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
As we are in the Lenten season, it would be appropriate to reflect upon the greatest testament which our beloved Founder St. Louis Guanella left to us his disciples: Prayer and Suffering. It can be well understood from the words of Bishop Aurelio Bacciarini, the successor of Fr. Guanella. Prayer is the first necessary condition for the stability, progress and success of the Houses of Fr. Guanella. He also differentiates prayer and the spirit of prayer: Prayer is the common and ordinary invocation of God that we raise to Him during the day. Spirit of prayer is something more intense and deeper. Therefore for these extraordinary charitable acts not only mere human hands are needed but also the kind and strong intervention of God. Without the spirit of prayer, we would not receive God’s favors. Hence it is a requirement for every member of a community and whole of the congregation to be soaked in prayer and make the Houses of Charity real tabernacles of constant praise to God. How to make our life prayer? a) from the Altar of the Holy Eucharist, let us draw the treasures of Divine Mercy b) from the reception of Holy Communion, let us unite ourselves with Jesus with the fervor of saints, so that nothing of this world may separate us from Him c) From the Holy Tabernacle – Paradise on Earth – let us sanctify our work, our travelling and our rest by keeping our hearts and minds on the Lord, in conversation with heaven.
Suffering is a word that drips drops of blood. Unless and until one is filled with the spirit of prayer, it is highly difficult to understand the term suffering. From the very life of Jesus, we can perceive that there is no redemption without the cross, suffering. The Church of Jesus Christ floats on the blood of the martyrs. All her triumphs are rooted in suffering. The Houses of Fr. Guanella were born from martyrdom. Fr. Louis Guanella suffered martyrdom in everything: contradictions, accusations, opposition, humiliations, disappointments, hunger, thirst, tiredness, agonies of body and soul. Let us understand that suffering is the key to reach paradise. As imitators of Jesus Christ and followers of Fr. Guanella, let us strive to endure daily suffering, suffer discomforts and privations, endure and carry the crosses that faithfully accompany our daily lives. The very legacy of Prayer and Suffering teaches us a lesson to despise the world and detach ourselves from its allurements. Let us live in God by prayer and suffering as our beloved Father and Founder did.
At the invitation of our Holy Father the season of lent is a favorable time which is offered by God as ‘a sacramental sign of our conversion. Lent summons us and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly, and in every aspect of our lives’. Prompted by Pope Francis, we shall recollect the aspect of prayer and suffering as Guanellians. He says that prayer should become the driving force to enable us to reach out to the poor, marginalized and the victimized. Prayer is the constant response of our hearts to the will of God. The attitude of penance reminds us that we need to suffer with endurance, to say no to our selfishness. Acts of charity should be the constant striving of our hearts to share our time and resources with those who have nothing or nobody.
Added to our own physical, psychological, socio-economic problems, the present religious and political situation impels us to march forward with much courage to face the prejudices and persecutions against us Christians in order to be rooted out from a particular country or territory. Generally this might arouse in us questions like where is God? Why all these to us alone? and make us lose hope in God. On a positive note this happens to us because God wants to communicate with us but we are busy doing our work. Often we are after our minds by being too much indulged in social networks, technology, media which keeps us away from the creator who is behind every sphere. Rather we are called to be after our hearts from where love proceeds and inclines us to care for the anthropological aspect of our existence. It is high time this Lent that we fast from the media, network culture and be rooted in communicating with God in prayer and receive graces to face our trials and tribulations. May this Lenten Season help us to have metanoia and a fruitful celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord.
Legazpi – On December 19th the Servants of Charity celebrated Christmas and the end of 2017 in the presence of Fr. Dong, SdC, Fr. David, SdC, and Fr. Sagayaraj, SdC, opened a year-end Christmas Party to give thanks to the staffs who have dedicated themselves to the service of the community. Practically, gifts could not be absent from the party because they are a sign of bringing good luck and joy to others.
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.