Ho Chi Minh City – Fr. Felicks teaches Basic English to the initiation students in our house, to the students at the Franciscan Missionary sisters(FMM) and to some students of Benhai Church. An English Academy program was organized to hone and show off English speaking skills and singing English songs. Altogether 25 students participated in the English Academy. The judges were Br. Hoang, SdC; Sr. Vy, FMM and Mrs. Judith who is originally from the Philippines. Our Initiation students benefited from the program because it was the first one organized in our community to display their speaking and singing talents. The students who performed well received gifts. The event ended with a small agape meal and time of sharing.
Legazpi – Fr. David Stawasz was a brother in the Legazpi community nine years ago. He paid a visit to share his own vocation story with the novices. God’s love calls many to step out of their own way to follow His way, the way which He has prepared. We don’t know what will happen in this life, but we do know that we must trust in His call and do our best to follow it. This call can only be found through prayer. Moreover, through prayer we trust in God little by little and believe that God will help us to realize His call and to keep forming us according to His will. Sometimes, we might not know where God is. These are the times we need to pray harder and to keep ourselves from getting lost in this life. To stay on the right track keep in mind Who you belong to. Time has passed since Fr. David was here, but he did not forget how much he loves HKSF and its people. The heart of love is tireless and full of gratitude and faithfulness for the people of God.
Legazpi – The Harong Kan Sagrada Familia community welcomed Fr. Charlton Viray for a visit November 6th–8th. During his visit, he offered a class for all the novices entitled, “Prayer with the Bible” teaching them to use this kind of prayer in their own spiritual life. He said, “once, one gets to know and apply this prayer in their spiritual life, one may discover their own self and may realize their own self with the painfulness of spirit which self needs to accept it in order to grow.” With this type of prayer, we no longer pray alone, but we listen, understand and meet Jesus in our hearts. Prayer becomes a personal dialogue with Jesus and we discover “who is Jesus in my life?” In seeking him in others: neighbors, poor, needy, we also see him in our own hearts, for He is waiting for us there. Getting to know Him is getting to know ourselves.
Legazpi – “From purgatory, which is painful and sorrowful, the crying voices of the souls resound in great sorrow, with the belief that mother Mary will have pity on those who cry for help.”
The holy souls not only wait for Mother Mary, they also wait for the prayers of their own family, their beloved ones. Unfortunately, many are forgotten by their own families, forgotten by this world. They can no longer do anything for themselves in order to get back to God, Who is the greatest desire of all souls. They suffer the great fire which burns in their hearts day after day. The only hope that they have is the Church Militant who journey together in this world to pray for them and to do acts of charity for them. We must always remember the holy souls, what they had done for us while they were in this world. After their passing from this life, they must not be forgotten but must be remembered everyday of our lives. In November especially, the novices went to many different cemeteries to visit the holy souls and to pray for them according to the teachings of the church.
We are sending you, interested readers of our large Province the latest news. World Church at Freiburg has decided to give financial support of the theology students in India and Philippines. Dr. P. Birkhofer was personally approached by Fr. Luigi during our courtesy visit on September 19th. On behalf of the Diocese of Freiburg, Dr. Birkhofer has issued a letter announcing the award of 24,000 € to support our students.
The second good news is the Media conference which was held on November 28th at the local office of Caritas at Pforzheim. The reporters detailed the project in the Solomon Islands which has been given full support by Director Lemke. Director, Johannes Frank Lemke is a good friend of the Guanellians and a personal friend of mine since I was the active social assistant at Caritas from 1966-69. Caritas is accepting donations from interested parties on behalf of the Servants of Charity for a community center in Noro, New Georgia that will provide basic services to the local people of the Solomon Islands. It is estimated that the first phase of this project can be completed with 20,000 €.
The brochure from Caritas illustrates the top corners of a true neighbor’s tender love and their commitment to serving those most in need.
Pray with me to the Lord for a positive outcome of our present intensive efforts.
During Advent let us focus our intentions for a good and coordinated development of Guanellian intensive engagement in neighboring European countries such as France and Great Britain.
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procure
Cuddalore – St. Joseph’s Seminary, the formation house for Aspirants, organized the ‘Annual Parents Meet’ for the current scholastic year on October 24th. Since it was the feast day celebration of our holy Founder, it was more pertinent for the young scholastics to make their personal and collective assessment of their initial formation with the parents and formators. The day began with a prayer service and Eucharistic Adoration. There was a conference by the Rector, Holy Mass and time for personal dialogue with the parents and seminarians. This particular program for the students helped them to make a triple examination of their formation through retrospection, introspection and prospection. Their parents realized that family is the first place of priestly formation; and spiritual parenting is the very basic phase for human, Christian, religious and apostolic progression. Everyone in the program was content and happy.
Chennai – After the flag Hoisting, the Don Guanella Major Seminary community organized a novena and prayed for the intercession of the Holy Founder each day. The confreres gave a reflection each day on different topics. On the 21st the evening school children participated in the novena. Fr. A. C. Periyanayagam shared his reflection on the Founder. On the 22nd, GYM and GLM celebrated the novena with a special prayer service and adoration followed by dinner with the community. October 24th was the grand celebration of the feast. The religious from the area, GLM, GYM gathered for the Eucharistic Celebration celebrated by Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior. Fr. Tony, who has been ministering in the Solomon Islands, gave testimony of his experience there. The novena closed with dinner in the name of St. Louis Guanella.
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!