Retrospectively, 2017 was a very blessed year, filled with small and large providential gifts. In fact, at the end of the year Holy Providence had touched many hearts and opened many plentiful pockets. The sowing began September 16 but the harvest was completed in December 2017. Most of the projects benefit the following Divine Providence Province entities:
*A new award from Missio, Munich went to Good Samaritan Pharmacy, Manila, just months after they accepted a program to educate parents of the ‘good children’ there. This new donation will purchase life-saving medicine for the Quezon City Inferno.
*Our contact with the Archdiocese of Freiburg reaped a positive award in December. World Church capitular, Dr. Peter Birkhofer, accepted our request to give financial support for the 26 Indian and four Filippino Thelogy Students. The generous donation was dispersed to the respective Major Seminaries through DDP treasurer, Fr. Rinaldo.
*Constant precious contact with the German Pious Union has secured small, continous donations for the Manila Pharmacy and for the new charity shelter at Iwindi, Tanzania. Their Mass intentions helped our confreres there to survive the ‘Guanellian Spartanity.’ For this new entity in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro we have applied for a donation from Missio, Munich to build a medical center for 300 disabled persons. This project may receive an award as soon as the beginning of February 2018
*Since our visit to the German Caritas Office at Pforzheim with Delegate Fr. Luigi in September we have been working on another urgent Project at Noro, Solomon Islands. With an interesting flyer for fundraising among supporters in our confederate State Bad-Würrt, Director Lemke initiated press conferences. Both German Guanellian entities are also seeking to fund a multi-purpose hall at Noro. This campaign will continue through the end of January 2018. We hope that the targeted sum will be collected by then.
*Guanellian Caritas also tried to help our Guanellian Sisters in Iasi, Romania in their request of financial support to purchase a Minibus, for urgently needed transportation for the disabled, elderly and students. The project was accepted by the Bavarian Solidarity Agency Renovabis in Eastern Europe just days before Christmas. This was somewhat of a thankful gesture to them, because 2 years ago they accomodated the first Indian confreres and built the first Guanellian seminary in Eastern Europe.
Last but not least our Procure is already working on 2018 projects. The most important are the rebuilding of the Cuddalore Church and a new project for Manila. Brother Mauro has prepared a project for self sufficiency through his Piggery Project near the Good Children’s Residence there. It should provide enough food for residents and enough to create an income. Also from the Philippines Fr. Viray is involving the Procura to fund a new shelter of charity in Northern Mindanao.
We are open to all requests from the Guanellian Missionary World, like those recently received from Mexico and Guatemala. We invest patient and silent work for the reactivation of our old contact with another solidarity agency: Kindermission, Aachen which for a decade was the other important solidarity agency involved in projects in Legapzi, Philippines; RD Congo and Mexico. Each received an Ambulance that operates 24 hours daily for at-risk girls and boys or Aids infected youth; and an irrigation system for disabled kids in Bateké, RD Congo. Exactly like Fr. Guanella did in Nuova Olonia, rehabilitation of the disabled through manual work, in his first pioneering endeavor.
In this New Year we should practice the warnings of Pope Francis to make 2018 an ‘active year’ as a Chruch and Community en route.
May the Lord through the intercession of our Lady of Providence help us always be ready to focus our efforts and listen to the whispers of our unknown, poor sisters and brothers. Have a blessed and graceful 2018.
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procure
We are sending you, interested readers of our large Province the latest news. World Church at Freiburg has decided to give financial support of the theology students in India and Philippines. Dr. P. Birkhofer was personally approached by Fr. Luigi during our courtesy visit on September 19th. On behalf of the Diocese of Freiburg, Dr. Birkhofer has issued a letter announcing the award of 24,000 € to support our students.
The second good news is the Media conference which was held on November 28th at the local office of Caritas at Pforzheim. The reporters detailed the project in the Solomon Islands which has been given full support by Director Lemke. Director, Johannes Frank Lemke is a good friend of the Guanellians and a personal friend of mine since I was the active social assistant at Caritas from 1966-69. Caritas is accepting donations from interested parties on behalf of the Servants of Charity for a community center in Noro, New Georgia that will provide basic services to the local people of the Solomon Islands. It is estimated that the first phase of this project can be completed with 20,000 €.
The brochure from Caritas illustrates the top corners of a true neighbor’s tender love and their commitment to serving those most in need.
Pray with me to the Lord for a positive outcome of our present intensive efforts.
During Advent let us focus our intentions for a good and coordinated development of Guanellian intensive engagement in neighboring European countries such as France and Great Britain.
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procure
Since last August, we have been attentively following the slow increase of this mission which is really at the end of the world. Our Catholic agencies are also open to Oceana. Since the beginning of the new mission shelter on the Solomon Islands, our Procura was feeling committed there for several reasons. Among them the fact that for a short period part of this new state was German Territory until 1920. During the last visit of Fr. Luigi, we felt compelled to create a new charity bridge and proposed a joint visit to Caritas Pforzheim Management. The new Guanellian priest from Noro to the director of CPM to accept this Guanellian ‘newborn’ as a target of a fundraising campaign before Christmas.
Meanwhile a new flier in German containing relevant news from Msgr. Luciano Capelli, Salesian Bishop of the Gizo Diocese, along with drawings of the common shelter will be printed in a few days for mass publication among the generous Catholics in our district. This campaign will start mid-November and the amount raised will be directly transferred to the account of the Gizo Diocese. Photos received from our confreres on the Solomon Islands will adorn the German flier. We hope that this campaign will be useful for the start of the Guanellian presence at the end of the world.
May the Lord bless this charity campaign as a sign of our long commitment in all new DPP charity missions there, but also in the Philippines and recently also in Tanzania.
We would also like to thank confreres in the USA and personnel involved in the DPP News for diffusing our small contribution in creating new missions of charity at the periphery of the world. Let us commit in doing good before approaching His birth.
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procure
As the saying goes, “well begun is half done,” missionary activities in Solomon Islands have successfully begun. The Bishop of Gizo, Luciano Cappelli, entrusted the Parish St. Eusebius. The Population is 521 from 96 families, among them 211 are employed, mostly in Soltuna and fish factories. The parish has a kindergarten with 69 children. The Parish is surrounded by many other denominations: Anglicans, South Evangelical Church and United Church. Therefore, we have mixed family realities. In the parish they started a small Christian community last year and this year we have started to celebrate masses there. Mass is celebrated everyday in the parish and two days in the small Christian communities. Groups are functioning well in the Parish. We are also planning to start a Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Couples for Christ, Eusebius Bureau for Employment Guidance and more.
There are four substations and a small group of Catholics on 3 nearby Islands with two schools where Catholic students need our presence. Thus we are trying to visit and celebrate Mass at least once a month. The population of substations is 820 from 150 families. The biggest substation is Canaan where the population is 614 and they have a kindergarten with 30 children and so have we started the weekend ministry here to stay from Saturday until Sunday afternoon. Though the official language is English, all are communicating in Pijin and normally each Island has their own dialect. We discovered that there are 145 persons with disabilities. Since they live on different islands the distance is challenging to reach out to them. With help from Fr. Luigi, we are preparing the Project for the CBR program. Therefore, we have lot of work to be done here. Let us pray for more laborers, for the harvest is plentiful!
Chennai – It was on Palm Sunday of March 2015 as I was getting ready to celebrate the Eucharist. An inner urge asked me, ‘Why don’t you serve and spend the remainder of your life in a poorer country than this?’. I ignored it, but it kept flashing into my mind, so after a few days I called my mentor and friend Fr. A Louis, of Anjali Ashram, to check if this inner voice was genuine. He discerned it so and suggested that I go to Papua New Guinea which is need of workers as the harvest was plentiful. After trying a few bishops, who rightly thought that my age was an impediment, I approached the Guanellians, whom I had known for the past 10 years and to whom the Thalavadi mission was entrusted, to find out if they were working in PNG.
It was then that I found out they had been invited to come and work in the Diocese of Gizo in Solomon Islands. Fr. Alphonso Crippa, Superior General in Rome, had accepted to open a mission there and they were looking for volunteers to pioneer the work. And when Frs. Luigi and Soosai Rathinam approached me with the proposal, I grabbed the opportunity and started praying and preparing for the mission.
Fr. Tony started his missionary journey from Chennai on May 4th. Frs. Mathias and Aroickia Raj of the Servants of Charity joined him in August.
Guanellians listened to the voice of providence for service in Solomon Islands after a fraternal invitation by Bishop Luciano Capelli of the Diocese of Gizo. Gradually the dream of visiting the fifth continent, a place without Guanellians, has become a reality. In August 2015, Fr. Luigi De Giambattista, General Councilor of the Servants of Charity, and Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior of the Divine Providence Province, made the long trip to Honiara, the capital. “I felt at home,” said Fr. Luigi. “St. Guanella is blessing the poor even on this continent. Thank you for sending your representatives here,” Bishop Capelli wrote in a letter to Fr. Alfonso Crippa, Superior General of the Servants of Charity, continuing, “We are enriched with their precious thoughts and their example. We hope to become the fifth continent for the Servants of Charity.” Fr. Soosai prepared a team of confreres for the new mission. They are Fr. Tony from the Ooty Diocese, Fr. Mathias and Fr. Arockia Raj. Fr. Tony began his missionary journey on May 4th from Chennai. His only hope is that the Lord will provide him strength and endurance to conquer any challenge he may face. The historical project in the Gizo Diocese was officially inaugurated by the arrival of Fr. Luigi, the founder of the Solomon mission, and Fr. Mathias in Honiara the capital on 12th August. They were solemnly welcomed by Fr. VG and the local people.
A fraternal invitation to visit the Pacific Islands was extended by Bishop Luciano Capelli of the Diocese of Gizo in the Solomon Islands. Gradually the dream of visiting the fifth continent, where Guanellians are not yet present, has become a reality. On August 1, 2015, Fr. Luigi De Giambattista, General Councilor of the Servants of Charity, made the long trip to Honiara, the capital where he met with the Salesians and Archbishop Adrian Thomas Smith. “I received a warm welcome from simple people,” said Fr. Luigi. “New cultures met, with English as a common language to facilitate communication thanks to Bishop Capelli.”
On August 3rd, Fr. Luigi took a one hour flight to the Diocese of Gizo where he was joined by Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior of the Divine Providence Province. “I felt at home,” wrote Fr. Luigi. “St. Guanella is blessing the poor even on this continent. We are listening to Providence. I celebrated Mass in a parish that is led by a young Vietnamese Salesian missionary. There are also Italian, Filipino, Indian, Bangladeshi and Burmese missionaries among the Dominican and Marist brothers. The church here is in great need of the witness of Charity.”
“The meeting was peaceful, happy and full of faith. Thank you for sending your representatives here,” Bishop Capelli wrote in a letter to Fr. Alfonso Crippa, Superior General of the Servants of Charity, continuing, “We are enriched with their precious thoughts and their example. We hope to become the fifth continent for the Servants of Charity.”