Members of the Pre-capitular Commission for the 16th General Chapter
Fr. Baldan Fabio Carlo, Fr. García Castillo Jorge Oscar, Fr. Legonou Jean Pierre, Fr. Miante Girolamo, Fr. Serra Teresino e Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Weldeghebriel have been nominated as members of the Pre-capitular Commission. The name of the brother is missing and will be announced after all the Brother delegates will have ben elected. The Commission will begin working on 22 April and will be in session until the end of May 2003.
The General Administration has nominated, effective 1 January 2003, the new governing body of Archivio Comboniano, namely: Fr. Fernando Zolli, director; Fr. Michele Sardella, secretary; Fr. Ayuso Guixot Miguel Angel, treasurer; Fr. Romeo Ballan and Fr. Alois Eder, counselors; Fr. Fidel González Fernández, as president of Studium Combonianum; Fr. Pietro Ravasio, in charge of the Historical Archives and Fr. Venanzio Milani, as liaison with the General Council.
The term of office of the director and counsellors is five years. With the advice of the General Council and of the governing body of Archivio Comboniano we are in the process of choosing the members (about 20) of the scientific committee of the publication. Shortly the provincials/delegates and the other confreres will be told about the subscription rates and the planning for the publication which will come out regularly.
Sincere thanks go to Fr. Fidel González Fernández for the service he has rendered to the Institute as director of the publication.
Managing Committee of the Historical Archives
The members of the Managing Committee of the Historical Archives (ACR: Comboni Archives-Rome) were nominated on 5 January. They are: Fr. Michele Sardella e Fr. Jaime Calvera Pi. Fr. Giuseppe Sandri is reconfirmed. The managing committee helps the general archivist, Fr. Pietro Ravasio.
The “Mazziani” are in the process of organizing a meeting on Mitterutzner to be held in Brixen on 19-21 August 2003, the centenary of his death. We have been invited both as organizers and as participants in this event which we deem important, in view of the “privileged” contacts between Comboni and Mitterutzner (1818-1903). Further information will follow. Contact people for the Comboni Missionaries will be Fr. Fernando Zolli and the Vicar General.
Here are the coordinators of the various commissions: Fr. Venanzio Milani for the Central Commission; Sr. Maria Grazia Campostrini for the Operative Commission; Fr. Arnaldo Baritussio for the Reflection Commission. The contact people for the Comboni Institutes are: Fr. Venanzio Milani, Sr. Nunzi Giannotti and Cristina Busin.
Entry Visas for Italy
Due to the new legislation and the current political climate it is becoming more and more difficult to secure entry visas for Italy both as visitors and as residents. Because of this, visas should be requested only when strictly necessary, keeping in mind that we need visas for the scholastics and for the fathers and Brothers who attend courses. Only the provincial of Italy, the vicar general and the secretary general can authorize visas, naturally with the written authorization of the confrere’s provincial.
Please, stick closely to the reason for which the visa has been requested and which is written on the application without requesting changes, because, as some people have found out, there may arise complications or the visa may be revoked.
The meeting of the Capitular Brothers will take place at the curia from 28 March to 4 April 2003. During that time it will not be possible to extend the hospitality at Via Lilio to other confreres.
Priests Delegates to the 16th General Chapter
Fr. Alberto de Oliveira Silva (A)
Fr. Beretta Fausto (BNE)
Fr. Odelir José Magri (BS) substitute: Fr. Alcides Costa
Fr. Miante Girolamo (C) substitute: Fr. Torres Gómez Manuel Ramón
Fr. Aldegheri Giorgio (CA)
Fr. Girau Pellicer José Antonio (CO)
Fr. Legonou Jean Pierre (DCA)
Fr. Peinhopf Karl (DSP) substitute: Fr. Eder Alois
Fr. Reig Bellver Vicente Luis (E) substitute: Fr. Carrera Augusto Francisco
Fr. Brito Carvajal Byron Gustavo (EC) substitute: Fr. Bordonali Bruno
Fr. Lurati Claudio (EG) substitute: Fr. Kiwanuka Achilles Kasozi
Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Weldeghebriel (ER)
Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse (ET)
Fr. Serra Teresino (I)
Fr. Pelucchi Alberto (I)
Fr. Zanotelli Alessandro (I) substitute: Fr. Padovan Giorgio
Fr. Fernando Domingues (KE)
Fr. Annis Paul (KH) substitute: P. Ssemakula Joseph Balikuddembe
Fr. Hicks Robert (LP)
Fr. García Castillo Jorge Oscar (M)
Fr. Arellano Pérez Luis Francisco (M) substitute: Fr.Velázquez González Arturo
Fr. López García Antonio (MO)
Fr. Uribe González Gabriel (MZ) substitute: Fr. Dário Balula Chaves
Fr. O'Donnell Paul (NAP)
Fr. Coaquira Hilaje Rodolfo (PE)
Fr. José da Silva Vieira (P)
Fr. Singer Benno (RSA) substitute: Fr. Wanjohi Thumbi Andrew
Fr. Eisman Torres Alberto Jesús (SS)
Fr. Boscaini Aurelio (T)
Fr. Pampaloni Elia (U)
Fr. Guzzetti Damiano (U) substitute: Fr. Clement Vilaplana Juan
Total Priest Delegates 33
Brother Delegates to the 16th General Chapter
Bro. Cerri Agostino (C-E-P)
Bro. Della Monica Simone (A-DCA-M-NAP)
Bro. Romero Aría Hernán (CA-CN-T-TC)
substitute: Bro. Tsomafo-AgbemeloConstant Marcel
Bro. D’Aiuto Francesco (BNE-BS-CO-EC-PE)
Bro.Haspinger Bruno (DSP-LP)
Bro. Maroso Genesio (I)
Total Brother Delegates 9
NB: Where the names of the delegates or their substitutes do not appear, it’s because they have not yet been elected.
Sc. Pacheco Cruz Gladimiro Waldemar (EC) Quito (EC) 01.11.2003
Sc. Imolu Babaya André (CN) Kisangani (CN) 01.19.2003
Sc. António Nilson Camelo (BNE) Reriutaba (BS) 01.25.2003
Signis-Internet-Africa is an Internet connecting service via satellite that covers the entire Sub-Saharan Africa on KU band. The concrete applications currently available include:
- Internet access 24/7 (24 hours all days):
- transmission of radio programmes through distribution by way of relay stations at national and continental level;
- the possibility of placing phone calls using Internet protocol (VoIP)
- a tele-medicine service for Catholic hospitals on the continent;
- and finally tele-education programmes on a variety of topics.
This service is offered to the dioceses of Africa, to religious communities working in Africa and to organizations that work with the Church.
Basic equipment. A parabolic antenna, a transmitter, a receiver, a router, a computer. Total price € 5.000,00.
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The Connection. In order to receive or send data through the Internet and e-mail, or to send and receive radio messages, it is necessary to have access to a bandwidth and pay a rental fee for its use. Prices:
• For an Internet connection 24/7 (Internet + E-mail): € 200,00 a month;
• For a Radio connection 24/7 at 32 kbpts (mono): € 114,00 a year;
• For a Radio connection 24/7 at 64 kbpts (stereo): € 228,00 a year.
Fr. Guido Oliana: “La missione a vita” (Mission for a lifetime), 36 pages. Material taken from the book of the 75th anniversary of the Mission Centre of Trento (2002). Request copies from Fr. Oliana and copies of the original book from the Mission Centre. A copy of the publication will be sent to all provincials/delegates and to our houses of formation.
Fr. Damiàn Bruyel: “Oracion y mission” (Prayer and Mission), missionary celebrations. Comboni Missionaries, Santiago de Compostela, 64 pages.
Fr. Elvio Gostoli: “Ricordi essenziali dei miei 45 anni di Africa” (Important memories of my 45 years in Africa), 120 pages. Request copies from the author.
Fr. Carmelo Casile: “Consacrati a Dio per la missione nello spirito del Comboni” (Consecrated to God for Mission in the spirit of Comboni), 502 pages, € 8,00. The book is very interesting and valuable in view of the Chapter and the canonization. Request copies from the general treasurer and/or the secretary general in via Luigi Lilio – Rome.
Yusuf Fadl Hasan and Richard Gray: “Religion and Conflict in Sudan”, Paulines Publications, Nairobi 2002. This publication, fruit of a gathering held at Yale University, stands out in its field because of the contributions made by both Christians and Moslems on this topic. 70 copies are available at a reduced price, € 10,00 plus shipping. Request copies from the Secretary General.
Celebration at the “Collegio Urbano”
On 12 January the “Collegio Urbano”, where Fr. Fidel González Fernández is the rector, celebrated its 375th anniversary. His Em. Card. Crescenzio Sepe of Propaganda Fide presided at the Eucharist. Fr. Daniele Sorur was the first African to attend the College.
Rome, 18 January 2003. Martin Adolfo Bolaños Palacios (Colombia), Rafael Guitron Torres (Mexico), Nelson Edgar Mitchell Sandoval (Chile), Joaquim José Moreira da Silva (Portugal), Prisciliano Quiroz Alferez (Mexico) were ordained to the diaconate by Card. Francis Arinze, in the parish of St. Gregorio Barbarigo, Rome.
In his homily Card. Arinze reminded the five young men that the diaconate is a service of prayer to God and commitment to people, a life spent for others in celibacy, as a sign of pastoral charity and complete commitment to God and to brothers and sisters the world over, with an undivided heart in the following of Christ. “Nobody has died of celibacy yet,” quipped the cardinal. In conclusion, he spoke of the upcoming canonization of Blessed Daniel Comboni and invited all of us, Comboni Missionaries and Comboni Missionary Sisters to be faithful to the legacy of our Founder. At the end of the Eucharist, the parents of one of the new deacons placed a bouquet of flowers in front of the statue of the Blessed Mother on behalf of all present, as a sign of consecration and thanksgiving.
Gathered today in provincial council we feel the need to write to you in order to share with you our joys and our sorrows, our worries and our hopes. In fact, from 25 October 2002, we have been living through very difficult times; the Republic of Central Africa (RCA) had not lived through such dire times since the days of the slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. The territory of the republic is cut in two and the entire population lives in a situation of misery, suffering, deprivation and death. Our confreres in Dekoa and Grimari, and the Comboni Sisters of Kagabandoro and Batangafo are right in the centre of the rebellion. Here in Bangui we cannot get in touch with them, have news from them and help them. Our thoughts are with the priests, the religious, the missionaries who are in the eye of the storm, without forgetting the suffering population.
Dear brothers, help us. Pray for us, use the media to speak of the RCA , of the situation of its people, tortured and without hope. Give us the means, in as much as you can, to face the many needs. The spirit of Blessed Daniel Comboni must compel us to stand as one family of brothers and sisters who believe in the Gospel of Jesus, which is at all times a Gospel of peace and love. “May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2Cor 13,13) and may Blessed Daniel Comboni assist and bless us.
The Provincial and Council members
The inter-Congolese dialogue continues to produce documents signed by all concerned parties: the government, civil society, unarmed opposition and all rebel groups. These are not real peace treaties, but rather agreements for the division of power, extorted, it seems, under pressure from foreign powers, including some African nations. However, there are no visible results: up to now none of the decisions have been implemented; the fighting continues and, in many areas, it is resuming, while foreign troops, particularly from Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, are still on Congolese territory.
The situation continues to deteriorate for the entire population. In some areas people practically live in the bush, away from the roads, seeking, often in vain, to avoid military raids. Rebel troops are still engaging in factional fighting, especially the groups loyal to Mbusa Nyamwise that are fighting against those of Bemba, and those of Lumbala that are fighting against those of Thomas Lubanga in Bunia. Everywhere there are thousands of refugees seeking a safe haven. Many witness accounts agree on describing unspeakable atrocities against humanity: thefts, violence, desecration of corpses and acts of cannibalism. Our confrere, Fr. Franco Laudani, had some first hand experience of the situation when he was stopped and detained by some soldiers.
Travel, already difficult, has now become even more so. There is always the chance of meeting retreating soldiers who do not hesitate to use force in order to get money and vehicles. Throughout it all we continue to offer our presence as a service to the people.
A sign of hope was the priestly ordination of our deacon André Imolu Babaya. He belongs to the parish of St. Camillus in Kisangani, where Fr. Pasquale Palermo just concluded his pastoral service when he died recently. André was ordained a week after Fr. Palermo’s death. We can truly say: the Lord has taken, the Lord has given.
On Saturday, 11 January, the Comboni community gathered in the parish of Carcelén, Quito, for the priestly ordination of the seventh Ecuadorian Comboni Missionary, Fr. Gladimiro Waldemar Pacheco Cruz, who just finished his studies in Kinshasa.
The days preceding the ordination were given to the preparation for the event involving the Christian community which participated in great numbers in sharing this moment of prayer and joy, in thanksgiving to God for this gift he has granted to our province, the Church and the missions. The main celebrant was Bishop Eugenio Arellano Fernández of Esmeraldas, surrounded by many Comboni Missionaries from most of our communities. It was an occasion of intense missionary spirit during which the faithful, especially the young ones, were challenged and questioned on the values by which they live. A reception followed the ordination. The following day, a Sunday, Fr. Gladimiro celebrated Mass at the school of the Franciscan Sisters, where he had studied for several years. The celebration was capped by a meal and a feast with our community of Carcelén.
Following the motions of the last provincial assembly, the provincial council has decided to sell the houses of Fai and Thiene.
Peace does not walk alone
Faenza: creating a springtime of peace. In order to open their hearts to the world and appreciate the beauty of missionary spirituality, 40 young people from the GIM of Bologna, Rome and Trent ended 2002 and began the new year in Faenza as guests of the parish community of St. Antoninus, involved in a first hand experience of family visitations. These were the main activities: an evening meeting on “Pacem in terris: a lasting commitment to peace,” with Raffaello Zordan, director of Nigrizia and Bro. Joel Cruz Reyes, Comboni missionary in Chiapas; a prayer vigil for peace and the Eucharist in the Congolese rite, celebrated by Fr. Manuel Ceola; participation in the march for peace organized by the diocese; a witness-debate presented by Fr. Mosè Mora and Bro. Joel on the modern challenges of Mission.
Pesaro: with God for peace. The young people of the Comboni Missionaries’ Group of Pesaro began the new year with a prayer vigil for peace. There was only prayer – no discussions, no debates. The idea for the event, moderated by Fr. Teresino Serra, came from the young people themselves. Later some of them took part in the marches for peace of Faenza or Crema. They wanted to be united with God in prayer before crying for peace in public.
Bari: Epiphany of peace. At 6:30 p.m. on the feast of the Epiphany, about 2500 people gathered for a prayer vigil for peace organized by our confreres together with various city and Church organizations. “With this vigil – they said – we wanted to experience our differences and share the thoughts and feelings of peace with all people of good will. God, our Father, has certainly appreciated our gathering, aimed as it was to celebrate life and to say no to war.”
Padova: from peace of conscience to a consciousness of peace.
This was the theme of the gathering in Arzergrande where about 40 young people, hosted by families in the parish, celebrated peace with the help of Bishop Bettazzi, former international president of Pax Christi, who led them through the utopia of Pacem in Terris; with him they dreamed of a courageous Church, faithful to the wind of the spirit of Vatican Two. They were also helped by Fr. Alessandro Santoro, worker priest, who proposed a model of a “Church with shadings”, lively and welcoming.
To celebrate a Christmas of peace, the Comboni community of Padova sponsored two events: Christmas with the immigrants attended by about 250 guests from seven countries and Christmas at the train station that involved more than 1400 people, mostly young folks.
Provincial Assembly of Mission Promotion (MP)
The yearly assembly of MP took place in Pesaro on 13-16 January. Thirty five confreres attended. The days were given to formation and information, to a reading of today’s reality in the country and to an evaluation of our activities. The first day was enlivened by the presence of the Hon. Rosy Bindi, former health minister, and Fr. Tonio Dell’Olio, national coordinator of Pax Christi. Rosy Bindi, after having described the socio-political situation of Italy, underlined her belief that our MP must not recoil from addressing a type of evangelical politics: “Your MP helps us in the political field to read situation almost unknown to us and reminds us of those human and Christian values that should be the foundations of society.” Fr. Antonio Dell’Olio said that the experiences of missionaries are talents that must produce fruits in society and, above all, that must proclaim a message to those in the Church who give all of their time to care for their little bonsai unmindful of the large forest that is before their eyes. “Join – he said – the peace apostolate of the Pope, of Gino Strada, of Fr. Zanotelli, of Fr. Ciotti, who have moved 30% of Italians to change their opinion and to stand on the side of peace.” During the assembly it was also said that we must follow more and more in the footsteps of our founder Daniel Comboni. “MP must have a heart: the spirituality and the passion of Comboni for the forgotten of humanity.”
Handing over of the parish of Huariaca (Tarma)
The morning of 12 January in Huariaca was rainy, as it is typical of this time of the year in the Peruvian Sierra. Rain fell constantly and at times very hard from 5.00 to 11.00 in the morning. At 8:30 Bishop Richard Daniel Alarcón Urrutia arrived from Tarma. Fr. Conrado Franco Lorenzo, the provincial, had arrived the night before. Mass, scheduled for 9:00, started almost on time with the bishop as the main celebrant, assisted by Fr. Conrado and Fr. Lino Eccher, the last Comboni Missionary to be parish priest of this parish. A little bit at the time, the faithful eventually filled the church.
During his homily the bishop thanked the Comboni Missionaries for their missionary presence in Huariaca since 1958 when, from Cerro de Pasco, they were helping Fr. Máximo Alfano, up to the present. Fr. Michael Wagner was the first Comboni Missionary to take over the parish in 1964, followed by Fr. Georg Angst, Fr. Paul Pezzei, Fr. Alois Deflorian, Fr. Hilmar Gulba, Fr. Jakob Wellenzohn and Fr. Lino Eccher. There was only a period of three years (1974-1977) when the parish was in the hands of Fr. Nicolás Herrera, a diocesan priest.
Bishop Richard underlined the great work of evangelisation the Comboni Missionaries have done in Huariaca and in the over 30 rural communities of the parish with a population of 17.000. He remembered their work and their zeal in wanting to reach out to all people with the celebration of the sacraments, the catechetical programmes, the social activities, the attention to the infrastructures of the parish and its chapels. The bishop showed his understanding of the reasons for the decision of the Comboni Missionaries who, faithful to their charism, were handing over to the diocese a parish that was giving signs of growth and maturity. He then turned to Fr. Lino Eccher, who had been working in the parish for the past five and a half years, to thank him for the work he had done and for the good memory he was leaving behind. Fr. Lino answered that he was leaving Huariaca in a spirit of faith and the certainty of doing God’s will. He thanked all for their expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving and promised to pray every day for all those for whom he had been pastorally responsible.
Scholasticate of Pietermaritzburg
On 17 January 2003, the new community of Pietermaritburg, received the visit of the Archbishop of Durban, His Eminence Cardinal Wilfred Napier, to mark the official start of our presence in Kwa-Zulu Natal Province and in South Africa. It was the time to receive his blessings for this new enterprise, and some piece of advice. The date was intended to be associated with Epiphany, because we are missionaries; yet the Lord preferred it to make it coincide with St. Anthony Abbot. And because of it, the Cardinal insisted on the example of St. Anthony who left everything to the poor, to dedicate his entire life to the Lord in a simple life style. The set up of our premises, within the old premises of St. Joan of Arc parish, do help to live close to the people and to follow their simple living.
Our provincial, Fr. Fabio Baldan, was also present and reminded the six scholastics and the two priests of the community how Blessed Daniel Comboni wanted his missionaries: “holy and capable”. Fr. Daniel Coryin OMI, president of St. Joseph’s Theological Institute in Cedara, was also present. The celebration was shared with some Christians from the parishes of St. Joan of Arc and St. Martin de Porres, both under our care.
The scholastics attend the St. Joseph’s Institute every day for lectures. It is 18 km away from the town. It was founded by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1943 to prepare their candidates for priesthood. Today it is an academic facility for students from many different religious communities, both men and women. It works within a cluster of Christian Theological institutions around Pietermaritzburg area, including the University of Natal.
The institute offers six years of comprehensive preparation for the priesthood, though our scholastics will attend just the last four years of theology. Bachelor degrees are granted through the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. Masters and Doctoral level studies are done in conjunction with the University of Natal.
TOGO – GHANA - BENIN
Handing over of the parish of Abor
On 5 January 2003, the provincial team, led by the provincial superior, Fr. Saverio Perego and including among others Fr. Elio Boscaini and Fr. Casimir Odjo, headed for Ghana and, more precisely, for Abor. After 45 minutes spent at the border to take care of custom formalities, the group was finally able to head for Abor for the handing over of the parish to the local clergy. The bishop of Akatsi arrived at 8:30 together with various Comboni confreres and members of the local clergy. Mass started at 9:00. After the homily the bishop traced the history of the parish of Abor, founded in 1923, and in 1975 entrusted to the Comboni Missionaries, Fr. Joseph Rabbiosi being among the first. At the end of the ceremony Fr. Rabbiosi thanked the Christian community. The ceremony was over at 3:00 p.m. and the delegation from Lomé returned to Cacaveli.
The Provincial Assembly took place at the Canossian Sisters in Lomé on 7-10 January. This marked the first time that the province held an assembly outside one of its own houses. Two topics were chosen: mission and finances. These topics were studied in the light of the Lineamenta in preparation for the Chapter. This fact allowed us to explore in a more realistic way the very different conditions of the three countries that make up the province: Togo, Ghana and Benin.
While in Ghana and Benin it is possible to see a political and economic growth, the situation in Togo is deteriorating. The resources of the country are plundered more and more by countries that do not contribute income or services to the people. Poverty is on the increase. Workers are not paid regularly, the economy is going downhill and the future is uncertain. Consequences of this state of affair are evident, especially in the field of health care. Health problems in fact are heavy on people who do not have the needed financial means. This alarming situation compels us to ask ourselves: “How can we stand with the people who are now living in destitution more than poverty; how can we help them rise above these difficulties?”
Several activities are going on: hospitality for the poor and the sick in some communities; parish schools for the education of the young (the future of society); radio programmes (“Esperance Radio” of Tabligbo) to raise awareness, a refuge for children in special situations (My Father’s House – Ghana). Beyond these activities we feel that we are called to live our mission with daring and creativity, seeking solutions together. There is strength in unity. For this reason we have decided to establish the Common Fund by 2004, using this year as a time of preparation.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Fr. Pasquale Palermo (16.04.1924 –10.01.2003)
Fr. Pasquale Palermo passed away on Friday, 10 January, in his parish of St. Camillus in Kisangani. He was the first Comboni Missionary to receive this parish from the Priests of the Sacred Heart in 1977. The illness that would eventually cause his death showed its first symptoms in October. The Provincial had offered to him the opportunity to return to Italy for medical care, but Fr. Pasquale, grabbing his hand, had answered that this was the place where he wanted to be buried. It was his way of saying that he wanted to realize the dream of his life: to die in Africa.
Fr. Pasquale was born in San Mango sul Calore, province of Benevento, on 16 April 1924. Fascinated by the missionary life he left the diocesan seminary of Avellino when he was already in theology and entered the Comboni novitiate where he took his first vows on 9 September 1947. He finished his studies of theology in 1950 in Verona where on 23 September 1949, he had pronounced his Yes to the Lord by his perpetual profession. He was ordained a priest on 3 June 1950, and had the satisfaction, on 3 June 2002, to celebrate his fifty years of ordination in San Mango, surrounded by his family. The six day war did not find him in Kisangani, where – he always said with regret – he would have liked to be in order to live through this time of suffering with the people.
Fr. Pasquale spent almost all of his priestly life in Africa. In fact, he was in Italy only for a total of three years in two different periods: the first was one year soon after ordination (1950-1951). He left for Africa in 1951, assigned to South Sudan, where he stayed until 1964 working at Raffili, diocese of Wau. With the bishop of Wau he co-founded a diocesan congregation of brothers. He spent 13 years in the Sudan until his expulsion in 1964 together with the other Comboni Missionaries.
At that time the superiors, despite his desire to return to Africa, kept him in Italy for two years. In 1966 Fr. Pasquale left for Congo and from then on never left it. He lived there for 38 years working with great commitment and zeal up until the illness made it impossible for him to carry out his daily tasks connected with his pastoral and missionary ministry.
From 1966 to 1970 he taught at the Sudanese seminary of Kilomines where the seminarians of the “diaspora” had gathered. After this service, he was sent to the missions of North-East Congo where, among other things, he was the parish priest and superior of Mungbere until 1976. Fr. Pasquale arrived in Kisangani on 25 February 1977, to be appointed parish priest on 30 March by Bishop Fathaki. He stayed at St. Camillus until 3 January 1982. In 1982 he was transferred from Kisangani to Kinshasa, as associate of the parish of St. Martin. In 1987 he returned to Kisanghani as parish priest of Malkia wa Mashahidi until 1988. After a time at St. Anne in Isiro, the superiors asked him to return to Kinshasa as vicar of St. Mbaga, where he remained until 1991, the year he returned to St. Camillus parish in Kisangani, where he remained till his death.
Fr. Pasquale died on 10 January surrounded by the confreres of his community of St. Camillus, crowning in this fashion, as we have mentioned, his dream of dying on African soil and surrendering his remains to this land and people he so loved. Among the people he preferred to deal with were the poor, the sick and the catechumens: whenever possible, his office was also used as a catechism room. This choice was a concrete way to live his missionary vocation ad gentes and to avoid becoming “just another priest.” Fr. Pasquale leaves with his Comboni family, the confreres working in Kisangani, and the pastoral agents a witness of faithfulness, tenacity and perseverance in the work of evangelisation. When faced with difficulties and trials, his motto was: hapana maneno, always forward! To the Christians of his parish he leaves an example of the following of Christ lived to the fullest. To the young ones still in formation he leaves the mafundisho or the mateya to be assimilated: mission is service and oblation.
Thank you, Fr. Pasquale, for your legacy and for all that you have given to Africa and to the people with whom you worked. (P. Fermo Bernasconi)
Fr. Bruno Novelli (28.07.1936 –14.01.2003)
Fr. Bruno Novelli was born in Verona in 1936. He joined the Comboni Missionaries in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1964. From 1964 to 1970 he studied humanities at the Catholic University of Milan and obtained his degree with a thesis on Social Anthropology entitled “Ergologia e Etnosociologia Lotuho” (South Sudan), 3 volumes, 726 pages. In 1971 he was sent to West Nile in the diocese of Arua among the Kakwa. From 1972 to 1980 he was at Naoi, diocese of Moroto in Karamoja. In 1980 we find him in Rome as secretary general for evangelisation. He returned to Karamoja in 1983 where he was parish priest in Matany for some years. In 1989 he established the Diocesan Cultural Centre on Karimojong language and culture that included giving courses to new comers. He also started a Documentation Centre on the Karimojong and on nomadic people. In 1992 he was in Nairobi at the provincial centre. Also there he established a Documentation Centre on the pastoralist people of Kenya. For reasons of health he went to Verona in 1995 to be in charge of the Nigrizia Library. He returned to Uganda in May 1999, but again for health reasons he returned to Italy in April 2002.
Fr. Bruno published several books on the Karimojong and on Karamoja: Pastorale Missionaria Nuova (1980); A Grammar of the Karimojong Language (Berlin, 1985); an abridged form of the same, Small Grammar of the Karimojong Language (Verona 1987); Aspects of Karimojong Ethnosociology (Verona 1988); A man went out to sow his seed (Lk 8:5). Moroto Diocese Silver Jubilee (1965-1990) on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Moroto diocese; The Karimojong: a resilient people? (1995); Karimojong Traditional Religion (Verona 1999). Fr. Bruno also published several articles on various magazines on the Karimojong and on missionary activity.
From his bibliography we detect his interest, his great passion and his competence in the Karimojong world. He was an expert in the Karimojong language. It was Fr. Pasquale Crazzolara, a distinguished linguist who wrote several grammars (Logbara, Acholi, Pokot, etc.), who introduced him to linguistic studies and to the Karimojong language in particular. At the time of his death Fr. Bruno was working on his Karimojong dictionary. His death leaves a great emptiness not only in the Comboni family, but also in the area of study of the Karimojong world.
Fr. Bruno was very identified with Comboni, his charism and the Comboni Missionaries. He was a man of studies, a scholar and a little bit of an idealist. He was blessed with cheerful and hospitable character. He loved Verona, not only as his city, but also for its football team. He used to say that he was doing “fioretti” to make Verona win. He was very close to his family. His parents had died young and he had the premonition that he would die before getting too old. Some years back while still in Moroto, he had confided to his confreres that, if he died, he would have liked to be buried in Verona near his parents. He had constant health problems connected with blood circulation and anaemia. He often had headaches and periods of weakness.
His most meaningful missionary experience, to which he often referred, was the time he spent with Fr. Antonio La Braca in Naoi, on the outskirts of Moroto. He often spoke of those days with a bit of idealism and romanticism, as a pilot experience among the Karimojong. Fundamentally, he never went beyond that experience. He wrote a book (Pastorale Missionaria Nuova, 1980) to defend Fr. La Braca’s new pastoral approach, challenging the traditional approach which he considered too paternalistic and too much based on the administration of the sacraments. Because of his poor health, however, and because he was a man of studies, he spent more time at home than in the Karimojong villages. His love for the Karimojong was a bit idealistic. Being an intellectual, he wanted to find a rationale in everything that concerned the Karimojong. Others thought that reality was more complex and ambivalent, not only capable of being easily organized in clear and distinct categories, as he would have liked to. Because of this, he encountered times of discouragement when, during his last stay in Karamoja, he could see the precarious and dangerous situations concerning security and other aspects of the life of the missionaries and of the Church in Karamoja.
His great ability to spotlight in clear and distinct ideas the various situations of mission, eliminating or reducing what he could not easily fit into a system, was his great gift and probably also his limitation. It was impossible not to agree with him in theory over some methodological principles. But, looking at the reality of mission and of the Institute, always rather complex because of the ambivalence of problems and people, it appeared that his points of view were a little on the ideological side, and did not have a direct impact on reality, also because he himself was only involved to a point. However, because of his cheerful and open character, he was satisfied when he could express his thinking. He used to say: “I have always said what I thought,” and seemed to hint: “Now it’s up to you, superiors and confreres, to put it into practice.” He considered himself an expert on Karimojong culture and language. He did not get involved in other projects, such as liturgical and biblical translations, which seemed to be beyond his sphere of interest.
At Christmas time last year he sent an e-mail to his provincial to say that he was not feeling well and lacked the energy to continue his work. A few days before his death he sent another message to Fr. Damiano Guzzetti in Matany. Among other things he mentioned that he missed the Karimojong taaba (tobacco), which he liked to sniff. He asked him to send up some by means of confreres travelling to Italy.
By the death of Fr. Bruno we have lost a linguist and an anthropologist, a man of studies and of missionary challenges, a man with a passion for Comboni, identified with the Comboni Institute, a man who knew how to laugh and enjoy the little joys of conviviality and friendship.
As a province, in Uganda we think hat the best way to honour his precious memory is to ensure that his last work, the Karimojong dictionary on which he had been busy for years, is continued and completed by someone. Now Fr. Bruno rests in the “great village” in which he had envisioned the Karimojong’s faith in the afterlife. (Fr. Guido Oliana)
Fr. Ottorino Filippo Sina (17.08.1915 –16.01.2003)
Fr. Ottorino (as he was called at home and in the institute, “Philip” as he was always called by the Sudanese) was born in Lonato, diocese of Verona, but province of Brescia, on 17 August 1915, shortly after the beginning of World War One. He completed his secondary school in Brescia at the famous Collegio Arici, where the future Pope Paul VI had also studied.
He entered the novitiate of Venegono in 1931 and made his first consecration to God for the missions on 7 October 1933. He was sent to Rome to study theology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University where he earned his licentiate “summa cum laude” in 1939. He was ordained in Rome on 8 April 1939 and left immediately for England, where the beginning of First World War caught up with him. He stayed there until 1947 working also among the Italian prisoners of war while earning a BA at London University.
Finally he could leave for Africa and he was assigned to Khartoum, Sudan, where he worked mostly at the Comboni College, of which he became the principal. Twice he was appointed regional superior up to the time when he was called to Rome to head the commission for the preparation of the important Special General Chapter of 1969, during which he was elected Vicar General of the Institute of the Comboni Missionaries. He had a great role in the post-Second Vatican Council’s renewal of the Comboni Institute.
After the Chapter of 1975 he returned to Khartoum where he was elected provincial superior. In 1982, with the return of Comboni Missionaries in South Sudan, he moved to Juba where he had another stint as provincial. In Juba he founded the Comboni College, a very important institution, held in high regards for the formation of leaders. In 1992, having taken part in a student march to protest the imposition of Islamic law on non-Muslims, he was exiled to Khartoum, from where he was eventually expelled in 1995, when his residence visa was not renewed.
He asked and obtained to stop in Egypt. With great zeal, generosity and courage, despite his age, he worked particularly in the formation of catechists, in the marriage pastoral, not only in the parish, but also in centres at the outskirts of the city, where the Sudanese used to gather. He was always available to be of service to religious communities. A confrere, who knew him well, wrote: “Fr. Ottorino was entrusted by the Lord with extraordinary gifts. He had a great intelligence. He knew to perfection the subjects he taught at the Comboni College, but even more he knew the Institute, our problems, the confreres and the people among whom he lived. He also had a great faith and his knowledge had become “wisdom’ because he was able to judge people and events in the light coming from the Lord. Fr. Ottorino was also very open-minded. While several older confreres endured “crises” because of what was happening in the Church and in the Institute, he was never perturbed because he knew how to evaluate things with the Christian optimism that comes from trusting the Lord.
At the end of November 2002 he became very weak and was taken to hospital. He had asked to be tended to in Italy with the idea of returning soon among his beloved Sudanese, but his health took a turn for the worse and God called him to his eternal reward, in the Italian Hospital of Cairo, the evening of 16 January 2003, assisted by his confreres and by the Comboni Sisters. During his last illness, and up to a short time before his death, he prayed continuously and showed acceptance in faith of the will of God.
He is grieved by the Sudanese community who has lost a father, by his confreres and the Sisters who have lost an example and a guide. From Heaven may he continue to assist us. (Fr. Giuseppe-Zeno Picotti)
Bro. Alfonso Segato (19.07.1920 –17.01.2003)
Bro. Igino Antoniazzi (26.01.1911 –24.01.2003)
Their obituary will appear in the next issue of Familia Comboniana
Let us pray for the deceased:
THE MOTHER: Teresa of Fr. Vincenzo Rino Percassi (C);
THE BROTHER: Alfredo of Bro. Agostinho Jamal (MO);
THE SISTER: Carminda of Fr. Alfredo Ribeiro Neres (CN);
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Maristella Marconi;
Sr. Gina Maria Gironda; Sr. Natalina Piazza.
MISSIONARI COMBONIANI VIA LUIGI LILIO 80 - ROMA