Ho Chi Minh – On June 12th, we said farewell to the second year students (Tung, Tam, Thang and Duong). A beautiful Mass was celebrated and dinner with some benefactors followed. After dinner the students shared their experience in the community. The community presented them with gifts. The following day they flew to Philippines for further formation in Religious Life.
Ho Chi Minh – Heeding the words of Pope Francis in his Papal Bull “Misericordiae Vultus”, Our community went on a pilgrimage during this Jubilee Year of Mercy to Our Lady of Ta Pao Mountain. On June 11th we traveled about 100 km from Ho Chi Minh City for our spiritual retreat. During the pilgrimage we prayed for our sins and for the sins of the whole world and to rededicate our lives to God as Religious. A thanksgiving mass was also offered to God for His miraculous providence we have received over the past seven years in Vietnam. May God continue to help us through the His beloved Mother, Mary.
Ho Chi Minh – Br. Hoang made his first Religious vows in Legazpi on June 3rd and returned to Vietnam for Philosophy studies. His family arranged a Thanksgiving Mass for him in their village in the Dong Nai Province. The priests and all the students attended the Mass celebrated by the Parish Priest with Br. Hoang’s spiritual Father concelebrating and preaching the homily. We had a chance once again to introduce our congregation to his parish. The family prepared a wonderful breakfast and lunch and we enjoyed the day.
June 22-23, 2016 eight Guanellian priests participated in the Annual Assembly of Confreres in the U.S.A. The Assembly is an opportune time to be together for spiritual renewal and evaluations of our prayer life, brotherhood and missionary activities. Some of the topics that were discussed were as follows: situations of our parish in Rhode Island-future and options, strengthening our presence in Michigan and the Legacy Project campaign, preparing our new Indian missionaries who will be coming to the U.S., and facing some challenging situations like lack of local vocations and advancing age of confreres.
After the Assembly, the Provincial Council had their Plenary Meeting from June 27-30. Similar to the Assembly, the Plenary Council meeting is a moment where we review our life and mission but in a wider scope, that is, within the Province, that includes USA, India, Vietnam and the Philippines. Decisions also that are important for the Province and respective communities and individual confreres were finalized to ensure the good harmony of the different realities we are in. Revised formation programs for aspirants and a new program for candidates to final vows were shared. Several new possible projects for the poor were proposed during the meeting such as helping aging persons with disabilities together with their aging parents, taking over the administration of a mission school for the poor, better organizing a program of distribution of medicines for the poor, caring for children with HIV, etc. These are just but a few items that were discussed during the Plenary Council Meeting. Although there are challenges and difficulties that we face, (and there will always be) we continue to hope and dream. Quoting Fr. Silvio de Nard’s words from his report to the Assembly, he said “Our future is in God’s hands, first of all. Our job is to give Him a hand in doing His divine job, together with our lay people. We will have a lot to do among the patients, the local faithful, the local parishes, the local nursing homes, hospitals and prisons.
Our charism of charity should be open to the needs of our time here and now.
God wants it; people want it; we want it.
Let us be courageous and united. Let us dream big!”
Saigon – This was the first Christmas in our new house and to celebrate, the community organized a small program for the street children of the area on Christmas day. Not all the children are Catholics, some are Buddhist and some don’t follow any religion. The students played party games with the children on a football court near the house. The place was beautiful and more safe. After the games and dancing Christmas gifts were shared with all the children. Most of them are from a simple and poor families. The new students were very happy about sharing their time, energy and gifts with the children. May this year of mercy be full of sharing little things with others.
Saigon – On December 18th, Ben Hai Church, the local parish of the Servants of Charity, hosted a Christmas carol celebration. It was a grand function organized by the parishioners. The Guanellian students performed a dance program at the event. The music is Indian but the lyrics were written in Vietnamese and sung by the students. Their performance was one of the most popular among all the programs.
Saigon – Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, Provincial Treasurer, visited Vietnam September 27-30th. His visit was a blessing and especially enriching for the students. The Vietnam community thanks him from the bottom of their hearts for his hard work in finding money to build the House of Providence in Saigon. Thank you also to the American benefactors who contributed to the new house. May God bless all the generous hearts who help to build His Kingdom.
Saigon – The Academic Year 2015-2016 was inaugurated on September 4th with Mass presided by Rev. Fr. Hien, SdB, Superior of the Salesians BanCat community. He celebrated the Holy Mass and gave an inspirational sermon to start the New Academic year. This year two students, Tuan and Dung departed for the Philippines on September 6th to further their formation. This year there are 14 students who are in formation in Vietnam. Thanks be to God for the gift of Vocations to the Servants of Charity in Vietnam.
The Centennial birth of our Founder, St. Louis Guanella, into heaven opens up a new horizon in the history of the Guanellian family. When a father of a family passes away, children are sad and miss their father. After a period of time, they return to the normal functions of life. At this juncture, children have to inculcate four elements: to internalize the paternal inheritance; to take up responsibility; to reconstruct unfinished works of the father and to serve the mother which, for the Servants and the Daughters, are the Congregations.
These four elements are essential in developing our Congregation and our Province.
First, to internalize the paternal inheritance means every son and daughter has to ask himself or herself- Do I really know the father? Do I understand the spirit of the father? Do I realize that I am his son or daughter who is called by God to do something specific in this world? The risk would be not understanding the spirit and inheritance of the father and not belonging to the family. Therefore, every son and daughter of Father Guanella should have a thirst to know his Spirit, Charism and Mission which are given to the Congregations.
Second, to take up responsibility means today, we, the Guanellians, have to respond to the signs of the times in line with the Church. We are no longer on the shoulder well protected by Father Louis Guanella. We are given the difficult task of discerning deeply the need of the people, and certainly the Spirit does not leave us alone on this journey, but we must ensure the poor that we will not disappoint them in their expectations.
Third, to reconstruct unfinished works left by the father means Father Louis Guanella had not done everything which he wanted. What did he want? It is in suspense yet it is outstanding. He not only left thousands of disabled children, orphans, sick and elderly persons in our homes, but also his deepest desires which are from God. Therefore, we are not called to put up our own structure but rather the project of the Founder given to the Congregation.
Fourth, to serve the mother means to serve the congregations (the Servants of Charity and the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence). Thanks to her, we were born and we received what belongs to the family. Now she needs our love and our contribution. What can we do for our mother who is the congregation? Let us serve her with commitment. During this centennial celebration, we need to display a special love to our Father Guanella and to our Mother, the Congregation and the Church.
He left, in the sight of all, the story of his call; the charism which is the gift of God; the mission in various fields; a method of prayer and relationships; some emerging trends and also a certain climate to guard the homes. We are called to relive the Charism and Mission with Saint Louis Guanella.
During the centennial celebration we, the sons and daughters of Father Guanella, are called to transmit these things into the world, especially to the countries of the USA, the Philippines, Vietnam, and India, where we work in the name of Saint Louis Guanella and also it is time for us to mark this historical event to take up more missions on new soil.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam
Saigon – A benefactor of the Vietnam Community organized a pilgrimage to some of the Marian shrines of Vietnam. He invited the priests and students of the House of Providence to join the group. It became a journey in honor of the Centennial Birth into Heaven of St. Louis Guanella. Throughout the five day pilgrimage they continued to thank God for the blessing of St. Guanella and prayed for their own intentions and those of the congregation.