Tuesday, July 10, 2018
The Comboni Missionaries assigned to Mission Promotion (MP) in the French-speaking circumscriptions of Africa – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CRA), Togo-Ghana-Benin and Chad – gathered at the provincial house of Lomé on July 1-9. The 20 participants included Comboni Sisters Helena Lourenço, Cinzia Trotta and Liée Natingar, Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla, representing the General Administration, and Fr. Arlindo Pinto, of the General Mission Secretariate in Rome.
Fr. Victor Kouande Adekoun, provincial superior of Togo-Ghana-Benin (T), opened the Assembly of Mission Promotion of French-speaking Africa, held every two years, by welcoming the participants. Fr. Victor insisted on the intrinsic relation between MP and our way of “being missionaries,” and spoke of St. Daniel Comboni as a great example of mission promotor. “The need to awake the missionary conscience of the local Churches, inviting them to be in solidarity with those who suffer – he said – is relevant even today. And Comboni teaches us to concretize our missionary charism through a prophetic stance and giving special attentions to peoples who are the victims of all kinds of injustice and violence.” Mission promotors, he concluded, “are called also to denounce inhuman conditions and to suggest peaceful solutions, because all this is part of our Comboni mission.”
Following that, Fr. Victor read the letter Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse, superior general, sent to the participants. In it Fr. Tadesse underlines that “mission promotion is part of our charism” and “it is not just the activity of a group of confreres,” but of each Comboni community. “Only if each Comboni community will become a center of MP, the specific task of mission promotors will have meaning and support,” wrote Fr. Tadesse, inviting the participants to a larger reflection on the new vision of MP in the context of the Chapter 2015 decision, merging into one single General Mission Secretariate the activities of MP, evangelization, JPIC, and CLM.
The second part of the morning of the first day was given to a reflection on the spirituality of MP, guided by the long and rich experience in this sector of Fr. Juan José Tenías Fenollé (T). Fr. Tenías said that “even in our midst MP has its own martyrs,” referring to those Comboni missionaries who spent their lives as mission promotors. He underlined how “evangelization cannot be conceived without MP and vice versa.” The reflection was followed by the celebration of the Eucharist with Fr. Victor Kouande as the presider.
In the afternoon, Fr. Joseph Mumbere Musanga, provincial superior of the DRC, reminded us of the conclusions of the last Assembly of MP, held in 2016 in Sarh, Chad and pointed out how the difficulty in having continuity to some resolutions is due to the great mobility of missionaries and to the situation prevailing in some countries such as the DRC and the CAR. Fr. Godefroy-Médard Longba Guéndé, delegate of the CAR, spoke about the recent events that took place in the parish of Our Lady of Fatima and of the general situation in the country.
Fr. Arlindo Pinto then spoke on the current direction and perspectives of MP among the Comboni Missionaries, while Sr. Helena Lourenço spoke for the Comboni Sisters in French-speaking Africa, including Cameroon.
Fr. Arlindo stressed the need to review, both at the provincial and at the continental level, whatever concerns the language, the structure and the directory of MP in the new context of the Mission Secretariat, as well as re-evaluating this type of assemblies. He briefly expanded on some fundamental concepts in the new understanding of “being missionaries” and of “doing mission,” such as, by way of example, mission and communication, center and periphery, the new paradigms of mission, ministerial communities, missionary networking, dialogue and justice, specialization and professionality.
Tuesday and Wednesday were given to formation. On July 3, Fr. Jean Claude Kobo Badianga of the DRC presented the theme: “The means of social communication in the 21st century: opportunities and challenges for MP in Africa.” Fr. Kobo is the director of the Comboni magazine Afriquespoir and of the Afriquespoir Center (CAE), both located in Kinshasa. An evaluation was made of both the magazine and of the activities of the Center that share their productions with the French-speaking Comboni provinces. Proposals were made regarding prices, marketing, publication of books, preparation of personnel working in this sector and the yearly meeting of cooperators.
On July 4, Fr. Hubert Kedowide, of the archdiocese of Cotonou, Benin and a communications expert, presented the themes of “Social Networks: knowing their opportunities and limitations in the field of communications” and “Why must the Church make the means of communications its own.”
July 5 and 6 were left to the presentation of the reports on the activities of each circumscription, both of the MCCJ and of the Sisters, and of the report of the CAE of the DRC, given by Fr. Kobo, and its branch of Lomé, Togo, given by Fr. Tenías. There was also a reflection on the current Charter of Mission Promotion that must be brought up to date in the context of the new Mission Secretariate. The conclusion came with the presentation by Fr. Célestin Ngoré Gali of the DRC on the general situation of the CLM in this region of Africa and on the upcoming assembly of the CLM due to take place in Rome this coming December. Based on the reports, the proposals that emerged were then analyzed and evaluated since the Secretariates of Mission will have to take them into account in the sphere of personnel formation and communication, in dealing with the CAE and in cooperation within the Comboni family. The superiors of circumscription will have to keep these resolutions in mind during their next meeting in Cotonou, in May 2019. The overall evaluation of the Assembly was very positive.
On Saturday, July 7 Fr. Fidèle Katsan Fodagni Kokouvi, delegate from Chad, arrived to take part in the meeting of the CAE council, made up of the superiors of circumscriptions of French-speaking Africa. Beside the director of the CAE, Fr. Kobo, the meeting was also attended by Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla and Fr. Arlindo Pinto. The agenda included the revision and approval of the finances for 2018.
On Sunday, the Assembly ended with a Eucharistic celebration in the parish of Adidogomé, Lomé, followed by dinner with the local Comboni community.
Participants of the Mission Promotion Assembly of French-speaking Africa in Lomé, Togo:
Fr. Kouande Adekoun Victor (TGB); Fr. Mumbere Musanga Joseph (RDC); Fr. Fene-Fene Santime Augustin (RDC); Fr. Kobo Badianga Jean Claude (RDC); Fr. Ngoré Gali Célestin (RDC); Fr. Castillo Valenciana Salvador (TGB); Fr. Tenías Fenollé Juan José (TGB); Fr. Hakpa Komlatsé Aimé (TGB); Fr. Sohouénou Cakpo Edènan Raoul (TGB); Fr. Bachulu Diangolo Olivier (Chad); Fr. Moser Luigi (Chad); Fr. Wakouzou Claude Bernard (RCA); Fr. Di Vincenzo Trasparano (Gaspare) (RDC); Fr. Longba Guéndé Godefroy-Médard (RCA); Fr. Katsan Fodagni Kokouvi Fidèle (Chad); Fr. Ciuciulla Pietro (Rome); Fr. Arlindo Ferreira Pinto (Rome); Sr. Maria Helena Freitas Lourenço, provincial of Cameroon, RCA and Chad; Sr. Cinzia Trotta, provincial of Congo, Togo, Benin (COTOBE); Sr. Liée Natingar (COTOBE).