The Servants of Charity were honored recently with a request from Very Rev. Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing, MI to provide the Diocese with one of their priests to assist in dealing with a shortage of priests in the area. As a result, Fr. Satheesh Caniton was chosen to fill that role, and was assigned to Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Michigan Center, MI, about 15 miles southwest of SLC. On Monday, October 22nd Fr. Satheesh was installed in a formal ceremony by Bishop Boyea in which all of the members of the local Servants of Charity Community were present, including Very Rev. Umberto Brugnoni, Superior General, and Bro. Franco Lain, 3rd General Councillor from Rome. The Mass and installation ceremonies were beautiful to behold, and a large number of parishioners from Fatima Parish along with many Guanellian Cooperators from the area were present to wish Fr. Satheesh well. Before leaving Michigan, Fr. Umberto also appointed Fr. Satheesh as the new Superior of the Michigan SdC Community.
Bangalore – The Guanella Preethi Nivas community and the parishioners began the Novena by hoisting the flag on October 14th. The inspiring words of our Founder were displayed everywhere. The Novena was conducted by the Philosophy students with great excitement. One day of the Novena was led by the Guanellian Sisters; one day the Cooperators and GLM members conducted the Novena. It was great to see how each one made efforts to make each day a different experience. The parishioners lit candles and wrote down their petitions. Everyone prayed together for these intentions.
On October 21st GPN celebrated the Feast of St. Guanella with a solemn Mass at the Tent of Love on the quote of our Founder, “It is better to be poor than to be a sinner”. Parishioners, benefactors, beneficiaries, Guanellian Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, Cooperators, GLM Members and religious from other congregations participated in the Mass. Fr. Peter Sebastian was the main celebrant and Fr. Adaikalam preached the Homily. The virtues that our Founder practiced were expressed in a simple way that attracted many. The Celebration concluded by processing to the flag with lit candles and hearts aflame. Fr. Ligori lowered the flag and blessed everyone with a Relic of St. Guanella. The community was thankful for celebrating the Feast with so many faithful.
Chennai – As the part of the program of theological formation, Don Guanella Major Seminary Brothers went on a four day vocation promotion to different parts of Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh during their semester holidays. It is the practice of the Major seminary to send brothers to encourage young boys who show an interest to become future priests. This year five groups were organized to go, to invite and encourage the youngsters to serve the Lord through the Servants of Charity congregation. Brothers were organized in a systematic way to approach different parishes, schools and boarding schools to collect the names of the interested. After four days, the brothers returned to the seminary for their academic program. Thanks to the vocation promoter of the province and the good hearts of the seminarians who helped in this endeavor.
The month of November for the Catholic Church is special because the militant church commemorates its relationship with the triumphant church and the penitent church through the celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. These two celebrations remind us of the temporality and the eternity of human existence. In other words they reiterate our fundamental vocation as Christians to become holy or saintly. Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. (Mt 5,48)
This month gives us, Guanellians additional privilege and joy since we celebrate the feast of the mother of Divine Providence. It is very evident from the life of our founder that the concept of Divine Providence was very close to his heart that he named his autobiography The Ways of Providence, that he named the first institution House of Divine Providence, that he called the bulletin of that house The Divine Providence and named the sisters the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence.
In general Divine Providence would mean that God governs and directs everything and therefore the entire universe is under His control. Moreover even when things go wrong, he can straighten up the crooked designs of human beings (Saul becoming Paul, the story of Joseph in the Old Testament) and produce good out of the bad which human minds design. Personally one can think of Divine Providence in terms of his existence, his family, his education and well-being etc.
Our founder does not stop with this idea of Divine Providence as God’s intervention in one’s life. He moves further to assert that human cooperation is a must to avail this gift: “It is God who does; we are only instruments in the hands of God”. He recommended his followers to merit Divine Providence through trust, work and sacrifice. For example, he was fully convinced that Divine Providence and poverty go hand in hand: “if you want to weaken the institution, let it become rich, to live in much poverty and to entrust ourselves completely to Divine Providence is a virtue of high perfection”. Divine Providence means human charity too: when the fortunate helps the unfortunate, the haves hold up the have-nots, when the healthy accompany the crippled.
Providence does not mean looking at the roof and waiting for some treasure from nowhere, it is doing what one can in his concrete situation: “If a man limits himself to be a zero, he is nothing and will never do anything. If instead he tries to be something, he does whatever he can, he becomes a positive reality, after all he has only to ask Providence to add one zero, two zeros, three zeros to his small number and immediately the small things become large”. As members of the Divine Providence Province with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, youthfulness and vitality, let us inculcate this teaching and exhortation of our founder in our minds and hearts: you try to provide first with what you are, what you have and God will do miracles.
I wish you fruitful celebration of the feast of the Mother of Divine Providence. On behalf of the province I extend my sincere wishes and prayers to our Guanellian sisters as they bear this name. I make this special plea for your ardent prayers (both common and personal) for the good health of our confrere Rev. Fr. Bala Yesu who is under treatment.
Fr. Ronald J, SdC
Legazpi: To help overcome the struggles and difficulties of language and culture barriers in the local area the Cooperators, Novice Master and novices organized a camping trip on February 24th for children from Purok 6. The program started with heavy rain, a sign of blessing from God, for this inaugural event. The children and their parents enjoyed putting up tents, games, cooking, swimming and so forth. The adventure came to a close by Fr. Sagayaraj thanking God for the joyful and exhausting day.
Legazpi: The Servants of Charity community performed an act of charity on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, February 2nd. They gave a helping hand to relieve the burden of the evacuees of a natural disaster, the Mayon volcanic eruption. The evacuees received rice, milk and biscuits which are their primary needs while they remain at the evacuation center.
Bangalore – The seven novices of the Guanella Preethi Nivas community went on a ten-day desert experience under the guidance of Fr. Gnanaraj. They went to the Servarayan Hills, at Sagayapuram in the Thiruvannamali District. It is a desolate mountain top with a substation church. They had a spiritual awakening by spending lot of time in prayer, meditation, discerning their vocation, speaking to God and journeying into one’s own self. It was an atmosphere conducive to listening to the voice of God and to be enlightened to one’s true self. After morning Eucharist and instruction all went into the forest, having no contact with anyone except God in solitude. Fr. Gnanaraj beautifully guided each novice to discern their vocation through fasting, prayer and spiritual direction. Everyone would return in the evening, share their experiences and collectively prepare dinner. They had inexplicable Tabor experiences on that mountain. On the way down the mountain, they visited the Cloister of Poor Clare nuns. Talking to those spiritual giants was awesome and enlightening for the novices at the threshold of their Religious profession.
Chennai – March 19th is celebrated as Saint Joseph’s Day. This year on this special occasion the Don Guanella Major Seminary community invited the Guanellian family to be nourished spiritually and physically. A special Mass was celebrated by superior Fr. Samson along with all the community fathers and brought the blessings of the Lord amidst us. People who are sponsoring the seminarians were invited as special guests for the event. As a sign of gratitude, they were honored for their benevolence to our community and given a memento for their generous contribution to our congregation. Everyone enjoyed a delicious meal and Fr. Samson concluded the day with a final blessing.
Bangalore – Guanellian Cooperators and Lay Movement members of the Guanella Preethi Nivas community paid a Lenten visit to the GPN residents February 25th-26th. In the evening on the first day all made a pilgrim walk to St. Joseph’s Church, Soosaipuram reciting the Rosary and visiting the mother Mary statue which came from Fatima, Portugal. On the next day, members were so dynamic in doing the mission for our residents: cutting nails, giving them showers, and cooking a variety of delicious food for our residents. At noon the Holy Eucharist was offered for the intentions of the residents and the GLM. The residents thoroughly enjoyed the meal. After lunch everyone gathered for an inspirational, motivational talk by Mr. Rosario, brother of Fr. Ligory, who shared an anecdote of his life.
The resurrection of Jesus creates hope for our present and future existence. We see and recognize God present in each and every creation that has the capacity for complete transformation and fulfillment. We have a partial resurrection in each and every minute of our lives as we exist on earth: child leaving the womb, the adolescent entering the adult life, the adult experiencing middle-age crises and finally the human person leaving this earthly life with his/her death, all these move towards a fuller life. Are we living our lives with a hope of resurrection or minds filled with all the negative elements over self and others? Easter is a call for all of us to see the goodness of each other and avoid finding fault with others because of our disillusionment.
Resurrection is a missional event to enter into new ventures like that of the disciples of Jesus Christ. It is not an event of fear but the event of peace and joy. The very first word that Jesus uttered to the disciples was “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:21) or “Fear Not” because they were filled with fear. Our mission, hence, is not to create our own presence but be the presence of the Risen Christ that leads people, structures, systems and cultures. Be ever ready with an open mind and heart to become border crossing persons because the scenario we are living in is impelling us for missionary stations. Instead of saying something like the system is not good or the persons in authority are not very effective, let’s strive to create an impact of the resurrected Jesus by giving hope to others amidst desolation.
In this hope and joy filled season of Easter, may I earnestly make an appeal to all for a personal experience and encounter with the living Christ as we are fast approaching the 20th General Chapter. Please be filled with the presence of the Resurrected Jesus by increasing our prayers and be spiritually united with the delegates of the chapter. May this Easter be an illumining experience of the Risen Christ the light of all nations to move beyond our bindings and borders to become intercultural persons filled with hope and courage to be Servants of Charity to the universe!
Fr. Soosai Rathinam