Thalavadi – October was the month of mission exposure for the Guanellian seminarians from Cuddalore, Andhra and Mysore. The Nazareth Illam community was delighted to have them and helped them to experience their style of Guanellian mission. The minor seminarians rotated through the tasks of the mission houses. They helped our residents in accompanying them to attend the Bible convention and to Bannari Amman temple on the day of Ayudha Pooja. Though the days for mission experience were short, the experience they gained was a concrete platform to live the Guanellian mission in their future.
Shower of Blessings
Thalavadi – August ended with showers of blessings for the Nazareth Illam community. Fr. Soosai visited to study the community project. He met confreres and the residents on the first day of his visit. The second day, there was a campus blessing following Holy mass. Accompanied by our residents, staff and confreres, he began the blessing ceremony beginning at the entrance and ended in the chapel. The necessity of blessing the campus was to remove any negative energy over the house and to bring forth God’s blessings to Nazareth Illam. Our residents actively and piously participated by singing devotional songs. Fr. Soosai was very happy that God made use of him to bring His blessings during his visit. The community also was very happy indeed because with the blessings of God the month ended and with a new spirit would enter the new month, the month of Mother Mary
Thalavadi – August 15th is an important and unforgettable day for all Indians and was very special this year at Nazareth Illam with three reasons to celebrate. The first salutation was for India and the freedom fighters as we celebrated the 70th Independence Day with various colorful cultural events. A parade was conducted and the chief guest was Mr. Shiva Shankar, the vice-principal of Don Bosco School. He was awestruck by and congratulated our patients for their talents and discipline. In the afternoon, the community saluted Fr. Gabriel on the first anniversary of his ordination and Bro. Deva on his birthday. Our patients enthusiastically participated in the cultural events, making the day joyful and colorful. The celebrations ended with cake and vadai. The events of the day helped everyone ponder the sacrifice of noble dignitaries of our nation, our church and our congregation.
An Inner Call
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.
Pilgrims of Nazareth Illam
Thalavadi – The patients began this month with God’s favor and blessings by going on a pilgrimage. In the Tamil calendar, July is known as the month of Aadi, a special month for the Hindus in Tamil Nadu. They celebrate an event called ‘Aadi Peruku’ during this month. Respecting and recognizing the religiosity of the patients, the Nazareth Illam community arranged a pilgrimage to the Bannari Amman temple where the patients worshiped their goddess with deep devotion in their own style. The other devotees, who had come to worship the goddess, were astonished on seeing the faith and devotion of the patients. The pilgrimage was a time of letting go as well as a time of spiritual inheritance for the patients. It was also the first time in this academic year that they were taken off campus. The pilgrimage ended with cake provided by the community. The pilgrimage helped everyone to relax and realize that we are all earthly pilgrims to reach the ever-living God.
Government Officials Visit
Thalavadi – Government officials from Erode District visited our Mentally Impaired Home on July 18th. The Sub-Collector of Erode district from Gobi, DDAWO, Thashildar, VAO of Thalavadi and local MLA, Mr. Eshwaran from Pavanisakar and other government officials were present at the meeting. A warm welcoming and short function was held for the officers. The MI patients were happy to express their views about their life situation, medications and also expressed their necessary demands and needs. The government officers and the MLA assured that they would surely make some arrangements for their requests and expectations.
Cuddalore – The third year brothers of St. Joseph Seminary went on a mission trip to two important mission stations of the congregation. They spent four days at Madurai and Thalavadi. They went in two groups of five; taking turns at each mission. There they experienced the real Guanellian way of life. They served the developmentally disabled people and handicapped children; getting a rich and educational experience. This strengthened their spirit; making them more eager and enthusiastic for their future apostolate. The confreres appreciated their readiness and ability to carry out the small acts of charity towards the poor and needy. After the mission exposure they returned to the seminary with rich experience and fond memories.
The New ‘Family of Nazareth’
Thalavadi – There are many things happening at Nazareth Illam and with the construction of the new house, an innovation has taken place in the members of the community. June 10th was the joyful day in which the house of love and holiness welcomed Fr. Lawrence, the new administrator and director of Nazareth Illam. The house also was happy with the presence of Fr. Kulandai and Fr. Arputha Raj, the special guests. In the presence of Fr. Kulandai, the Provincial representative, Fr. Benson, former administrator, and Fr. Ligory, former director, passed their responsibilities to Fr. Lawrence. The community also received with joy Fr. Achariyam as a collaborator on June 23rd. Thus the new ‘family of Nazareth’ has begun its journey on the path of holiness.
Feast of Light
Thalavadi – The feast of light was celebrated at Thalavadi on Oct. 22nd. Fr. Kanikkairaj gathered our well-wishers to give importance to our Institution in order to celebrate the Feast of Light (Deepavali). They gathered together sponsoring the food and gifts for the resident patients of Thalavadi. The patients enjoyed their loving presence and the gifts given by them. After lunch they were led to a Hindu Temple (shrine) to express their thanks to God. In their return the guests prepared firecrackers for them and everyone enjoyed it. This celebration is indeed great to build up relationships with the locality where our community lives. Every celebration is a great relaxation to the mind of our patients.
Foundation Stone Laid
Thalavadi – The Servants of Charity have wanted to provide proper accommodations for their patients, and their dream came true at Nazareth Illam on October 17th. The campus was decorated with the DDAWO who served in the Erode district until October 15th, as well as the neighboring youth, the staff, the confreres and the patients. Fr. Soosai Rathinam and Fr. Visuwasam started the ceremony with a solemn prayer. Fr. Soosai blessed the foundation stone and it was put in place for the new building meant for the male mentally ill patients. He narrated the importance of the service and the need of the new structure, and thanked all the benefactors who contributed for this new building. Mr. Kanagaraj DDAWO addressed the gathering; stating that the congregation met the challenge at the recommendation of the then District Collector. He stated that this is the only institution doing the service of rehabilitating the mentally ill. After the ceremony food was distributed to the patients. May God bless this new endeavor. May the charity of St. Guanella reach around the whole world.