Chennai – The Year of Mercy is an invitation to love, showing kindness and unbounded generosity. Pope Francis is offering us the opportunity to encounter the incredible mercy of God. Encountering mercy means encountering God. The Lord sends Guanellians to those fragile and abandoned brothers who, like the paralytic in the Gospel, cry out, “Lord, I have no one!”
Heavy rain caused a major disaster in Chennai. Many people lost their huts and their livelihood. The Guanellians, inspired by the spirit of Founder St. Louis Guanella, were there to be with people and help dry their tears. The Divine Providence Province facilitated the construction of thirteen houses for the poor who became homeless and renovated Don Guanella Special School at Poonamallee which was also badly damaged by the rain. The relief fund was made possible by the Superior General and his council, other Provincials, Superiors, ASCI and Tiziana in Italy. Thanks to all who have so generously reached out to those in need.
Vatluru – August is always unforgettable for the boys of Karunalaya as volunteers from Italy visit the community and stay for the entire month. This year two Italian volunteers, Olga and Carolina, returned; Olga for the third time, and Carolina for a second. The boys were happy to have their lovable elder sisters back and were taken up by their love and presence with them. Olga and Carolina were continuously available to entertain the boys with games, songs, dancing and painting. They arranged a bus for a day trip to Samaldevi where the whole community enjoyed visiting the shrine of Mary and swimming in the sea. They also took the boys to a movie theater. They provided the boys school uniforms, toiletries and other basic needs. Moreover, with the help of other volunteers, they collected Rs. 54,000 to purchase a new sound system for Guanella Karunalaya.
Manila – Through the generosity of local and foreign donors, a chapel was rebuilt after being destroyed drastically by typhoon Yolanda. May 19th Guanellians Fr. Eduardo Cerbito, coordinator of the project and Fr. Charlton Viray, local superior of Quezon City community, with Fr. Alfonso Asis, Parish Priest of Bgy. Bagtong, Salcedo, Eastern Samar, blessed the newly built chapel. In particular, we wish to thank the many benefactors in Italy, Spain, Germany and other parts of Europe through our Guanellian communities who helped in this project. Special thanks also go to Mr. Jonathan and Mrs. Christina Consunji-Gotianun and DMCI, Ms. Tillie Pelagallo, Dr. Carlos Lanting College, Dr. Dennis Meyer Tan, Mr. Daniel and Mrs. Nora Gayod and other local benefactors for their unwavering support and inspiration. Through the support of other benefactors, six houses for persons with disabilities were built and two fishing boats were donated to two families. We would like to thank the many people, who in many different ways, have helped complete this work of God. God bless you all!
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
VATLURU – Chiara and Giulia , volunteers from Italy, spent their vacation at Guanella Karunalaya. They had a good time with the boys here because they had visited the house previously. Their mere presence made the children happy. They spent much of their time with the boys and the parish children; entertaining them by dancing, singing and other activities like drawing. They brought dresses and slippers for the children and even arranged a picnic in Samaldeevi. On another day, they took the children to an exhibition and a movie theater.
Cuddalore – Open House Ministry is missionary work initiated in Cuddalore by Guanellian visionaries under the leadership of Fr. Visuvasam and Fr. John Paul Britto who also did this noble work in Bangalore and Chennai. The mission is based on the Biblical message of being a good Samaritan to the homeless, wretched, poor, vulnerable, and ‘those those who have no one.’ We strive to share agape with them through humanitarian works such as bathing, feeding them, personal hygiene practices, providing decent clothes, as well as teaching them moral and human values. The beneficiaries are collected each Sunday from the road sides, bus stops, and train stations and so on. Guanellian missionaries, Pondicherry Blue Sisters, brothers from St. Joseph’s Seminary and teachers from Modern School have been carrying out this mission. Usually 20 -25 people benefit from this humble initiative.
Manila – God has a unique way of calling us. Each of us has our own vocation story. Each has his own unique way of allowing events to unfold. But one thing is certain…it is His voice. The most tender voice that fascinates us to say “Yes” no matter what. And, God sometimes uses people to echo His call. The moment that we immortalize in our vocation story is called, “When-God-speaks-through-you.”
I’ve been with the Servants of Charity for about two years and four months now as a seminarian. Two years which have been spent ministering and promoting vocations. I can say that this ministry is very suitable for me, as I am interested in communicating and relating to others. Through this ministry, I somehow actualize my dream of becoming a preacher, which was my motivation for entering the seminary to begin with. So grateful am I to God for placing me in this mission to promote vocations, amplifying His voice for others seeking religious life.
I remember St. Louis Guanella working hand-in-hand with the congregation of sisters he founded, the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, for a specific mission to lend a helping hand to the poor, lowly and the needy of his time. The same needs exist today, while the bond between the Servants of Charity and the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence continues to grow. They work side by side upholding the voice of God for the primary charism of the Guanellian congregations and to participate in fulfilling the mission of the Church.
The sun has yet to shine, but everyone is already prepped, both Servants and Daughters, for the vocation campaign in specific parishes on Sundays. We have spent the entire morning promoting the congregations, encouraging youth and responding to basic questions. But above all, we proclaimed! We proclaimed the glorious providence and unconditional love and mercy of God to His special and good children.
However, it isn’t easy promoting vocations. First, we must overcome our own weaknesses; being nervous when standing before a crowd, making mistakes, or confidently amplifying to people the voice of God. Also, occasionally facing different types of people; and finding ways to relate to them. Nevertheless, at the end of the day we feel much contentment in this ministry. And being a vocations promoter, we need much prayer, perseverance, patience, and active participation from colleagues to arrive at our goals.
Personally this ministry has been very important to my development. It takes us to different places, from cathedrals to shrines, parishes and chapels. It sends us different people from various cultures. Given that, we learn lessons that have been very instrumental in shaping and forming us. All the more, we develop our God given talents. We also learn to appreciate, accept and love each person despite our differences. We learn to build friendships and communion among diverse people. It has been a privilege for us to hear and witness the stories of faith, hope and love of different people from different walks of life. It has also provided an opportunity for us to realize our potential for becoming good Christians and good priests and nuns for the Church in the near future. It feels like a school, and our experiences are our teachers.
This ministry is a gift from God that has been entrusted to us. It’s a gift to be nurtured. It’s a gift to be shared with others responsibly and generously. It is our joy to be one with this mission. It is our joy to proclaim God’s most tender voice, and to amplify His voice to everybody. It is our joy to become God’s instrument.
Chennai – A.C.S Medical College in Chennai conducted a medical camp at Don Guanella Rehabilitation Center on August 26th. There were general doctors and ear, nose and throat specialists. Many parents as well as children benefited greatly from this camp and gave full support in caring for the health of the good children. The doctors were very knowledgeable at treating the sicknesses of the children. The doctors gave assurance that they will continue having medical camps periodically.
Pforzheim – The most important dream of my long Guanellian life has become reality. Now the two first Guanellian missionaries have started a very promising apostolate and are slowly absorbing the nuances of the German mentality and behavior. Therefore they must now start their long flight with their own wings as my mission is accomplished.
During the recent visit of Vicar General Fr. Umberto Brugnoni, we had the opportunity to discuss our next targets and projects for new Guanellian adventures in the Middle East and southern Africa. Consequently, our parish priests should continue the written dialogue with our benefactors around the world, the readers of Italian and Spanish bulletins. This should be secured by Fr. Wieslaw who is presently working amongst not only the Italians but also the Polish community. I, futhermore, encouraged Fr. Rocky to start writing for the readers of our DPP in India, USA and the Far East. The procure will concentrate all activities for strategic attempts for the Guanellian charism in new countries, places where I spent time during my business career. Principally in order to open new doors and flow the increasing Guanellian priests of India, soon also from Asia and West Africa, into these activities.
With consent and eventual permission of the Catholic bishop at Abu Dhabi/Emirates we could have easy entry into this rich and tolerant country also counting on the support of a dear personal friend, Sheik Faris Al Mazroui, close relative of the Emirates ruling Sultan Bin Sayed. During our visit in Jan. 2012 we had interesting contact with the Salesian priests at Foujarah. They are the only religious, apart from the Franciscans, operating in high schools. A German humanitarian agency, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, would support a Guanellian disabled center. In talks with Mr. Faris and resident Indian Anglican friends, we realized that there is an urgent need for such a place principally for children of the expatriates from India and the Philippines as well as for children of local parents. I have often discussed this project with Fr. Luigi, who wrote a letter last year to Bishop Paul Hinder of Abu Dhabi thanking him for his invitation!
I don’t know how long our Lord will allow me to work in His vineyard, so I invite Fr. Luigi to join me on an explorative trip to Dubai-Abu Dhabi and evaluate every possibility to seriously consider this project with a certain urgency. Meanwhile I’ll send a video of our structure in Nazareth to Mr. Faris with an invitation to visit in order to report to his cousin, the Sultan, and to the Ministry of Social Affairs.
The other very urgent project should be a visit to Mbeya to Fr. Furaha: a young, clever diocesan priest in Africa, who on his own initiative and means is guiding a disabled center and still considering becoming a Servant of Charity. I suggested that Fr. Luigi travel there personally with the assistance of my dear friend Julius Makundi at Dar es Salam. Following Fr. Furaha are other young priests wishing to join the Servants of Charity.
Finally, not an irresponsible dreamer, but with both feet on the earth I’m following projects of Africa, Philippines and now the most important one in Vietnam. Unfortunately both projects for Vatluru and Sivagangai have been denied. The first because of many discrepancies, the second because at present, Kindermission is financing other projects in North India. Our project for a minibus for the disabled at Sivagangai has been postponed until mid 2015. We’ll continue knocking on many doors for the Fr. Mimi Project at Tala /Philippines, the nutrition and PT center for children of leper parents and an efficient medical center. Therefore let us pray insistently to holy Providence and our holy Founder. I’ll personally pray in August 2014 during our stay in his chapel and ask for further assistance in our daily tasks!
Dirige me Domine per aspera ad astra: Guide me, o Lord, through all difficulties to Heaven!
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procura