Cuddalore -Inspired by Mr. Christopher, a retired professor, a member of the GLM, and a sponsor of a visit to Nazareth Illam, and through the motivation of Rev. Fr. Visuvasam, the Superior of the Cuddalore Community, GLM members visited Thalavadi. The group, consisting of 6 men and 6 women, were very impressed and inspired by the service of the Guanellian priests toward the 53 mentally ill patients; serving them with care, concern and dedication. The visitors spent a night and a full day with them serving them and doing some cleaning in and around the campus; they also contributed 10,000 Rupees, 20 kg tamarind and 40 kg dhal. The patients performed dances and sang songs to entertain us. The time that was spent with them gave the GLM a soulful satisfaction which will be retained throughout their lifetime. Therefore some hope to return to Nazareth Illam and spend a week or even a month serving the patients. Continual financial, material and physical support was assured. It is a place that should be visited and supported by everyone encouraging the development of the Home.
Manila – Summer Enrichment Program(SEP) is part of the Servants of Charity and Guanella Center’s summer program for children through the educational assistance program. The objective of this SEP is to help the children review their lessons from school especially in subjects that they need to improve on or are having difficulty with like Math and English. Over the two week period they made great improvements in their vocabulary skills, spelling, and reading comprehension as well as in mathematics. They have also gained new friends and strengthened their rapport with their peers and teachers. The program began on April 9th with around 80 students at different levels and ages. The program ended on April 29th with a simple and meaningful ceremony. Some students performed songs and dances to entertain the guests and they all received a certificate and an award. The children enjoyed a simple snack after the presentations. It was truly a blessing to be part of the program helping to impart knowledge to children from poor families. I hope and pray that I would be again part of the team on the next Summer Enrichment Program.
Time to withdraw and leave younger people to building the future in this new tent of charity. As the rumors of the official introduction of our new confreres has passed and all visitors have returned to their apostolate domiciles, the daily normality has begun for Fr.Wieslaw as the director of the Guanellian community, while Fr. Rocky continues his German lessons at Freiburg until April 1st. Everyone knows that new beginnings are quite difficult, and one must be careful moving during the first steps in an unknown environment. But our two pioneers are doing their best to obtain sympathy in their new pastoral field.
The daily work of the MCI absorbs the attention of Fr. Wieslaw, and the weekends also fulfill the apostolate of Fr. Rocky, who is working between Freiburg and Pforzheim.
New relationships have been established with the St. Josef nuns at St.Trudpert Catholic Hospital, where our confreres are celebrating Holy Mass twice a month for the thirty sisters there; most of them from Kerala, South India.
Fr. Wieslaw has been introducted to the director of Charitas Pforzheim, Mr. Lemke, who during the meeting on February 6, 2014, made a surprising offer to help our confreres obtain practical experience in his numerous disabled and elderly homes. He also offered to channel the efforts of our Procura into a districtwide fundraising campaign in favor of the project which Fr. Mimi had so longingly dreamed; the creation of a special center for the children of parents with leprosy on Mindanao in the Philippines. He was also open to eventually support our new presence in Ho-Chi-Mihn, Vietnam. Meanwhile we are waiting for feedback from Fr. Charlton Viray in Manila and Provincial Treasurer, Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, for the new religious and disabled residence in the former City of Saigon.
Another interesting initiative was our contact with the Mother General of the St. Josef Daughters in the Abbey of Münstertal, in order to join forces in India between the Guanellians and the DSJ in Kerala, AP and TN with the intention of creating a common Pious Union in India. During the short visit of Provincial Fr. Rathinam, we have detailed this project, and in a short time we shall get a formal reply of the DSJ of St.Trudpert after the return of Mother Simone from India and the translation into the Keralian/Tamilian language of the Pious Union targets.
Holy Providence has furthermore blessed our efforts for a significant Project in R.D. Congo, where Fr. Guido Mattarese has conceived a five hectars irrigatiton project at Bateké in order to redeem several disabled boys and girls through manual labor. This project will be approved on 3/27/14. We ask our Indian communities to pray also for the positive results of both projects; a van for Sivagangai and a kitchen for Vatluru. Both will be submitted at the end of March to the awarding commission of our greatest benefactors, Kindermission at Aachen.
Finally in my introduction, I stated my firm decision to slowly withdraw from my activities. Starting in April, Fr. Rocky will begin contributing to our DPP bulletin, while Fr. Wieslaw will write about some issues for the Italian and Polish news.
The time of Gero as precursor is coming to an end, and soon I will take up a better task; that of the silent carpenter Josef helping my community to construct a new building on a solid basis. In case the procurator nomination is not renewed in December 2014, I’ll resign and eventually find someone else to continue the precious work of this Guanellian entity. Somehow it will be a pity because “begging” for unknown poor people is a very sensitive art which requires tact, savoir faire and a real passion to dedicate someone’s whole personality into the solidarity of love. If this happens “our Patrons” will be the ones who are abandoned, and they will continue to suffer injustice! Still, I did not start singing the ‘Canticle of Simeon,’ because I’m convinced that in God’s vineyard there is still a need for old, experienced arms, minds and especially inflamed hearts!
To all our readers around the globe, I wish copious Blessings from God, and a Joyful Easter Season. May the Lord inspire and link the minds of all those who have to decide about the future presence of Guanellians in my blessed and very generous adopted Homeland.
Et nunc, Domine, dirige animam meam quia nemo Profeta in patria sua est!
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procura
Led by Autism Society Philippines (ASP) Tandang Sora Chapter President Anna Decorina, the eight mothers went to Bridges Foundation in Scout Limbaga, Quezon City to strengthen their ability to care for their children with autism. The Tandang Sora Chapter is geographically based at Guanella Center, but members are all families within Tandang Sora Avenue. During the support group meeting, Davila shared her stories and experiences raising her twelve year old child who has autism.
Tips and effective techniques were taught on how to properly handle children with autism. Sharing of experiences was also conducted that provided more room for emotional reinforcement for the mothers.
“Hindi biro ang magkaroon ng anak na may awtismo (It’s not a joke to raise a child who has autism),” Decorina said. Decorina has two sons with autism. She values the family support programs like this very much, they give her strength in raising her children. Decorina added that what families need to give most to their children with autism are “unconditional love, more patience, and understanding.”
So What is Autism?
ASP defines it as “a neurological condition characterized by a variety of mental and behavioral impairments, hence the term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These impairments manifest during childhood, so that early detection and intervention is the key to a better and improved quality of life for persons with autism (PWA).”
Get Strengthened! Decorina invites all families that have a child or relative with autism. The ASP empowers parents and families of persons with ASD. Programs are designed to help both the family and the PWA, some of these are: Parent Empowerment, Awareness Campaigns, Training on Handling PWAs, Training of LGU Workers, Siblings’ Workshops, Livelihood Programs for PWAs, Legislative Advocacy, and Family Support Groups.
MADURAI – Love begins at home and spreads to your neighborhood, to your community, to your nation and to the whole world. Spread love to all those you meet, let everyone feel the love of Christ. The real love of Christ was revealed on December 21st at Soosai Thottam, the mission house of Guanella Karunai Illam. Mr. Manogar, a benefactor, and his team members helped us celebrate Suppose Christmas with beneficiaries. Their presence with the Guanellian priests expressed gratitude toward the poor and needy brethren. They offered meals to everyone and they served with love and affection. Nagamalai Puddukottai parishioners and our local supporters offered Christmas gifts to the beneficiaries. May this Christmas be so special that our poor never feel lonely again and they remain surrounded by loved ones throughout their life!
Saigon – Suppose Christmas was held on December 15th at the HIV home (our Sunday ministry place). The day began with Holy Mass. After Mass, some of the students helped to prepare a Christmas Crib for the residents; while some went into the kitchen and started preparing a festive meal with some provisions that were brought along. Once the meal was ready, everyone sat together to celebrate. Singing and dancing accompanied the meal. Though there were still 10 more days to go, we could feel the joy of Christmas on their faces. It was a joyful and meaningful celebration for the 25 residents and 9 confreres.
Vatluru – Quite often in life, even when we have everything we need, we feel dissatisfied. Our desire to enrich our life has driven us all to India for a volunteer experience in Andhra Pradesh. In this new environment, so different from what we are used to, we had the opportunity to contribute to a multitude of activities that the Center provides to the poor and needy. The community warmly accepted us from the first moment. They made us feel part of a large family where each one contributes according to their skills; the elderly who come for the Rosary and dinner; the girls who share their day with us; the orphans of the Center always cheerful and loving; the village children outpouring energy, the mothers in the kitchen, the gentlemen taking care of the church, the priests and the religious brothers, they all are always available to help, to assist and to guide. Every day is marked by unforgettable events. We will bring these memories with us to Italy where we will continue to assist the best we can for these friends who have given us so much.
Chiara Caldarazzo, Lecce; Olga Miriam Lossa, Rome; Gloria Ciocchetti, Rome; Maila Ialungo, Rome
Manila – The ‘Specialympics’ was held at the Guanella Center on July 16th-17th. This two-day sports event for persons with disabilities coincided with National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week, “Building an Inclusive and Non-Handicapping Environment for Persons with Disabilities.” Festivities began with the parade of teams to the Servants of Charity compound. Fr. Eduardo Cerbito, SdC led the opening prayer, followed by the singing of the Philippine National anthem. The Oath of Sportsmanship was led by Feliz Garduque. Games conducted were Calamansi Relay, Sack Race, Bottle and Straw relay, Blow the Rubberband, Blow the flour, Shoot That Ring, and Hotdog Eating contest. Parents joined the fun during the Blow the Balloon game. Blue team was ahead after day one. On day two, teams competed in the following games: Shooting, Milk Drinking, Bring the Color and Object, Ohhhhrange, Paste Me, and Egg Catching. Green team led the second day.
The winners were announced on July 19th during the Nutrition month celebration: Best in Cheering and 3rd place – Green team, 2nd place – Red team, and 1st place – Blue team.
Manila – On Tuesday March 19,2013, Bros. Joseph and Bob began a 4 day immersion experience with the Poor. The brothers stayed with their friends at Tahanang Puso (Heart Home) in Navotas. The charism of Tahanang Puso is that of compassion—they are sent to live with and befriend the poor. On the first day of the experience, the brothers visited children in the local Barangay—Br. Joseph played soccer with a group of children and Br. Bob played volleyball with another group.
On Wednesday the brothers visited poor families in the local area, and went into Manila to play games with street children. On Thursday, the whole group travelled from Navotas to Muntilupa City (about 3 hours each way) to spend a day in the New Bilibid Prison, visiting and bringing joy to the prisoners. On their final day, the brothers visited the world famous Smokey Mountain garbage area, and a few families that lived there. Unfortunately, one of the persons whom they went to visit had died just a few days before. The brothers comforted the children and prayed for the soul of the deceased. (Bro. Bob Neimeyer)
Elsa Montegrico, a Guanellian Cooperator, was the organizer: she coordinated with Saint Martin’s Foundation—a charitable group formed by a joint effort between the Dominican Sisters and a number of lay medical professionals such as doctors, dentists, and nurses.
There were three doctors assigned to examine and treat the nearly 100 elderly patients; three doctors to examine and treat the 170 children; and two dentists to offer tooth extraction to more than 75 patients (including 16 special boys and men from Guanella Home.) Besides the free medical and dental services offered during the mission, Saint Martin’s Foundation also provided free prescription medication to those who needed them.
Guanellian seminarians, novices, and religious brothers were on hand to assist in any way that they could such as setting up, directing patients, giving water to the thirsty, and providing sanitizing agents for the medical instruments. The day ended with a delicious lunch prepared by the kitchen staff.