Letter of the Chapter members to confreres
This invitation to Peter is addressed by Jesus to us Comboni Missionaries today, at the beginning of this six-year period.
We are sustained by a conviction, that of having set sail on an absorbing adventure, full of surprises, in the company of Daniel Comboni. The adventure began on the day when we answered the call of Jesus, according to the charism of our Founder, to put ourselves at the service of the poorest and most neglected brothers and sisters, to communicate the Gospel of Life to them.
As happened to Peter, it may seem sometimes that the fishing is poor, and that our boat is floating in uncertain and mysterious waters. Despite this, we feel called to go further, supported by the word of the One who continues to repeat to us: “Set out into the deep and cast your nets!” (Luke 5:4)
We want to ‘launch out into the deep’ with Jesus and Comboni, to go to meet great numbers of brothers and sisters who are still waiting for the Good News of liberation.
Before you receive the Acts of the XVI Chapter, we want to send you our greetings, and to thank you for having chosen us to represent you in such a significant moment for our Institute. You have placed your hopes and expectations in us, so that we could take them to Rome with our luggage. Through this letter we would like to share with you our feelings, our joys, the work and the sharing with one another that we have experienced during these weeks of work.
Faced by the event of the canonisation of our Father and Founder, we felt called by the Lord to be increasingly witnesses to his love, that is, holy and capable. Ever more men of faith, more contemplative, more like Comboni.
Mission, on-going formation, community and Comboni methodology were the main planks of our work and of our reflection.
The Chapter has enriched us a lot, because we found ourselves together, coming from many different countries and from various experiences. We worked together; together we paid attention to the cry of the poor coming to us from the continents where we are present: Africa, America, Asia and Europe.
Prayer was a very intense experience for us, especially the Eucharist. We asked frequently for the gift of the Holy Spirit to sustain us in the difficult task of discerning, contextualising and finding the angle of approach and the criteria by which we can best carry out our mission in the world in which we live, suffering yet rejoicing in the expectation of the coming of the Kingdom of God.
We can affirm that the Chapter has been a continuous putting into practice of communion and brotherhood. At times we argued with passion, but in the end what prevailed were fraternity and a seeking of the good of the Institute, of the Church and of the poor to whom we owe preferential love. We often felt our communion with elderly and sick confreres, with the younger ones and with all those who remain in the posts where they work, sometimes in suffering and in danger. We prayed and thanked the Lord for them, and from them drew stimulation and encouragement.
We have lived many positive things during these weeks. We feel the most significant – welcomed with much joy – is that of having in the GC for the first time, alongside Europeans, an African, a Brazilian and a Peruvian. This causes us to dream of a new Pentecost for our missionary family, a sign of the Kingdom that sets itself against a world that tends to draw in on itself and to want to impose a single culture.
Daniel Comboni will be declared a Saint on October 5th. With this action the Church declares the validity of his witness, and reminds us that this is our challenge: to live our missionary vocation in holiness. As the Pope likes to reiterate: “the true missionary is the saint”.
As we wish you farewell, we call on you always to look to the future with confidence. It is an invitation we make to ourselves, too. We do it with the words that burst out of the faith and the hope of Comboni: “Courage for the present, and above all for the future”.
Rome: 1st October 2003
Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus,
The Chapter Members