Sivagangai – The finest music often comes out of the saddest moments in life. As the postulancy program began with great joy and pleasure by the ways of the heart of St. Louis Guanella, July 7th-9th a music class was conducted for the brothers to improve their quality of learning music with special care. Fr. Arputha Raj, SdC, was invited to teach the music class. He led the class with full involvement and commitment. He enlightened their minds to assimilate music in many possible ways. Karnatic and Western lessons were taught through scales and mind blowing songs. “Music is a universal language of mankind,” he said. At the very atmosphere we nourished our minds and thoughts through his homily. All those who participated benefited by this music and vocal class.
Sivagangai – There are plenty of ways to attain enjoyment but a small loop is the only way to enjoy happiness. It was the greatest opportunity for postulants of Sivagangai to experience and to enjoy God’s love with practical knowledge of the mission of the Servants of Charity. Therefore Fr. Superior and the formators initiated the ministry for the postulants to experience filial affinity with those who say, ‘I have no one.’ They began this mission experience with the ‘Anbagam Special Children’ on July 6th. As part of the mission, special children were elevated through doing the charitable works and making them feel happy for the love of God. Indeed, it was a blessed day for all who recognized the charity and loveable heart of St. Louis Guanella.
Thalavadi – Lent is a time when everyone makes an effort to grow in spirituality. This year, the Guanellian Lay Movement (GLM) and Guanellian Cooperators (GC) from Bangalore went on a mission experience to Thalavadi to serve intellectually and developmentally disabled patients (I/DD). It was a two day program aimed at Good Samaritan work. On the first day, the members received an orientation from Fr. Lawrence, the Director of the mission house. The members were amazed to learn how our Fathers, Brothers and helpers can take this mission forward with great compassion. We also learned that some patients were transformed and returned home. Several homes catering to these patients chain them and at times treat them harshly. This was not the case here. Fr. Lawrence and Fr. Ligori told us we only give them love and dignity, and it is God who leads us all in what we do. This was a wonderful lesson learned as a Guanellian. We organized ourselves to get closer to these patients and share their stories. The members actively participated in the residents’ physical activity and we entertained them in the evening with music and dance. The following day the members cooked two sumptuous meals. The Community accommodated us with great care and we appreciate their hospitality.
Bangalore – The six novices and Fr. Kennedy from Guanella Preethi Nivas Novitiate went for a one-week mission experience with mentally ill patients at “Nazareth Illam” in Thalavadi. This challenging mission is aided by the Government. Right now there are 63 people, the neglected and unwanted of society are brought from the roads, streets, bus stops by social workers and government officials to stay there. The Guanellian priests are rehabilitating them with immense love, medication and care free of charge. They organize various programs, games, therapy and other activities for their benefit. In fact, this mission has brought popular identity of our institute in the district. The novices were given an orientation and training session about the home, its service and the patients paving the way for a fruitful time of service. The novices participated in manual work, gardening, games, prayers, entertainment, fire dance, cooking, feeding, and exercise. They also assisted with personal care, giving haircuts, shaving them and making their beds. Most importantly, the novices listened to their stories, problems, and their family backgrounds. This attentive, empathetic listening enriched both. Novices were touched by the miracle of love happening there: the patients get healed in part by the family atmosphere. Once they are stabilized and rehabilitated, they are examined by a psychiatrist and many are reunited with their families. It is really a hall mark of our noble service to humanity in Tamilnadu. After the mission experience the novices returned to GPN with immense satisfaction and valuable learning.
Sivaganagi – Agriculture is the backbone of all human life. Without it humans would not survive. It is hard labor for everyone to go through. Many opt out, many dislike it, yet enjoy the benefit without pain and peril. However it is the basis for our daily living. The legacy of Fr. Guanella was also “PRAYER AND SUFFERING,” which forms a synthesis of hard labor and contemplation. To him “suffering” was prayer, action and work. Having this in mind, the Fathers and postulants of the Yesuvanam community, have done their hard manual labor, sacrificial work in the field and spirit of asceticism in order to experience the painful reality of human bread winning for both body and spirit. This exposure made the students taste the goodness of hardships in life and to learn that true happiness and satisfaction is always from one’s own hard work.
Sivagangai – The District Revenue Officer inspected St. Guanella Anbagam Special School on October 8th. He visited the classrooms, physiotherapy room, dining hall, multipurpose hall, school bus and the sanitary system. He interviewed teachers and physiotherapists and Driver. He viewed all the documents of the special school especially attendance of the students, staff and other approval documents. He was very satisfied with our maintenance. He assured his official support for Anbagam in the future. The staff and students responded in a positive way during this visit.
Sivagangai – On the feast day of our Lady of the Rosary on October 7th Fr. Stalin, SdC celebrated solemn Mass in the Yesuvanam grotto. Mass was offered for the growth of our congregation and the good health of our confreres, sisters, co-operators and workers. On the eve of this feast, brothers organized a car procession. Neighbors, well wishers and benefactors added beauty to the event through meaningful and devoted participation. The car procession included multi-lingual prayers, chanting and hymns. All over we received abundant blessings and graces from our heavenly Mother.
Sivagangai – To commemorate the 150th jubilee of the ordination of St. Louis Guanella; the Jubilee Year of Mercy and the 9th Anniversary of the foundation of Yesuvanam, the local community arranged a joyous celebration. Fr. Soosai led the event both spiritually and culturally. Along with the local community, confreres from different Houses of India attended this historic event. Eleven young seminarians showed their willingness to enter the postulancy and to experience the Guanellian way of life by knocking on the Yesuvanam door. Fr. Soosai gladly accepted their request and opened the gates to their Guanellian experience. He advised the postulants to be faithful and fruitful disciples of our Master, Jesus Christ, and to become fires of mercy and compassion.Later, Guanellian Lay Movement members made their pledges as co-operative members in the Guanellian institute to Fr. Soosai, who warmly welcomed them. They are more easily able to live the Guanellian mission at home and in their local area. They will be responsible ministers, fulfilling the expectations of the Holy See by practicing charity, mercy and sensitivity towards the needy. An announcement was prepared and made by Fr. Paul Francis, and officially released by Fr. Soosai for the fundraising to begin for the new construction. The evening ended with an agape meal.
Sivagangai – Don Guanella Special School, Guanella Anbagam, prepared a special event to kick off the 2016-2017 academic year. Joining current students were many new students to experience Guanellian love and charity. The inauguration of this seventh year was special because of the presence of Fr. Soosai, Provincial Superior, and his Council; the local superior, Fr. Kulandaisamy; superiors from other communities; Fr. Thomas, the spiritual director; and Mrs. Abbatte Guiliana, Vice President of ASCI. After Mass, Fr. Soosai made a gesture of love and gratitude to Fr. Paul Raj, SdC who was the previous director and welcomed Fr. Paul Francis, SdC to succeed him in this ministry of love. The children performed an enthusiastic cultural program which was organized by Fr. Stalin SdC. Yesuvanam brothers and Anbagam children added beauty to the day. “Serving the poor is crowning our soul with a heavenly diadem”.
June was filled with an intensive program. Starting at the end of May with our visit at the Abbey of Münstertal, an annual meeting was held for two Guanellian entities with different origins but the same goal: find and fund charity projects with immediate results, like the shelter in Manila completed with the sisters of the German Pious Union. A substantial donation was made which will allow Br. Mauro to buy some urgently needed life saving medicine locally. With a strong commitment from our Procura, we suggested to call this endeavor ‘The Good Samaritan Pharmacy,’ a place for the poorest families with children, to get medicine and other basic necessities. Through a fundraising campaign, supported by a new flyer, we have approached all Catholic hospitals in the State of Baden-Württemberg and members of the St. Josef confraternity. We are hoping that this will create a continous flow of financial resources providing assistance to our confreres in Manila.
General Councilor, Fr. Luigi deGiambattista, arrived after several months of preparation to assist with situations, perspectives and orientation of both Guanellian entities in Germany. During his stay, we had the opportunity to visit some area refugee camps and see firsthand the problems they face; not only the financial and political instability but mainly the sense of abandonment by God … and the world. The Guanellians in Pforzheim pledge to reduce or diminish their isolation and search for ways to be united to their sufferings, as humans first aside from religious beliefs. Fr. Rocky and myself will join the efforts of the local church to assisist Syrians, Iraquis and Chaldean and Melchite Catholics.
The next task was the creation of the first group of Laity willing to spread the Guanellian charism. On June 9th twenty German-Italian ladies and gentlemen gathered with Fr. Luigi, Fr. Wieslaw and Fr. Rocky at the Guanellian Mission Pforzheim and officially founded the Guanellian Lay Movement in Germany. Councillors Dr. Müller and Banker Stemmler, four German couples and some Sicilian Guanellians of Naro shared pizza and sang popular songs. We established the foundation for a strong effort to increase hands, minds, hearts, ready to support and diffuse the charism of our Founder among all those who need our loving approach. During the meeting, two pilgrimages were planned. The first will be to the St. James Path/Spain beginning August 16th with Diocesan parish priests and German friends; the second will be to our Polish House at Skavina September 16th.
The final task during Fr. Luigi’s visit brought us to the Archbishop’s office in Freiburg, where we have enjoyed great hospitality, friendship and firm cooperation. Deacon Eiermann, director of non-German missionaries, longtime supporter Deacon Roth and Sr. Theresita, who is truly helpful for our confreres, welcomed our visit. During the presentations, it was revealed that there is hope of the SdC to extend their presence elsewhere in this diocese. All dreams will be put in the hands of Holy Providence, hoping for the project to mature soon. After exchanging small gifts, we spent time with our mentor, Bishop Emeritus Klug, the first supporter of this Guanellian Adventure in Germany.
We discussed our mission work in Africa and Asia with Fr. Luigi; lamenting the long silence from all provinces for the past two years. Thanks be to God it seems like projects from missions in India, Philippines and Africa are falling from the sky. The first project is for a place for disabled children in Sivagangai which has already been submitted.
As a surprise for Fr. Luigi after all the busy days, a ‘Fr. Guanella Flag’ was hoisted under the German flag at his first residence in Germany since 1962: our home garden. May this tangible sign wave to all passing viewers as a silent message: Yes we are there for all!
With God’s blessings and the maternal protection of St. Mary let us confidently approach our holidays
Gero Lombardo Guanellian German Procure