Saigon – One of the favorite games of the Vietnamese people is Football. The students of the Servants of Charity have the chance to play football with neighboring congregations every Saturday. A local benefactor provided the Guanellian football T-shirts for them.
Saigon – Sometimes God surprises and inspires us with regard to charity. This month as we entered our usual place of ministry with the elderly and the sick, a young man in his 40’s was carried into the house on a stretcher. We helped to place him on a bed. Both of his hands looked very bad and he couldn’t move his arms or legs. Practically speaking he is 100% dependent on others to survive. At the age of 30 he fell from a wall and broke his spinal cord while he was working. For ten years the parents have completely cared for him; like a new born child the parents had to dress him, help him with his hygiene and feed him. We simply praised the parents for their life of sacrifice and dedication to their son.
Saigon – After a 3-year absence, Br. Khiet took part in a meaningful thanksgiving Mass at his hometown parish. The Servants of Charity confreres also participated in this joyful celebration. Br. Khiet’s spiritual Father was the celebrant. It was an opportunity to introduce the congregation to the parish; encouraging others to discern a call to serve. After Mass we had a wonderful time with his family.
Saigon – Servants of Charity in Vietnam give glory to God for the first Vietnamese student, Bro. Khiet, who made his first vows in Legazpi on May 31, 2015. It was Trinity Sunday and the Feast of Visitation. Fr. Felicks and Fr. Jerin from Vietnam attended this graceful event. Bro. Khiet professed his vows with Bro. Rojer. Fr. Rathinam, Provincial Superior, accepted their vows during the Eucharistic celebration. In the same Mass Bro. Hoang entered the Novitiate with a Filipino student, Bro. Dfs. May God bless their adventurous journey in the Guanellian religious life.
Saigon – All are called to be prophets to strike-down and to rebuild. Servants of Charity in Vietnam are mainly called to build up. The charity center they have been serving for five years was asked to move because of a land problem. The confreres and students are helping this particular group to move to a different place. This center has a group of elderly and sick people who were abandoned by their families. The students and priests enjoy working for them because they are a group who really deserve immediate attention.
Saigon – The fourth Sunday of Easter is called Good Shepherd Sunday and it is also called Vocation Sunday.
Fr. Felicks went on a vocation drive to central Vietnam to the Vinh Diocese. He was in a village called ‘Dan Sa’ for Vocation Sunday. There are about 4000 parishioners in the parish. The parish priest Fr. Binh invited Fr. Felicks to give a talk to a group of students who are interested in religious life. He stayed there for about four days looking for students and meeting young people. Let us pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers to vineyard.
Saigon – The words of Fr. Guanella are being realized in Vietnam; the first house of St. Louis Guanella is now established to open his arms, embrace and guide young men. After 6 years of hard work and rented houses, the confreres are finally resting under a roof of their own, a great sacrifice of our benefactors and friends from all over the world. On March 24th (which is Foundation Day of the congregation) the Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, Most Rev. Paul, blessed the new house. His Grace along with Fr. Gustavo De Bonis, Fr. Soosai Rathinam, and Fr. Truong (the local Parish priest) cut the ribbon and blessed the house. After the blessing ceremony, everyone processed to Ben Hai parish for a Thanksgiving Mass. His Grace, Bishop Paul presided over the Eucharistic celebration. After Mass, a simple meal was shared with 20 priests, 30 religious and about 350 friends. With God’s grace the blessing ceremony went on well. Now, the Servants of Charity open wide the doors and heart of the “House of Providence” to the young people.
by Fr. Joseph Rinaldo
Saigon – On March 24, Congregation Day, the Servants of Charity dedicated their first formation House in Vietnam. The choice of this day was extremely meaningful. On this day in 1908, St. Louis Guanella and ten of his religious companions professed their vows at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Como, Italy.
The red ribbon, as the local custom calls for, was cut by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Saigon, Paolo Bui Van Doc. In attendance were Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior of the Divine Providence Province (USA, Philippines, India and Vietnam), and Fr. Gustavo De Bonis, Secretary General. Besides the local pastor, many religious from other institutes, in a communion of faith, blessed the chapel, the sacred vessels and the living quarters. Mass was celebrated at the nearby local parish church.
The three story building, with 250 square feet on each floor, was built in a small area donated by two former Vietnamese sisters. It can house up to twenty young men discerning the Guanellian religious vocation. In the future, they would like to serve the poor in their country according to the charism and the tradition of St. Louis Guanella.
The facility is dedicated to Mary, Mother of Divine Providence. In her honor a large statue was placed at the entrance. Presently, it is not possible for us to open any activities of charity. It is necessary to wait for the young Vietnamese to be ready to take over and spread the Guanellian charism in their own society. The Guanellians have been working in Vietnam for the last four years. Fr. Felicks was the first Guanellian to enter Vietnam. The following year he was helped by Fr. Jerin. In the beginning they relied on the Salesian community until they rented a modest house where they lived with a group of young men. The difficulties in the beginning were overcome with prayer, sacrifices and an adjustment to the new culture. They had to learn the language and develop a relationship with the local youth as well as their neighbors who accepted them with generosity and friendship.
The young men’s formation and education is proceeding well. One of them is in Legazpi, Philippines for his Novitiate. Two others are getting ready for it. The faith in Vietnam is very strong. We hope that our Congregation will be enriched and increased by the love, enthusiasm and the work of these young men, the pioneers of the Guanellian Charism in Vietnam.
Pforzheim – The past year has been a real balancing act for our DPP confrere Fr. Rocky, because every day he has had to deal with the Italians, German parish priests and German Catholic believers. On Ash Wednesday he said Mass with a distribution of ashes in the M.E. Basilca of St. Magdalena in our tiny town of Tiefenbronn. And during the vacancy of our pastorate, there was a sympathetic Indian priest from Tamil Nadu who assisted our more than 5000 catholics on an interim basis.
Recently there was an informal meeting between Frs. Lawrence, David and Rocky; all three from Tamil Nadu, to coordinate their pastoral services in the neighboring parishes of Tiefenbronn, Neuhausen and Heimsheim. The Archidiocese of Freiburg will soon send us a new German parish priest, and Fr. Rocky will finally start his apostolate among the 120 Italian families living in the northern part of our vicariate.
The activities of our procura recently have been extremely intense, because many things have changed within the German solidarity agencies. The General Council has opened access to all Guanellian provinces. In my five years as a Guanellian fundraiser I feel that there is a great opportunity for our confreres in several missions. One expects that Manna rains from the heavens without any substantial contribution. I repeat an old saying, Help yourselves and God will help you. Holy Providence needs effort and humble action. In other words, we are not jobless. We continue to repeat and kindly ask the readers of our DPP bulletin to think about the possibility of obtaining donations through this providential presence of the generous Germans. Currently, we only have projects from Mexico/Amazoc, Bateké/RD Congo, and Legapzi/Philippines. Meanwhile we have formal invitations for closer cooperation with Kindermision in Ghana and Nigeria (Mrs. Diez); for Tamil Nadu in India (Missio – Mrs. Gudrun /Stephanie); and Vietnam (Archdiocese of Cologne). The new link with our similar Spanish Puentes (Bridges) has been renewed after the resignation of our dear friend Juan Bautista Aguado. We hope that Mrs. Martinez will continue our team work, and we wish her all the best and copious blessings from God! Through Juan Bautista, we have obtained many interventions in our DPP area for the Manila and Legapzi homes. We thank him for his long passionate social and solidarity work in the Guanellian mission stations.
Inge and I are planning to re-start our personal visits to Missio-Munich in March, and in April we will visit Kindermission in Aachen and the Archdiocese of Cologne for the Amazoc/Mexico and Saigon/Vietnam projects.
May the Lent season give us time to reflect on a deep, inner change to renew our burning love for the poorest who have no lobbyists protecting them.
Have pity on us, O Lord, because our sins have caused Your Death!
And at the end we will be filled with joy from the bottom of our hearts on the night of His Resurrection! He arose! Glory to You O Lord, because Jesus remains forever with us sinners!
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procura
Pforzheim – It all began on December 19, 1842 in Fraciscio, cradle of the Guanellian family and root of the charitable charism.The tiny town at the Swiss-Italian border crowned with the majestic Alps, has become the homeland of the many sons of St. Louis Guanella, light to generations of Servants of Charity and Daugthers of St.Mary of Providence. Now, after 100 years since his visit to Treviri/German Palatinate, the charism has also arrived with God’s grace to Pforzheim. Just days before celebrating St. Louis Guanella’s birthday, the German entities MCI confreres Frs. Wieslaw and Rocky, Inge and Gero, the Procura founders, were pleased and honored to receive the first canonical visit by Fr. Alfonso Crippa, Superior General, and his councilor Fr. Luigi De Giambattista. In a casual atmosphere they met some of the Italians at Pforzheim, Bretten. A fraternal agape was offered in honor of our friend Dean Bernard Ihle on December 13. The previous day Vice-Dean, Dr. Johannes Mette, parish priest of St. Antony Church, met our Superiors. During holy Mass on December 14, Fr. Alfonso explained to the Italian faithful the essence of the Guanellian charism and thanked the lively alumnus of the Sicilian boarding school in Naro, who has held the torch of the Guanellian flame high in this hospitable country since 1962.
They praised the enormous and involved pastoral work of the confreres who will begin to help German parish priests in vacant pastoral sites around our vicariate. In January, Fr. Rocky will celebrate Holy Mass at our parish church, St. Alexander, Tifenbronn. Fr. Alfonso and Fr. Luigi have re-confirmed their decision to officially incorporate our Procura to the General House of Rome. Therefore we invite all confreres in Latin America, Africa,and Asia to contact us and send their projects, because with the Procura’s new status, we will approach all solidarity agencies at Munich, Aachen and Cologne, who, for 5 years, have been supporting Guanellian projects from Mexico to Kinshasa, Manila, Cuddalore and Saigon.
With enthusiastic praise of our Procura for having mediated the arrival of two Guanellians to the Diocese of Frieburg and for the intensive activities of our confreres during their first year of mission among Italian, Polish immigrants, the local vicariate priests sent a personal letter of thanksgiving to our new archbishop, Stefan Burger. Both Fr. Wieslaw and Arokiadoss have done a good job and have won the sympathy of their parishioners.
We have now the chance to submit the request for the minibus needed at Sivagangai to our friends Mrs. Heidrun and Stephanie of Missio-Munich. Patriarch Gregory III sent a sorrowful appeal for the 3 million Melchite Catholics in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palistine asking our Procura to mediate funds for the destroyed hospital of Damas and for Catholic refugees in Jordan and Turkey. With friend organizations in our state, Baden-Württemberg, and the Archdiocese of Freiburg we’ll do our utmost to collect donations from Christian hospitals. Through this German relief association many 40 “Containers have been sent to Lattakia/Syria. Medical equipment and furniture has been donated by the Daugthers of St. Josef from St.Trudpert Hospital, which is related to the German Pious Union.
2015 is the Year of Consecrated Life. May the Lord through the intercession of our Patroness, Our Lady of Divine Providence, and our Founder send many more “arms, minds and hearts burning with charity” to His vineyard because as Jesus pointed out to His apostles, “Pray because the harvest is quite big, but the laborers are few!
Oramus fratres, ut operatores pacis et amoris ad acerem suum veniant! Brothers let us pray the Lord to call more workers to His vineyard of peace and love. May the new year be a year of peace, love and charity!
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procura