“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 – As part of their formation program, the brothers from Don Guanella Major Seminary who are preparing themselves for Final Profession participated in a course for final vows preparation organized at Don Bosco Renewal Centre, Bannerghatta, Bangalore January 6th-25th. In this time of intensive preparation for perpetual vows, this course really helped them prepare on a deeper level. The content of the course included consecrated life, community life, prayer, discernment, psycho-sexual integration & celibacy, and group counseling. The information from the sessions and the fraternal moments with participants from the Salesian congregation fostered an atmosphere to deepen their knowledge about religious life and motivated them to be more committed to this way of life.
“I did not change the whole world but I changed the world for a few.”
In 1997, St. John Paul II established the special Day of Consecrated Life to coincide with the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem (February 2nd). The Pope gave three reasons for his selection of February 2nd as a special day for religious women and men: first, to praise and thank the Lord for the gift of consecrated life; second, to promote the knowledge and appreciation of consecrated women and men by all People of God; and third, to invite all those who have dedicated their life to the cause of the Gospel to celebrate the wonderful ways the Lord has worked through them.
Along with mother Church we thank the Lord as the Divine Providence Province for all the graces we received throughout these years, especially the gift of vocations, hundreds of young men saying “Yes” to follow and serve the Lord in and through the Guanellian Charism and Spirit.
Secondly the Presentation of the Lord invites all of us to appreciate and to assert who we are. What is our identity? In other words we must speak boldly about the goodness of religious life. At times along with the tides of competitive society, people may make a comparison of our religious life with other walks of life and we may fall prey to their calculations saying what is so special in this life? But we all know deep down that this life is the prototype of the heavenly table, the continuation of the early Christian community, the antidote to the divisive world, the real globalization, we go where the Lord sends us and still we own people as our children and others own us as their fathers and mothers. We left one family but we are part of many families around the world.
Thirdly it is a moment of celebration and sharing with others what the Lord has done in and through me. I did not change the whole world, but I changed the world of at least a few people, I was the eye for the blind, I was the hand and leg for the crippled, I was the mind for the intellectually disabled.
At this juncture we thank the Lord in a special way for the special grace that has been given to our confrere. Bro. Praveen, who met with a road accident, has been freed of all charges. We appreciate all those who involved themselves in this process and accompanied our confrere.
Let us celebrate the sacerdotal ordination of eight confreres on February 11th and their first Eucharistic celebrations in the following days. We thank and appreciate all the formators and in a special way the formation team of DGMS for their accompaniment and stewardship in the final phase of their preparation.
Let us welcome and celebrate the presence of the DSMP superiors who are on their Canonical Visit. Let us keep them in our prayers and sustain them.
Fr. Ronald J, SdC
Chennai – As the part of the program of theological formation, Don Guanella Major Seminary Brothers went on a four day vocation promotion to different parts of Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh during their semester holidays. It is the practice of the Major seminary to send brothers to encourage young boys who show an interest to become future priests. This year five groups were organized to go, to invite and encourage the youngsters to serve the Lord through the Servants of Charity congregation. Brothers were organized in a systematic way to approach different parishes, schools and boarding schools to collect the names of the interested. After four days, the brothers returned to the seminary for their academic program. Thanks to the vocation promoter of the province and the good hearts of the seminarians who helped in this endeavor.
Chennai – For Guanellians, the month of June remains a Month of Fervor as our Founder mentions, because in this month the perpetually professed confreres renew their vows. On June 8th ten priests at Don Guanella Major Seminary renewed their vows in the Devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Fr. A. Periyanayagam presided over Mass and Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior, gave the homily. He spoke of the devotion that our founder had to the Heart of Jesus and reminded us that our hearts must be like the heart of Jesus burning with love for the poor, needy and all those who say I have no one. At the end of the Mass the confreres renewed their vows to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Legazpi – An Advent Recollection, General Assembly and Christmas Party was held at St. Agnes Academy for all religious communities in the Legazpi Diocese. Most Rev. Monsignor Weng started the recollection by sharing the meaning of the Advent season. He summarized and addressed the readings and Gospels during Advent. Mass was the next activity, presided by the Most Rev. Joel. Z. Baylon, D.D. After that, every member finalized the regulations and the name of the new organization. At the end of the event, everyone exchanged gifts with one another.
Ho Chi Minh City – Fr. Felicks teaches Basic English to the initiation students in our house, to the students at the Franciscan Missionary sisters(FMM) and to some students of Benhai Church. An English Academy program was organized to hone and show off English speaking skills and singing English songs. Altogether 25 students participated in the English Academy. The judges were Br. Hoang, SdC; Sr. Vy, FMM and Mrs. Judith who is originally from the Philippines. Our Initiation students benefited from the program because it was the first one organized in our community to display their speaking and singing talents. The students who performed well received gifts. The event ended with a small agape meal and time of sharing.
Legazpi – Fr. David Stawasz was a brother in the Legazpi community nine years ago. He paid a visit to share his own vocation story with the novices. God’s love calls many to step out of their own way to follow His way, the way which He has prepared. We don’t know what will happen in this life, but we do know that we must trust in His call and do our best to follow it. This call can only be found through prayer. Moreover, through prayer we trust in God little by little and believe that God will help us to realize His call and to keep forming us according to His will. Sometimes, we might not know where God is. These are the times we need to pray harder and to keep ourselves from getting lost in this life. To stay on the right track keep in mind Who you belong to. Time has passed since Fr. David was here, but he did not forget how much he loves HKSF and its people. The heart of love is tireless and full of gratitude and faithfulness for the people of God.
Legazpi – The Harong Kan Sagrada Familia community welcomed Fr. Charlton Viray for a visit November 6th–8th. During his visit, he offered a class for all the novices entitled, “Prayer with the Bible” teaching them to use this kind of prayer in their own spiritual life. He said, “once, one gets to know and apply this prayer in their spiritual life, one may discover their own self and may realize their own self with the painfulness of spirit which self needs to accept it in order to grow.” With this type of prayer, we no longer pray alone, but we listen, understand and meet Jesus in our hearts. Prayer becomes a personal dialogue with Jesus and we discover “who is Jesus in my life?” In seeking him in others: neighbors, poor, needy, we also see him in our own hearts, for He is waiting for us there. Getting to know Him is getting to know ourselves.
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