USW Golden Jubilee Celebrations
The Golden Jubilee celebrations of the USW Province came to a grand close on May 28, 2014 with the Holy Eucharist celebrated by Most Rev. Gerald Barns, Bishop of San Bernardino Diocese at the Holy Rosary Cathedral, San Bernardino.

The Celebrations began with all the members and a few former members of the Western Province gathering at Hilton Garden, San Bernardino for a luncheon and sharing the memories. Many of the members reminiscence of old memories the highlight of the gathering. The various pictures that were presented brought back former days of the Province. It was a moment to remember the members who built the Province.

This was followed by solemn Mass concelebrated by all the SVD members and a few of the Diocesan personnel. Most Rev. Gerald Barns, bishop of San Bernardino Diocese was the main celebrant. Bishops Chacko Thottumarickal, SVD Bishop of Indore Diocese, India and Bishop Gabriel KUMORDJI, SVD Bishop from Ghana were also present for the Mass and other celebrations. The people consisted of members from SVD parishes in and around San Bernardino and Riverside area. Children offered flags of various countries at the beginning of the Mass expressing our solidarity in the midst of the great diversity. The Native Indian style of blessing and procession at the beginning of the Mass was a great spectacle and cultural integration.

The Homily was given by Frs. Mike Manning, SVD, Miguel Ruiz, SVD, Herman Manuel, SVD and Joe Miller, SVD. They spoke about the beginning of the Society of the Divine Word, the beginning of the Society in the USW Province and also the cultural and the international representation today.

In his felicitation address Bishop Gerald Barns acknowledged the contribution of the SVDs here in the Diocese of San Bernardino as well as in other dioceses that the SVDs service in this Province. While expressing his gratitude for our service he assured future collaboration and support. He felicitated the in-coming and the out-going Provincials, Frs. Soney Sebastian, SVD and Briccio Tamora, SVD respectively. As a sign of appreciation he presented a plaque of blessings to the Provincials.

The reception that followed the Mass was prepared and organized by the parishioners and volunteers from the Holy Rosary Cathedral, San Bernardino.

The yearlong celebration was kicked off a year ago at Riverside Residence. During the year there were various activities to mark the occasion. There were district level seminars and workshops on inter cultural living and a great celebration in the North at St. Joachim Parish, Hayward. There was also a special retreat for the Province members led by Fr. Tom Ascheman. The retreat also dealt with the inter cultural aspect and its importance in the Society today.

Soney Sebastian, SVD USW New Provincial

Fr. Soney Sebastian, SVD was formally installed as the new Provincial of USW Province on June 2, 2014. In a simple ceremony at the SVD Residence, Riverside Fr. Soney Sebastian, SVD was installed as the next Provincial. The Briccio Tamoro, the outgoing Provincial began the Mass. He invited Fr. Joseph Trong to read the appointment letter of Fr. Soney Sebastian as the USW Provincial from the Generalate. Upon reading he invited Fr. Soney Sebastian to preside the Eucharist.

During the Mass Fr. Soney Sebastian, SVD thanked Fr. Briccio Tamoro, SVD the outgoing provincial for the wonderful and dedicated service as the Provincial for the last six years. He also thanked the outgoing Council members, Fr. Joseph Trong, SVD who served for six years as Admonitor and Councillor and Fr. Jose Goopio, SVD who served for three years as the Councillor. He also thanked all the members of the Province for placing their trust and confidence in him to lead the Province for the next three years. He welcomed the new members, Fr. Pavol Sochulak, SVD the Admonitor, Fr. Jon Kirby and Fr. Hieu Trong Nguyen, SVD Councillors.