Our Holy Father Benedict XVI rightly says that “If the Consecrated life did not exist how poor would the world be”, because they are witnessing the transfiguring presence of God in the world. The World Day for Consecrated Life is celebrated with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and it is also known as Candlemas Day- the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world. Therefore, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples: “To mirror His light, to irradiate His love, to bear witness to His life style. “
Today, in Consecrated life, essentially there is a crisis of identity, visibility, and of credibility. In a divided and fragmented world, there is a tendency for “mediocrity in spiritual life and a consumer mentality”. The 19th General Chapter, at various levels, calls us to keep watch over the visibility of personal and community witness and, if necessary, to intervene with clarity and determination in prohibiting attitudes and lifestyles clearly in contradiction with our public identity as men of God and servants of the poor. In this critical situation, there is a strong need for “Renewal,” for going back to our origin, our roots and to the very spring of our charism or charismatic identity. Sometimes renewal is confused with adaptation to the dominant mindset and culture, with the risk of forgetting authentic Gospel values. Our charism inserts us into the great movement of “Sequela Christi”, reproducing Jesus’ own lifestyle with the urgent need to fuel the fire of the great passion that is the driving force of our consecrated life as Guanellians. We need to be visionaries, born out of our commitment to live the Gospel in creative fidelity and to re-incarnate His presence, vision and mission. Through love of Christ and closeness to them, we ourselves become poor and with the poor are ready to evangelize them, while, at the same time, allowing ourselves to be evangelized by them.
The Year of Faith brings a greater opportunity for conversion and to a rediscovery of our faith as consecrated people. Rediscovering faith involves rediscovering our commitment to the Lord and living it credibly and joyously in the changing situations of our life.
The Presentation of Our Lord in the temple is a complete gesture of surrender to God’s plan in the eyes of St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother, even when doing so entails suffering. So also our religious consecration should lead us to do God’s will, always more generously, by living out the evangelical counsels and re-grounding our religious life.
Wishing you all a joyful and faithful Consecrated Life Day Celebration and a radical and passionate love of Christ!
East Providence, RI – In light of the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook School, in Newtown, CT, the 8th Grade students of the parochial Sacred Heart School devised a way to somehow help those affected. They made, and are still making, “friendships bracelets” with the Sandy Hook School colors to sell to relatives and friends over the Christmas vacation. As of now, they have collected $450.00 to send to the fund to help the families who have suffered so much. Everyone in Newtown and especially the families intimately affected continue to be in our daily prayers.
Manila – On December 15th, Simbang Gabi begins. The Simbang Gabi originated in the early days of Spanish rule as a practical compromise for farmers who started their day before sunrise to avoid the heat while working in the fields. Priests began to say Mass in the early mornings instead of the evening novenas more common in the rest of the Hispanic world. This cherished Christmas custom eventually became a distinct feature of Philippine culture and is a symbol of sharing. During this season, many people come to the church to join and participate in this event with different prayer intentions. People believe that if you completed the 9 day novena masses their prayers will be answered. But it isn’t only intend for that, this tradition demonstrates how religious the Filipinos are.
At around 8:00 in the evening, Simbang Gabi started at the Guanella Center. Hundreds of people attended the mass including residents from the Guanella Home. Each night, different groups from the ministry sponsored the mass. The nine-day novena of masses ended with the celebration of Missa de Gallo, held on the ninth day. Before Holy Mass ended, the people lined up to pay homage and kiss the statue of baby Jesus. After Missa de Gallo, the Religious Community with the residents enjoyed and shared Noche Buena, a traditional salo-salo, as a sign of one happy and united family. After Noche Buena, there was a short program, games, dancing and other exciting activities which everybody enjoyed. During the program, Bro. Bob Neimeyer, dressed as Santa Claus, distributed gifts to the residents and to the priests, brothers and seminarians. The whole night was filled with joy as they celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. May this New Year begin with a big smile not only on our faces but most especially in our hearts. Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to all. God bless!
Chelsea – Each year the staff works hard to put on a Christmas show with our ‘good children’ as the stars, and this year was no different. The youngest residents presented The Christmas Spider and The Grinch while the older ones put on The Nativity and Merry Christmas, an acronym. To see the performances for yourself, visit stlouiscenter.org and look for the Christmas Program video.
“The goal of consecrated life is the configuration to the Lord Jesus in his total self-giving; this must also be the principal objective of formation (VC 65). It is a journey of gradual assimilation of the thoughts of Christ; in particular, we make the traits of benevolence, compassion and solicitude our own (Bdgm 32-34) which were of Jesus, the Good Shepherd and compassionate Samaritan.”
Chennai – A course for updating the Formators in India was held at Don Guanella Major Seminary December 20th – 21st on the theme, “By the ways of the Heart…Formation and Transformation.” Formation to consecrated life is a work of God, who creates and molds. It is also a work of man, who in freedom and love, chooses to be transformed. “The vocation ministry and formation” (initial and permanent) is also one of the main concerns of the 19th General Chapter and the Divine Providence Province. The intent is to promote a serious, challenging, Christ-centered, mission oriented and charism-inspired religious and priestly formation. The presenters, Fr. Theophilus Sdb, Fr. Rathinam SdC, Fr. Visuwasam SdC, Fr. Samson SdC, highlighted the biblical, charismatic, pastoral, spiritual and psychological dimensions of formation. The course was a useful and timely aid to the formators as witnessed by the participants. Thanks to the Organizing team and the Provincial and his Council.
After a 12-month run, many experiences, facts and emotions the year comesto an end. Now just before the bells call us to visit the crib and adore the little Child in the humble cave of Bethlehem, it is time for inner silence and interior reflection.
After turbulent months I also felt the need to stop the frenetic work and gather the little Italian community, at least for a few hours, in our neighboring village, Friolzheim, for a day-long annual spiritual retreat. A charismatic Franciscan attracted our attention and mind while two sisters of the Fransciscan Fraternity of Bethania enriched the ceremonies and Mass with ancient and touching Gregorian songs. Almost 70 people participated in the retreat. For me, it was a unique experience and a rich inspiration on how to conceive the future pastoral work of our confreres in the bigger community of Pforzheim in 2013.
Personally I was really touched from the deep faith and trust in God of humble brothers and sisters. In a certain way I was ashamed when comparing my spiritual habits with such hidden giants of the Christian and Catholic belief.
What I took as a life proposal for the future were three maxims:
God speaks in silence, silence is the diet of the soul, and prayer acts as breath for our soul. This should be our best wish and suggestion to our readers, “Sometimes it is better to keep silent instead of hiding our failures behind an avalanche of useless words.”
We concluded the activities of 2012 intoning a bursting Te Deum and Magnificat because the next appointment at the end of January 2013 will conclude the project of bringing Fr. Guanella to Germany when Fr. Luigi and the designated Guanellian parish priest meet our vicar Bishop, Mons. Klug!
We received a bit of good news late in December from our friend Mrs. Elaine Steiner of Kindermission. They have committed to helping the disabled in Legazpi by contributing to the second nutrition program requested by Fr. Battista Omodei.
May the Lord clothe us with a new conscience in 2013!
On New Year’s morning, a priest and his catechist were going through the busy streets of a big city to celebrate Mass in a church attached to his parish. Since he was diabetic, suddenly he got exhausted and stood before a tea-shop to take a cup of tea with some snacks. In front of the tea-shop was a person with developmental disabilities sitting on a heap of waste with a few bags of rags and waste papers around him. He was seated all alone laughing and talking to himself. The priest had pity on him and wanted to offer him a cup of tea. He asked the catechist to buy a cup of tea and offer it to him. The catechist was afraid that person would react violently. So, he first approached him and asked him if he would take a cup of tea. The person with developmental disabilities nodded his head and the catechist gave him a cup of tea. The priest had all the more sympathy and he bought two ‘buns’ and approached him. The man got up and looked into the face of the priest and asked the priest with concern, “Did you eat?” He continued, “You are tired.” He received the two ‘buns’, took one and returned the other to the priest and said, “You take this.” These three sentences with three words each and the grace-filled eyes on the dirt-covered face of the “mad man” touched the priest and disturbed him very much that day. In his sermon, he narrated this story and said, “even if there is no one in this world to be worried about my welfare and concern, God will send a person with disabilities to inquire about my health and well-being and would tell me that he is concerned for me’. The man in rags and dirt, with developmental disabilities, was a source of blessing for the priest because he offered the “God-experience” to the priest.
The Hebrew word for blessing is “barak” or “berakah” which means to kneel down. A blessing is to bring a gift to another on bended knee. When we say, “be a blessing”, it means make a gift of oneself to the other. A gift is the symbol of a love relationship, a symbol of peace, respect and recognition. In this offering, the other experiences the concern and love of the parent God. For persons vowed to live in community and fellowship, there is no other way to experience “God” except in the self-gift of one to the other. Only those who can kneel (in humility), those who can offer themselves (as a sacrifice), those who esteem and honor others (in relationship) can be a blessing to others. Our holy founder St. Louis Guanella said, “God’s grace and blessing must be the whole treasure of our hearts”.
The New Year, 2013 is now here with newness, dreams, visions and reality; a time for us to become blessings for others. In the religious context God-centered, other-centered outlook, bless what’s good and beautiful; we can even throw away the negative experience of our “egoism” because God does not keep a record of our failures. God has given to us a blank check with his signature and it is up to us to write the amount of forgiveness, compassion and God’s love. Our Blessed Mother, in this Year of Faith, is the best example- her “Divine Motherhood” is the source of every blessing and a sign of God’s love.
Chennai – On November 16th, Don Guanella Rehabilitation Center hosted ‘Sports Day’ for the differently-abled persons from the area. More than 300 disabled boys and girls participated in the many competitions designed to reveal the hidden talents of their innocent hearts. The Sports day brought harmony in the hearts of Good Children and fascinated all of us. The following week, the children of DGRC School participated in the Cultural Competitions at Jeeva Nadi, NGO. It was a joyful event to perform dances and showcase their precious talents. District level games were held on November 21st for the disabled children in Thiruvallur by the Tamil Nadu Government. Many of our children participated and swept the prizes; some have advanced to State Level Competition scheduled for December 3rd.
Chelsea, MI – On Wednesday November 14, 2012, Fr. Enzo Addari, Administrator of St. Louis Center, welcomed Chelsea Community Hospital CEO Nancy Graebner and guests to the campus of SLC for her first visit to our facility. Ms. Graebner is a former Michigan resident, who took over as CEO of the hospital on January 30, 2012, and this was her first opportunity to visit SLC since she was hired to fill the top job at CCH. “I’m just delighted to be here to learn all that I can about SLC, and it’s great to be back in Michigan,” said Graebner.
Ms. Graebner spent eight years in Greenville, SC before returning to the area, and was the executive vice-president of physician strategy and services for Bon Secours St. Francis Health System in Greenville. She and her husband, Jay, have found a new home in Dexter Twp., and she looks forward to a continued productive relationship with SLC.