DELEGATES TO THE 16th GENERAL CHAPTER
1. CAPITULARS BY RIGHT
Members of the General Council
1 Fr. Manuel Augusto Lopes Ferreira, Superior General
2 Fr. Milani Venanzio, vicar general
3 Fr. González Núñez Juan Antonio, assistant general
4 Fr. González Ponce Rafael, assistant general
5 Br. Martinuzzo Umberto, assistant general
6 Fr. Bascarán Collantes Carlos (Brasil Nordeste)
7 Fr. Munari Giovanni (Brasil do Sul)
8 Fr. Castillo Matarrita Victor Hugo (Centrafrique)
9 Fr. Bernasconi Fermo (Congo)
10 Fr. Engl Silvester (Deutschsprachige Provinz)
11 Fr. Mauri Enea (Ecuador)
12 Fr. Masini Corrado (Etiopía)
13 Fr. Rojo Buxonat Laureano (España)
14 Fr. Francesco Antonini (Italia)
15 Fr. Pescantini Umberto (Kenya)
16 Fr. Cignolini Luigi (Khartoum)
17 Fr. Devenish Martin James (London Province)
18 Fr. Casagrande Luigi (Malawi-Zambia)
19 Fr. Díaz Jiménez Gerardo Antonio (México)
20 Fr Giboli Giorgio (Moçambique)
21 Fr. Dennis William Conway (North American Province)
22 Fr. Conrado Franco Lorenzo (Perú-Chile)
23 Fr. Manuel Alves Pinheiro De Carvalho (Portugal)
24 Fr. Baldan Fabio Carlo (South Africa)
25 Fr. Bettini Ezio (South Sudan)
26 Fr. Ruiz Molina Jesús (Tchad)
27 Fr. Perego Saverio (Togo-Ghana-Benin)
28 Fr. Oliana Guido (Uganda)
2. ELECTED CAPITULARS
1 Fr. Alberto de Oliveira Silva (A)
substitute: P. Glenday David Kinnear (A)
2 Fr. Beretta Fausto (BNE)
substitute: P. Guglielmi Antonio (BNE)
3 Fr. Odelir José Magri (BS)
substitute: P. Alcides Costa (BS)
4 Fr. Miante Girolamo (C)
substitute: P. Torres Gómez Manuel Ramón (C)
5 Fr. Aldegheri Giorgio (CA)
substitute: P. Zafanelli Giovanni (CA)
6 Fr. Etumba Mangoba Jean Paul (CN)
substitute: P. Anakese Jérôme (CN)
7 Fr. Girau Pellicer José Antonio (CO)
substitute: P. Villarino Rodríguez Antonio (CO)
8 Fr. Legonou J. Pierre (deceased)
substitute: P. Cordioli Enrico (DCA)
9 Fr. Peinhopf Karl (DSP)
substitute: P. Eder Alois (DSP)
10 Fr. Reig Bellver Vicente Luis (E)
substitute: P. Carrera Augusto Francisco (E)
11 Fr. Brito Carvajal Byron Gustavo (EC)
substitute: P. Bordonali Bruno (EC)
12 Fr. Lurati Claudio (EG)
substitute: P. Kiwanuka Achilles Kasozi (EG)
13 Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Weldeghebriel (ER)
substitute: P. Merke Zemicael Tesfazion (ER)
14 Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse (ET)
substitute: P. Di Iorio Nicolino (ET)
15 Fr. Serra Teresino (I)
16 Fr. Pelucchi Alberto (I)
17 Fr. Zanotelli Alessandro (I)
substitute: P. Padovan Giorgio (I)
18 Fr. Fernando Domingues (KE)
substitute: P. Tasiame John Kofi (KE)
19 Fr. Annis Paul (KH)
substitute: P. Ssemakula Joseph Balikuddembe (KH)
20 Fr. Hicks Robert (LP)
substitute: P. Troy John Martin (LP)
21 Fr. García Castillo Jorge Oscar (M)
22 Fr. Arellano Pérez Luis Francisco (M)
substitute: P. Velázquez González Arturo (M)
23 Fr. López García Antonio (MO)
substitute: P. Joaquim José Valente da Cruz (MO)
24 Fr. Uribe González Gabriel (MZ)
substitute: P. Dário Balula Chaves (MZ)
25 Fr. O'Donnell Paul (NAP)
substitute: P. Quigley Brian (NAP)
26 Fr. Coaquira Hilaje Rodolfo (PE)
substitute: P. Huamán Inga Máximo (PE)
27 Fr. José da Silva Vieira (P)
substitute: P. Serafim Xavier da Costa Dias (P)
28 Fr. Singer Benno (RSA)
substitute: P. Wanjohi Thumbi Andrew (RSA)
29 Fr. Aranda Nava José Jesús (SS)
substitute: P. González Galarza Fernando (SS)
30 Fr. Esquivel Hernández David Arturo (TC)
substitute: P. Piazza Renzo (TC)
31 Fr. Boscaini Aurelio (T)
substitute: P. Odjo Casimir (T)
32 Fr. Pampaloni Elia (U)
33 Fr. Guzzetti Damiano (U)
substitute: P. Climent Vilaplana Juan (U)
1 Br. Cerri Agostino (C-E-P)
substitute: Fr. Casas Rosell Guillermo (C-E-P)
2 Br. Della Monica Simone (A-DCA-M-NAP)
substitute: Fr. Rodríguez Fayad Jorge Arturo (A-DCA-M-NAP)
3 Br. Romero Aría Hernán (CA-CN-T-TC)
substitute: Fr. Tsomafo-Agbemelo Constant Marcel (CA-CN-T-TC)
4 Br. D’Aiuto Francesco (BNE-BS-CO-EC-PE)
substitute: Fr. Holgado Salvide Arístides (BNE-BS-CO-EC-PE)
5 Br. Haspinger Bruno (DSP-LP)
substitute: Fr. Ritterbecks Hans Dieter (DSP-LP)
6 Br. Maroso Genesio (I)
substitute: Fr. Dal Santo Narciso Tarcisio (I)
7 Br. Dalla Vecchia Renato (EG-ER-ET-KH-SS)
substitute: Fr. Iacomella Raniero (EG-ER-ET-KH-SS)
8 Br. Ceja Ceja Raúl (MO-MZ-RSA)
substitute: Fr. João Paulo da Rocha Martins (MO-MZ-RSA)
9 Br. Casagrande Alessandro (KE-U)
substitute: Fr. Giusti Daniele Giovanni (KE-U)
1 Fr. Calvera Pi Jaime, General secretary of mission promotion
2 Fr. Cimitan Danilo, general coordinator of ongoing formation
3 Fr. Guarda Alessandro Lwanga, general treasurer
4 Fr. Zolli Fernando, secretary general for evangelization
5 Fr. Torres Gómez Manuel Ramón, for Poland
6 Fr. Kyankaaga Ssendawula John Richard, for Africa
7 Br. Tsomafo-Agbemelo Constant Marcel, for Africa
8 Fr. Ikundu John, for Africa
9 Sc. Longba Godefroy-Medard (CA), For Africa
10 Sc. Estacio Dela Cruz Moises (A), for America-Asia
11 Br. Bertolo Roberto (I), for brothers of CIFs
1 Fr. Antonini Giovanni Battista
2 Fr. Sardella Michele Pio
Total delegates by right 28
Total priest delegates 33
Total brother delegates 9
Total observers 11
Total MCCJ participants 83
5. Other observers
Archbishop Lukudu Loro Paulino, representing the Comboni bishops, will attend the firt part of the Chapter (the “see” part)
The CMS and Secular Comboni Missionaries will be invited to send one or two observers to the the firt part of the Chapter (the “see” part)
The CLM will be invited to send one observer to the the firt part of the Chapter (the “see” part)
Activities of the Pre-Capitular Commission
The Pre-Capitular Commission (Fr. Fabio Baldan, Fr. García Castillo Jorge, Fr. John Ikundu, Fr. Girolamo Miante, Fr. Teresino Serra, Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Weldeghebriel, Bro. Alessandro Casagrande), which has been meeting in Rome since 23 April, is about to conclude its activities in preparation for the 16th General Chapter.
The first task was to read and summarise all the answers, observations and amendments to the Lineamenta sent in by the provinces, delegations and scholasticates, in view of producing a new document for the Chapter: Instrumentum Laboris (IL) or Working Draft. At this point the final draft of the IL is ready to be translated into the official languages of the Institute and sent to the chapter delegates. The IL, produced not without difficulties, is meant to aid the chapter delegates in their formal and official discernment, in view of decisions to be taken with regard to preparing programmes, formulating a plan of action for the Chapter and prepare the election of the General Council.
From the reports sent to Rome by many confreres from the various provinces and delegations, we see that there are many expectations for a different type of Chapter that will be able to take courageous decisions. The IL is open to the aspirations of the confreres and, therefore, it is available to the reflections, hopes and the enrichment of and by all.
The Commission has also edited the reports of the secretariats, of the general offices, of the provinces and delegations, and of the letters of all the confreres who have written to the Chapter: this entire documentation each chapter delegate will find in his room when he arrives in Rome.
We wish to remind you of what the Superior General, Fr. Manuel Augusto Lopes Ferreira, wrote in the letter announcing the 16th General Chapter: “With the preparation for the Chapter we are called to enter a kairos of discernment and to live through this time in the communion which is proper of a cenacle of apostles in the light of the Holy Spirit. This way the preparation for the Chapter will be an exercise of discernment and a school of communion as we listen to others in the Spirit who is the true protagonist of mission.”
Bro. Latevi Akouété Pierre-Fourrier (T) Lomé (T) 01.05.2003
Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guíxot has been appointed Director of Studies at PISAI effective 01.07.2003. Congratulations!
We wish to let you know about some publications useful for the canonisation event that have been published, at our request, by the San Paolo Ed. and by EMI.
• Antologia commentata degli scritti di Comboni [A commented antology of Comboni’s Writings] (in Italian): “A servizio della Missione”, St. Paul Ed. 2003, 388 pages., € 7,50 (To Comboni Missionaries), pocket size (15.5 x9.5), India paper. A great gift for friends and benefactors. Ask from Fr. V. Milani: e-mail: email@example.com
• Agasso Domenico: “Una vita per l’Africa” [A Life for Africa], St. Paul ed. 2003, 288 pages, € 7,50 (for Comboni Missionaries). A revised re-printing of the previous edition. Order through Fr. V. Milani (see above).
• Illustrated Calendar 2004 with 4 pages edited for Italy (GIM addresses, magazines…) St. Paul Ed., 32 pages, + 4 cover pages, € 0,50 (for Comboni Missionaries ). Ask as above.
• Gianpaolo Romanato: “L’Africa degli esploratori e dei missionari, fra cristianesimo e islam. La vita di Daniele Comboni”, Corbaccio publishing, September 2003, 430 pages, about € 22,00. “It a complete revision of the previous edition. The author has taken into account the material given by many Comboni Missionaries.”
Order as above. Details to follow.
• Cirillo Tescaroli: “Daniele Comboni”, EMI, a revised and updated edition. French edition, 48 pages, € 0,52 (for Comboni Missionaries); Italian edition, 64 pages, € 1,65 (for Comboni Missionaries). Order from EMI.
• Daniele Comboni, Una vita per la missione. A 26’ video. It ready for production. It is also possible to have the video with an international sound track in order to add the voice in different languages. Order from Comboni Press-Rome. Price to be decided.
Still in their preparation stages, the biography of Comboni by Lozano, updated and completed with a chapter on Comboni’s spirituality (also on beatification and canonisation), and yet another biography sponsored by the Italian province. Order from EMI.
Gathering of relatives, friends and benefactors
Rome, Sunday, 18 May 2003. “Comboni could never have accomplished what he did without the support of relatives, friends and benefactors. He spent a lot of time and wrote many pages in order to keep in touch with his supporters, to keep them informed and to bind them more and more to his mission, bound by a deep sense of friendship and by the theological view that urged him to involve all Christians in his mission project.” This is what Fr. Piero Ravasio, general archivist, told relatives, friends and benefactors of the Comboni Missionaries gathered in Rome on Sunday, 18 May 2003.
Fr. Giusto Zini and Fr. Torquato Paolucci, superior of the community, hosted the event. The talk of Fr. Ravasio was followed by a report given by Mrs. Rosella Roccheggiani on her recent trip to Sudan where she and her group ship medical supplies for the displaced people around Khartoum. Both the talks and the discussions that followed highlighted the importance of the individual person in any activity carried out on behalf of Africa. The main celebrant at the Eucharist was Fr. John Richard Kyankaaga Ssendawula, a Ugandan Comboni Missionary who worked in the Sudan.
A gathering similar to the one held on 18 May took place on 4 May at the abbey of Valvisciolo, province of Latina. It was organized by our friends of Latina Scalo who secured the cooperation of the monks at the abbey and were able to involve even the local press. The Mass was celebrated in the Zairian rite, with Fr. V. Milani as the main celebrant, assisted by scholastics, Congolese sisters and the abbey choir.
The stands of African crafts and of Comboni publications, the showing of a video on the birth of a new mission in the outskirts of Kinshasa and a discussion on some African situations contributed to a better knowledge of the Comboni Missionaries and to create more interest in our activities.
First Profession in Calamba
On 18 May, the confreres, novices and postulants of the Philippines gathered at the Noviciate (Calamba) for the first vows of three novices: Antonio Rivera Menes, Randito Recalde Tina and Simplicio Soliven Buema. The first two are candidates to the priesthood while the latter is a candidate to the brotherhood. A good number of their relatives and friends joined in this simple but grace filled event. We joyfully welcome them and pray for their fidelity and commitment to the Lord of Mission.
The delegation of Asia is grateful to all those confreres who in various ways have sent their thoughtful words and support in this critical moment we are going through in Asia, due especially to the spreading of the SARS virus. In a special way, we thank Fr. Rafael González Ponce for his message of solidarity on behalf of the General Council.
The Philippines have just been declared SARS free by the WHO. Whereas the situation seems to be contained in Hong Kong, Taiwan remains critical and vulnerable to the contagious virus. Thank God, our confreres in Macau, Hong Kong, Taipei and the Philippines are all in good health. Aware that we are in God's hands, we place our trust in Him.
International Dialogue on the Plan of Daniel Comboni
In view of the canonisation of Daniel Comboni, the ad hoc commission of Comboni Missionaries/Sisters, religious and lay people in Congo, is preparing an “International Dialogue” on the Regeneration of Africa, along the lines of Daniel Comboni’s Plan. It is an attempt to have African theologians, philosophers, historians and politicians reread Comboni’s Plan. On the one side, it is Africa that makes Comboni its own and, on the other side, it is Africa showing to the Mission new roads to be travelled so that the Gospel may give a valid contribution to its own regeneration.
The Dialogue will take place at the end of October 2003 and will last three days. The first day will be given to a presentation of the expectations of Africa in the days of Comboni and of the Plan as an answer to these expectations. On the second day there will be an exploration of the vital strengths proper to Africa that are the basis for its regeneration. Finally, there will be a re-writing of Comboni’s Plan to turn it into a relevant response to the expectations and the disappointments of Africa today: personal responsibility, cooperation, trust in its own strength and potentials, the role of culture and of women. A qualified committee will follow the proceedings of the Dialogue in order to have an authoritative publication of the Acts. It is the feeling of the organizing committee that some pages of the history of mission in Africa will have to be rewritten in order to be more objective about the missionary activity carried out by the Church in Central Africa.
As we prepare for the General Chapter, we have found statistics that make us ponder: Kinshasa has seven million people with a 5% yearly rate of increase, namely, 350,000 new inhabitants a year. To take care of this population there are 115 parishes. No new parish has been started over the last three years. According to a poll on religious affiliation carried out in October 2002, the results, compared with a similar poll taken in 1968, are as follows:
Religious affiliation 1968 2002
Without religion 2.5 % 7.5 %
Catholics 58.6 % 34.2 %
Protestants(ECC) 27.0 % 25.1 %
Kimbanguists 8.5 % 4.1 %
Independent Churches 27.8 %
Islam .…... 1.5 %
Others 3.1 % 0.1 %
How do we react to these results? What attitudes should we have and what stand should we take? What kind of renewal should we promote?
School of non-violence
During the first week of April the mission promoters of Italy gathered in Pesaro for an updating course. The theme, quite timely, was: “The Spirituality of non-violence.” The talks by experts and witnesses proposed Christ as the non violent model (A. Drago), non-violence as the only way towards conflict resolution (G. Salio) and as the new name for the following of Christ (G. Mazzillo).
31st Meeting of Brothers
As it is customary, also this year there was a meeting of Brothers, the 31st of its kind, and it was held in Pesaro on 25-28 April. The main theme was: “Formation in the CIFs and the first mission assignment.” The situation of the CIF of Nairobi was described by Bro. Emilio Prevedello; formation at the CIF of Bogotá was described by Bro. Claudio Parotti and Bro. Joel Cruz Reyes. Bro. Fabio Frigerio and Bro. Alberto Parise related their experience of first contact with mission life in Brazil and in Kenya.
About forty confreres attended. The debates were lively and the presence of a good number of young Brothers, including a small number of non-Italians currently in Italy mostly to pursue studies, was invigorating. It showed that within the Institute internationality and intercultural exchange are proceeding well. The presence of older Brothers, eager to understand what is changing in mission and formation, was much appreciated, especially by the young brothers.
Gathering of young Comboni Missionaries
The second gathering of ongoing formation for the young Comboni Missionaries of the Italian province and of Poland took place in Padova with the participation of Fr. Francesco Antonini on 12-17 May. About 15 of our students attended, including those who have just received their first assignment. The reflection/sharing dealt with some important topics: “Young people for mission: between memory and prophecy. Ten paths of commitment” (Fr. Meo Elia); “The Church today: the challenges of the Council and of Pacem in Terris” by Mgr. Nervo; “Daniel Comboni: a new reading of his message for young Comboni Missionaries” (Fr. Arnaldo Baritussio).
The plurality of services, places of origin and ecclesial contexts where the Institute works has underlined the importance of being able to share more and more the dreams, the expectations and the challenges of Mission, thus giving birth to new international ways of creating communion, reflection, networking and action among the young Comboni Missionaries.
MALAWI - ZAMBIA
From the noviciate of Lusaka
On Sunday, 27 April 2003, the following novices made their first profession in the parish of St. Kizito, in the outskirts of Lusaka: Andrew Bwalya (Z), Antonio Alone Maia (MO), Litos José Raimundo (MO), Donald Magoma Maripe (RSA), Nathanael Siyume Tadesse(ET), Henok Teshome Getaneh (ET) and Weldeyohannes Tesfay Weldeyohannes (ET). The profession was preceded, a few weeks earlier, by a day of mission promotion among the youth of the parish of St. Kizito and surrounding areas carried out by Fr. Dawit Wubishet Teklewold and the novices. On the day of the profession the church was packed.
The diocesan radio station “Yatsani” carried the event live. Fr. Luigi Casagrande was the main celebrant at the Eucharist and at the profession, surrounded by the confreres from Chicowa and Lusaka and confreres from Mozambique. A good number of Comboni Missionary Sisters, together with their provincial, Sr. Bianca Bresciani, also attended. Thanks go to Fr. Piero Milan and his parish for hosting the second first professions in the history of the Lusaka noviciate.
Assembly of local superiors
On 22 and 23 April the local superiors of the sixteen communities of the Peru/Chile province gathered at the provincial house in Monterrico (Lima) for their yearly assembly. Full participation and a good atmosphere prevailed. During the time given to ongoing formation, taking advantage of this year of grace when we celebrate the canonisation of our Founder, we spoke of the local superior as the animator of the community, remembering what Comboni thought about the role of superior. A reflection also took place on the last letter from the GA, Witnesses of the love of the Crucified, and on how to live a chaste life today within the consecrated life.
As always, the assembly was a time of growth in which it was possible to share experiences, worries and progress towards a better feeling of brotherhood and of communion among the confreres.
First professions of our novices
On 3 May, feast of the Holy Cross, in Huánuco two Peruvian novices made their first profession. The two young men, Gilver Calongos Maslucán and Gerardo Alvaro Casillas Oviedo, read the formula of consecration in the presence of Fr. Franco Lorenzo Conrado, provincial superior, and their novice masters. Both are getting ready to continue their formation abroad. A third novice, John Castro Sánchez, who finished his noviciate with them, returned to his native place, Esmeraldas, Ecuador, to make his profession in the presence of his family, before returning to Lima to continue his studies towards the priesthood. Another novice, Luis Alfredo Pulido Alvarado, also returned home (Colombia) to take his vows in his home town.
Visit of the provincials from Brazil
During the first week of May we received the welcome visit of Fr. Carlos Bascarán Collantes, provincial of Brazil Nordeste, and of Fr. Giovanni Munari, provincial of Brazil South. Both had the opportunity to visit some of the communities in the Central Sierra, take part in the celebrations of first profession and visit our scholasticate in Lima. It gave them an opportunity to tell us how they proclaim the gospel and witness to the Kingdom in these sister provinces.
Blessing of the church of St. Januarius (Chorillos)
On Sunday 18 May the new church, located in the area where our Comboni community of Chorillo lives, was blessed. Several Comboni Missionaries and a large group of invited guests joined the celebration where Bishop José Antonio Eguren, auxiliary of Lima, was the main celebrant and our provincial a concelebrant.
The church was almost entirely built when Fr. Fernando Madaschi was parish priest and he was remembered with a long and warm applause at the end of the celebration. The godparents of the ceremony were Fr. Franco Conrado Lorenzo, provincial superior, and Sr. Clara Yánez, who took care of this Christian community from the start.
The feast of St. Joseph, 1 May 2003, was marked by the perpetual profession of Bro. Latevi Akouété Pierre-Fourrier in Cacaveli (Lomé). The confreres gathered round their provincial for the occasion. His is the second perpetual profession this year. The first was the profession of Bro. Luc Mathurin Todjohon, a native of Benin, that took place on 15 March in the church of St. Benoit of Toffo, Benin.
On this second profession the chapel was filled with delegates from various religious communities, the Brothers of St. John of God, the Brothers of Christian Instruction, the Sisters of Providence, all from Bro. Latevi’s home town and, naturally, his family. During the homily the provincial spoke of the evangelical counsels as a radical way to follow Christ, even though all Christians are invited to a life of detachment, which is different from denial. When we meet Christ we need nothing else, because he is the one and only treasure who puts a smile on our face every day. Bro. Latevi offered a palm tree as a sign of his life at the service of the world. His family brought a mango tree, known for its delicious fruit, as a symbol of the fruits that their son must bear for the salvation of the world. His superior gave him a cross, as a symbol of the love of God.
At the end of the ceremony, after having thanked all present, we remembered the deceased Fr. Jean Pierre Legonou, the first Comboni Missionary priest of the province, who died in Sahuayo, Mexico, on 8 March 2003. All the confreres and Sisters, together with the family of Fr. Jean Pierre, gathered outside for the blessing of a monument erected in his honour in front of the chapel, next to the one of the novice Akapo Numado Remy Magloire, who died in Kinshasa in 1996. The ceremony showed how in life joy and sorrow are often together: the joy over a confrere who gives himself to God and the sorrow over another who left us prematurely. At the foot of the Cross all is grace.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Fr. Charles Walter (19.08.1940 – 07.05.2003)
Fr. Charles Walter’s journey through life was an international and multicultural experience, lived brilliantly in the service of the Church and the missionary Institute he deeply loved.
“I know I speak for all of you when I say that he will be missed,” wrote Fr. Brian Quigley, who succeeded Fr. Charles as provincial superior of the North American Province in 1986, “Charlie’s years of dedicated service to the province, coupled with his keen perception and clear leadership, have launched us into the 21st century.”
Born in Grafton, West Virginia, Charlie was the first child of Sebastian J. Walter, a wholesale bakery co-owner, and Mary MacDonald, housewife, who came from Cambridge, Massachusetts. His parents led him and his brother George to a deep belief in Christ, in a region where Catholics were few and endured the bigotry of their neighbours. His dad, aunts and uncles owned G-B Bread. Some neighbours refused to buy bread from them because they knew the family was Catholic. This early introduction to life on the margins influenced Charlie greatly.
Grafton is in the coal-mining region of West Virginia. The people had a very tough existence, especially before John L. Lewis organized the miner’s union. Charlie talked about his early school days: “I remember the teacher of World History telling us about colonization around the world. The teacher was a young Sister of Divine Providence. She said that we didn’t have to go to Africa to find colonies since West Virginia was a colony of the wealthy mine owners who live in New York and get the lion’s share of the profits, leaving little for the poor, tireless workers.”
After completing eight years of primary school in just seven years at St. Augustine Parish School in Grafton, in 1953 Fr. Charles went to Sacred Heart Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. Throughout his years of formation, he distinguished himself as an extremely gifted and intelligent student, with a wry sense of humour. While lying on his bed, consumed with cancer, he told the Provincial Superior, Fr. Dennis Conway, “God has a sense of humour. He has given me peace about my death, because that’s the natural course of things, but it still drives me crazy when they bring me cold mashed potatoes.”
His Comboni spirituality characterized him fully, testified Ruth Holtel, a friend of the Cincinnati community. He nourished this spirituality in Monroe, Michigan, during the noviciate from 1957 to 1959. After this, he obtained a Bachelor of Philosophy degree from San Diego University in 1962; he studied theology in Rome from 1962 to 1966, graduating with the degree of Sacra Theologia Licentia (STL).
After ordination in 1966, his first mission assignment was teaching at Sacred Heart Seminary in Cincinnati, but less than two years later he was sent to the Diocese of Lydenburg-Witbank, in the Republic of South Africa, where he served until 1973. This experience was interrupted for 9 months, when he was elected by the NAP as an observer to the 10th General and Special Chapter in Rome. That was Charlie’s first experience of a General Chapter. He was subsequently elected delegate to the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 15th General Chapters.
From 1975 to 1979, Fr. Charles served on the General Council as an assistant general at the international headquarters in Rome. During that time he was instrumental in the opening of the scholasticates in Chicago, Illinois, and Innsbruck, Austria. As a member of the General Council, he facilitated the reunification of the German and Italian branches of the Comboni Missionaries that had separated in 1923.
In the 1980s, Fr. Charles was elected provincial superior of the NAP, becoming the youngest provincial superior in the congregation at that time. With his council he achieved several goals; among others, a new provincial directory and plan of action, and the opening of a vocational centre for Spanish-speaking candidates at Casa Comboni in Los Angeles.
Fr. Charles earned the degree of Doctor of Ministry and was an adjunct professor at the Catholic Theological Union at Chicago (CTU). He was also the associate director of the Chicago Centre for Global Ministries. His specialty was intercultural formation programmes.
Towards the end, when his strength failed him, his faith was still deep and strong. He parted with the words: “God be with you.” Fr. Donald Senior, President of CTU wrote that Fr. Charles: “Faced the threat of terminal cancer with extraordinary courage and peace. May God now grant him the fullness of that peace in eternal life.”
Fr. Ampelio González Aragón (15.07.1955 – 15.05.2003)
When the news of the untimely and tragic death of Fr. Ampelio, still in the fullness of his physical, spiritual and missionary energy at 47 years of age, reached us in the morning of 15 May it was very hard to believe that it was true. The Lord called Fr. Ampelio to him in the most unexpected way while he was in Uganda, guest at Kiryandongo parish, waiting for the residence permit from the government of Ethiopia. He had gone back to Ethiopia only seven months earlier, in November 2002, and was happy and enthusiastic about resuming the missionary service he had offered to the Sidama people from 1986 to 1995. He died of cerebral malaria at the hospital of Lacor. He started to give signs of malaria in the afternoon of 11 May. Treated with cloroquine and fansidal, he responded to the treatment at the point that he was able to visit the students of the mission school. On 14 May the fever went suddenly up. Bro. Pietro Busi took him to Lacor hospital, where he was treated with quinine. He had a remarkable improvement and was able to have some soup. Around midnight the fever went up again reaching 41.8 centigrade. Four doctors, Bro. Elio Croce and Sr. Dorina tried everything possible and the fever started to decrease, but nothing could be done to save him, because malaria had affected his brain. Fr. Ampelio died on 15 May at 2.00 a.m.
Fr. Ampelio was born in Castrillo de Onielo, Palencia, on 15 July 1955. He joined the Comboni Missionaries during high school. He had his years of formation at Moncada, Saldana, and finally in the scholasticate of Chicago.
After his ordination in June 1981 he worked for five years in his home province, Spain, as formator in the minor seminary of Saldana. A gifted and very creative person, he distinguished himself for his commitment to the seminarians and for his skills both as teacher of English and as an artist. He loved painting and sculpture. Some of his paintings are still decorating some of our houses in Spain.
In 1986 he was assigned to Ethiopia, where he arrived full of missionary enthusiasm. His first assignment was to the mission of Shafinna for the study of the Sidamo language. Then, after a few months, he was assigned to the mission of Dongora and later to the mission of Tullo, where he served as school director and assistant parish priest. He was for few months also in Fullasa where, soon after the fall of the regime of Menghistu Hailemarayam, fugitive soldiers and some local people looted the mission.
In 1995, after nine years of missionary service in Ethiopia, he returned to Spain. Enriched by his missionary experience, he was very much appreciated for his methodical and constant service as mission promoter first and then as director of the African Museum in Madrid. Because of his inborn prudence and orderly mind, he would not risk into new ventures without first evaluating all the consequences. He was able to give a valid contribution as a member of the Provincial Council.
In 2002 he chose to go to Ethiopia though he knew that working there was tougher than in other places he had been offered to go to. He was very faithful to his people, whom he had learnt to love deeply and who had so often repaid his love. He found a country in so many ways totally changed since his first appointment. There were new and greater challenges than in the past, but he was determined to face them with courage and faith in God. To avoid wasting time, he had wanted to go straight to the missions of the Awasa Vicariate, where he immediately took up the responsibility as community superior and parish priest of Dongora. His confreres found him deeply changed: very thoughtful, balanced in his views and attentive in dealing with the members of his community, with the other Comboni confreres and with the Sidama people.
More than ever, as a province, we experienced that “God’s ways are not our ways”. The final departure of Fr. Ampelio demands from us and from all the faithful of Dongora mission an act of faith and abandonment in God’s hands. We ask, through the intercession of Comboni, that the example of dedication to the mission, which Fr. Ampelio has always witnessed, be for each one of us a call to renew our commitment to work till the end for the growth of God's Kingdom in the fertile vineyard of this local Church.
(Fr. Corrado Masini)
Let us pray for the deceased
THE FATHER: Anton of Fr. Anton Schneider (DSP).
THE MOTHER: Palmira of Fr. António Aparício Cardoso (CN);
Maria Aurora of Fr. José Júlio Martins Marques (MO);
of Fr. Elia Pampaloni (U).
THE BROTHER: Giuseppe of Bro. Angelo Drago (U); Giuseppe Battista of Bro. Benito Ricci (U).
THE SISTER: Pauline Nabasaaka of the Sch. Paul Balikyogerako Ssonko (U in Chicago).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Anna Finetto; Sr. M. Agnese Marazzani; Sr. M. Loreta Finamore; Sr. M. Domenica Tana.