Chennai – “Charity is the best weapon by which we can take actions similar to God”. Don Guanella Special School held ‘Food Fest’ on Feb 5th to raise funds and awareness for the special children. The event, which was held at Don Guanella Major Seminary, started with a prayer dance followed by an introduction of the project for the special children. Approximately 2000 people attended. The arrangements and organization by fathers and brothers was meticulous, creating a significant means to find Souls of Mercy for the Works of Charity.
The doors of the Church are wide open as Pope Francis notes, “God never ceases to demonstrate the richness of His mercy over the course of centuries.” This year has richness of grace in the Church as well as well as in the congregation; in this moment four theologians were ordained as deacons on March 6th in the Basilica of St. Joseph Trionfale, Rome.
‘Deacon’ stands for διάκονος which means minister or servant. The ministry of deacon is the vocation to serve in 3 areas; the Word, Liturgy and Charity. The four deacons, who were perpetually professed October 24th in Como, were happy to receive the ordination of diaconate during Holy Mass presided by Mons. Enrico dal Covolo, SdB. The deacons to be ordained were Eustace, Oscar, Marc and Selvakani belonging to the Delegation of Our Lady of Hope and Divine Providence Province. The parents, relatives and friends of deacons arrived from various parts of Italy and there were almost 70 priests around the altar to testify to the grace of the Lord for 4 young men of Christ.
The Gospel of the day was Luke 15,1-3, 11-32, the parable of the prodigal son, which interpreted by Mons. Enrico in such a way it remains a milestone for the Servants of Charity. He called them, “diaconi della misericordia,” Deacons of Mercy; saying that they are called to be the mercy servers to the emerging needs of the world.
He recalled three practical verbs indicated by Pope Francis during his special Audience to the Guanellian family on November 12th in Paul VI Hall, Vatican; namely to trust, to look and to hasten.
To trust: The parable of the prodigal son is a story of Father’s unlimited trust and Mercy. The father trusted the son and divided his property. At the center of St. Guanella’s life was the certainty that God is a merciful and provident Father. The two lines go hand in hand; the trust in God and trust in poor that are the prodigal sons and daughters in our Guanellian centers.
To look: The father “saw” his son. There is a great deal in that word, ‘saw.’ God has such a way of seeing men and women that you and I cannot understand. He sees right through us like He saw in the Gospel; Matthew, Zaccheus and a rich young man with a glance which sees our past, present and future.
When he was yet a great way off, He felt compassion for him and ran and embraced him and kissed him. St. Guanella had the same look of mercy in which these new deacons will ‘see’.
To hasten: In the ancient Jewish culture, it was difficult for the respected persons with dignity to come down and receive the young son back in to the family. Mons. Enrico echoed the living words of St. Guanella, “We cannot stop as long as there are poor to be assisted.” Dear loving deacons, Poverty cannot wait. Let us feel the compassion for the poor, and run, embrace and kiss. (v.20) Today is the special day because 4 young hearts receive the extraordinary grace to be called, ‘deacons of Mercy.’
Then he ordained the deacons, the holy mass ended with the Jubilee blessing along with prayers for Pope Francis. A sumptuous dinner and feast for the invitees was served in the Theological Seminary, Rome. Fr. Umberto Brugnoni, the Rector thanked the Lord for these new deacons to the Church and congregation.
Cuddalore – The third year brothers of St. Joseph Seminary went on a mission trip to two important mission stations of the congregation. They spent four days at Madurai and Thalavadi. They went in two groups of five; taking turns at each mission. There they experienced the real Guanellian way of life. They served the developmentally disabled people and handicapped children; getting a rich and educational experience. This strengthened their spirit; making them more eager and enthusiastic for their future apostolate. The confreres appreciated their readiness and ability to carry out the small acts of charity towards the poor and needy. After the mission exposure they returned to the seminary with rich experience and fond memories.
Chennai – The superiors and others gathered at Don Guanella Major Seminary beginning with a prayer service led by Fr. Provincial. He welcomed everyone and initiated the conference with his open talk on the theme “Gospel and Guanellian Leadership.” He invited the superiors to be good shepherds and sweet fathers, to have the Heart of Jesus, to have honest and constructive criticism in order to grow and to follow Jesus Christ and the footsteps of our Founder. Afterwards, Fr. Kulandai Samy invited everyone to comprehend the “Different types of leaderships” and discussed relational problems in general within religious communities. Next, Fr. Visuwasam enlightened them with his talk about “Role of the Superiors in the Financial Administration” where he obligated everyone to be a steward of the community; while following the legal requirements of the Government and congregation.
Fr. Provincial guided the discussion on practical difficulties of administration and governance of the provincial chapter. From this discussion, numerous ideas came from the participants which will be further discussed and appropriately implemented. This meeting was marked by two significant events: the presence and spiritual accompaniment of most Rev. Dr. Antony Papusamy, the Archbishop of Madurai; and the unfortunate loss of our great leader Dr. A.P. J. Abdul Kalam, the former president of India. The Archbishop enjoined all to personify the holy servanthood of Jesus and model the holy life style of servant Pope Francis. In remembering Dr. A.P. J. Abdul Kalam, Fr. Provincial noted his unique leadership style. He never had any personal projects, but always worked for the growth of the nation and the world. He never made any religious vows, but he dedicated his life for others. Let us make our life as gospels to the world.
Cuddalore – Open House Ministry is missionary work initiated in Cuddalore by Guanellian visionaries under the leadership of Fr. Visuvasam and Fr. John Paul Britto who also did this noble work in Bangalore and Chennai. The mission is based on the Biblical message of being a good Samaritan to the homeless, wretched, poor, vulnerable, and ‘those those who have no one.’ We strive to share agape with them through humanitarian works such as bathing, feeding them, personal hygiene practices, providing decent clothes, as well as teaching them moral and human values. The beneficiaries are collected each Sunday from the road sides, bus stops, and train stations and so on. Guanellian missionaries, Pondicherry Blue Sisters, brothers from St. Joseph’s Seminary and teachers from Modern School have been carrying out this mission. Usually 20 -25 people benefit from this humble initiative.
The last will and testament is a precious gift to the children. Before leaving this world, St. Guanella left us his legacy that our religious life should be deeply rooted in an intense spiritual life and in the exercise of charity. In his writings, he urged his disciples, “if we want the works of mercy to progress, we need people of prayer and many fervent souls able to endure suffering”.
We, the spiritual children of the Servants of Charity, Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, Lay Collaborators and above all thousands of poor, are admirers of St. Guanella and have an intimate touch with the joy of the Canonization event which took place two years ago. Our Founder’s heart that beat with such great affection and fatherly tenderness; his example of virtue; the wisdom of his direction and advice- are all a precious inheritance.
What does his Canonization anniversary say to us? What does his holiness and virtue mean for me personally? When we think about his holiness of life, he did not all of a sudden become a star but more like a laughing stock waiting for the “hour of mercy”. He underwent an incredible amount of rejection, hurt, misunderstandings, isolation, persecution, and suspicion from his superiors and civil authorities. He locked himself up in the sorrow of his heart and had the temptation to drop everything and leave for mission lands. He never gave way to anger and bitterness or closed his relationship with anyone but simply trusted in God’s Providence who called him and would strengthen him. The Servants of Charity must set their aim high and see to it that the institute is filled with needy persons- “good cannot be done except by ascending the fatiguing road to Calvary”. I am deeply touched by reading the most moving passage of his autobiography which speaks of the joy that God sows in his trails, “The same contradiction and adversity, whether in body or mind and heart, the good Lord converts them into a shower of gold, and the storms of the storm in many grains such as precious stones that enrich the home of the spiritual, living tabernacle of the Holy Spirit.”
The very purpose of the Congregation and the goal in our religious life is “glory to God and the salvation of our own souls and those of others”. The Founder would admonish that “more miserable is the religious who does not know how to grow in his sanctification by means of the spirit of penance” and of the often repeated phrase- “Pray and Suffer.” We have a responsible call to spread the ‘Good News’ and the gospel of charity henceforth there is no room for gossip, showing an indifferent attitude and creating confusion among us.
Let us all grow in the affinity and in the bond of Charity. We are in the Congregation and for the Congregation and by the Congregation, who is our beloved mother. St. Guanella founded and established our Congregation with an exuberant love and limitless labors and anguish. What gift do we want to present to St. Guanella for his Feast? To study, follow and transmit his spirit and to have a lively desire for perfection by uniting with his last will and testament: “Paradise, Paradise! Let us pray and hope “Providence will never, never abandon us!”
Madurai – On October 24, the feast of St. Louis Guanella was celebrated in grand manner. The Vicar General of the Madurai Diocese, Msgr. Joseph Selvaraj, the Economer link for India of the Divine Providence Province Fr. Visuvasam SdC, and the parish priest of Nagamalai Pudukottai, Fr. Cyprian, inaugurated the new house and celebrated the holy Eucharist with the Guanellian confreres, neighboring priests and religious, the good children from Yesuvanam and the Guanella Karunai Illam community participated. Further, “Guanella Karunai Illam” the new Madurai mission station was opened by the chairman Mr. Dharma Raj, the president Mr. Alagu Malai and Councillor Samy. The director of Guanella Karunai Illam, Fr. John Dass Sdc, Fr. Lawrence Thambu Samy and Fr. Anandhan welcomed and honored everyone.
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.’
Holy Mother Church acclaims, in celebrating and venerating All Saints Day, that the church was built upon the foundation of the apostles, martyrs and saints. The blood of the martyrs is the seed in the ground of the church. The beloved emeritus Pope Benedict, in his homily on the Solemnity of All Saints 2008, spoke of the Church as a “botanical garden” where the Creator spread a variety of colors of holiness on the luminous faces of the saints. As we are filial sons and daughters of St. Louis Guanella, we are crowned in pride of celebrating the 2nd year of his canonization and the centennial celebration of his birth in heaven within two years. It is a special month for the Divine Providence Province as it celebrates its first birth anniversary of its second term. It is a vibrant and young Province within our congregation having much richness in the midst of many challenges and difficulties, joys and sorrows. It has its very special features and characteristics which are very unique and awesome- that is unity in diversity and unity of direction. It is comprised of four Nations namely India, USA, Philippines and Vietnam. Each nation is well known for their spirituality, tradition, language, heritage, culture, art and architecture, customs and so on yet we have a unity of direction and a unity in diversity. As one province, we need to be proud of being together in carrying the fire of charity to every nook and corner of the world. Albert Schweitzer says- “Life is short. Do not forget about the most important things in life such as living and doing good for other people. I don’t know what our destiny will be, but one thing I do know; the only ones among you who will really be happy are those who have sought and found how to serve”. “To suffer for God is glory, and to take the trouble for the sake of souls is the greatest enjoyment” said Fr. Guanella in the Spiritual Pages. So each and every confrere of the province is called to show initiative and to be enthusiastic, innovative, and energetic; only then will our aspirations turn to inspiration for others. We can also avail the words of our founder into our own terminologies that the ‘whole world is our homeland’ and let us work like a honey bee in order to build the province into the realm of charity which our founder envisioned: “We will persist until we succeed. We were not delivered into this world into defeat, nor does failure course our veins. We are not a sheep waiting to be prodded by our shepherd. We are a lion and refuse to talk, walk and to sleep with the sheep. We will persist until we succeed.” So Dear Confreres, I invite you all to partake in this joyous celebration of our birth anniversary. We have to work on it with a vigorous determination and with a joyful spirit, so that pleasing God we may give others a good example of abnegation and so attain the goal to which God has called us. I also acknowledge the confreres for their tireless hard work in sustaining the growth of the province. As we celebrate All Souls day, may we also have the pleasure of remembering and praying for our confreres. May the blessings of all the Saints be with you all and may you enjoy a blessed Feast of the Mother of Divine Providence!
Fr. Soosai Rathinam
While absorbing the rosary during this Marian month, I often considered asking you for your thoughts, because normally our monthly subjects do not share the emotional moments of our confreres from around the world. The reason is because I’m a poor layman who tries to make day-to-day a sense in my late spring. Therefore, we always try to give short descriptions of our events that include our highlights, our efforts and sometimes our defeats.
That said, I would like to be more positive this time about pointing out our targets and gifts of Holy Providence. This story is articulated with many ‘D’s’. So lets begin with:
*DC – Democratic Christian Party. Our Iron Lady once titled Mrs.Germany, Angela Merkel, has won, thanks to our votes as real German citizens. She is now providing continuity,welfare and stability to our beloved adoptive country.
* Don Santi has been a ‘good shepherd’ of the Italian community since 1992. Now because of his pension age, he will hand over MCI Pforzheim to our confreres Baniak and Antonyraj on 1-15-14. We owe him gratitude and respect for all of his tireless activities during his long apostolate. And I am the first to know what he has done during my cooperation with him as a pastoral assistant. Thank God some misunderstandings will be clarified during the next Salesian-Guanellian summit on October 10, 2013. During those talks Fr. Luigi will define handing over the modalities of the offices,archives and former personnel. This is to secure a real continuity of services to our friends.
* Don Robert Roth, secretary of Msgr. Klug, has to be my best ‘key councilor’ in all former steps;
before, and during the first approaches of our arrival into Germany. We also thank him for all of his mediations and continous assistance to our student confreres while they attend the German courses in the Diocesan Languages high school.
* Don Baniak, SdC, will return from Poland soon and on October 1st he will take over his vicariate at Boxberg-Ahorn, not far from the ancient Franconian town of Würzburg. Inge and I will go there
and introduce him to his new Church of St. Aquilinus at Boxberg. Fr Baniak will assist a large vicariate with eight different churches.
* Don Edgar Wunsch, parish priest of this pastoral unity, is waiting for our confrere, Wieslaw, along with his polish assistant Fr. Dulik. Both are leading the pastoral unity which counts over 8,000 Catholic believers.We thank Fr. Edgar for his spontaneous sympathy for our congregation. On 12-10-13 Fr. Luigi and Fr. Rocky Antonyraj will assist with his official introduction to the Catholic community of St. Aquilinus. Inge and I will of course, be ‘godparents’ of Fr Wieslaw. Fr. Edgar was chaplain at St.Francis Church of Pforzheim in the 70’s.
* Dr. Johannes Mette, a former classmate of Fr. Edgar, (a pure case of Providence), was the long time curial priest at Freiburg, and for almost five years was the parish priest of the pastoral unity of Pforzheim West. Most importantly, he is a neighbor to the MCI Pforzheim St. Antonius Church, which is only 100 m from our future Mission offices.
* ‘Don Rocky,'( a nickname Inge and I have given this sympathic young Guanellian from Chennai), has received permisison from our mentor, Bishop Klug, to say the Holy Mass every Sunday in the Abbey of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Freiburg operated by our Dehonian friends. In fact, the national delegate of all Italian Missions in Germany and Scandinavian countries is Fr.Tobia Basanelli, (another strange combination). Fr. Bassanelli was the one who has accompanied Fr. Luigi, Fr. Baniak and I to Vicar Bishop Klug on October 12th when the contract among the Guanellians and the Archdiocese of Frieburg was concluded.
*David Father, is an Indian diocesan parish priest of our neighbouring towns of Friolzheim-Heimsheim, and an ex-patriot from Sivagangai. He knows many of our confreres like Fr. Peter Sebastian, appreciates our engagement in India, and now hopes to develop a good friendship with our Benjamin, Fr. Rocky.
* Donations: The cooperation with Charitas Pforzheim during the present fund raising campaign has strengthened my ties with this solidarity entity. I’ll mediate close cooperation with Mr. Lemke managing director of Charitas Pforzheim, which has five elderly homes, one disabled center, and many kindergartens. Their significant Mottos are:
– Open your eyes and act, because no one should believe alone. (It refers to the suffering children of divorced parents).
– Leave traces and a scent of your earthly appearence through your lived solidarity.
– Be a precious leit motif for all German Guanellians.
We should not have to wait for people to come and knock at our Mission door, but we must move and visit the jails, hospitals, homes for the elderly and abandoned , and suffering individuals!
There is a lot to do and for this reason we ask for your prayers and spiritual assistance. The work we have to do with our congregation in Germany will bring many surprises, and Holy Providence will show us the right path. Therefore we close with a simple prayer: May the Lord, through the intercession of our Holy Mother Mary, Queen of the Rosary, and our saints Louis, Clare, and Aurelio: bring patience and great hope to his plans. We ask the Lord to put his paternal hands on our shoulders so that we may be able to put our own hands on the shoulders of our sick, poor, abandoned brothers!
Potentia Domini mirabilia facit!
Cuddalore – The inauguration of the 2013-2014 Academic Year fell on July 1st. In order to obtain the blessings of God throughout the year, the ceremony began with Holy Mass celebrated by Rev. Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior. After Mass, everyone gathered for fellowship and a cultural program organized by the seminarians. The program ended with the encouraging words of Fr. Soosai; he advised the students to become more aware of their talents, academic performance and abilities therefore improving their capacity to shine in this competitive world, and for the good of the congregation.