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.
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.
A life long acquired experience in the poor countries of Africa and the Far East have taught me to keep my mind and eyes open. A simple consideration is the fact that in the opulent West, the god Mammon is often the only ruler. We are all blind and deaf. But there, where poverty is at home and everyone must fight daily for their basic survival, one is inclined to reflect and act in a different manner. Because of this serious contraditional attitude, we have noticed an increasing spiritual poverty in the West during the past thirty years. On the other side, there is an increasing spiritual thirst for God! In Old Europe, the enormous scarcity of religiosity produces a great decrease in vocations. The logical consequence is that Europe needs more priests from Africa, India and the Philippines. Nowadays in the south German regions of Badenia and Bavaria, many churches could not exist without the massive presence of ‘foreign priests’ supporting the serious attempts at a real new evangelization.
Consequently during these past months, I have reflected deeply on the intrinsic meaning of the Mission Procure. Our vocation as the third branch of the Guanellian Family is to act as ‘Procurator’ of urgently needed funds in our Missions around the Globe.
After mature consultation with my friends and supporters in the Catholic solidarity agencies, we have decided to attempt a project based on the formal request of our DPP Council to seek funding for the twenty-six Indian Theology students and the four Filippinos in Manila. The first project was handed over to Dr. Peter Birkhofer on March 15th at the World Church Office in the Archdiocese of Freiburg. We are expecting a grant sometime soon for an annual sponsorship of these thirty theology students from our Province.
Due to this initial attempt we have encouraged the African Delegation to submit a similar project. Delegate Fr. Uche Desmond recently submitted the documents. The specific project will be conveyed this week to the very generous Msgr. Thomas Schlichting from the Bishop’s Office of Munich-Freising, and who has recently approved another promising project in our Province at Manila. The Good Samaritan Pharmacy is a real gift of Holy Providence in the Township of Quezon City.
For a good outcome of both projects let us pray and ask the Lord to send more workers to his increasing Vineyard; because a great harvest is ready to be gathered. Soon we’ll celebrate the Dogma of Mary’s Assumption into Heaven. I was there on Nov. 1, 1950, as an altar boy, seated near the gestatorial chair of Pope Pius XII! Fr. Guanella put all his projects in the hands of Our Holy Mother of Divine Providence and of Our Patriarch, St. Joseph. Therefore join us in this hopeful prayer
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procure
Ho Chi Minh City – Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior, arrived in Vietnam for his canonical visit on June 20th. His presence was very uplifting for the students. An official community meeting was held and Fr. Soosai also spoke to each confrere in the community individually, encouraging them to be a witness of Christ in the present world. We had a wonderful time during his visit. He departed for the Philippines on June 26th.
Chennai – The Don Guanella Major Seminary community gave a farewell to Fr. Praveen who has been serving in the community as the assistant director of the Don Guanella Rehabilitation Center. He is transferring to the Mysore formation house. The good children and teachers from DGRC participated in the program, making the event a colorful one. Brothers and teachers from DGRC felicitated Fr. Praveen with flattering words for his admirable services that he rendered to the good children. At the culmination of the program, Fr. Samson thanked him for what he has been to the community for the past two years and presented him a gift.
Kallathupatti – Don Guanella Illam is thankful to God’s magnificent grace for the new mission in the Dindigul Diocese. On June 9th a long anticipated desire was fulfilled a house for the poor and needy was officially opened. The house is named in honor of our Founder ‘DON GUANELLA ILLAM’. This is a historical moment for the diocese and the Congregation. The new Bishop of Dindigul, Most. Rev. P. Thomas Paulsamy D.D., officiated the blessing and opening ceremony in the presence of Provincial Superior, Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC. Nearly 50 priests and religious from various congregations as well as diocesan priests participated in the event. About 300 parishioners also attended the program.
My head was aching, heart was heavy, spirit quite low and there was a spiritual desertification! I felt that I needed a spiritual revitalization and then I went for an annual retreat to research the traces of God’s presence in my consecrated life journey. I thought that this desire would be helpful due to the unfavorable situation around me, negative criticism, unfair and unloving attitudes. A deep despair was setting in… and I knew I could not change this situation. When I attended the retreat and listened to the preacher and spent more hours in silence I got this unexpected surprise! The Lord said, “My son, it’s not the lovelessness, imperfections of others or your non-stop visits causing this pain, you are in pain, you have withdrawn your love from Me and, are focusing on others’ momentous concern, love and friendship. And whenever anyone blocks the free flow of this energy of love they are bound to suffer.” By becoming hard, insensitive, unloving, and judgmental, we harm ourselves and become nervous but often we do not realize this. The master creator has designed us very wisely. In our bodies, there is a system of ‘chemical reward/punishment’ that acts instantly. A single negative thought about someone is enough to generate toxins in our body that manifests itself not only in our emotions, but also on our very countenance!
Since I am on my canonical visitation in Vietnam/Philippines I would like to emphasize the aspect of ‘interculturality’. Today our Congregation is made up of members from many different countries, that is international/multicultural. Now-a-days no one is surprised to hear questions like: present society bets on mono-culture or multicultural? Internationality is not just an accidental happening, related to the numerical composition of the groups and communities, but it is leading people to make valuable choices, being capable of appreciating in them the birth of a very positive missionary attitude, such as: tolerance, openness, receptivity, dialogue, creativity, appreciating of whatever is different in others. As W.H. Auden says “civilization should be measured by the degree of diversity attained and the degree of unity retained.”
Ho Chi Minh City – On May 27th Br. Khiet and Br. Hoang renewed their religious vows. Fr. Anthony Quyen, SVD, was invited to preside over the Mass. He preached a good, inspirational homily. Fr. Felicks, the house in-charge, received their vows. Two local religious sisters were also present during the Holy Mass. After Mass, a beautiful dinner was shared in honor of the momentous occasion.
Manila – Three Guanellian brothers renewed their vows on May 26th. The ceremony was integrated into Mass at Guanella Hall and witnessed by the whole seminary community, including the Guanellian Sisters. The Holy Mass was presided by Fr. Charlton and concelebrated by Fr. Battista, Fr. Dong, Fr. Charles, Fr. Loyola and Fr. Ronnie. Fr. Charlton, Provincial Vice-superior of the Divine Providence Province, received the vows of Brothers Alfie, Arun David and Christian. Fr. Charlton focused his homily on the three brothers and offered special words to them, and instructed them to be faithful to their vows.