation and Basic Psychology. The Life, the Spirit and the Works of St. Louis Guanella, the Founder, is the main text for their studies.
The school year for the novices also includes their apostolate which officially kicked off by celebrating holy Mass at Purok 6, the poor area in Albay Bicol on July 22nd. The novices will accompany the poor children with games and catechism classes.
July was a special month for our congregation. On July 1st, Br. Dao, Br. Dien and Br. Mark, made their first profession of vows. Although they are from Viet Nam and Philippines with many differences they are united as one in the congregation, the Servants of Charity. With hearts full of love they professed their faith to God who will always be with them during their times of need. That day was a special mark for them because they officially started a life of a religious with the vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience. Through and in these vows, they will live a life which no longer belongs to them but to Jesus Christ who has called them and continues to call them again and again to follow Him and serve Him through the charism of the Servants of Charity.
Besides that, we also were glad to welcome six new Vietnamese novices who have been in formation in Manila. They will be guided by Novice Master Fr. Sagayaraj, SdC who is from India. With his guidance, they will learn more about the religious life through which they want to dedicate themselves to the Lord whom they love.
Provincial Superior, Fr. Soosai Rathinam, told them, “In this particular year, you will search for the Lord and answer the question ‘who is he?’” The novices were touched by this because as the apostles did, the novices need to answer this question, “But who do you say that I am?”(Luke 9,20). Novitiate is a special and beautiful year for them to understand the life which they desire to live and to serve through God’s love.
On another special occasion with Fr. Gustavo, the novices received a beautiful message from him:
“At the beginning of this new year of novitiate, what I desire is that you be open to the Holy Spirit, who is the one that shapes your person for consecration.
If we want the Lord to consecrate us like the Virgin Mary, we have to be docile and so in this way the Holy Spirit can penetrate our souls.
The novitiate is a particular stage of our formation that requires openness to His action to live more deeply the grace of this particular call in our lives.
Dear novices, remember that you were the ones who committed yourselves to this particular year. If you give great importance to it you will be successful in your future religious life.
A religious vocation is like a seed, that, watered by grace, sets good roots and we hope you can develop good soil so in this way the strong plant of religious life may grow fruitful.
The Blessed Virgin, St. Louis Guanella and St. Joseph be not only your constant intercessors, but also your models by indicating how to surrender your lives to the Lord as they have done.”
Let us continue to pray for them, so that the Lord will guide them, make them understand His call through the year of Novitiate, and then, they will respond to His call as our beloved Mother responded to the greeting of the angel Gabriel and trusted in the will of God in her life with the heart of humility.