June 2003 Consulta - General Notes
The last Consulta
The June 2003 Consulta was the last of the present General Council (GC). The members of the GC take the opportunity to thank God, first of all, for his providence and assistance during the Consultas held during the six-year period and, secondly, the confreres in general and the provincials and delegates in particular for the collaboration they have given us during these past years in the service of guiding the Institute. As we have written in the Report to the XVI General Chapter, from the very beginning of our mandate we have aimed - in the hope of succeeding - at animating the Institute, inspired by the Rule of Life and by the Guidelines of the XV General Chapter, in a spirit of communion and subsidiarity.
The preparation for the XVI General Chapter has been implemented as planned. By electronic post the Precapitular Commission has sent to the capitulars (provincials and delegates) and observers all the necessary documents for the preparation of the Chapter: Instrumentum Laboris, Reports of the provinces and delegations, of the General Secretariats, of the General Offices and of the GC. All these documents have also been printed and placed at the disposal of the capitulars when they arrive in Rome. The members of the Precapitular Commission and of the GC will be present in Rome from 17 August for the last preparations to the Chapter. The capitulars, as already announced, will have to be in Rome by the 23 August 2003 to take part in the week of preparation for the Chapter.
The two General Councils, MCCJ and SMC, have met on 16 June to finalise the preparations of the canonisation. We have noticed the usefulness of the subsidies prepared by the Reflection Commission to animate individuals and communities. To facilitate the coordination of the various activities, at this last stage, the two Councils have thought it appropriate to make one commission out the present three, namely to keep only the Central Commission, adding to it some of the members of the other two.
We remind the provincials and delegates to read and pass on to the persons concerned the information they have received concerning the canonisation in general and the pilgrimages to Rome in particular. The two Councils, furthermore, have agreed to publish and send out on 1 September a letter on the canonisation, as a last animation document and a further in-depth reflection on it.
During the June Consulta, two members of the team of the Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation (CYOF) have met with the members of the GC and the Central Coordinator for Ongoing Formation to evaluate the CYOF 2002-2003 in Mexico and to prepare the one of 2003-2004 in South Africa. We thank the Lord for the very positive way in which the CYOF in Mexico took place and invite the provincial and delegates to assist and motivate the participation of the confreres who will attend the CYOF in South Africa.
Finances and Sharing
In the June Consulta the GC has approved the 2002 Financial Report presented by the general treasurer. As we thank Divine Providence for the assistance we have received, we wish to add here a word of heartfelt thanks to the provinces and delegations which, through their contributions, have helped the General Administration to take care of the emergency situations and the needs of the Institute.
1. Some post canonisation celebrations have been agreed upon: October 10 in Verona, 11 in Brescia and 12 in Limone. These communities, in cooperation with the members of the canonisation commission, the provincial council and Fr. Venanzio Milani, are in charge of organising such celebrations. Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir Wako and other bishops will be on hand.
2. On October 24 and 25 a study meeting on “the Plan of Daniel Comboni for the regeneration of Africa between history of peoples and history of the Catholic Missions” will be held in Rome. The coordinator is Fr. Venanzio Milani.
3. The same gathering, but in a reduced form, will be held in our community of Brescia on October 31. Coordinators: Fr. Venanzio Milani and Fr. Alberto Pelucchi.
Precapitular commission 2003
The main task of the Precapitular Commission has been, as we know, to prepare the Instrumentum Laboris for the General Chapter. After the choice of the theme: “the Mission of the Comboni Missionaries in the third millennium” made by the Intercapitular of 2000, an earlier commission, using the questionnaire sent to all the provinces/delegations in 2001, had prepared the Lineamenta in 2002: a draft reflection on mission, was sent to all the confreres with a request for contributions, amendments, corrections, etc.
The new commission (2003) continued this work attempting, first of all, to read and summarise all the answers, amendments and observations that were received. From what has arrived in Rome it is easy to detect how the theme of “Mission” is of great interest to the Institute. We foresee a Chapter that will point to a clear understanding of our missionary journey over the next several years: we hope for specific choices that will make us live Comboni’s charism in a more radical way; we want to experience a more relevant and prophetic Comboni presence in the world.
The preparation of the Instrumentum Laboris, in short, has become a challenge and the priority choice of the commission: we have reflected, discussed and prayed together in an effort to prepare, a little at a time, a text that will answer the expectations of the confreres, without presuming to have all the answers. On the one side, we have attempted to have a truthful look at the reality of our world, of the Church and of the Institute, while on the other side, starting from the theological, ecclesial, Comboni foundations, to project ourselves in the future in order to offer to humankind our answer and our missionary resolve. We have also sent out various proposals that will need to be developed through the contribution of all and from the continents where we live and work.
The Commission has also been busy in other fields. It has organised the week of preparation to the Chapter: It will take place in Rocca di Papa, at the Better World spirituality centre from August 23 to 31. The delegates are urged to arrive on time. Departure from Via Lilio for Rocca di Papa is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.
After a first day of sharing and getting to know one another, on Monday, 25 August, Fr. Gianni Colzani will help us better understand the mission in today’s Church. On 26 August, Card. Martini will lead a day of prayer on the theme of Comboni spirituality. Fr. John Converset, who will help us to meet once again the personality of Daniel Comboni, will lead the next four days. A day of relaxation at Subiaco will bring the week to a close in view of opening the 16th General Chapter of the Institute on 1 September.
As previously announced in FC of June, most of the material prepared by the commission is already in the hands of the Chapter delegates: the Instrumentum Laboris, the synthesis of the answers to the Lineamenta, a draft of the Statute of the Chapter, the Proposal for an alternative model of cooperation in the Institute. The material was sent both by e-mail and by regular mail. The delegates have also received by e-mail (in three instalments!!!) the reports of the provinces. Also the report of the General Council has been sent in all the required languages (by e-mail and regular mail) to all the Chapter delegates. The way is open for a diligent preparation.
It is important now to have a heart that is open to the Spirit in order to be able to accept the event of the Chapter as God’s gift, always present in the Comboni journey and history. From the careful listening to his Word and to world events, a generous answer will be born that will help us continue to be disciples and witnesses of the Risen Lord in the spirit of the Founder, Blessed Daniel Comboni.
Renewal Course 2003
The Renewal Course for Fathers/Brothers (Curia-Rome) ended with the return trip/pilgrimage in Egypt. At its conclusion, the participants were appreciative of the course in general and for the 28 day stay in Egypt in particular, an enriching experience due to the contact with the Comboni origins in a context where the main challenges to mission are clearly visible.
The next Renewal Course will be held in Rome at the General Curia, as always, from 7 January 2004 (day of arrival) to 22 May 2004. The program still includes a stay in Limone and the pilgrimage to Egypt. If possible to have the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the program will be adjusted.
Those who wish to attend are asked to send their request to Fr. Carmelo Casile before the end of September, using the e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Annuario Comboniano 2004
The forms for the updating of information on the individual confreres, in preparation for the Annuario Comboniano 2004, have already been sent by e-mail to all the provincials/delegates. These forms must reach all the individual confreres who are asked to check closely all the data under their name in the Annuario Comboniano 2002. Corrections and changes are to be made as requested in the forms. They must then be urgently returned to the provincial/delegate or substitute who will send all the forms to the Secretary General.
Letter of the archbishop of Trent on the canonisation
The full approval of Bishop Comboni’s holiness is a source of great joy for the entire population of Trent, not only because we belong to the same ecclesial family, but also because of the special ties he shares with us.
We are thinking above all of the great missionary movement that he awakened in our communities, of the great number of missionaries who have followed him in Africa, of all the activities of support of the African world and of the increased missionary awareness in our local Church.
Already in his lifetime Comboni shared the life experience of Trent. Three of his grandparents came from the diocese of Trent, he was confirmed in Riva del Garda, and then he was ordained to the subdiaconate, the deaconate and the priesthood by the blessed Bishop De Tschiderer. He returned often to our city to witness to the evangelising work he was doing in Africa. He is certainly close to us even today, and his canonisation is an opportunity to discover dedication in the service of others and to revive in our daily life the gratitude for the gift of faith we have received.
May he intercede for us.
+ Luigi Bressan, Archbishop of Trent
Sc. António Alone Maia (MO) Lusaka (MZ) 27.04.2003
Sc. Bwalya Andrew (Z) Lusaka (MZ) 27.042003
Sc. Henok Teshome Getaneh (ET) Lusaka (MZ) 27.04.2003
Bro. Litos José Raimundo (MO) Lusaka (MZ) 27.04.2003
Sc. Magoma Maripe Donald (RSA) Lusaka (MZ) 27.04.2003
Sc. Natnael Siyume Tadesse (ET) Lusaka (MZ) 27.04.2003
Sc. Weldeyohannes T. Weldeyohannes (ET) Lusaka (MZ) 27.04.2003
Sc. Calongos Maslucán Gilver (PE) Huánuco (PE) 03.05.2003
Sc. Oviedo Casillas Gerardo Alvaro (PE) Huánuco (PE) 03.05.2003
Sc. Castro Sánchez Jhon Jani (EC) Carcelén (EC) 10.05.2003
Sc. Aguilar Guzmán David Octavio (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Calderón Vargas Juan Diego (CR) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Castañeda López Gabriel Alejandro (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Díaz Sagastume José Arnoldo (GUA) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Dunn Álvarez Henry Oswaldo (CR) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Escareño Méndez Manuel (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Galicia Sandoval Francisco (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Gallegos Sánchez Jorge (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. García Navarro Héctor (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Bro. García Oceguera Javier (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Bro. Gaspar Abarca Andrés (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Guzmán Martínez Rogelio (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Lomas García José Jaime (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Oliva Hernández Ildefondo (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Ortega Peña Miguel Angel (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Pacheco Zamora Mario Alberto (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Peñaloza Ramírez Rubén (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Reveles Vásquez Pablo Rodrigo (MEX) Sahuayo (M) 10.05.2003
Sc. Acidri Stephen (UG) Kampala (U) 11.05.2003
Sc. Kenyi Michael Alphonse Mödi (SD) Kampala (U) 11.05.2003
Sc. Korir John Kipkemoi (KE) Kampala (U) 11.05.2003
Sc. Ladu Peter Alphonse Loro (SD) Kampala (U) 11.05.2003
Sc. Oguzu Michael Aribo (UG) Kampala (U) 11.05.2003
Sc. Okumu Jimmy (UG) Kampala (U) 11.05.2003
Sc. Panyako Simon Oswan (KE) Kampala (U) 11.05.2003
Sc. Recalde Tina Randito (RP) Calamba (A) 18.05.2003
Sc. Rivera Menes Antonio (RP) Calamba (A) 18.05.2003
Bro. Soliven Buena Simplicio (RP) Calamba (A) 18.05.2003
Sc. Amoussou Comlan Ghislain (BC) Kinshasa (CN) 18.05.2003
Sc. Bealbaye Ouagadjio Clément (TC) Kinshasa (CN) 18.05.2003
Bro. Dimanche Godfrey-Abel (CA) Kinshasa (CN) 18.05.2003
Sc. Gbedey Nebounou Nyekplola (TG) Kinshasa (CN) 18.05.2003
Sc. Gnaha Cossi Bonaventure Henri (BC) Kinshasa (CN) 18.05.2003
Sc. Mambueni Makiadi Yves ((RDC) Kinshasa (CN) 18.05.2003
Sc. Mette Wilfred (CA) Kinshasa (CN) 18.05.2003
Sc. Ngoma Mwanza Jean Célestin (RDC) Kinshasa (CN) 18.05.2003
Sc. Nyebate Paluku Lazare Dénis (RDC) Kinshasa (CN) 18.05.2003
Sc. Sito Atambise Ferdinand (RDC) Kinshasa (CN) 18.05.2003
Sc. Pulido Alvarado Luis Alfredo (COL) Genezano (CO) 25.05.2003
Bro. Bauce Simone (I) Arzignano (I) 31.05.2003
Sc. Castaldi Gian Luca (I) Arzignano (I) 31.05.2003
Sc. Cenci Giacomo (I) Arzignano (I) 31.05.2003
Sc. Dziadosz Wiesłan Józef (PL) Kraków (PO) 07.06.2003
Fr. Hoduń Krzysztof Jerzy (PL) Kraków (PO) 07.06.2003
Sc. Kwiatek Andrzej (PL) Kraków (PO) 07.06.2003
Sc. Mikołayczyk Leszek Wojciech (PL) Kraków (PO) 07.06.2003
Sc. Zieliński Maciej Mikolaj (PL) Kraków (PO) 07.06.2003
Sc. João Miguel de Jesús Mendes Gomes (P) Santarém (P) 07.06.2003
Bro. Ostos Muñoz Pablo (E) S. María de Écija (E) 14.06.2003
Sc. Everaldo de Sousa Alves (BR) Contagem (BS) 29.06.2003
Sc. Serafim Aparecido Rodrigues da Costa (BR) Contagem (BS) 29.06.2003
Bro. Frigerio Fabio (I) Castiglione Olona (I) 17.05.2003
Fr. García González Moisés (M) Cuautitlán Izcalli (MEX) 07.06.2003
Fr. Breda Rossano (I) Milano (I) 07.06.2003
Fr. Estrada Meza Luis Alfredo (M) Monterrey (MEX) 14.06.2003
Fr. Arnaiz Carañagan Antonio (A) Mercedes (RP) 14.06.2003
Fr. Bolaños Palacios Martín Adolfo (CO) Pasto (COL) 15.06.2003
Fr. Leszczyński Rafał (PO) Wojnicz (PL) 21.06.2003
Fr. Alenyo John Peter is appointed formator and associate master of novices in Namugongo (U), effective 1 July 2003.
Fr. Ballin Camillo is appointed to a second three year term as Director of Dar Comboni (EG), effective 1 July 2003.
Fr. Bedin Alessandro is appointed second formator at the scholasticate of Kinshasa (CN), effective 1 July 2003.
Fr. Cadei Sandro is appointed master of novices of the second French language scholasticate, temporarily located in Cacaveli (Lomé), Togo, effective 1 July 2003, while waiting for the building of the noviciate in Cotonou in 2004.
Fr. Joaquim José Valente da Cruz is appointed president of Studium Combonianum, effective 1 January 2004.
Fr. Malacrida Mario is appointed superior of the scholasticate of Chicago (NAP), effective 1 September 2003.
Fr. Montresor Gaetano is appointed first formator and superior of the scholasticate of Kinshasa (CN), effective 1 September 2003.
Fr. Percassi Vincenzo Rino is appointed superior of the scholasticate of Rome (C), effective 1 July 2003
Fr. Rangu Mogoro Norbert is appointed formator and associate master of novices of the second French language noviciate, temporarily located in Cacaveli (Lomé), Togo; effective 1 July 2003.
Fr. Codianni Luigi Fernando (BNE) was elected member of the provincial council of BNE on 1 January 2003.
Fr. Kiwanuka Achilles Kasozi (EG) was elected to the delegation council in Egypt on 1 April 2003.
Fr. Román Medina José Luis was elected to the provincial council of E, effective 1 July 2003.
On 16 June, Fr. Edward Kanyike Mayanja discussed his thesis on “The Principle of Participation in African Cosmology and Anthropology” at the Angelicum; he obtained the highest score. Congratulations!
On 20 June, at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Fr. Michele Pio Sardella successfully discussed his thesis for a licentiate in missiology entitled: “Lomwe Anthropology: Religious Tradition and Culture of the Alomwe of Phalombe District in Malawi”, obtaining the highest score, summa cum laude. The Alomwe are a people present in Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe. Congratulations!
Fr. Guido Oliana: “Missionari per tutta la vita” (in Italian and English), 80 pages. It is an interesting reflection in three sections on the classic image of the missionary: a new vision in the Church, mission and missionaries, and points on spirituality and methodology of missionaries for life. It has a large bibliography and many quotes. Cost for Comboni Missionaries, € 3,00. Order by e-mail: email@example.com
EMIVIDEO will edit the new video on Comboni (26’) Order by e-mail from: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Fr. Antonio Furioli: “A Good Shepherd for Africa”, a short, but significant biography of Comboni (115 pages) in English, French and German, Porziuncola editions. Cost € 5,00. Discounts available for Comboni Missionaries. Order from Fr. Furiosi at San Pancrazio, Rome.
Fr. Cirillo Tescaroli: “Daniel Comboni”, Editorial Sin Fronteras, Quito 2003, 52 pages. Edition sponsored by the province of Ecuador. Order from there.
Care of Formation Centre Nazarè, Beira (MO): “Biblia, Mazwi a Mwari”. It is a translation of the Bible in Ndau. The coordination of this work and the printing have been handled by Fr. Giocondo Pendin. Congratulations.
Fr. Antonio Furioli: “La spiritualità mariana di Daniele Comboni” in “L’Osservatore Romano”, 30-31 May. A series of monthly articles by Fr. Furioli.
AAVV: “Mil vidas para la misión”, Centro Juvenil “Daniel Comboni”, Quito (EC). Seven booklets of 8 page each. Each one has reflections on Comboni and on mission, prepared in view of the 4th National Youth Congress of Ecuador (November 14-16, 2003).
Child soldiers never again
In North Uganda, out of a total population of one million and 400,000 Acholi and Lango inhabitants, about 850 thousands are displaced and live in subhuman conditions; 20 thousand children have been kidnapped and coerced into becoming soldiers or have been sold into slavery; the Catholic missions are routinely attacked and missionaries have been threatened with death. This was the basic information Fr. Venanzio Milani gave at the opening of the concert “A Bridge for Uganda: child soldiers never again,” organised by “GF-un ponte con” (Family Group – a bridge with Uganda, in the 2003 program) in cooperation with the Comboni scholastics of Rome and the Association for Alternative Trade, in order to inform the public on the tragedy of Uganda and raise money to support the archdiocese of Gulu in its ministry of hospitality, assistance and transitioning back into society of child soldiers who have been able to leave the guerrilla.
The concert, introduced by Nicoletta Orsomando, took place in the theatre of the Seraphicum with the participation of the Cultural Association Musicanova, the Philippino Group of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Congolese Musical Group “Africa canta” and the Ballet of America St. Lucy. Songs and dances were interspersed with readings of firsthand witness accounts of child soldiers, both boys and girls, read by children of “GF-un ponte con.”
Water: a resource for all
10 June 2003. Theatre of the Polo Civico, Rome. We all have a constant contact with water. We are aware of it only when our faucets run dry. And yet, every year, about eleven million people die of diseases related to lack of water. Half of them are children. Water is a vital resource that belongs to all, like air, and a limited good that must be utilised in the best manner and that requires structural reforms that will avoid dispersion and unbalances. It is the “blue gold” coveted by economic empires that want to privatise it and use it commercially. Wars are fought around the world just to control water. No one has the right to own water as if it were private property. These topics were addressed at a public meeting held in Rome on 10 June by Fr. Alex Zanotelli (Comboni Missionary), Fulvio Vento (president of ACEA), Nadia Fusco (University of Siena) and Marco Zupi (vice-president of CESPI). Highly praised was the presentation given by Marisa Caira, missionary volunteer in Africa for 23 years, who described a clean water project for a group of villages in the mission of Ngotto, diocese of M’baiki, Central African Republic. A pharmaceutical company has agreed to supply chemicals needed for the disinfection of a water plant already built with the cooperation of the local people.
Church of Sts. Vincent and Anastasius
This year Pope John Paul II has given the church of Sts. Vincent and Anastasius in Rome, located near the Trevi fountain, to the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria “for liturgical use.”
In 1910, Pope Pius X, a friend of Fr. Vianello’s for whom he had high regards, arranged to give it to us as the Comboni Procure. Our presence there lasted from 1910 to 1935, when we moved to San Pancrazio.
During the absence of Fr. Marcello Pietro Bianchini (currently under medical care at the C.A.A. of Milan), requests for papal blessings should be addressed to Fr. Antonio Valdameri: Via S. Pancrazio 17 – 00152 Rome, Italy. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ordination to the priesthood
After a short flight from Manila and a three-hour ride across the island of Samar, several confreres joined Fr. Antonio Carañagan Arnaiz in the celebration of his priestly ordination in Mercedes, his hometown, on 14 June 2003.
The occasion, held at Saint Francis of Assisi’s parish, was well prepared thanks to the dedication of generous people there and two confreres who went a week earlier to help to spiritually animate the parishioners.
Although the torrential rains and gusty winds provoked by the strong typhoon - internationally called Soudelor - threatened to spoil the event, the parishioners flocked in good number to the ordination, the first ever done in this town, which was presided over by Mgr. Leonardo Medroso, bishop of the diocese of Borongan. The following day, Fr. Antonio celebrated his thanksgiving mass. The Christian community, still unfazed by the presence of the typhoon, gathered with a deep sense of love and devotion. In this Comboni year we have received this gift with a special gratitude and pray for Fr. Antonio’s fidelity in the ministry, and for more missionary vocations to the Institute.
“Today God has visited this village,” so said the master of novices of Huánaco (PE), Fr. Angel Lafita Irigoyen, during the Mass for the first vows of Luis Alfredo Pulido Alvarado in the Institute of the Comboni Missionaries. The profession took place on 25 May, in the parish church of Our Lady of Good Counsel of Genesano, Boyacá, a town of about seven thousand people, located 130 km from Bogotá, on the way to Tunja.
Genesano is the land of apples, pears, plums and peaches. During this Easter season, the fruits of the earth remind us of spiritual fruits such as charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness and faithfulness. Fr. José Antonio Girau Pellicer, superior of the delegation of Colombia, was the main celebrant at the Eucharist of the first vows which was organised by the parish community of Genesano and by the two Comboni communities of Bogotá.
At the offertory, relatives and friends of Luis Alfredo brought up fruit, corn bread and other types of food, a pair of slippers, a portrait of Comboni and a Bible. Luis Alfredo was born on Palenque Street and is the only child of Mrs. Aura Maria Alvarado, a widow for the past eight years, and nephew of Sr. Elena Alvarado of the Institute of the Daughters of the Church founded in Italy by Mother María Oliva Bonaldo. Luis Alfredo attended the noviciate in Huánuco, Perú, together with three Peruvian and one Ecuadorian novice. As a sign of the missionary outreach of the local Church, Luis Alfredo will be sent to the international scholasticate of Nairobi, Kenya, to tackle his theological studies and the practice of pastoral life that will prepare him to be a missionary for life.
First Comboni Missionary in Colombia
On 15 June, feast of the Most Holy Trinity, the church of Pasto, Nariño, in the South of Colombia near the border with Ecuador, and the Bolaños Palacios family put on their Sunday best to celebrate the priestly ordination of one of their own, Martin Adolfo Bolaños Palacios.
Bishop Julio Enrique Prado Bolaño of Pasto, whose motto is “To proclaim Jesus Christ”, presided over the ordination ceremony in the cathedral. Concelebrants were: Fr. José Antonio Girau Pellicer, superior of the Colombia delegation, Fr. Enea Mauri, provincial of Ecuador, Fr. Lorenzo Caravello, associate master of novices in Huánuco, Fr. Bruno Bordonali, superior of the postulancy in Quito, one deacon and about a dozen diocesan and Comboni priests.
Fr. Martin Adolfo, born in Pasto on 24 September 1965, is a graduate of the Champasgnat Institute of Pasto and belongs to Holy Family parish. “I always asked God, for my children, the things that He alone can give and that cannot be bought,” so said his mother, Señora Carmen Lía, during a radio interview on the program conducted by Amparo Moreno the day before Martín Alfonso’s ordination. His father, Dr. José Antonio, stated that his son’s ordination is “a privilege and a gift from God.”
The fist Comboni Missionary from Colombia is a zoology graduate from the University of Nariño, and for some years he has worked with some NGOs. He came to know the Comboni Missionaries through Bro. Daniele Sirtoli and other Comboni Brothers working in the communities of Policarpo, San José, Leyva, and in the barrios of Pandiaco and Juanoy.
Fr. Martin joined the Comboni Missionaries eight years ago. He was a postulant in Quito, Ecuador, a novice in Huánuco, Perú, and a scholastic in Rome, Italy. He has been assigned to Uganda.
On Saturday, 10 May, at the Youth Centre Daniel Comboni of Carcelén, took place the first profession of John Jani Castro Sanchez in the presence of benefactors and friends. It was a simple but sincere and fraternal occasion of intense missionary spirit for the entire Comboni Family.
The following Monday, despite the incessant rains that caused some major flooding, the members of the provincial council travelled to John Jani’s birthplace, Conception, an outstation of Borbon on the river Santiago, to celebrate with a Eucharist this great event for that Afro community, grateful to God for having called one of its sons to the Comboni missionary life.
This year once again we have organised a group of Lay Missionary Volunteers. It is the second such experience, with 7 young people coming from different areas: from the coast and from the mountains. The first phase, lasting a month and a half, takes place at the Centre of Carcelén and is dedicated to human, Christian and missionary formation. The second, lasting for three months, takes place in those communities that have agreed to host the volunteers and have prepared a mentoring program. We hope that, just like last year, the experience will foster new vocations to a lifetime commitment in mission.
From 2 to 5 June, at El Carmen, there took place the first missiology course for priests, religious and lay people involved in pastoral work in various parishes. It was an occasion for deepening the missionary dimension, in view of opening the local Church to “other frontiers.”
Starting from Redemptoris Missio, and moving on to a theological and pastoral reflection, we arrived at the formulation of a concrete pastoral experience at the mission of La Catorce, spurring the participants to be missionaries in their communities.
Our Delegation, even though young, has begun on the right foot. In October last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of priesthood of Fr. Guerra at the Minor Seminary, which was well attended and included most of its former students. On the 10th October 2002, Daniel Comboni’s Dies Natalis we had the official opening of Fode Parish, which is under the Patronage of Daniel Comboni, by the bishop of Barentu Msg. Thomas. From the 3rd December – 5th December 2002, we had our First Delegation Assembly in which we concentrated more on the preparation of our first Delegation Directory to be approved by the GC. On 3 January 2003, we celebrated the yearly feast of Haikota – one of our Parishes –, which is under the patronage of St. Michael. It was both a Church feast and a Comboni feast. It was a feast for the Church in that we witnessed 11 confirmations and 25 holy communions. It was a Comboni feast given its internationality with people from various tribes of Eritrea and from Sudan, Kenya, Mexico, Philippines, Italy, England and Spain. One could not ignore the presence of other Christians and Muslims; civil and military; religious and lay. Though few, we try the best we can to share the love of God with the people of Eritrea. At present we have four Communities: one in the Delegation House; another in the Minor Seminary; one in Fode and one in Haikota-Delle.
The Comboni Year
It was officially launched on the 16th March 2003 at the Kidane Mehret Cathedral in a Eucharist presided over by the retired Eparch of Asmara, Mgr. Zecarias and concelebrated by the then newly consecrated Eparch of Keren, Mgr. Kidane Yebio. The Mass was prepared and animated by the Canonisation Commission with the help of our students – Aspirants (CMS/MCCJ) and Postulants (CMS/MCCJ). In order to work well, the Commission divided the country into three zones with each zone having its coordinator. In each particular zone we prepared our parishes – on Saturdays evenings giving talks on Comboni and, the next day (Sunday) having a Comboni Mass. We are well received and appreciated in the Parishes we have visited so far. In this summer, given that the youth will not go for the “government summer service” we plan to organise a Comboni Summer Course for the Youth in some of the parishes.
Bishop Angelo Bagnasco of Pesaro has accepted the request of Fr. Pietro Bracelli and, on 4 June 2003, he wrote: “I am happy to let you know that the Episcopal Conference of the Marche region, gathered in session on 28 May, has decided to insert in the regional liturgical calendar the optional memorial of Saint Daniel Comboni, to be celebrated on October 10.” It’s already something… as we wait for Rome’s decision on an obligatory memory!
On the feast of the republic, President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi has honoured, motu proprio, some citizens for their work in society to foster solidarity towards the less privileged people, civic involvement, research, formation and others. Among them were Fr. Giulio Albanese – “Grande Ufficiale dell’Ordine al Merito” of the Republic of Italy – director of MISNA. At the request of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Franco Frattini, the president also honoured with the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity Fr. Tarcisio Pazzaglia, missionary in Kitgum, Uganda, and Fr. Franco Vialetto, missionary in Cacoal, Brazil South. Congratulations!
Contemplative Evangelisers of the Heart of Jesus
On Monday, 16 June, the Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana a' Nzeki of Nairobi presided over a solemn Eucharist during which he officially opened the first general chapter of the Association of Contemplative Evangelisers of the Heart of Christ in their house of studies in Langata (Nairobi). There are 19 chapter delegates, two of them Comboni Missionaries, Fr. Giovanni Marengoni (Founder and currently Superior General) and Fr. Carlo Pasinetti (former Superior General). Also present were the superior General of the Apostles of Jesus and the Superior General of the Evangelising Sisters. The provincial of Kenya represented the Comboni Missionaries. The Contemplatives are the third foundation of Fr. Marengoni and they are totally his own, because in the founding of the Apostles of Jesus and of the Evangelising Sisters he was the right hand of Bishop Sisto Mazzoldi.
News of Lubna Ibn Aziz
From several provinces and also from many people within the Comboni family we have received requests for information, news and pictures of Mrs. Lubna Ibn Aziz. In agreement with the provincial of the Comboni Missionary Sisters, we answer to all.
Mrs. Lubna and her family, devout Muslims, are very grateful to the sisters for the cure, for the assistance and care received while she was in the hospital. She is happy when the sisters go to visit her and thanks them for the prayers offered to Comboni for her recovery.
Above all she thanks God for the help she received and, as a sign of her gratitude, at the beginning of the year she went on a pilgrimage to Mecca with her whole family.
Her family does not appreciate any special attention related to the miracle and does not want to give pictures for publication. Moslems have an approach to God’s interventions that is different from ours. While we thank God for what he has granted us through the intercession of our Founder, we respect their requests.
Celebrations of the canonisation in Khartoum
Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir Wako of Khartoum has chosen Friday, 31 October 2003, as the date for the celebration of Comboni’s canonisation. In the archdiocese of Khartoum this date will also mark the opening of the Archdiocesan Comboni Year. We also foresee the participation of people from abroad. All the confreres will be welcome, especially those who worked in the Sudan. We will be grateful if advanced notice of participation will be given at the earliest possible date, due to the difficulties in obtaining visas. Please contact: email@example.com
Death in the postulancy
Salvador Murillo, a postulant at Xochimilco, died suddenly. He had just returned to Xochimilco after his summer mission experience in San Pedro Sochiapan with problems to his appendix that soon deteriorated into peritonitis. It seems that he was also a diabetic. We entrust both him and his family to the care of Blessed Daniel Comboni and to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
PERU - CHILE
75th birthday of Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez
On Wednesday, 18 June, in Lima, we celebrated the 75th birthday of Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez in the church of Santo Domingo cared for by the Dominican Order, of which he has been a member for the last two years. About one hundred people gathered to congratulate Fr. Gustavo and it was an opportunity to thank him for his commitment as a liberation theologian. This event, together with the prize “Principe de Asturia” which he recently received, show that the theology of liberation, which he founded, is known in society as an important contribution, because it links the gospel of Jesus to the social problems of our world.
In his homily, Fr. Gustavo spoke of the need to care for the Kingdom and its justice, while leaving aside less important things. His very life shows the need to establish evangelical priorities, choosing first of all what Jesus showed as most important: the Kingdom.
Commenting on Jeremias 32, where the prophet buys a field while under the threat of exile, he spoke of the need Perú has for a similar symbolic sign: to “buy a field,” namely, to give concreteness to our hope. Which field are you buying for your country?
Fr. Gustavo concluded with thanks to all present, faithful companions in difficult moments whose support was fundamental in keeping him faithful to what he always saw as his own evangelical priorities: the kingdom and its justice among the less fortunate in society. Thank you, Gustavo, for your great contribution to the Church’s theology. May God continue to enlighten your path as a liberation theologian.
June of this year will go down in the annals of our history in Poland as a month of great significance. Saturday, 7 June: Five professions and the blessing of the house in Krakow. For the first time since the beginning of our presence in Poland, five Polish candidates consecrated themselves to mission: Maciej Zieliński, Leszek Mikołajczyk, Wiesłan Dziadosz, Andrzej Kwiatek, Krzysztof Hoduń.
Fr. Venanzio Milani, vicar general, presided over the celebration. It was a very simple and family-style celebration, well prepared by the postulants, held in the church of Our Lady Queen of Poland, near our house. It was the parish priest of this parish who sold us the property where we built our residence.
A group of about 400 people joined us: relatives of the newly professed and of local Comboni Missionaries, the 16 postulants, the 9 Comboni Missionaries currently in Poland, the two priests of the parish, a large number of the faithful and the four parish priests who followed with care the missionary vocation of the newly professed. Fr. Torres Gómez Manuel Ramón (Manolo) presided over the liturgy, while Fr. Milani accepted the newly professed in the Comboni Family in the name of the Institute as they recited the forms they had prepared for their consecration to the missions. The newly professed will continue their formation in the following scholasticates: Leszek in São Paulo, Wiesłan in Lima, Andrzej Kwiatek in Kinshasa, Maciej in Nairobi and Krzystof, who has professed as a brother, at the CIF of Bogotá.
Blessing of the house
After the Mass the new house was blessed. Fr. Milani explained briefly the purpose of our presence in Krakow: the house will be a promotion and vocation centre. He also described the style and the methodology of the Comboni Missionaries. He then blessed the house. After that, Fr. Lino Agostinho do Rosario de Almeida, superior of the community and in charge of construction, invited the people to a cold supper for which the postulants provided some music.
From 8 to 14 June, the confreres of Krakow, Fr. Lino, Fr. Pawel Skiba and Fr. Pascal Garasola, took part in activities of mission promotion organised by the missionary Institutes present in Poland. This event took place in Rybnik, the hometown of our confreres Fr. Andrezj Henzel and Mirek Kalinowski. The Comboni Missionaries are present in two parishes, and Fr. Mirek worked in one of them as a deacon. The secretariat of the Episcopal Commission for missions was the promoter of this event. The motto of the event was “to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus” and it was a success.
Priestly ordination of Fr. Rafal Leszczynski
On Saturday, 21 June, in the parish Church of St. Lawrence of Wojnicz, Bishop Wiktor Skworc of Tarnów ordained to the priesthood our confrere Rafal Leszczynski. A busy week of mission promotion, with the participation of Fr. Manolo and Fr. Elias Afola Kossi Mensah, prepared the way for the ordination.
From Monday through Wednesday, Fr. Manolo spoke at all Masses and preached on the following themes: the Eucharist, the priesthood and mission.
The celebration of the ordination had a very missionary character. The presiding bishop was the president of the bishops’ commission on mission and fostered a mission atmosphere, especially in his homily. The missionary character of the celebration was enhanced by the fact that the bishop had invited, beside all the Comboni Missionaries and the postulants, also all the missionaries of the diocese who happened to be on vacation at the time. Greatly appreciated was the participation of the priests of the parish who helped prepare the liturgy, the decorations, and the plentiful dinner offered to the newly ordained, his family and all who attended the ceremony.
On Sunday, Fr. Rafal celebrated his first Mass: one has to be in Poland to appreciate how such an occasion is prepared. First came the spiritual preparation: mission promotion and confessions. Then came the decoration of the church, the house of the new priest and the streets. Finally came the procession leading to the first Mass with Fr. Rafal and his mother riding in a four-horse carriage. Ahead of the horses came four horsemen dressed in the traditional Krakow costumes and followed by a marching band. Many people attended the Mass. The postulants provided the music with songs in Lingala and in Latin American style. Fr. Henzel gave the homily in African style. At the end, the newly ordained blessed all present, first in groups, then individually. Following the Mass everyone enjoyed a common dinner.
New Comboni presence in the diocese of Laï
Dono-Manga saw its Christian dawn in 1958-59 thanks to two catechists from the missions of Chad’s eastern region, where the Capuchins had been the first missionaries. In fact, it was a Capuchin, Fr. Hugues, who took care of Dono-Manga, moving out of Gidari in 1960. In 1970 the Canadian Capuchin Fr. Jean Bosco settled in Dono-Manga.
The years 1974-1978 were very hard for the Christians. There was a true persecution of the Church in the guise of reviving the local traditions and culture that did not tolerate “contamination” from abroad. Later, Dono-Manga saw a number of Swiss and Canadian Capuchins, local priests and Fidei Donum missionaries from Europe. On 23 April 2003, Bishop Miguel Angel Sebastián Martínez of Laï entrusted the parish and the mission of Dono-Manga to a Comboni missionary community.
The languages spoken in the parish are Gulay, Gabri, Arabic and French. Christians are less than 5% of the population. This region is predominantly an agricultural area and has kept away from ways of communication that bring well being and progress. In the pastoral field there are distinct possibilities of organising activities more along Gospel lines than along traditional parish activities. It is a place of first evangelisation, deep waters where, at the beginning of the third millennium, to implant the apostolic kerigma like in the days of the Acts of the Apostles.
Solemn celebration of the Uganda Martyrs
On 3 June a solemn celebration was held at Namugongo, the place of the Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine. About 400,000 people. This year the celebration had a particular importance. The 22 Uganda Martyrs of the South, St. Charles Lwanga and companions, welcomed officially, so to speak, their two younger brothers of the North: Daudi Okello and Jildo Irwa. The meaning was quite clear. The celebration meant to signify reconciliation and unity in a country where the Northern part is almost forgotten by all and where acts of violence and destruction are appalling. The celebration was presided by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of Propaganda Fide. The Gulu Archdiocese animated the liturgy.
In a very meaningful way two processions opened the celebration. One procession was headed by Archbishop Odama, symbol of the suffering North, carrying the official portrait of Daudi and Jildo, the two Martyrs of Paimol, together with the Bishop of Masaka, symbol of the peaceful South. The provincial, Fr. Guido Oliana, representing the missionaries of the North, followed carrying the relics of the Martyrs of Paimol. The other procession was led by the Cardinal of Kampala, carrying the picture of the 22 Martyrs of the South. The Provincial of the White Fathers, representing the missionaries who began the evangelisation in the South of Uganda, followed with the relics of St. Charles Lwanga. Before reaching the main altar, Cardinal Sepe welcomed the processions of the two groups of martyrs. The relics of the Martyrs of the North and of the South were put together on the main altar. The celebration was moving and quite telling in a country which is still bleeding on account of the violence and division between the North and the South.
The situation in the North is getting worse
The celebration of the Uganda Martyrs at Namugongo on 3rd June brought joy and elation to many people, especially the Acholi, in whose area, though, the situation is getting unbearable. How to influence the government and the rebels to seek peace?
The whole period from March to June has been terribly tragic. In March, the government, the rebels and the Peace Initiative of the Acholi Religious Leaders had some kind of meetings and this gave rise to great hopes and expectations. Some rebels surrendered, but frustration and fear was in everyone’s upper mind. The agreements were signed in the midst of continuous and ferocious ambushes, attacks, kidnappings and looting. The targets have been Pajule, Pajimo, Padibe, Madi Opei, Omia Anyima, Ayoma with 9 killed, Namokora with 5 killed, Acholibur with 9 killed and 30 wounded, Koyo Lalogi with 40 killed. On Ajumani road an ambush caused 10 dead and 30 wounded. Attacks took place also in Mucwini and Lokung. On Karuma-Pakwac road a bus was ambushed causing other deaths. On 10 June the Kitgum-Gulu bus was hit by a landmine: 5 dead, 24 badly injured. The list is endless.
Escalation in the war seems now to be targeting especially the Catholic institutions (as some years ago). On 25 April the rebels (LRA) attacked Gulu Mission, looting the radio-call and solar, burned 2 cars of the community and the lorry of the Procure, damaging the garage. Other attacks took place against the missions of Anaka, Palabek, Madi Opei. In the latter mission they carried out destruction in the church and profanation of the tabernacle and of the Eucharist. The church was full of girls, who hid under benches, but miraculously were not touched. Opit was attacked twice and had 180 homes burned down and many people abducted. In our parish of Omya Anyima the catechumenate and house of the priests were burned down with 26 people killed and 380 houses set on fire. In Mucwini 9 people were killed, in Pabo 13. Atanga mission was looted twice. Many little centres and chapels are now completely deserted. Worse of all, on 10 May, 41 seminarians were abducted from Lacor Minor Seminary. So far, 12 have come back with dreadful stories. To this general upheaval we must add the attacks also of the Karimojong (Jie) in Kitgum district, which add sufferings, killing and stealing.
Since the beginning of the rebels’ war, about 5.000 children and youth have been abducted: a very clear form of modern slavery, always centred on Sudan. By the way, for the first time in history, muezzin is heard in Gulu town every morning and evening.
The rebels come ever nearer to the protected towns. Even the very centres of Kitgum and Gulu are not spared looting and abductions. Sometimes we ourselves can hear bombs exploding and gunshots: there is no real protection whatsoever. People run away from their homes, abandon their fields full of fear and insecurity to run to the towns. Eight hundred thousand is the official figure of displaced people: in Kitgum Mission, an average of 700 children; in Lacor Hospital by the thousands. We have these displaced people everywhere: in Kalongo, Gulu Cathedral and workshops, in every mission, school and centre. The NGOs AVSI, Charitas, World Food Program are trying to help with some food and assistance, but life is becoming meaningless, especially in the camps (in Anaka, the suicides are frequent).
Also from the side of the government army things are not getting on well. Even new recruits from the military barracks of Gulu run away and seek refuge in the catechumenate of the Cathedral (about 150 young men!).
The whole process of peace and dialogue seems to be collapsing. People pray insistently, cry to the Lord, but their faith and ours is being put to the test: Has the Lord forgotten us? Has religion any value? Discouragement creeps in also in our missionaries. We look at Comboni almost in desperation. Nevertheless, our missionaries and some diocesan priests and sisters stick to their places in solidarity with the people, but surely their health and nerves must be at a breaking point. Some of our missionaries are alone in the mission: Fr. Italo Piffer, Fr. Ponziano Velluto, Fr. Ignacio Enrique Marín Artavia, Fr. Guido Miotti, Fr. Ezio Filippi and the diocesan priests Ocaya, Okun Lagoro, Toorac, etc.
In all these difficulties, some missions (Kitgum, Kalongo, and others) are having a kind of faith revival (catechumens, marriages, prayer meetings, collaboration) in the central mission where people have taken refuge.
The Sisters of the “Comboni Heritage” (namely, Institutes founded by Comboni Missionaries), inspired by Comboni’s action in a similar situation, have sent a Memorandum to the Uganda Episcopal Conference, asking them to speak out clearly and as one voice, since they have the impression that only the bishops of the North have tried to make their voice heard.
Let us pray for the deceased
THE MOTHER: of Fr. Villarino Rodríguez Antonio (CO);
THE BROTHER: Benito of Fr. Pedro Ordóñez Espinoza (MO);
Andrea of Fr. Paolo Filippini (U); Vigilio of Fr. Premarini Pietro (U);
THE SISTER: Leonilde of Bro. Aldo Benetti (EG);
THE COMBONI MISSONRY SISTERS: Sr. Saveria Righetti;
Sr. Stefanilla Ciola; Sr. M. Imelda Ambrosi; Sr. Cristina Stigliani;
Sr. Angelinda Boggian; Sr. Anna Lia Gambarini; Sr. Bernardina Baronchelli.