We have stepped into the month of June which is noted for devotion to the Sacred Heart in our Christian tradition, very close to our father and founder St. Louis Guanella who out of his immense love and devotion to the Sacred Heart published a booklet called In the Month of Fervor in 1884. The Sacred Heart was everything for him and for us: name and reality, project and protection, a title of recognition. We were known as sons and daughters of the Sacred Heart at our origin and even the names that we bear now (Servants of Charity & Daughters of St. Mary of Providence) are the evolution and development of that initial name – Sacred Heart.
St. John Paul II said, “Near the Heart of Christ, the human heart yearns to know the true and unique meaning of life and its own destiny to understand the value of authentic Christian life.” Our founder in fact learned from the Sacred Heart how to be a hearty person, in other words, his entire life was full of heart. Fr. Leonardo Mazzucchi testifies, “In the afternoon on October 24th, before bowing his head and taking his last breath, he assembled us around his bed, he looked at us with fatherly love and we understood that in that final gaze there was all his heart.”
Our Founder truly understood what the implications of the Sacred Heart meant: “The Lord is a Father so generous that He gives His Heart to poor creatures who in return offer Him their poor hearts. The heart of Jesus is the heart of a father and the heart of a father cannot stand being away from his children” (In the Month of Fervor). The fatherly love he experienced from God he tried to exhibit to his children, the Hearty love he received from the Father, he donated to his disciples.
From the witness of Fr. Leonardo Mazzucchi, we understand how big his heart was:
- The Lord gave a big heart to Fr. Guanella, a heart that He formed and moulded since early childhood.
- How recollected he was in the presence of the Tabernacle or the Holy Host
Charity was always at work in his conversations, with love for all, even sinners.
- At times he looked worried and expressed complaints or protests but never lost his serenity of spirit.
- At times he reluctantly made concessions, and showed some exterior impatience but always with the attitude of goodness and affection.
- He never excluded anyone and never denied his familiar conversation to anyone even to those who once were against him.
- Comfort was always the final gift of his conversations as well as his reprimands.
- Though he attached great importance to the Rule, he was ready to excuse someone who was not observing one of its numbers.
- He took great care not to emphasize his outstanding qualities of intelligence and soul, or marks of honor due to his status and responsibility.
- He laughed heartily at the jokes of his confreres, making himself familiar with using nicknames for them.
- My heart was never well understood. He said these words because he had given everything for the love of God and neighbor but he did not find adequate response to it not even from his disciples.
O big heart of Fr. Louis, May our hearts become like yours, filled with love for God and charity toward our brothers and sisters.
O kind and smiling face! Look at us kindly from Heaven until we see you again.
Fr. Ronald J, SdC
“Without God’s help we are incapable of doing good. Every good action is marked by His grace” -St. Louis Guanella.
Chennai: Once again by the grace of God on Jan 26th – 27th we had the annual Guanellian Cooperators and Guanellian Lay movement members meeting at Don Guanella Major Seminary. The members came from Andhra, Bangalore, Chennai, Cuddalore, Kumbakonam and Sivagangai. It was wonderful to see how each one joyfully embraced each other and what was common in them was that they were Guanellians and shared the same spirit.
The event started with invoking the Holy Spirit with a hymn and Gospel reading which gave a beautiful message to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Following this the Superior of the house Fr. Samson welcomed the Gathering and Fr. Ronald, Provincial Superior, addressed the gathering with a message in which he said that more than anything we are called to be good human beings. Each one has a call in a different way and the goal is to become a saint. As our Founder said the purpose of each House is holiness. Service takes the second place as this can be done anywhere. First we need to make ourselves holy, as holiness is the synonymous to wholeness.
With this message we moved on with a topic “Transmitting Charism & Spirit of the Founder to Laity today.” Fr. Benson explained about the charism of our Founder and the spirit with which he executed the mission. This gave great motivation to the participants. Moving on we had another talk by the Delegate, Fr. Adaikalam, whose topic was, “Learning from the Founder to be an effective GC/GLM today”. He started by saying how the laity has been playing a key role in the Church and he said Jesus Himself also involved the laity who were instrumental in spreading the Good News. Our Founder too had a great love for the laity and he understood the strength of involving the laity in the mission. There were times when none supported our Founder but the laity.
Following this the representatives from each community presented their Annual Reports which basically spoke of how they organized themselves, their Formation, Spiritual activities and the mission in their location. The day was concluded with holy Mass.
On the 2nd day we started with Praise and Worship led by Fr. Samson. The group reflected on Romans 12:9-21 which was beautifully explained by Fr. Francis who said for everything the fundamental thing is love and forgiveness. When we have this we will not take revenge, take pride, boast or nourish our own ego but will walk towards the path of Sanctification. To get the members to know each other and to understand how well each one understood the charism, mission and the call, there was a group discussion followed by each group presenting their points. Fr. Adaikalam presented the group with the General Statutes, guiding them toward the next step after GLM – becoming a Cooperator.
At the end of the session Fr. Ronald addressed and thanked everyone for participating. He extended his thanks to the Fathers and he encouraged the members who for many years have been with the Congregation to think about their vocation as a Cooperator. He encouraged the Laity to participate in the mission and take over the mission homes eventually by giving their time and connecting people. The Annual meeting concluded with holy Mass and the members left with great joy from the message.
Chennai – The Divine Providence Province organized a meeting for all the treasurers led by Fr. Ronald, Provincial Superior; Fr. Dennis Weber, Provincial Treasurer; and Fr. Francis, Treasurer In-charge of India. Nineteen members participated. The first day began with a prayer service animated by Fr. Bernandes and Fr. Arulraj. Fr. Francis welcomed the gathering with his introductory message. Fr. Ronald made his presentation on the aspect of economy in the XXth General Chapter. After this session, Fr. Francis invited Mr. Charles (Province Accountant) to share the details of the audit and of the government dealings. Fr. Francis welcomed Fr. Dennis Weber for the third session in which he invited all the confreres to recite the prayer to St. Louis Guanella. His talk was on the topic, “The spirituality of Don Guanella and the office of the Treasurer”.Fr. Xavier Packiam, Sdb, the Provincial Treasurer of Salesian Province, Chennai; presented the topic, “Governance and Financial Management”. He also gave a quick glance at: TDS (Tax Deducted at source), EPF(Employees Provident Fund organization), ESI (Employees state Insurance) and GST(Goods and Services Tax). The final session was the submission of budgets from each community. Each community’s treasurer discussed their annual budget for the 2019-2020 academic year with the Provincial and the councilors. Fr. Ronald thanked the DGMS community for their delicious food, fellowship, kind hospitality and their generous treatment for the treasurers meeting. The meeting ended with a short prayer.
Chennai – On the feast day of St. Louis Guanella, October 24th, during holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Provincial Superior, three first year theology brothers received their rite of initiation, one third year brother received the rite of reader and one fourth year brother received rite of Acolyte. Fr. Provincial wished every one well and told them to be ardent servers at the table of the Lord while they serve at the altar. The celebration was a meaningful one where everyone witnessed the charism of St. Guanella through the homily of Fr. Provincial.
Chennai – Don Guanella Major Seminary was glad to celebrate the feast of St. Louis Guanella on October 24th. In view of the solemn feast, the flag was hoisted by the Provincial Superior on October 15th and the novena began. Each day was organized with different themes and by a different resource person of the community. Different groups animated the nine days, including the Guanellian Lay Movement, Guanellian Youth Movement, Don Guanella Special School, Don Guanella Evening School and Don Guanella Major Seminary under the direction of the community fathers. On the final day there was a solemn celebration which included the religious from neighboring communities, GLM, GYM, Beneficiaries and other well wishers of our mission. The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Provincial. After Mass a festive meal was shared with all the guests.
Bangalore – The Guanella Preethi Nivas community and the parishioners began the Novena by hoisting the flag on October 14th. The inspiring words of our Founder were displayed everywhere. The Novena was conducted by the Philosophy students with great excitement. One day of the Novena was led by the Guanellian Sisters; one day the Cooperators and GLM members conducted the Novena. It was great to see how each one made efforts to make each day a different experience. The parishioners lit candles and wrote down their petitions. Everyone prayed together for these intentions.
On October 21st GPN celebrated the Feast of St. Guanella with a solemn Mass at the Tent of Love on the quote of our Founder, “It is better to be poor than to be a sinner”. Parishioners, benefactors, beneficiaries, Guanellian Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, Cooperators, GLM Members and religious from other congregations participated in the Mass. Fr. Peter Sebastian was the main celebrant and Fr. Adaikalam preached the Homily. The virtues that our Founder practiced were expressed in a simple way that attracted many. The Celebration concluded by processing to the flag with lit candles and hearts aflame. Fr. Ligori lowered the flag and blessed everyone with a Relic of St. Guanella. The community was thankful for celebrating the Feast with so many faithful.
“Holiness is one of the most beautiful gifts a human heart can offer to God.” – Mother Teresa. We know well that life is a precious gift of God to all of us and what we make out of our lives is our gift to God in return. I was told that in the culture of the United States as also of India, when you go to visit a family, never go with an empty hand. I wonder what gift we need to carry when we go to our eternal home (heaven) to our Father. We know well that we cannot carry anything but our pure soul and the good things we did here on earth. We fatigue a lot to earn so many things just to leave them to others as the proverb says “When he dies he will carry nothing away” (49;17). Each one must now reflect what gift we will be carrying to our Father once we are done with our pilgrimage here on earth. What good do we possess or cultivate? Humility? Forgiveness? Patience? Love? Charity? Kindness? Sharing with the needy? Endurance in suffering? What is the gift that I will present to God?
We begin this month remembering and honoring our ancestors who lived before us and returned to the Father. November 1st, we honor All Saints and November 2nd, we commemorate All the Faithful Departed. St. Bernard says the lives of the saints assure us that holiness is possible, they teach us by their lives and their writing how to serve God, and they can intercede for us when we need God’s help. Honoring the saints and millions of others who have tried to live a good and holy life, including those who have fallen along the way, but who have gotten up and kept on going. Saints are people who lived their lives according to the design of God and helped others also live their lives well. When we live our life fully and help others as to live well, then we become holy ones in the eyes of God.
Live: Whether we know it or not, we all have a vision for our lives. We all have a philosophy that sets out how we want to live and what we want to accomplish. It’s this vision that guides many of our decisions and actions. At the heart of our vision is the desire to do what makes us happy. As we mature, our vision gets refined and sharpened. It also becomes increasingly selfless. Our life is not just made of what this world has to offer us. Remember that we are the children of God and that heaven is our true home. We need to tell ourselves that we are more than our job, our skills, our wealth or education. We are precious to God and He delights in us. This is the call to live our life fully, meaningfully and joyfully.
Let Live: As we journey on earth God is asking us to love our neighbor as a commandment. God asks us to take the risk for the sake of His people. Our Founder, St. Louis Guanella, and Mother Theresa didn’t try to solve all of the world’s problems: they simply lived their life in radical service and love of their neighbor. Hindus, Muslims, and Christians alike saw in them a role model. They invite us to let others live with a simple program of life, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. At the end of life, we are going to be judged on the basis of our love for one another.” Fr. Guanella invites his followers to attain holiness with this simple program of life, “in doing our daily duties with love, we embrace holiness.” I would like to quote a passage from The Imitation of Christ. “How many people will remember you and pray for you once you are dead? So do all you can now, for you do not know when you will die or what you will face after death. Gain merit for eternity now while there is time and concern yourself only with your eternal salvation.” (Ch. 23; 8).
The month of November for the Catholic Church is special because the militant church commemorates its relationship with the triumphant church and the penitent church through the celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. These two celebrations remind us of the temporality and the eternity of human existence. In other words they reiterate our fundamental vocation as Christians to become holy or saintly. Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. (Mt 5,48)
This month gives us, Guanellians additional privilege and joy since we celebrate the feast of the mother of Divine Providence. It is very evident from the life of our founder that the concept of Divine Providence was very close to his heart that he named his autobiography The Ways of Providence, that he named the first institution House of Divine Providence, that he called the bulletin of that house The Divine Providence and named the sisters the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence.
In general Divine Providence would mean that God governs and directs everything and therefore the entire universe is under His control. Moreover even when things go wrong, he can straighten up the crooked designs of human beings (Saul becoming Paul, the story of Joseph in the Old Testament) and produce good out of the bad which human minds design. Personally one can think of Divine Providence in terms of his existence, his family, his education and well-being etc.
Our founder does not stop with this idea of Divine Providence as God’s intervention in one’s life. He moves further to assert that human cooperation is a must to avail this gift: “It is God who does; we are only instruments in the hands of God”. He recommended his followers to merit Divine Providence through trust, work and sacrifice. For example, he was fully convinced that Divine Providence and poverty go hand in hand: “if you want to weaken the institution, let it become rich, to live in much poverty and to entrust ourselves completely to Divine Providence is a virtue of high perfection”. Divine Providence means human charity too: when the fortunate helps the unfortunate, the haves hold up the have-nots, when the healthy accompany the crippled.
Providence does not mean looking at the roof and waiting for some treasure from nowhere, it is doing what one can in his concrete situation: “If a man limits himself to be a zero, he is nothing and will never do anything. If instead he tries to be something, he does whatever he can, he becomes a positive reality, after all he has only to ask Providence to add one zero, two zeros, three zeros to his small number and immediately the small things become large”. As members of the Divine Providence Province with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, youthfulness and vitality, let us inculcate this teaching and exhortation of our founder in our minds and hearts: you try to provide first with what you are, what you have and God will do miracles.
I wish you fruitful celebration of the feast of the Mother of Divine Providence. On behalf of the province I extend my sincere wishes and prayers to our Guanellian sisters as they bear this name. I make this special plea for your ardent prayers (both common and personal) for the good health of our confrere Rev. Fr. Bala Yesu who is under treatment.
Fr. Ronald J, SdC
Cuddalore – GLM members gathered on August 19th at Don Guanella Boys Home for its second meeting which began with Adoration of Blessed Sacrament. Miss Anitha shared how our Founder spent his time in Adoration and his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Fr. Visuvasam quoted examples from the lives of the saints and re-emphasized the need for the same devotion in our own lives. It will make our life more successful. Then some ordination experiences were shared and planning for the founder’s feast day celebration was discussed. The meeting came to an end with a prayer.
‘In every human person there is the imprint of God’- Pope Francis. The statement reminds us that each of us is created in God’s image and likeness. Our province has given birth to new houses for the good children in the United States and in India, on June 12th a formal dedication of ST. LOUIS GUANELLA VILLAGE along with the grand opening of four new CHILDREN’S HOMES for children with Intellectual and developmental disabilities and on June 29th, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, DON GUANELLA RESIDENTIAL HOME for the orphaned special children respectively. These are the outcomes of the untiring efforts of our confreres along with the Staff, Parents, GLM, Benefactors and well-wishers. It is realized after 58 & 20 years of our ministry presence in USA and Chennai as per the sayings of our Founder St. Luigi Guanella, ‘A new house develops little by little according to the ways of Divine Providence.’ It is also a miracle of Providence. Fr. Luigi invites us not to put our trust in economic security or fixed revenues or human protection but in prayer, work, sacrifice and poverty. He not only expressed this by his words but by deeds of trusting in God and soliciting help from the people.
Every human person is born with a heart of compassion which reacts in accordance with the feelings of fellow humans. Compassion, love, affection and care are the innate qualities which make us human. It is these qualities that define the human person. All world religions ecumenically share and support this concept of treating others with courtesy and kindness. The best example of humaneness is the parable of “The Good Samaritan” in which a lowly Samaritan assisted a helpless man who had been waylaid and injured.
Therefore my humble reminder to all those associated with the Guanellian Mission in our province as we remember the foundation day of our ministry on July 3rd to inculcate a heart of compassion, love, affection and care to the differently-abled people who need love and compassion. Pope Francis rightly said in one of his audiences when he directly met the sick and the differently-abled people: “God has a special place in His Heart for differently-abled people.” Dalai Lama said: “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries… without them humanity cannot survive.” So let’s always strive to be persons filled with compassion and love for humanity without any distinctions. Having the imprints of God in us, let’s see God’s imprint in our fellow humans.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC