The “Roman celebrations” are over. We are grateful to God and to St. Daniel Comboni for all that has happened and for all that was done. People seem to be quite satisfied. The various activities were successful. The canonisation continues in our lives and in our promotion work.
According to verifiable data (bags, tickets, etc), on the day of the canonisation, the Comboni pilgrims were about 12,000 or more. According to the number of booklets that were given out, the people present in St. Peter on Monday were over 6,000.
Also the vigils, divided by languages, met with the pilgrims’ approval: they were times of authentic prayer and of coming together, thanks also to the bond of a common language.
The show, “The day and the night of Daniel Comboni,” was attended by about 5,000 people. All were enthused about it. Various similar shows around Italy were also successful.
The two exhibits, the one at the Chancery Palace and the one at the Institute of the Maestre Pie Filippini, saw a large number of visitors. The latter attracted several schools. To be noted in particular was the idea of the mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, of having us speak on Comboni and on African issues in 13 Roman schools on 2 October. He himself attended the presentation at the Institute De Magistris.
The artists who took part in the Contest “Saint Daniel Comboni” with sculptures, paintings, and graphics numbered 110. The contest had been organized by us in cooperation with Rome’s municipality and the Catholic Union of Italian Artists (UCAI). Various artists offered their work as a gift. All the works of art have been photographed and digitalized in order to make them available to our magazines. If published, it will be necessary to include the name of the author as a participant in the St. Daniel Comboni contest of 2003.
Private and public radio and TV stations, and the press, gave a great deal of recognition to the event. For the canonisation on Sunday, Comboni Missionaries were present at six different radio and TV stations to offer commentaries on the event and to describe the person and the work of Comboni.
The canonisation also saw an increase in the number of publications on Comboni and on the Comboni Missionaries. We present a summary of what has been published. All this material is available at the General Curia of the Comboni Missionaries. We hope that, taking advantage of the occasion, this material will be put to good use. People, if properly informed, will buy useful things, books included. The following are offered at cost-price: Daniele Comboni, A servizio della missione, an Anthology of texts, St. Paul Publications 2003; Agasso Domenico, Comboni: una vita per la missione, St. Paul Publications 2003; Calendarietto 2004, St. Paul Publications 2003; Troiani Massimiliano, Una vita per la missione (The life of Comboni) video, EMI 2003; Vostro per sempre, intuitions and Comboni’s homily in Khartoum, video, EMI; Tescaroli Cirillo, Un cuore per l’Africa, EMI 2003 (there are also French and Spanish editions); Juan Lozano, Vostro per sempre, EMI 2003; Romanato Gianpaolo, L’Africa nera tra Cristianesimo e Islam, Corbaccio 2003; Pronzato Alessandro, La sua Africa, Gribaudi 2003; The 15 poster exhibit, General Curia, 2003; Una notte africana, comics from Il Giornalino, 30 pages (General Curia); Antonio Furioli, a life of Comboni in French, English and German (General Curia); Marcello Marrocchi, a Hymn to Comboni; Lorenzo Gaiga, Comboni, la missione continua, EMI; Dossier (in languages) Mille vite per la missione (General Curia); Text of the show, in Portuguese, German, Italian, Spanish, English.
A 16 page insert describing the life of Comboni and of the Comboni Family appeared in Famiglia Cristiana of 5 October. The insert was sent to their 800 thousand subscribers and also to about 30 thousand benefactors. We will soon get another 10,000 copies.
On 5 October, the Osservatore Romano published an interesting insert on Comboni, his work and spirituality. Copies will be sent to all the provinces.
Fr. Fidel González’ book on Daniel Comboni and the regeneration of Africa has been published, Plan (a critical/comparative study of the various editions), Postulation, Rule, Urbaniana University Editions, 392 pages, € 18.00.
Various people have asked for the videos of the show and of the canonisation ceremonies. It is difficult to find customers for the former, because it is not possible to produce a video for only 100 people. For the latter, Vatican TV will give us the footage of the canonisation and of the audience, and Telepace will give us the Vigil in St. Paul, the canonisation, the Mass of thanksgiving and the October 10 celebration in Verona. As soon as we receive all this we will let you know the prices and possible use of the material.
The celebrations of October 10 in Verona, 11 in Brescia, 12 in Limone were all well attended, especially in Limone, where the parish and city hall both have adopted the Catholic University of Khartoum. The newly created Card. Gabriel Zubeir Wako and Superior General Teresino Serra attended all the celebrations.
We had budgeted for 7,000 pilgrim bags and we have practically disposed of all of them. The few left over, even without the content, are available at the Curia for € 5.00. Someone thought that € 15.00 was too much. If we look at the content of the bag (dossier, guide, rosary, scarf, hat, etc), the cost of the celebration booklets (vigil, canonisation – which the Vatican printed but debited to us), the Thanksgiving liturgy, perhaps we end up on the debit side.
At the General Curia there are still a few cloth prints with the Comboni’s portrait tapestry. Following are the measurements: 30x40, 50x70, 100x70, 140 x 100. They cost respectively 10, 12, 15, 20 Euro. During the Chapter, these articles were made available to the provincials at a special price. They may now be requested from the General Treasurer.
We still have four postcards with cancelled stamps, three from the Italian post office and one from the Vatican. They may be obtained from the General Treasurer for € 1.50 each.
We ask all who might have prepared, published, etc., material of any type on Comboni and the Comboni Missionaries for or after the canonisation, to send copy to the secretary general in Rome. It will be useful for the archives and for future publications. Thanks.
The 16th General Chapter ended on 2 October. All the capitulars attended the canonisation ceremonies and have since returned home.
Meanwhile, the Post-capitular Commission has been hard at work and has already produced a first draft of the Chapter Acts. The final text in the various languages should be ready for mailing to the confreres in a few weeks.
Copies in all languages (Italian, French, English, Portuguese and Spanish) of the letter of the three General Councils of the Comboni Institutes, prepared on the occasion of the canonisation of our founder St. Daniel Comboni, are available from the general secretary for any one who will request them.
Annuario Comboniano 2004
As it was requested long ago, the secretary general has been receiving pictures of confreres and corrections for the Annuario 2004. Just the same we are still missing many pictures of confreres and also several corrections of data from provinces/delegations and home addresses of confreres.
Once again we remind you that we will accept changes and corrections until the end of January 2004.
Quiroz Alférez Prisciliano (M) Ciudad de León (MEX) 10.11.2003
Torres Castañeda Luis Fernando (M) Guadalajara (MEX) 10.18.2003
Luigi Cocchi, Daniele Comboni, costruttore di civiltà, 80 pages, € 12,00. Edition Il grappolo 2003
Giulio Albanese, Il mondo capovolto. I missionari e l’altra informazione, Einaudi, 186 pages, € 13,00. Request from MISNA.
Piersandro Varzan, S. Daniele Comboni, Patrono della Nigrizia, in “La Civiltà Cattolica” 2003, IV 139-152 (n. 3680, October). It is possible to have reprints.
Doctorate Honoris Causa
The governing board of the University Council and the Dean’s office of the Autonomous Popular University of the State of Puebla (Mexico), has bestowed on Fr. Fidel González Fernández the Doctorate in Humanities Honoris Causa in recognition of his academic credentials as an historian and as defender of the cause of canonisation of St. Juan Diego and of the cause of beatification of Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Angeles, Indio martyrs in San Francisco Cajonos, Oaxaca.
Youth Home Daniel Comboni
The “Youth Home Daniel Comboni” of Grande João Pessoa (Paraíba, Brazil) was founded in 1989 by Fr. Raffaele Gasperoni and Bro. Nieto Parra José. It is currently under the supervision of Bro. Carmine D’Aloia.
It houses 97 boys and girls between the ages of eight and eighteen from the outskirts of the town of Santa Rita, including Tibirí, Marcos Moura, Terra de Santiago, Varzo Nova.
In Santa Rita there are about 116 thousand youngsters of school age. The Home takes care of the poorest among them and offers an alternative to being on the street, a chance to be fed, play and study. The youngsters who come to the house agree to attend classes in the local elementary and middle schools. The home also offers after school activities that are financed by the town government.
Comboni Lay Missionaries meet
About 40 Comboni Lay Missionaries attended the yearly gathering held in Pesaro on 17-20 July. They met to reflect on “Holiness in the daily life of lay people who follow Comboni,” a stimulating topic that led them to the following questions: How do we live a Comboni spirituality in practice? How do we reach a deeper identity as Comboni Lay missionaries and a greater feeling of belonging? Where is the future leading us? Then the reflection continued with the approval of their statute, “Witnesses to the Gospel, at the service of the world.”
Meeting of Vocation Promoters
The provincial assembly of vocation promoters took place in Pesaro on 25-29 August. Comboni Missionaries and Sisters involved in vocation promotion in Italy reflected on the theme, “What idea of mission are we offering to the young?” At the start, some points of reflections were offered from the radical experience of Comboni, from the context of several of our missions and from topics discussed at the General Chapter. The participants asked for “more courage and daring in presenting the vocation,” because the Lord of the harvest sends us to “reap, not to sow.”
Peace Caravan 2003 / In the footsteps of Pacem in Terris
The Peace Caravan, which in 2002 had touched 10 Italian cities with the theme, “Peace is in our hands: not only utopia!” resumed its journey on 4-15 September based on the challenge of “Daring to have a new age.” The stops were: Assisi, Naples, Rome, Montesole, Marzabotto, Barbiana, Agliana, Quarrata, Brescia and, dulcis in fundo, Limone in order to better remember and celebrate the prophetic stance of the holy missionary, Daniel Comboni. “We dared to walk – said Silvia, a member of the group of 15 itinerants – mixing with people and knocking at many doors. It has been a true mission at the people’s level, inspired by the 40th anniversary of Pacem in Terris and experienced personally in the outskirts of some Italian cities and historical shrines of prophetic memory. We were the repositories of many hopes, dreams and sufferings. As a young person, I felt called, I can’t be silent any more or be indifferent to the reality around me. I care still… I have taken it to heart… Thanks!”
The seventh successor of Comboni has been made a Cardinal
Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir Wako, of Khartoum (Sudan) and 7th successor of Daniel Comboni was made a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II at the solemn consistory of 21 October in St. Peter’s Square.
Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako is a member of the Belanda Bviri tribe of South Sudan. He was born on 27 February 1941 in Mboro, near Wau, the son of a teacher, Placido Wako Tagia, and of Felicita Juno. He entered the seminary at age 10 and was ordained a priest on 21 July 1963 at age 22. This was his scholastic journey: Elementary school in Mboro (1947) and Nyamlel, diocese of Wau, (1948-1950); Middle school (1951-1955) at St. Anthony Minor Seminary in Bussere (Wau); Philosophy (1956-1959) and theology (1960-1963) at St. Paul National Major Seminary in Tore River (Yei).
In 1963 he started his pastoral ministry as associate pastor in Kuajok, while holding the job of Christian Religious Education Inspector in the schools of the district of Gogrial. Nine months after his ordination, all missionaries were expelled from South Sudan and Fr. Gabriel was named rector of the minor seminary of the diocese of Wau. He later studied in Rome at the Pontifical Urbaniana University (1968-1969) and at the Pontifical Lateran University (1969-1971), specializing in pastoral theology.
From 1972 to 1974 he covered several appointments in the diocese of Wau: vicar general, procurator, rector of the minor seminary, province commissary of the Scout movement, president of the provincial volleyball association.
He was ordained as bishop of Wau in Juba on 6 April 1975. In October 1979 he was appointed auxiliary to Bishop Baroni and succeeded him on 10 October 1981, as Archbishop of Khartoum. Of the 6 million inhabitants in the archdiocese of Khartoum, roughly one million are Catholic and the rest are mostly Moslem.
On 10 February 1993, he hosted the Pope in Khartoum and in that same year he was named Consulter of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
Handing over of the parish of Bahía Asunción
At 4:00 in the afternoon of 30 September, in the church of Bahía Asunción a Mass was celebrated during which the parish was handed over to the diocese that in turn entrusted it to the care of the Missionaries of Christ for the Universal Church.
Among those present, beside the vicar general and the chancellor of the diocese of La Paz, were almost all the priests of Santa Rosalia, Mulegé, Loreto, Vizcaíno, Tortugas and Guerrero Negro. It was a very simple ceremony , where the love of the people and clergy for the Comboni Missionaries was very evident and the Missionaries of Christ, two priests and a seminarian who will soon be a deacon, were well received.
Local celebrations of Saint Daniel Comboni
While many Comboni Missionaries were happily enjoying the canonisation celebrations in Rome, the people of Cincinnati celebrated locally according to the old adage, "think globally and act locally." Fr. Joseph Bragotti and Fr. Mario Ongaro were interviewed by different TV channels and the canonisation of our Founder was well covered in the local media. On the weekend of 4/5 October the parish of Holy Family, where Fr. Bragotti helps out with weekend ministry, hosted a celebration of Daniel Comboni's canonisation for the friends and supporters of the Comboni Missionaries in the West side of Cincinnati. Fr. Joseph celebrated the solemn Masses and preached. Following the Sunday Masses, the parish offered a simple reception. The event was televised and there was nothing but praise for the set of 14 colourful posters that made the church and the parish hall come to life.
On Sunday, 19 October, Fr. Bragotti concelebrated the Mission Sunday Mass at the cathedral together with the director general of the Holy Childhood, Fr. Patrick Byrne, SVD, the main celebrant being Bishop Carl Moeddel, auxiliary of Cincinnati. Fr. Patrick and Fr. Joseph delivered a joint sermon to commemorate the friendship of the two founders. A mission exhibit and simple reception were held in the undercroft of the cathedral following the Mass.
On 7 December, the Comboni Mission Center of Cincinnati will close the Comboni celebrations with a Mass and a Mission theme party and exhibit at the Center itself. Plans are in the making for what is intended to be a joyous and family-style occasion.
These celebrations have been the perfect venue to let people know about St. Daniel's gift of mission and its relevancy in today's world. Locally there is a special link with our Founder, because two of Cincinnati's archbishops signed the Plan for the Regeneration of Africa and one of their successors called us to minister to Afro-Americans in this city in 1939.
St. Daniel Comboni: protector of the diocesan pastoral agents
On Sunday, 19 October, World Mission Sunday, all the Comboni Missionaries and Sisters of Chad gathered in Doba to celebrate the canonisation of our father and founder, Daniel Comboni. The celebration started on Saturday, 18 October, with a meeting with the pilgrims that had returned from Rome and group of Christians from various parishes, especially from St. Daniel Comboni’s parish in Doba. After an introduction on Comboni today and a sharing on the concreter situation of the Comboni communities in Chad, we listened to the witness of five pilgrims who had attended the canonisation in Rome. The morning was rich in sharing and experiences. In the evening we celebrated the Eucharist in St. Daniel Comboni’s parish in an atmosphere of celebration and thanksgiving to God in the framework of the hallel.
The highest point was the solemn Mass celebrated on Sunday, 19 October in the cathedral of Doba, with all the Christians from the city and from other parishes. During the celebration, Bishop Michele Russo of Doba, proclaimed St. Daniel Comboni as the second patron of the diocese and, particularly, of its pastoral agents. A large portrait of Comboni and his relics were exposed in the cathedral.
The Eucharist also marked the close of the diocesan assembly, during which the role of the laity and of the local pastoral agents had been stressed. St. Daniel Comboni holds a very important place in this diocese that was part of the Vicariate of Central Africa entrusted to our founder. In his letter to the Christian the bishop wrote: “He is yours. He belongs to you. Carry him in your hearts and he will carry you in his arms.”
Chad is now counted among the oil producing countries
The 10 of October will be a date to remember in the history of Chad, not as St. Daniel Comboni’s feast, but as the day in which oil from Chad began to flow in the pipeline that takes it to the port city of Kribi, Cameroon. This indicates the stepping of Chad into the group of oil producing African countries. We expect earnings in the order of billions of Francs CFA and this entails great hopes on the part of the population, many promises from the authorities, but also many questions from those who want to promote true development in this country, which is one of the poorest in Africa. The National Assembly is about to approve a Regional Development Project (PDR) which will use the profits from the black gold to improve health structures, schools, roads, etc., in the oil producing area. Some people have just renamed the acronym PDR to read (in French) “Programme for the Disappearing of Profits.” To celebrate the event, a great ceremony was held in Doba. Five heads of State were invited and over 500 millions of Francs CFA were spent. It is true that the oil of Doba can be a great resource for the area and for the nation, but this requires a transparent and honest type of management, while the government of Chad has often shown signs to the contrary.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Bro. Bruno Guardini (04.09.1949 – 11.10.2003)
Bro. Bruno Guardini left us on 11 October, after a two year Calvary due to a tumour. He had begun to feel serious pain in his ribcage in June 2001; the following month he began to vomit, especially at night, and in September the tumour was diagnosed.
On that occasion, to Bro. Bruno who wanted to know what was wrong with him, the doctor answered: “Here in Maranhão there is nothing we can do; try in Italy: there, perhaps, they can help you.” Bro. Bruno did not leave Brazil immediately. To avoid possible mistakes in the handing over of his job, he wanted to personally hand over the financial administration of the province of Brazil Nordeste to his successor.
On 12 October 2001, he bid good-bye to Brazil and to his friends with a Mass and a common dinner. In Italy he was taken to Verona, but all attempts to heal him were in vain. Before dying, he wanted to return to Brazil to see his friends to celebrate the second anniversary of his departure from Brazil once again with a Mass that he planned according to his taste and during which he also gave the homily, saying among other things: “I do not have everything I want, but I love what I have. God, may your will be done. God gives us trials, but also the strength to bear them.” This Mass was celebrated on 5 October 2003, the day of Comboni’s canonisation. The end of Bro. Bruno’s life was fast approaching. He returned to Italy to die, even though probably he would have really wanted to die in Brazil, among his Brazilian friends.
Bro. Bruno was born on 4 September 1949 in Negrar (Verona). As a youngster he entered the diocesan seminary of Verona, but he was sent home for “lack of intelligence”! He then decided to become a Comboni Brother. He took his first vows on 9 September 1969 and in 1972 he was sent to Brazil Nordeste to teach mechanics in a technical school. However, once in Brazil, he never did that for a variety of reasons, not the least of them being a change of mentality on the role of the Brothers that took place in the province and in the diocese of Balsas.
Bro. Bruno faced a personal crisis, from which he recovered most brilliantly when he was assigned to the parish of Pastos Bons, where he struck a deep friendship with the other two members of his community and where he started a very fertile pastoral activity among the youth. He soon became the coordinator of youth ministry in the entire diocese of Balsas and carried on with many fruitful activities in the field of formation.
In 1980 he left Pastos Bons and his pastoral activities to become the provincial treasurer with residence in São Luís. He plunged totally into his new job with enthusiasm and tenacity demanding, first from himself, but also from others, precision and transparency in financial matters. He later continued his involvement in the financial field in Italy where he was mission procurator from 1985 to 1992. He then returned to Brazil , once again as provincial treasurer of Brazil Nordeste.
Now that Bro. Bruno has left us, I would like to remember his ability to make lasting and deep friendships. It almost seemed impossible that that huge 130 Kg man, with a big voice that made people tremble, could have so many friends, could be so sensitive and capable of many little acts of kindness. All this did not keep him occasionally from exploding and growl back, but afterwards, as things quieted down, he would admit his fault and apologize, not so much in words, but with concrete signs of service and friendship. He was the so called “burbero benefico.” When he was asked something while he was working, his first impulse was to refuse, even in an abrupt way, but then he would do what he had been asked. It would have been easier to say “yes” with some sweet words and then do nothing and come up with an easy excuse, but it was not in his character to do so. He was the type that resembled the son mentioned in the Gospel, who said “no” to his father who wanted to send him to work in the fields, but then repented and went.
Bro Bruno always placed himself at the service of others with generosity and at personal cost, even though at times he did it in a rather rough manner. Despite the fact that he was the “orso Bruno” (Brown Bear) he was able to make many friends. These friends will miss him and will remember him always.
Thanks, Bruno, may you rest in peace, my friend! (Fr. Cesarino Donati)
Let us pray for the deceased
THE FATHER : Peter Wathum of the Sc. Jimmy Okumu (C); of Fr. Ghiday Zigta Hagos (C); Giuseppe of Fr. Luigi Falone (I)
THE MOTHER: Angela of Fr. Francesco Eugenio Moretti (KE); Milagros of Fr. Juan Climent Vilaplana (C)
THE BROTHER: Daniele of Fr. Giacomo Francesco De Bertolis (KH)
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Ermelinda Bruttomesso; Sr. Marialuisa Vernier; Sr. M. Lilia Fumagalli
THE SECULAR COMBONI MISSIONARY: Antonietta Rabbat