Fr. Guanella’s Triumphal Entrance into Germany

After 50 years of carrying the torch of the Guanellian charism in silence for the German Diaspora, it gives me great joy to announce the fulfillment of an age old dream. Just before the first anniversary of the Canonization of Saint Louis Guanella, our long attempt to bring his sons to this promising vineyard has been approved. My circle of life will now be complete through Divine Providence, as everything has happened as foreseen. Our vicar Bishop, Monsignor Rainer Klug, wished to discuss the details of the arrival of two Guanellian confreres at the end of 2013 with a delegate of Father General Alfonso Crippa. As agreed, on October 16th I joined acting provincial Fr. Luigi and Fr. Tobia Bassanelli, the general delegate of Italian missions in Germany, at the bishop’s office in Freiburg. Mons. Klug welcomed the Guanellians to his Archdiocese and thanked Fr. Alfonso for keeping his word to send two priests of our congregation as soon as possible to Germany. After stating the conditions of the physical presence of Guanellian religious on German soil, he urged the two candidates to visit in January 2013, to participate in a German language study program on the Telekolleg, and prepare for a six-month immersion in our language within the archdiocese. An interesting fact is that two former pupils of the St. Calogero Seminary at Naro/Sicily will be the carriers of the Guanellian spirit to Germany. I for the past 50 years now, along with one of the other two priests who will be joining us, are also natives of our faraway, generous island. Now Fr. Guanella will definitively have put not one, but both feet in a new geographic area of activity. It was a memorable day not only for our Procure but also for the entire Guanellian family.

The following day, I took Fr. Luigi to the Catholic hospital of the Daughters of St. Josef at Pforzheim, who with their sisters at the Abbey of St. Trudpert in the Black Forest, have been the real precursors of this success, because they have been promoting the Pious Union since January 10, 1920! We also visited Deacon Ihle in the Deaconate of Pforzheim and had a short talk with Prior Theis of the Knights of St. Lazarus nearby in our district capital. These emotional days closed with a simple ceremony at St. Alexander Church in Tiefenbornn where Fr. Lugi celebrated a Mass in Italian with German translation, and two new Italian brothers took our habit. Ignazio Minotta and Enzo Urso of the Italian Cultural Club will become supporters of our Guanellian Mission. I’ll propose to dedicate the same to Divine Providence or simply the Don Guanella Mission in Deutschland. There will be a lot of work to do when our confreres arrive, but we are all confident that our Lord has already chosen the right paths, solutions and partners. Yes, now the long journey from Sicily to Germany comes to an end, and the circle of life makes sense! Magnificat anima mea Dominun! Praise the Lord my soul for all his gifts!

Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian  Procure (GGP)

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Completing the Circle of Life: From Sicily to Germany

The Guanellian adventure on the sun drenched island of Sicily began just two years after WW II in early September 1947. Since then, thousands of poor children and hundreds of elderly have experienced pure Guanellian charity during times of extreme poverty and abandonment. I discovered by pure chance, the humor of those strange priests who did not hesitate to lift up their cassocks and run behind a ball made of rags for soccer. They were just the opposite of our stiff Sicilian diocesan priests. I was so fascinated that I simply asked my parents to let me go to them to enter their seminary school in Naro, and then in Rome.

Since then Naro, a small town on the southern coast of Sicily, has become the beginning and the end of many hopes and dreams. From this potential reservoir of vocations, many young men have become Guanellian priests and good laymen; active in many parts of the world and supporters of the typical Guanellian style of charity. From 30,000 inhabitants in the war years, our home city now holds only 10,000 people. Great communities arose in northern France first, then in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland and Venezuela. Essentially, the adventure of the northern Italian congregation in the deep south (Sicily), has proven to be a successful strategic decision.

Since then many alumni like me, and friends of the San Calogero home and shrine have spread the sympathetic Sicilian touch among many new friends around the world. Like Fr. Joseph Rinaldo in Chelsea, Michigan, USA, other Sicilian Guanellians work tirelessly throughout our provinces.

There is one exception however: Fr. Giorgio Simion who arrived fifty-five years ago in our facility at Naro. Back then, it was full of poor children, who were the sons of emigrated  parents. He was for many of us, our anchor and our guide through many journeys. He was an electrician, an agricultural expert, a horticultural expert and a good shepherd of the pilgrims devoted to our holy Patron. Fr. Giorgio was a working  priest who never gave up. He was tireless as he fought for the transformation of the old orphanage into a beautiful elderly care home. Fr Giorgio is a native Venetian and my schoolmate from the novitiate! It seems that we Sicilians are like the eels who often swim to the end of world to deposit their eggs before they die. They always return to their natural habitat.

Now I too, advancing in age, feel an inner impulse to return home to enjoy the memories of my youth .During the short visit to the San Calogero home, Inge met an old resident who thirty-five years ago, worked in the same factory where she was the chief secretary. Lillo Baldacchino cried from overhelming happiness, because he could once again meet his former friend. Fr.Giorgio spent several hours with us and the sick residents. After a thanksgiving Mass, given by the young director Fr. Salvo Allegra, we descended to the Shrine of Holy Calogero, and prayed for all of the  benefactors and alumni who spent part of their lives in the shadow of our black patron in joy and the full protection of the angels of Guanellian Holy Providence.

We returned home satisfied and restored after this recent full immersion in the warm Guanellian bath of authentic and long lasting love among brothers of different cultures, languages, and colors.

May our Mother Mary and our holy Founder crown our dream this month, to bring the first Guanellians to our adoptive city, Pforzheim. On October 15th, Fr Luigi, our Provincial Father, will visit the Procure and our vicar bishop to negotiate the additional details of this new adventure of Fr. Guanella in Germany . What fun; this time under the cooperation of his first children from Naro in fare Sicily, the country of volcanos and hot blooded sons! So in the circle of life, our destinies become complete. Laudate Dominum!

Gero  Lombardo,   German Guanellian Procure