November 2011 - Familia Comboniana 691
Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
12th CONSULTA – from 3 to 28 October 2011
Theme of reflection for the year 2012
In line with the programme about the themes of reflection for the whole Institute, for the year 2012 we have chosen the theme of “The Word of God in our missionary life”. Continuing the experience made during 2011, we plan to offer to the entire Institute essays for reflection (testimonies) which may help us to deepen the chosen theme and be used at personal and community level.
With the choice of the theme “The Word of God in our missionary life”, we wish to live this period of time as an occasion when this Word may become the centre of our life, our reflection, our study and our missionary work.
In addition to the material that will be made available by the General Council, we invite the provinces and delegations to plan events and celebrations that will involve also the people we work with in the mission.
Reflection on the clustering of provinces and delegations
Through the minutes of the meetings of provincial and delegation councils, the General Council has noted the process that is taking place concerning the reflection on the clustering of the jurisdictions in the Institute. We thank the provincials and delegates and also the committees who have been working on this, trying to find possible ways to implement this guideline of the Chapter.
During this Consulta, the General Council has started a reflection on this theme, with a desire to contribute to the study we must continue to do in the hope of arriving at the next Intercapitular assembly with some concrete proposals to help us see more clearly the way forward in the near future.
History of provinces and delegations
During this Consulta, we were asked to remind the provinces and delegations, as one of the undertakings decided by the last General Chapter, the need to complete and update the work on the history of our circumscriptions. This work is important to preserve the memory of our missionary presence and to transmit to future generations the experience of our charism, lived through the history and the confreres who have been witnesses of the Comboni missionary vocation. We invite provincials and delegates to send to the General Secretariat the work they have done.
Assemblies of the Secretariat for Formation
Three assemblies for formators took place during the summer months. From July 10 to 30 the formators of novitiates and scholasticates met in Palencia, Spain, to reflect on the situation of our formation and to deepen some important aspects of the formative process. The meeting has been a fundamental one, due to the exchange of experiences and the search for the criteria that must be common in our formation system. During the assembly, there have been also times of valuable ongoing formation and fraternal sharing among the formators. A heartfelt thank to the province of Spain and the community of Palencia for organising this assembly.
Two other assemblies for vocations promoters and formators of pre-postulants and postulants took place in Nairobi from 8 to 28 August and in Kinshasa from 1 to 18 September. Also these assemblies aimed at offering a time of ongoing formation to the confreres who offer this service in English and French speaking Africa, where at this time the Institute has the highest number of candidates for the Comboni missionary life. We thank the provinces of Kenya and Congo for the help offered to the Secretariat for Formation in organizing these meetings.
Continental assemblies for finances
In the months of August and September the secretariat for finances held an assembly for the provincial treasurers of the continental group of America-Asia in Bogotá, and another for French-speaking Africa in Lomé. All the invited treasurers were present at both events. The environment was always characterised by great support and attention.
Much appreciated was the report on the questionnaire on the juridical personality. In addition to collecting valuable information, it has helped to raise awareness about the importance of the topic. In both assemblies, the issue of the clustering of circumscriptions was also discussed.
From the assembly of Bogotá, August 2011, came a strong demand for the revision of the Chart of Accounts in order to adapt to both the Total Common Fund (TCF) and to international standards. There was also a discussion on how to assist the provincial superiors in accompanying the work of local treasurers.
In the assembly of Lomé, September 2011, the debate on the TCF brought out very different ways to implement it. The participants agreed on the need to move towards a common model. There was also a widespread concern on how to provide funds for the activities of the provinces, like keeping an eye on self-supporting projects.
Observations from the treasurer general
From the minutes of the provinces we learn that in many cases a member of the provincial council or delegation is also a member of the secretariat for finances. This practice is unusual because the Council and the Secretariat should be two clearly distinct entities. However, the decision is justified by the fact that communication between the secretariat and the council would be greatly facilitated. The Rule of Life does not forbid it, while it categorically rules out that the provincial treasurer be a member of the provincial council (RL 173.1).
This practice can have many positive implications in terms of dialogue and collaboration, but some basic conditions must be met:
a) That the Secretariat be formed according to the guidelines of the Provincial Directory (General Directory for Finances n. 29, RL 173.1).
b) That the Secretariat has its operational capacity (i.e. number of members) independently of the presence of the councillor. The councillor lives his collegiality with the Council, not with the Secretariat and should not normally be eligible to vote in the Secretariat.
Meetings of continental councils for Ongoing Formation
The initiative was appreciated and seems to have achieved its purpose: to animate the coordinators of Ongoing Formation (OGF) and to provide them with useful material to carry out their work.
- Europe (Rome, 27-30 June). All provinces were represented, except Poland. The coordinator of the DSP sent a delegate. Initially there was some concern about this, but the diversity made the encounter more rich and vibrant. The atmosphere was very positive, with an exchange of experiences and life. Everyone was happy both for the proceeding of the meeting and its content.
- Africa (Pretoria, 1-6 August). All provinces (English and French speaking) were represented. There were sixteen of them. The majority of the members had been newly appointed coordinators of OGF. The lack of “experience” was offset by the goodwill and enthusiasm. The confreres were actively involved, sharing experiences and life. All deemed the meeting very valuable because it helped and encouraged them in their task.
- America/Asia (Lima, 1-6 September). All the provinces and delegations were present, except for Northeast Brazil. Five circumscription superiors took part in it. The analysis of the reality of the provinces shocked a bit everyone on account of the difficulties encountered in the missionary and Church life in Latin America. Fr. Gaetano Beltrami and Fr. John Converset worked together in the presentation of the themes. The material that came from Rome was much appreciated and everyone became committed to use it in various ways and to encourage initiatives, together with the people and the communities, to help implement it. The participation of all contributed to interesting ideas and suggestions.
Fr. Arlindo Ferreira Pinto, in charge of our renovated website “www.comboni.org”, has given a report to the General Council about the work he does for the Website and the changes he has made in order to update it. Given the possibility of introducing daily information and news about what’s happening in our Institute, the visits to our website have increased. Now it is possible to constantly provide material of interest not only for the confreres, but also for all those who wish to know more about our missionary work. The website can be enriched with information from the provinces and delegations. The GC looks forward to even better collaboration.
Continental groups for reflection
In our meeting with the secretary general for evangelization, Fr. Mariano Tibaldo, we shared information about the continental groups for reflection. Looking at past experiences, it seemed that what was done so far has produced important material for our formation and reflection on our missionary commitment. At this moment it also seems that in some continent this experience has been somewhat forgotten and that some groups have virtually ceased to exist. As General Council, we invite provincials and delegates to take again this experience to heart, as these groups may be helpful in finding out the missionary challenges of our time and give indications on how to better take up our missionary commitment in the different contexts in which we are present. These groups have also been proved invaluable to ongoing formation and we believe that at this time greater reflection would be of great help to live the mission in a more qualified way.
Continental Assembly of America/Asia for Mission Promotion
Fr Jorge O. García Castillo informed us on the continental assembly for Mission Promotion (MP) held in Quito (Ecuador) from July 6 to 12. A very important role in the preparation of this assembly was carried out by Fr. Alcides Costa, in charge of the superiors of the circumscription for America and Asia in the sector of MP.
The main objectives of the Assembly, starting from the socio-ecclesial and Comboni situations in America and Asia and form the XVII General Chapter, were:
- To define in principle what we mean by MP.
- To develop a Continental Plan for MP.
- To offer suggestions for drafting the Charter for Mission Promotion in each circumscription.
- To take practical steps for collaborating in MP with the neighbouring circumscriptions, as indicated by the General Chapter when it speaks about clustering.
According to the participants, the Assembly did a fine job and the participation of all was good.
Reminder for provincials and delegates
We wish to remind all the superiors of circumscriptions about the obligation to celebrate (or request a confrere to do so) the daily Holy Masses for the “Holy Redeemer Guild” when it is their turn, as indicated every month in Familia Comboniana.
Fr. Cosimo De Iaco on 19 October 2011 has obtained a Licentiate Degree in Philosophy, at the Lateran University in Rome, “summa cum laude”. Title of the thesis: “Jok - Woko - Rubanga: Indagine sui nomi e sul concetto dell’Essere Supremo nella religione tradizionale degli Acioli del Nord Uganda” (Jok – Woko – Rubanga: research on the names and concept of the Supreme Being in the traditional religion of the Acholi, North Uganda).
Sc. Filip Andrzej Jan (PO)
Sc. Gomanjira Harold Felix (MZ)
Sc. Dalle Carbonare Diego (I)
Fr. Mateus Jacob Albino (MO)
Holy Redeemer Guild
November 01 – 07 SS 08 – 15 TC 16 – 30 T
December 01 – 15 U 15 – 31 CN
November – That by remembering our deceased missionary brothers and sisters at Mass and at prayer, we may keep alive the memory of their lives, their works and their witness of fidelity and perseverance to the end. Let us pray.
December – That the contemplation of the Word, who becomes flesh and lives among us, may enlighten the people of our time that they may again find the door that leads to meeting others in dialogue, love, deep respect and peace. Let us pray.
World Mission receives three CMMA trophies
World Mission was distinguished with three trophies by this year’s Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA): one under the category of Best Investigative Report and two under the narrative genres Best Short Story.
The text “Double Victims,” by Portuguese journalist Ana Glória Lucas, published in the June 2010 issue, won as the Best Investigative Report. It tackled in depth the consequences of sexual violence perpetrated against women in war zones. The article vied in the finals with two other texts (“Dumped by Mama: Right of the Abandoned Child” and “Goal 2015: Every Child in School”) published in the daily newspaper Sun Star Cebu.
Fr. Renzo Carraro and Fr. José António M. Rebelo won a trophy each in the category of Best Short Story. The former’s text, “Love in the Afternoon,” published in the November 2010 issue, is the story of an extraordinary saintly couple, Leonard Cheshire and Sue Ryder. The latter’s text, “My Life is All Light,” published in the January 2011 issue, is about the amazing spiritual journey of Fr. Fabio Gilli, a visually-impaired Comboni Missionary working in Togo. The stories won over two other articles published in Gospel K. Magazine and Word and Life.
The reportage on how a North American Catholic Maryknoll missionary, Fr. Bob McCahill, reaches out to Bangladesh Muslims and Hindus’ sick people, titled “Bicycle Rider for the Poor,” by Fr. José António M. Rebelo and published in the WM July 2010 issue, made it to the finals, too, under the category Best Special Feature.
The CMMA annual award night took place at San Carlos Seminary Auditorium in Makati City on October 19, 2011. The ceremony was presided over by Cardinal Gaudencio B. Rosales, outgoing Archbishop of Manila, and had, as keynote speaker, Hon. Jejomar C. Binay, Vice-President of the Republic of the Philippines.
The missionary nature of the Church
As part of this month dedicated to the missions, in the archdiocese of San Salvador we were able to celebrate with great joy the feast of our Founder: this year, in fact, Mgr. José Luís Alas has inaugurated a new parish dedicated to St. Daniel Comboni, entrusting it to the care of “his children”, the Comboni Missionaries.
Mgr. Luigi Pezzuto, Apostolic Nuncio in El Salvador, has honoured us with his presence and presided over the Eucharistic celebration, surrounded by hundreds of parishioners gathered under a shelter which for the occasion had been beautifully decorated and transformed into a “cathedral”.
In his message, Mgr. Pezzuto stressed the missionary essence of the Church, which must always be on the road to grow and reach her brothers and sisters who are far away. This was the example given by St. Daniel Comboni, who dedicated all his life to the evangelisation of the central part of the African continent: a mission that seemed impossible in 1800 and required enormous sacrifices and efforts.
The Nuncio congratulated the new parish community, which already shows its vitality and its desire to grow, the result also of the efforts made by the Franciscan who in recent past years were in charge of the area.
Now there are the Comboni Missionaries, Fr. Orlando Borghi (parish priest), Fr. Vincenzo Turri and Fr Simon Della Monica who have the task of accompanying this parish in the process of formation so that it may be a missionary parish, building the community of the faithful and the structures needed for everyday life, such as the church and the halls.
130 years successfully
Sunday, October 9, the Comboni family in Kinshasa has joyfully celebrated the 130th anniversary of the death of St. Daniel Comboni. For the occasion a series of initiatives were planned by Fr. Enrique Bayo Mata, other confreres of the CAE and the Comboni Sisters of Lemba. A poster of St. Daniel Comboni with a brief history of his life and a shirt with a logo and the word “Afriquespoir” were prepared.
On Sunday, the entire Comboni Family, priests, sisters, scholastics, postulants, aspirants, laypeople and friends, gathered in the parish of Notre Dame d’Afrique for the solemn Mass. It was presided over by Mgr. Godfrey Mukeng, archbishop emeritus of Kananga and responsible for the Commission for the Pontifical Mission Societies within the CENCO. Also present was Mgr. Santiago De Wit, secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature. Fr. Norbert Rangu, a councillor of the Kinshasa area, gave the homily. Our students had prepared the hymns and Fr. Séraphin Kakwa coordinated the liturgy.
After Mass, more than three hundred friends of the Comboni Missionaries gathered in the parish hall for the conference of Fr. Tonino Falaguasta Nyabenda, “Daniel Comboni, in remembrance of a saint”. Then, as proof of the existing of the charism of Comboni, three missionaries offered their testimony: Sister Espérance Bamiriyo, provincial superior of the Comboni Sisters, Fr. Stéphane Kamanga Mutombo, superior of the scholastic in Kintambo, and Sister Salome Wangari, superior of the Postulancy in Mont Ngafula. This was followed by a friendly meal, while on the steps in front of the church the Pygmies accompanied the event with songs and dances.
130th death anniversary of our Founder
The Province wanted to make adequate preparation for the 130th anniversary of the death of our holy Founder. For this reason, we asked Fr. Tonino Falaguasta Nyabenda to write a book on St. Daniel Comboni. The book came out last August. Our confrere, in his work, tried to present St. Daniel from an African point of view. No longer, therefore, with the gaze of a European who discovers Africa, but with that of an African who welcomes an extraordinary man, in the person of Daniel Comboni, who himself was gradually discovering the greatness of Africa’s, the extent of its cultural contribution and, at the same time, the aberrant and tragic circumstances of his inhabitants. Daniel Comboni, who formed himself on the ground, experiencing the political, economic and religious situations of the Africans of the 19th century, offered to work with them for the regeneration of the African continent. The book is entitled Sauver l’Afrique par l’Afrique (Save Africa with Africa, published by Afriquespoir).
The CAE of Kinshasa has been publishing the magazine Afriquespoir since 1998 and books that are offered to the Christians for their formation. Fr. Neno Contran works there from its initial stages. Alcino Da Costa, a well-known Senegalese journalist from Capo Verde, who died on August 30 this year, said of Fr. Neno: “He has the talent of a great journalist.” And, as proof of this, mentioned the dossier published in Afriquespoir shortly before the death of John Paul II, entitled “Les Papes” (The Popes). This dossier was eventually published as a book: it is still in circulation and is selling like hot cakes.
Fr. Neno is also the author of three books that deserve wide distribution: 1) “Ils vous ont guettées” (They have gazed at you), in which he tells the story of 230 religious women killed in Africa in the last fifty years; 2) “Que leur vie soit racontée” (Let their lives be told), a series of portraits of African laity, men and women, determined not to answer violence with violence (the book has been translated into English and published by New People in Nairobi); 3) “Cibles” (Targets), about 276 African ministers, bishops and priests, killed in the last fifty years.
These are laypeople, religious, bishops and priests who deserve to be rescued from oblivion, because their life is a genuine evangelical witness.
The ever-present Comboni charism
130 years after the death of our holy Founder, in the Democratic Republic of Congo the Comboni charism continues to attract young people. This year we have to give thanks to God for all the young people who have undertaken the journey of formation to become disciples of St. Daniel Comboni. Our houses of formation are registering full house. In the Preparatory stage, for example, we have 12 candidates in Bibwa (Kinshasa) and 19 in Butembo. In the Postulancy of Kisangani we have 25 young people and 15 in Kimwenza (Kinshasa). There are 9 Congolese novices in Cotonou (Benin) and 5 in Sarh (Chad). Vocation promotion is a priority for Comboni Missionaries in Congo and the fruits abound.
Mission promotion in Kinshasa
Mission promotion is part of our charism. It’s what the CAE (Afriquespoir Centre) in Kinshasa is trying to do. Tuesday, October 25, 2011, on the suggestion of the Groupe Jérémie, RODHECIC and CIAM (Catholic groups working for human rights) and as part of the celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of the martyrdom of Mgr. Christophe Munzihirwa, there was a conference in the parish of Saint Alphonse in Kinshasa. The speaker was Fr. Tonino Falaguasta Nyabenda, a Comboni missionary who works at the CAE, who spoke of “Mgr. Christophe Munzihirwa murdered on account of the Gospel”. Last year, Fr. Tonino published a book (of about a hundred pages) on this bishop who fought with all his forces against war and violence, advocating dialogue as a solution to the conflicts in the Great Lakes District. Unheeded, he was killed by a gunshot wound in the head on the evening of October 29, 1996. A martyr! It is important in the context of mission promotion in the Congo to speak of witnesses: examples are more effective than a mountain of words!
Solemnity of St. Daniel Comboni
On Monday, October 10, 2011, sixty Comboni Missionaries in Rome celebrated together the feast of St. Daniel Comboni in four particular moments of the day: lauds, adoration, Eucharist and dinner together.
At Morning Prayer, Fr. Manuel João Pereira Correia, superior of the community of fathers and brothers students, said: “We celebrate the feast of Comboni at the beginning of our new school and pastoral year. Comboni offers us an opportunity for a good start.”
The adoration of the Eucharist was led by the secretary general of formation, Fr. John Baptist Keraryo Opargiw, who made a brief reflection on the catholicity of the mission, as Comboni envisioned it.
During the Eucharist, the superior general, Fr. Enrique Sánchez González, highlighted the main points of his message “Saint Daniel Comboni - Holiness under the sign of the Cross,” the message he sent to all the confreres a few days before the feast. The day ended with dinner, together with all the communities of the Generalate, including the communities of San Pancrazio, some of the Comboni Sisters and some lay friends.
Third meeting on the Ratio Missionis
The third meeting of the Commission for the Ratio Missionis was held on September 27, 2011, in the Generalate house. The committee consists of Fr. Mariano Tibaldi, secretary general for evangelization, Fr. John Baptist K. Opargiw, secretary general for basic formation, Fr. Jorge Garcia Castillo, general secretary for mission promotion, and Fr. Massimo Robol, till recently the provincial of the Comboni Missionaries in Mozambique. The meeting was also attended by Fr. Antonio Villarino, coordinator for evangelization in the General Council.
The commission met together to review the first draft of the Ratio Missionis.
Closing down of the Scholasticate in Innsbruck
The decision to close down the International Scholasticate in Innsbruck was sad news for us in the DSP, as there was always a good understanding between the scholastics and the members of the province. Moreover, it has been a fact that only young confreres who had studied at Innsbruck could come to work in our province.
The three remaining scholastics have moved to the Jesuit owned Canisianum in Innsbruck, since the house of our former scholasticate has already been sold.
Actors in support of Comboni Missionaries
Friends of the Comboni Missionaries had the idea of starting a “theatre of music”, in imitation of a German boys group of musicians who became very famous after World War I, called the “Comedian Harmonists”. All the six performances were completely booked and the audiences showed their appreciation with long standing ovations.
Actually, it was not only a great and successful performance, but a fund raiser event to sustain two projects of the Comboni Missionaries. The donation went to the setting up of a Training Farming Centre at Leer in South Sudan and to help the renovation of the renowned catholic Comboni College in Khartoum.
A feast of solidarity at Josefstal
On October 9, a feast of solidarity was celebrated at our house in Josefstal. Three ladies from Mount Ayliff, a Comboni mission in South Africa, all three committed in the parish and in public administration, had been invited to speak about their work concerning women, children and patients with HIV-AIDS. Their information captivated the audience.
A few days before our gathering, the women winners of the Nobel Peace Award 2011 were made known. When our guests from South Africa were asked about the choice of the winners, one of the ladies replied: “We are proud of these three women. However, the best Nobel Price Award is received when the people of your village appreciate your work, look at you and smile.”
Jubilees and Celebrations
Fr. Anton Graf celebrated his 50 years of being a priest with the people of his hometown at Moos, South Tyrol, on September 25, 2011. Actually, the entire Passeier valley seemed to be celebrating: There were seven brass bands from the small valley and a choir from South Africa, where Fr. Graf spent his missionary life. The Eucharistic celebration, the choir from South Africa and the Brass bands from South Tyrol have been the way Fr. Graf gave thanks to God for his many years in the priesthood and missionary service.
Fr. Udo Baumüller celebrated his 80th birthday at Mellatz on September 24 (a soiree with tunes played on the harp by Angela Schlögl and favourite texts and thoughts of Fr. Udo himself) and 25 (with the joyful liturgy of the Eucharist). Fr. Udo is convinced that old age is really interesting, apart from some physical handicaps. He says: “I believe that I have come close to the essential part of life”.
Fr. Alfred Ziegler has also celebrated his 80th birthday with the confreres and a number of guests at “his” community at Ellwangen on the very day of his birthday, October 20, 2011. A few days later, on Sunday, Fr. Alfred celebrated the Eucharist surrounded by relatives, many friends and benefactors at Josefstal. He had many well-wishers, because in his younger days he was in charge of accompanying the benefactors of the “Werk des Erlösers” (Holy Redeemer Guild) in the region of Bamberg and later in the region of Ellwangen.
Day of recollection together with the Xaverian Missionaries
On 23 October there was the canonisation of St. Guido Maria Conforti, who was beatified in 1996 with St. Daniel Comboni. The two saints founded two schools that shared a passion for the mission ad gentes. Modern times and the decrease in vocations for consecrated life call for greater collaboration among Institutes with similar charism. Having this in mind, the community of the Comboni Missionaries in Madrid invited the community of the Xaverian Missionaries, also in Madrid, to celebrate together a retreat on the spirituality of the new saint. The day selected was Saturday, October 15, and it was concluded with the Eucharist and lunch together.
Mgr. Mazzolari among the greatest missionaries
In his inaugural speech at the beginning of the meeting of the Permanent Council of the CEI, held in Rome from 26 to 29 September 2011, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco made reference to a topic dear to the Comboniani Missionaries: the independence of South Sudan and the central role that the Comboni Bishop Mgr. Cesare Mazzolari (who died on July 16, 2011, in Rumbek) played in it.
These are his words: “In Africa, as we all know, was born the fifty-fourth nation, South Sudan, to which we express our sympathy and friendship. Primary protagonist of this independence has been one of our missionary brothers, Mgr. Cesare Mazzolari. His sudden death has ended up giving more emphasis to the work of this extraordinary servant of the Gospel who, for intelligence and dedication, is worthy to be listed among the greatest missionaries of all times.”
Padova: ninety years of Comboni presence
The Italian Comboni Missionaries have completed 90 years of presence in Padua and 80 years in the house in Via San Giovanni di Verdara. The 90th anniversary was celebrated with a feast that showed the close relationship between the Comboni Missionaries and the city of Padua in a liaison of mutual acceptance and cooperation.
The house, built by the Comboni Brothers, is dedicated to St. Joseph. As far back as October 14, 1931, Mgr. Elia Dalla Costa, the then Bishop of Padua, in the presence of the superior general Fr. Pietro Simoncelli, blessed the house of the community. At 10.30 am on October 9, 2011, in the shrine of St. Joseph attached to the house, a Eucharist of thanksgiving was held to celebrate this 90th anniversary. After Mass, there was a time of sharing and conviviality which was also attended by numerous friends and benefactors.
The first Comboni Missionaries, Fr. Raimondo Tomasin, Fr. Pietro Valcavi and Fr. Albino Colombaroli, arrived in Padua ninety years ago, in 1921, offering pastoral service to the church of Sant’Agnese in Via Dante. They had been invited by Mgr. Elia Dalla Costa but their presence in Padua was greatly due to Fr. Galvan and to the spiritual director of the diocesan seminary, who was also the mission director. In June 1922 Fr. Giovanni Cotta, Fr. Angelo Abba and Bro. Giuseppe Bortolato also arrived. The activities of this community were mission promotion, pastoral ministry and confessions in various parishes.
Over the years, the community trained many seminarians, organised and experienced many great moments, like the celebration of World Mission Sundays, numerous religious and cultural events, University conventions, conferences in the seminary, pilgrimages to Rome, Verona and Limone. In 1978 the GIM (Youth Missionary Commitment) was started, aimed particularly at young people who had a strong feeling for a vocation. It is an activity that continues even today and to which many confreres owe their vocation. We also remember that Padua has given to the Church various Comboni bishops: Mgr. Edwardo Mason, Mgr. Olindo Spagnolo, Mgr. Antonio Menegazzo, Mgr. Camillo Ballin and, for its origin in childhood, also Mgr. Rino Perin. It has also given a few martyrs: Fr. Marco Vedovato from Borgoricco, killed on April 16, 1968, in Mirador, Brazil, and Fr. Ezechiele Ramin from the parish of St. Joseph, killed in Cacoal, Brazil, on July 24, 1985.
Comboni feast day in Limone
Wednesday, October 12, 2011, L’Osservatore Romano published excerpts from the homily delivered on the evening of Monday, October 10, at Limone sul Garda (Brescia) by the archbishop secretary for State Relations, Mgr. Dominique Mamberti, during a concelebration for the liturgical feast of St. Daniel Comboni, on the occasion of his one hundred and thirtieth death anniversary. Archbishop Mamberti, after expressing his feelings of gratitude for the “commendable work” that the Comboni Missionaries do in Africa, said that Comboni “on October 10, 1881, marked by suffering, died in Khartoum, aware that his missionary work would not end there.”
The Eucharist took place in the church of San Benedetto, where Comboni was baptized. Among the concelebrants, besides several Comboni Missionaries, was the parish priest, Mgr. Eraldo Fracassi. The archbishop had previously visited the birthplace of the saint.
Fr. Ezechiele Ramin and the tree in the Garden of the Righteous
Twenty-six years after his death, Fr. Ezechiele (Lele) Ramin, Comboni missionary in Brazil, assassinated in 1985 for his commitment to the struggle of small farmers against landowners, was remembered by the City Council of Cologno Monzese (Milan/Italy), which has dedicated a tree in the new Garden of the Righteous, opened on October 16 and dedicated to the righteous people all around the world.
The Garden, wished by the Consulta for Peace and Human Rights of Cologno and located in Aldo Moro Park Square, has at the centre a stone with the inscription “Garden of the Righteous Worldwide - There is a tree for every person who has chosen the good.”
At the beginning of the opening ceremony a flag was unfurled, 150 meters long, which made a clear reference to all those heroes who put their lives in danger to save the lives of others from violence and oppression. Among these heroes who fought against genocide and crimes against humanity there is also our confrere Lele Ramin.
Fr. Alberto Pelucchi, vicar general of the Comboni Missionaries, had been invited to participate in this event. He gave a short speech remembering Fr. Lele “for his passion for truth, justice and peace, for his ideas and his great vision”. With Fr. Alberto there was also Fr. Lino Cordero, a Comboni missionary who works in Brazil, and various members of “Creating Springtime”, a group born in 1989 in remembrance and on inspiration of Fr. Lele who used to say, in fact, that “to work among the poor is like creating springtime.”
The Association “Creating Springtime” was founded to promote the culture of welcome through concrete actions inserted in the situations where the Association is present and through actions to make aware individuals and communities, both civil and ecclesiastical, that work in a social environment. In particular, the Association turns its attention to the problem of minors, children and young people who often pay a high price to the discomfort and tensions of the environment around them.
Perpetual vows of Sc. Harold Felix Gomanjira
This year the 10th October was celebrated in a special way in Chipata, Zambia. Besides the liturgical feast of St. Daniel Comboni, the celebration included the blessing of the Comboni house in Chipata and the perpetual vows of Sc. Harold Felix Gomanjira. The celebration, presided by Mgr. George Lungu, Bishop of Chipata, was well attended by our confreres, other missionaries, diocesan priests, religious, a large crowd and the choir of St. Mathias Mulumba’s parish, which was recently handed over to the diocese. During the homily, the Bishop stressed the situations of first evangelization and of total spiritual abandonment in which many people live, especially in the Luangwa Valley, and thanked the Comboni Missionaries for their great missionary work in Chipata Diocese. The provincial superior, Fr. Dário Balula Chaves, explained the meaning of this important event and thanked the Bishop and all the Christians for their encouragement and spirit of collaboration. The event was transmitted live by Radio Maria which covers the whole area of Chipata Diocese. It was indeed a beautiful celebration and a strong moment of mission promotion of the Local Church.
Sc. Harold Gomanjira is from Blantyre diocese, in Malawi. He did his novitiate in Lusaka and completed his theology studies in the Scholasticate of Lima, Peru. During the past year he has been doing his missionary service in Chama, a remote and poor Mission in the Luangwa Valley, 350 km north of Chipata. Harold Gomanjira will be ordained deacon in Chama on October 30, 2011.
Meeting of younger missionaries
One of the main objectives in the meeting of the “young” confreres in the province, which was held from 13 to 17 September at the Catechetical Centre in Carapira, diocese of Nacala, in the northern part of the country, was to share their experiences.
The days were dedicated to ongoing formation, sharing of experiences that occurred in communities and places of pastoral work, reflection and encounter. Missionaries from six different communities took part in it, with the provincial superior, Fr. José Luis Rodríguez Lopez, and the person responsible for ongoing formation, Fr. Giorgio Giboli.
In the context of the Commemorative Year of our presence in Mozambique, the participants went to the graveyard to pray on the tombs of the missionaries who have given their life for the mission and who already are in the Father’s house.
Meeting of older missionaries
The meeting of the “older” missionaries was planned by the secretariat of ongoing formation and was held at the Catechetical Centre in Anchilo, not far from Nampula, from 20 to 21 September.
Eleven confreres took part in the meeting, besides the person responsible for ongoing formation, Fr. Giorgio Giboli, and the provincial superior, Fr. José Luis Rodríguez. Absent were confreres who were unable to come on account of age or difficulty in travelling.
Various issues were tackled, through discussions and group meetings, like the objectives of ongoing formation, the Word of God, the phases in life, the Lectio Divina in the daily timetable and the Life Personal Project. There was a large and active participation. It was an opportunity to recall life and past times and also to celebrate the 60 years of priestly anniversary of Fr. Gino Centis, most of which spent in Mozambique.
In the context of the Commemorative Year of our presence in Mozambique, Fr. José Luis invited the participants to write their memoirs, in order to leave for the future generations of missionaries their so many and rich experiences.
Ordination of a deacon and of a priest
The Comboni Family in Mozambique lived with emotion two events which have enriched the missionary and vocational life of the Institute: the ordination to the diaconate of young Filip Andrzej Jan, from Poland, and the ordination to the priesthood of Mateus Jacob Albino, from Mozambique. The celebration took place in the parish of Uganda Martyrs in Matundo (Tete) last October 8. The choice of this date was decided on account of the proximity of the liturgical solemnity of St. Daniel Comboni and also because it fits in the calendar of activities and events planned for our Commemorative Year, which in Mozambique started on August 24, 2011, and will end on August 24, 2012, with the objective to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Bro. Alfredo Fiorini’s death.
During the homely, Mgr. Inácio Saure, appointed and consecrated bishop of Tete last May, reminded those to be ordained of their belonging to a religious family: “To become members of the new family of Comboni Missionaries requires from you a total giving of self without asking anything in return.” At the moment of thanksgiving, the provincial superior, Fr. José Luis Rodríguez, thanked the local Church for the sharing of vocations, something that enriches the whole missionary Church.
On October 9, Fr. Mateus Albino celebrated his first Mass at Manje, his native land, about a 100 km from Tete.
A Comboni Missionary receives help for Darfur
On Thursday October 13, 2011, in an awareness campaign organised by the Platform for Darfur, Fr. Feliz da Costa Martins, a Portuguese Comboni missionary who has been working in Darfur, Sudan, for over five years, received in Lisbon the sum of € 7.300,00 which will be used to support the schools of his mission of Nyala.
The sum is the result of the selling of the book “The tears of Darfur”, published in 2009, which tells the true story of a Sudanese woman who survived the horrors of war. On this occasion, Fr. Feliz Martins stressed that “in spite of the end of the civil war in Darfur, the problem of insecurity still remains. People still live in a climate of fear, due to the kidnapping of persons and the illegal circulation of arms in refugee camps, among civilians and soldiers.” He added: “With the exodus of Christians towards South Sudan, independent since last July 9, the largest majority of boys and girls in the Catholic missionary schools are now Muslim.” It is in this new situation that the Church will have to work and respond to the needs of the populations, without looking at the religion they profess.
The Platform for Darfur includes civil and religious organisations, like Africa-Europe Network Faith and Justice, Amnesty International, the Comboni Missionaries, the Commission for Justice and Peace of Religious Institutes, AIS Foundation, Gonçalo da Silveira Foundation and the Association Clean Hands of Father Damiano. The general objective is to inform and make the Portuguese society aware of the critical situation that still exists in Darfur, where insecurity continues and thousands of people are displaced from their places of origin.
The Comboni Lay Missionaries in Portugal begin their activities
The Portuguese Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM) have started the new pastoral year. On the weekend 24-25 September they met in Coimbra to start with basic formation, to plan the activities for 2011-2012 and to follow out the revision of their Directory, which started at the end of July.
During the process of the Directory’s revision the following points emerged: about the reasons of their vocation, the pillars of Comboni lay missionary spirituality and the reorganisation of the Directory contents. This document has already been handed over to national and international people responsible for it and to the Portuguese CLM for an evaluation and suggestions. In November, the final version will be submitted to the provincial council in Portugal for approval.
In the planning of the pastoral activities 2011-2012 they have tried to increase the activities of mission promotion in order to make better known the vocation of the CLM to proclaim God’s Kingdom overseas. The outline and the themes for the ongoing formation of the CLM in Portugal have also been included.
Church celebrates Symposium
The Catholic Church in Sudan and South Sudan celebrated its role in the independence of South Sudan and welcomed the future with the symposium One Church from every Tribe, Tongue and People that took place in Juba from October 13 to 15 and concluded with a thanksgiving mass on the 16th.
More than 700 people participated in the Symposium, led by Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako of Khartoum and Archbishop Paulino Lokudu Loro of Juba, including Catholic and Episcopal bishops, government officials, international experts and partners, representatives of the ecumenical community, the media, and priests, brothers, sisters and laity, both local and missionaries, from the Republic of South Sudan (Juba) and the Republic of Sudan (Khartoum).
The Eucharistic Congress in 1984 was the last time when delegations from both countries came together. Contributions from the participants were extremely valuable. Cardinal Zubeir urged that this Symposium should lead to action and pastoral renewal at national level and in the dioceses. In due course the content of the Symposium will be published in the form of a book.
Workshop on aging with grace
Fifteen confreres aged between 89 and 50 took part in a three-day ongoing workshop in Juba on aging and mission. Fr. Salvador Ferrão, a Jesuit from Goa-India working in the diocese of Rumbek, facilitated the event that took place in Juba from October 17 to 19. He dealt with some of the personal problems of elders: isolation, separation, alienation, loneliness. He reminded the participants that “they shall bear fruit even in old age” (Psalm 92:14). The provincial superior concluded the event with an information session on the life of the province.
The SCRN is now complete
The Sudan Catholic Radio Network (SCRN) is now complete since 8 October after its last station went on air in Wau. Radio Voice of Hope joined the other eight diocesan radio stations under the SCRN umbrella concluding a project that took five years to complete, a huge achievement. The network has a common news desk and a production department for civic education programs. It also prepares staff for the radio stations in collaboration with other media organizations.
The SCRN is the meaningful work that the Comboni Family offered to the Church in Sudan and South Sudan in 2003, to mark St. Daniel Comboni’s canonization. Bakhita Radio went on air in Juba on December 24, 2006. After a two-year lull, other stations joined in: Voice of Peace, in Nuba Mountains, Sudan; Voice of Love, in Malakal; Good News in Rumbek; Don Bosco, in Tonj; Emmanuel, in Torit; Easter, in Yei; and Anisa, in Yambio.
In 2013, the SCRN coordination and the news desk management should be handed over to the local staff.
The October missionary month in TGB
On October 1, feast of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, sixteen Comboni novices (9 from RDC and 7 from TGB) marked their entrance into the Novitiate. After a few weeks of introduction in the month of September, they were received and introduced to this new experience by the provincial superior, Fr. Girolamo Miante, who entrusted them to the novice master, Fr. Habtu Teklay and to his associate, Fr. Giuseppe Simoni. It is a kairos, a time of grace the Lord is offering to these young people to assume and make their own the Comboni life, by a deep encounter with Christ and with Daniel Comboni. They have started with joy and with a sincere desire never to turn back.
A week later, October 8, the postulants in Adidogome officially began their formative and academic year. They are 22 and come from Togo, Ghana and Benin. During the Eucharist, presided over by the provincial superior and the formators, they received the text of the annual formative project that will commit them on a personal and community journey throughout the year. Receiving in one’s hands the programme becomes a humble and practical sign of their “yes” to the call of God to follow him in the Comboni missionary vocation.
The solemnity of St. Daniel Comboni, October 10, was celebrated with an encounter at provincial level in the parish of Adidogome. There were many of us, Comboni Missionaries and Sisters, postulants of TGB and of RCA, all together to thank the Lord and to again draw from the school of our founder and father. We were in communion with the scholastics of Cape Coast and the novices of Cotonou who, due to reasons related to the vista for crossing from one country to another, celebrated the feast in their communities. The reflection of Fr. Francisco de Matos Dias reminded us of the “love” of Comboni for his parents, the Africans, his followers and his missionary work. A love that today should equally animate every missionary. In the Eucharistic celebration the provincial superior, in tune with this year’s theme of “Comboni spirituality”, stressed the need of a personal and community work for a greater internalisation, a renewed missionary passion and a sincere desire to grow.
Fraternity, reflection exchanges and the meal crowned the day so that we may continue the mission, certain of the gift received.
In our local Churches, the missionary month is also the month of the rosary. In the evening there are many people who take part in praying the rosary, which becomes an opening to the situations and to the problems of mankind, a beautiful occasion for an ongoing missionary catechesis to make the Christian communities take part in the ideal and charism of St. Daniel Comboni.
The community in Affon and St. Daniel Comboni
Saturday, October 8, the Christian community in Affon solemnly proclaimed St. Daniel Comboni their patron saint. Affon belongs to the parish of St. Tammaro in Toko-toko, diocese of Djougou in Benin, entrusted to three Comboni Missionaries who founded it in December 2008.
The church-chapel in Affon is the first in the diocese of Djougou to be dedicated to St. Daniel Comboni. During the celebration, the community was enlivened by a deep joy in front of the personality of this great “prophet and saint” who gave the whole of his life, till death, for the evangelisation of the African people. The proclamation was preceded by a lecture on the life of St. Daniel Comboni and by a penitential service to prepare the event.
Let us pray for our beloved dead
THE FATHER: Nolasco, of Fr. Jovilla Nolasco Jr. Robiso (U); José A., of Fr. José Antonio Girau Pellicer (T); Medoro, of Fr. Gabriele Perfetti (I).
THE BROTHER: Mario, of Fr. Francesco Rizza (U); Bortolo, of Fr. Nazareno (CN) and Fr. Sergio (I) Contran; Vincenzo, of Fr. Pietro Coronella (I); Alessandro, of Fr. Silvano Barbieri (I).
THE SISTER: Valeria, of Fr. Vittorio Farronato (CN); Eugenia of Frs. Efrem and Germano Agostini (I).
THE COMBONI SISTERS: Sr. M. Eva Pezzoli; Sr. Rosalia Alberti; Sr. Flora Teresa Rebellato; Sr. M. Eleonora Colombo; Sr. M. Adelma Proserpio; Sr. Callista Lotto.