Consulta of March 2004
The evaluation of the situation of our personnel and the programming of the confreres’ appointments have been the main concern of the General Council (GC) in the Consulta held in March, by and large the most demanding one. The Consulta started with the study of the reports and minutes of the continental and provincial assemblies of French and English speaking Africa and of America/Asia. The assembly of Europe is scheduled for May.
Already from the continental assemblies long enduring problems come to the fore: the unbalanced situation between our commitments and our personnel, many of our activities experience serious difficulties, above all formation and formators.
As a general remark, it could be said that the difficulty of the situation is highlighted by the widespread search of skilled and qualified personnel needed to carry on the activities in the various sectors.
Since last June no confreres have been appointed to the various provinces/delegations, therefore programming the rotation of confreres has been a time consuming and a telling task.
The rotation of confreres requires all to revise the provincial plans, in order to allow confreres to move to other places and tasks.
The GC has discussed rotation with 180 confreres. There is no proportion between the personnel requested and that released for rotation. The provinces/delegations requested 260 confreres, and released for rotation only 160 (sick and old ones included).
Thus the GC finds itself in the awkward situation of begging for personnel to answer the needs and emergencies presented by the provincials and delegates.
The balance between personnel and commitments is going to be one of the major issues to be studied at the meeting of the provincials and delegates, which, after consultation with all the concerned parties, has been rescheduled for the beginning of 2005.
We have emergency situations in various postulancies, novitiates and scholasticates. The emergencies concern the rotation of formators, the overcrowding of the scholasticates and above all the discernment in admitting to temporary and perpetual vows.
There is a pressing need for formators in the postulancies of Ecuador, Colombia, Central America, Asia, Peru, Mexico, Central Africa and for the inter-provincial postulancy for Brothers at Lomé (Togo).
It is time for rotation for the novice masters of Peru, Italy and Mexico.
Scholasticates: it is urgent to find formators for Nairobi, San Paulo, Lima, Innsbruck and Pietermaritzburg. For the moment, the scholasticates are overcrowded, endangering the possibility of offering proper care to the candidates. In our opinion, we need to be more selective with the candidates, looking less for quantity and more for “quality”. The number of scholastics and newly ordained priests who leave is high. We must ask ourselves what are the motivations of most of our candidates when they apply to join our Institute.
The model of formation implemented in the scholasticate of Pietermaritzburg has been approved, as a concrete implementation of the guidelines of the General Chapter (AC ’03 64, 68). The process of evaluation of the location of the other scholasticates is still going on.
The issue of formation is to be discussed in the forthcoming Continental Assemblies of Vocation Promotion (VP) and of Ongoing Formation (OF). It will be dealt with as well in the forthcoming assembly of provincials and delegates.
1.4 Comboni Year Of Ongoing Formation 2004-2005
There are still confreres reluctant to attend the Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation, in spite of the encouragement and the good intentions of provincial and delegates.
However, for the success of the course, we do not to insist on the par-ticipation of confreres who could create uneasiness in the running of the programme.
Without the consent of and the dialogue with the provincials and delegates, we do not approve of confreres participating in other courses, especially courses and sabbaticals which are requested for one’s own reasons and motivated purely by individualism.
We intend to encourage the dialogue with the provincials/delegates as regard to specialisations and further studies of confreres. For the time being we have blocked the applications for studies and specialisations, till a new policy is outlined. In our opinion there are too many confreres who ask to go for further studies just for the sake of it, without any proper aim or benefit for the mission and for the Institute.
1.6 Arab Language Studies
The present policy of Arab language studies (one school year in Cairo and two in Rome) is under discussion by the GC, Dar Comboni and PISAI. For the moment we have not yet reached a decision.
However, this year the two confreres who are in Cairo at Dar Comboni, will continue their language course in Cairo, in accordance with an alternative option already agreed upon, but never implemented.
1.7 Appointments of provincials and delegates
In this Consulta the GC has set into motion the consultation process (1 May 2004) for the appointments of provincials/delegates and for the election of their councils. We ask of you to programme and follow the procedure with due attention and discernment animated by faith.
1.8 Ratio Missionis
Taking into account the wish of the majority of the provinces and dele-gations, Fr. Fernando Zolli, the general secretary for Evangelisation, has received the green light to plan the intercontinental assembly in Rome, from 23 to 30 May 2004.
We remind everyone that the issue at stake is not the Ratio itself, but the choice of the methodology of drafting it. There is a need to agree upon common criteria accepted by all. The Ratio Missionis first of all needs to outline the “general principles” that, later on, may inspire and motivate the projects of evangelisation at continental level, in the light of contextualisation and inculturation.
1.9 Code of Conduct
Various happenings reported by the provincials and delegates, urge us to define as soon as possible the final text of our Code of Conduct. We are thinking of calling on a team of continental representatives with the task of preparing the drafting of the text. Remarks and suggestions from the provinces and delegations are welcomed.
1.10 Trips to renew residence permits
Some confreres return periodically to their missions in order to keep the residence permit. This applies mainly to confreres who have worked in Brazil and to a lesser extent in other provinces such as Mexico.
The GC has received information that the situation in the above named provinces is changed and it is now easier to get the resident permits. Therefore, it is the GC decision to put an end to this practice, as the GC is contrary to unnecessary and unjustified journeys.
We thank the continental assemblies of provincials /delegates of Africa and America/Asia (the one of Europe is scheduled for May) that have already presented the issues and priorities for their three or six-year plan. The GC is already working on drawing up its own programme that will be presented to and discussed with the councils of the provinces and delegations during the next few months.
Fr. John Taneburgo: his election to vice superior of the delegation of Asia on 03.03.2004 has been approved
Fr. Villaseñor Gálvez José de Jesús is appointed assistant novice master at Venegono (I) from 01.07.2004
Fr. Sardella Michele (C) is appointed personal secretary of the Superior General from 01.03.2004
Fr. Frigerio Giuseppe (C) is appointed assistant personal secretary of the Superior General from 01.03.2004
Next Consulta: during the whole month of June.
General Chapter of the Comboni Missionary Sisters: 22 August - 30 September 2004.
Yearly Retreat for the General Administration: 29 August - 5 September, at Pesaro.
1.14 Forthcoming journeys and visits to the provinces/delegations
Superior General, Fr. Teresino Serra
2-22 May: Asia, annual retreat and delegation assembly
8-10 June: Spain, 50th anniversary of the province
26 July-20 August: Mexico, annual retreat and provincial assembly
15-25 September: Poland, annual retreat
8-18 October: South Africa, annual retreat and visit to the province
25-30 November: São Paulo (Brazil), assembly of provincials of America/Asia
Fr. Fabio Carlo Baldan
14-21 April: South Africa
22 April-15 May: Mozambique, visit to the province
16-22 May: Ethiopia, provincial assembly
15 September-12 October: Khartoum (Sudan), visit to the province
Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel
12-27 April: Eritrea, celebration of his 25th priestly ordination
13-21 May: Cracow (Poland), meeting of the provincials of Europe
29 June-5 July: Venegono (Italy), European assembly of VP and BF
13-17 July: Bamberg (Germany), Meeting of the study groups of Europe
4-17 August: Lusaka (Zambia), Continental Assembly of PV and BF of English speaking Africa
Fr. José Odelir Magri
15-16 April: Paris, visit to the community
17 April-16 May: Congo, assembly at Kisangani and at Kinshasa
9-17 May: Roma, America/Asia Continental Council of evangelisation
30 June-3 July: Venegono (Italy), European Assembly of VP and BF
5-28 July: Peru, 5-17 visit to the province; 18-28 America/Asia Assembly of VP and BF
29 July-15 August: Colombia, visit to the delegation
21-27 August: Lomé (Togo), Assembly of French speaking Africa on VP and BF
Br. Hernán Romero Arias
20-23 April: Roma, General Council of Finance
30 April-2 May: Pesaro (Italy), 2004 meeting of the Brothers
5-21 May: Nairobi (Kenya), visit to the C.I.F. in Nairobi and Brothers’ postulancy ay Layibi, Uganda
5-28 July: Peru, visit to the province
29 July-15 August: Bogota (Colombia), visit to the C.I.F.
In order to keep our database up to date and in preparation for the publication of the Annuario Comboniano 2005, the secretary general asks all provincials/delegates and others who deal with personnel to in-form him, speedily and with detailed data, about arrivals and departures of confreres in their provinces/delegations (including people going on holidays), movements of personnel within their jurisdiction and changes in the home addresses of confreres.
Pictures of confreres and of houses
Pictures of confreres and of our houses keep trickling into the secretary general’s office, albeit very slowly. Sincere thanks to all those who have answered this request which, together with the one concerning the Annuario Comboniano, has appeared in all issues of Familia Comboniana since July 2003. Despite this, many confreres seem to be totally unaware of it.
Closing of communities and religious houses
At times some of our communities and houses have been closed without asking for the authorization of the Superior General.
To avoid useless misunderstandings, provincials/delegates are asked to adhere strictly to the Rule of Life, numbers 109, 127.2, 139.2, which deal with the closing of communities and religious houses, a right reserved to the Superior General and his Council.
When the decision is taken to close a community, for instance when a parish is handed over to the diocese, the provincial/delegate must send to the Superior General in good time an official request that will be discussed by the Consulta. If approved, the secretary general will send the decree of suppression to the provincial/delegate concerned.
Free subscriptions to the “Osservatore Romano”
This year, thanks to the support of agencies and associations of benefactors, the voice of the Pope and of the Church’s Magisterium is making its way into monasteries and religious houses of Institutes working in low-income areas. It is part of the “Project Missions,” created and run by the Marketing and Distribution office of the Osservatore Romano with the help of “SRI – Socially Responsible Italia, SpA,” to ensure a larger distribution of the paper throughout the world.
Thanks to this programme, the various language editions of the Osservatore Romano will reach the communities of consecrated life that are active in difficult areas of the five continents. Subscription and mailing costs are covered by companies that have answered with donations to the subscriptions’ campaign. These are benefactors who rightfully belong to the “entrepreneurial service of charity” contributing to the spreading of the words of the Holy Father in mission lands.
The first free subscriptions of 2004 have already reached their destination. Copies of the weekly editions in French, English, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and the monthly edition in Polish are available to Institutes in Africa, Asia, America, Oceania and Eastern Europe. Thus the Osservatore Romano becomes a valid point of reference for religious and lay people living in remote areas, where the Church is only a “little flock” on their difficult journey of evangelisation.
Anyone interested may contact directly the Osservatore Romano at this address: Marketing Circulation and Subscriptions, 00120 Vatican City. Tel. 06.69899480, Fax 06 69882818, E-mail: email@example.com
Bro. Alberto Parise (I) Kariobangi (KE) 28.03.2004
Fr. De Jesús García José (M) Chilpancingo (MEX) 17.04.2004
Holy Redeemer Guild
May 01 – 07 ET 08 – 15 ER 16 – 31 IT
June 01 – 15 KE 16 – 30 KH
May - That through the intercession of St. Daniel Comboni and the Blessed Virgin Mary we may be ever more conscious of the dignity of women and of their fundamental role in the regeneration of the family and of human society. Let us pray.
June - That St. Daniel Comboni help us to “put on Christ” so that His Pierced Heart may be the centre of communication in our communities, in the local Churches and with the poor. Let us pray.
Bishop Comboni against the slave trade
On Friday, 12 March, the parish hall of Notre Dame de Fatima, in Gombe, was the venue of a lecture-discussion on Bishop Daniel Comboni’s struggle against slavery in Africa. The title was: “The Oriental trade. A page of history yet to be discovered. Africans sold into slavery in the Middle East. The struggle of St. Daniel Comboni.” The event was facilitated by Fr. Nazareno Gaetano Contran, editor of Afriquespoir, and professor Ernest Kiangu Sindani of the University of Kinshasa.
It must be noted that this lecture marked the conclusion of the Comboni Year. The year had begun in Kimwenza on 15 March 2003, and came to an end on 14 March this year in St. Mbaga parish, in the community of Kimbanseke. Beside the lecture there was also a celebration of the Eucharist, during which a very important message of hope was read that called for a collective effort to bring unity to the Congo.
Again, in relation to the lecture, it is worth remembering that it dealt with a very little known page of that crime against humanity that was slavery, the trade of black people, of the Africans on the markets of the Middle East. It is a dark page in the history of humiliation and exploitation of our African brothers and sisters. Bishop Daniel Comboni, declared a saint on 5 October 2003, lived at that time, saw the Africans being torn away form their natural, family and affective environment, sold like animals in the public square, deported, sold again or changed into beasts of burden and often killed.
In this human tragedy the point of interest for the Comboni Missionaries and the Sisters – the two speakers pointed out – is that the Founder of their Institutes was not a passive spectator, resigned and fatalistic in the face of this terrible and unbearable tragedy of our ancestors in the Sudan and in Central Africa.
In order to translate into practice the treaty of 1856 which abolished the slave trade – professor Ernest Kiangu pointed out – Comboni developed a three-pronged strategy: The preaching of the Gospel and the foundation of Catholic missions; a prudent cooperation with civil authorities; inter-religious dialogue with Islam because, according to Comboni, the Koran approved of slavery.
According to professor Kiangu, Comboni helps us shed new light on the particular histories of some African countries; he helps us formulate a pattern in the memory of our past, namely the struggle against racism, and the current social inequities; furthermore, Comboni reveals himself as the theologian of our historical conscience. Finally, Comboni’s strug-gle against the African slave trade reminds us that anything that de-bases and humiliates humanity must be eradicated.
In conclusion, the transition period that we experience in Congo with the current wars has all to gain, according to both speakers, if we draw inspiration from Comboni who was truly the prophet of peace for Africa, certainly for the Africa of the 19th century, but also for Africa of today.
The Comboni Missionaries trust in the future of Congo
On the occasion of the closing of the liturgical year in the parish of St. Mbaga, in the municipality of Kimbanseke, Kinshasa, the Comboni Missionaries working in Congo expressed their optimism in the future of the country.
In a prepared statement, which was later made public, they stated that their optimism is based on some concrete signs that are surfacing among the people, such as the ability to forgive, faith in God, patriotism that was a determining factor in blocking the way to the dismemberment of the country and also signs of maturity, justice and love of neighbour: All these factors make it possible to create concrete avenues of reconciliation, unification and true democracy in a country where the law is respected.
Signatures for the cause of Northern Uganda
On 29 February the opening of the Lenten campaign, sponsored by Misereor, took place at Bamberg. Good weather and many more visitors than expected helped to a great success of this missionary day. The Comboni Missionaries and the Comboni Missionary Sisters were represented in this colourful event as well.
With the help of a good number of Comboni Lay Missionaries and of friends of ours, the Comboni Missionaries in particular have kept alive the people’s interest in the terrible situation of Northern Uganda. We had prepared a small exhibition on the situation and on the commitment of the Churches in Northern Uganda to solve, by peaceful means, the problems mainly caused by the atrocities of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and by a Ugandan government that finds it difficult to deal with the situation.
A short play underlined the situation of the suffering people and solicited the spectators to do something about it. As a sign of solidarity we asked for as many signatures as possible and prepared petition to be sent to the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, asking to intervene in trying to solve the difficult situation. This campaign is still going on. The horrifying death of Fr. Luciano Fulvi has given it a new impact.
Planning for the coming years
During a recent meeting of the provincial council it became obvious that the various provincial secretariats have well gone into studying the Chapter Acts. This is supposed to be the first step in guiding us towards an updated six-year plan in line with the spirit of the last General Chapter. In fact, the members of the secretariat for evangelisation have al-ready come up with a fairly good list of priorities to be implemented in the province. In particular, there are suggestions about the wide theme of "Mission in Europe Today" and suggestions concerning justice and peace.
Twenty years’ anniversary of the Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM)
It was in 1983 that the DSP had joined the idea of other missionary In-stitutes in Germany and began preparing young people to become what we call "Missionare auf Zeit” (MaZ) or missionaries for a time. These are our lay missionaries, people closely linked to the Comboni Missionaries and to the Founder’s charism. In early 1984 our first CLM, Johann Eigner, set out for Kenya to begin his commitment in the parish of Kariobangi in Nairobi. Later on Johann decided to join our Institute as a Missionary Brother. Since then, nearly 90 other lay missionaries, men and women, have committed themselves to the missionary cause and worked abroad from one to three years and even longer.
In order to mark the two decades of their missionary commitment, we are planning a CLM jubilee in July.
Inauguration of a new chapel dedicated to St. Daniel Comboni
The new and very beautiful chapel built in his honour at the 7th km of the new road to Borbón is the sign of the holiness and presence of St. Daniel Comboni.
A three-week mission conducted by the parish Sisters, which ended on 15 March 2003, had helped many people to turn their lives around. At the end of the mission there was a true commitment to live one’s faith in a more sincere way and to build a chapel that would enable the Catho-lics in the area to set aside their fears and weaknesses and get together to pray to God.
Since there was talk about the beginning of the celebrations of the Comboni Year, it was decided to dedicate the Chapel to St. Daniel Comboni. This is a small community made up of people from other prov-inces of Ecuador, who came here when the new road was opened. The chapel, completed in all its details, was built with the contributions of the local people and donors from elsewhere.
On Sunday, 21 March 2004, first anniversary of’ the mission led by the parish Sisters, and following another mission in preparation for the event, we blessed and dedicated the chapel to St. Daniel Comboni in the presence of the community of Borbón and other nearby communi-ties. The celebration also included baptisms and first communions.
Meeting of all the agents of the Afro pastoral
On 29-30 March, at the provincial house, we held the meeting of all the confreres involved in the Afro-Ecuadorian Pastoral Project working in Es-meraldas, Guayaquil and Quito.
Following an analysis of the CELAM document, “Afro-continental Pastoral Outlines” the following priorities were formulated:
North of Esmeraldas, the creation of a centre for evangelisation and formation which, among other things, will organize biblical courses for Afro leaders and pastoral agents. Also, on the occasion of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first Comboni Missionaries, it has been decided to hold a week dedicated to Afro culture.
The Cultural Centre in Quito considers it a priority for next year to com-puterize all the material available, in order to have better access to the important work done over a number of years.
The Cultural Centre of Guayaquil recognizes the priority of continuing the formation of missionaries Afro, to have them work in the barrios of the city, in the school of Afro formation opened at the Centre and in courses of Afro pastoral held in various city parishes. Also ongoing will be the publication of biblical booklets that are beginning to be used also in other dioceses.
There is a proposal to gather in a video all the material related to the ac-tivity of the Comboni Missionaries in Ecuador, especially among the Afro. There is also the intention of opening a small community in Chota in order to have a complete and meaningful Comboni presence in the Afro pas-toral at the national level.
50th anniversary of the Comboni Missionaries in Ecuador
On 2 April 1955, the first three Comboni Missionaries, two priests and a Brother, arrived in Quito and on 13 April of the same year they arrived for the first time in Esmeraldas.
We cannot overlook this event. The reading of the history of the province spurs us on with the accounts of the activities of these first authen-tic missionaries who were transferred from an African experience.
As a province we do not want to forget this date and, in view of the solemn celebrations planned for next year, we have decided to hold a year of commemorations through our publications, during which period we shall remember these pioneers, hold celebrations in all our communities, organize weeks of Afro culture and times of reflection to thank God for this gift, to revive the memory of these past years and to launch ourselves into the future with renewed zeal.
National activities to link Italy and Africa
The activities planned together with other missionary communities in Rome, in the name of the Italian Missionary Institutes represented by Fr. Venanzio Milani, have had good following, particularly through the mass media. The objective of the project, namely the presentation of the other face (positive) of Africa, even with all its limitations, was reached.
Young people in formation
The “Meeting of Young people in Formation” was held in Pesaro on 14-16 April. Its purpose was to share about the formation process of the various Institutes of the Comboni Family and give to the candidates a way to get together. Participants: 64 young people (from all levels of formation), 8 formators and the brotherly presence of Fr. Teresino Serra, Fr. Francesco Antonini and Sr. Margit Forster. It was a very meaningful occasion of Comboni animation and formation.
Comboni and the Church
The Subsidy/2 of the Comboni Lay Missionaries, “The Church in the writings of Daniel Comboni,” has been published. Author: Andrea Mazardo. The publication develops four great ecclesial models: Histori-cal-juridical, sacramental, charismatic and ecumenical-missionary. Comboni comes through as a man devoted to the Church, faithful to its tradition, but also surprisingly forward looking.
Copies may be requested from Fr. Raffaello Savoia, Verona.
Fighting in Darfur
The humanitarian disaster in Darfur, Western Sudan, has recently worsened with a total breakdown in law and order in the surrounding countryside. As we entered Holy Week, one of the nearby villages suf-fered an attack that forced all the Christians (over 400 families) to flee to Nyala. They are not the targets of the attacks: it is basically a struggle between two local non-Arab tribes and the government, but it often hap-pens that innocent people are caught in the middle, since the govern-ment’s strategy is to indiscriminately drop bombs on any village where militias in gangs of hundreds enter to loot and burn. News reports have called it a campaign of terror and ethnic cleansing. A few international monitors in the area estimate that more than one thousand people die each week from the violence and related causes. Peace talks have be-gun in the neighbouring Chad, but these are faltering as new attacks are carried out almost daily.
Refugees keep arriving at Nyala, though no longer as a mass movement. Most of them have found shelter in one of our neighbourhood centres or in private homes. The Comboni Missionaries have put up temporary shelters to protect them from the sun and the heat that during the day reaches well over 40 degrees. We are trying our best to alleviate and prevent any worsening of the situation.
The local authorities are indifferent to the situation and do nothing about it. When contacted, they simply say that the refugees should not have come or that they should go back. The official version is that there is no emergency.
We are receiving daily reports that many more people are leaving their villages and moving to the south. Once the road will be safe to travel, we fear that many more people will reach our centres.
50th anniversary of the foundation of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart
On 25 March 2004, the Church of Sudan celebrated the 50th anniversary of the foundation of its first female religious Institute: the Sacred Heart Sisters.
In 1949 some girls of the diocese of Juba expressed to Bishop Stephen Mlakic their desire to consecrate themselves to God in the religious life. The bishop showed great interest but, due to illness, he had to leave Juba without following up on this project. It fell on his successor, Bishop Sisto Mazzoldi, to pick it up and turn it into reality. With the cooperation of Sr. Donatilla Moroni, Bishop Mazzoldi gave life to the Insti-tute of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The first four young women, who on 25 March 1954 took the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, were Barbara, Annetta, Angelina and Modesta. Two of them, Sr. Bar-bara Ihanga and Sr. Angelina Imina, are still alive and have celebrated at the same time their 50th year of consecrated life and the golden jubilee of the Institute.
The new Institute was founded for the service of the local Church in the Sudan, especially in the field of education. Hence the original name of “Teaching Sisters of the Sacred Heart.” Soon, however, their field of activity extended beyond the borders of the Sudan.
The expulsion of all the Comboni Missionaries (priests, brothers, sisters) from South Sudan (1964) deprived the young Institute of a team of educators and the persecution brought about by the Islamic government of Khartoum moved the Sisters to seek refuge in Moyo, Uganda, where they reorganized their novitiate, a formation house and their headquar-ters. In 1965 Bishop Mazzoldi, expelled from the Sudan, was appointed bishop of Moroto and, with the approval of the Holy See, began to take care of the young Institute which developed rapidly with vocations from the Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. Together with their religious formation, the Sisters received also a good education into a professional life as teachers (in Gulu), nurses and midwives (in Kalongo, Gulu and Kitgum). Some of them have even specialised in the knowledge of Braille for the care and the teaching of the blind.
Down to this day the Sisters of the Sacred Heart work in Sudan, Kenya and Uganda as teachers, nurses and midwives. They take care of development projects for women and young people, they work in mass media and among orphans (especially among refugees and displaced people), always living off the fruits of their labour, establishing their independence and self-sufficiency.
We thank God because the Church in the Sudan has been blessed not only with this, but also with many other foundations of male and female religious Institutes, such as the Brothers of St. Martin de Porres, the Apostles of Jesus Missionaries for Africa, the Evangelising Sisters of Mary and the Contemplative Fathers.
50th anniversary of the arrival of the Comboni Missionaries
The 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Comboni Missionaries in Sahuayo was celebrated with great solemnity on Sunday, 28 March.
People were invited to prepare for the celebration through various local radio and TV programmes in Sahuayo and through articles in the local papers. On the Friday and Saturday before the feast over 100 people flocked to the lecture hall of the Comboni seminary to listen to lectures and speeches by the parish priest and by a religious member of the par-ish, Fr. Vicente Girarte and Fr. Florencio Magaña, who were well re-ceived and appreciated.
On Sunday a hot sun was baking the 2000 chairs lined up on the soccer field facing the tent that protected the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist. Anyone entering the field was given a hat to protect them from the sun. Many people were scrambling for a little shade under the trees and the tents where dinner was going to be served later.
At 12:30, at the seminar entrance, Bishop Carlos Suárez and the mayor of Sahuayo, José Eduardo Anaya Gómez, unveiled a plaque so inscribed: “The people of Sahuayo and the local authorities express their appreciation for the work of St. Daniel Comboni on the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Comboni Missionaries in this city.”
Then the procession to the Mass site began: dancers of tahualiles and Aztecs preceded the Knights of Columbus in high uniform, followed by 50 people carrying commemorative candles, acolytes and 45 concelebrants.
In the course of his homily the bishop, drawing from the words of John Paul II, for whom “the true missionary must be a saint,” stressed the fact that the canonisation of Daniel Comboni was not a reward for what he did, but exactly because he was a saint, he did what he did. He also stressed that the arrival of he Comboni Missionaries in Sahuayo, in the region and diocese of Zamora, has contributed to the formation of a missionary spirit in the people, opening their hearts to the universal spirit of the Church.
At the offertory, 50 lilies, a large candle, artisan products of Sahuayo, fruits, bread and water were brought to the altar. The altar was well decorated and raised above the ground so that the 45 concelebrants, mostly Comboni Missionaries, were quite visible.
At the end of the Mass Fr. Baltazar Zárate Quiros, Fr. Antonio Alvarez Gómez, Fr. Aurelio Cervantes Fajardo (all members of the first group of seminarians who studied in the Comboni seminary) and Fr. Juan Manuel Valdovinos Valencia, the first Comboni Missionary of Sahuayo were introduced. A letter from Fr. Teresino Serra in Rome was read in which he thanked the people of Sahuayo for all that they have done and continue to do for our seminary. There was a very moving moment when a month old baby girl, Daniela Guadalupe, and 103 year old Margarita Sandoval, a benefactor who has worked for us from the very beginning, were brought together to light a beautiful candle as a symbol of the past still carrying on into the future.
After the Mass, attended by nearly 3000 people, the various mission groups (lay, benefactors and youth groups) and the Knights of Columbus served a good meal. The crowd included people from several Mexican states, but mainly from Sahuayo and vicinity. Folks groups and a band provided the entertainment.
Assembly of local superiors
The assembly of local superiors of the Peru-Chile province was held on 20-21 April. The representatives of the 15 communities of the province, from Trujillo to the communities of Santiago and Villa Alhué in Chile, gathered to reflect on the very important task of coordinating and animating the confreres with whom they live. Chapter 4 of the Chapter Acts was perused to draw directives and objectives in order to live its values as a missionary Institute. It was also possible to share the situation of the various communities and to propose ideas for ongoing formation.
25th anniversary of the foundation of the postulancy
Several activities took place to celebrate the silver jubilee of the community of the postulancy. On 18 April there was a Eucharist celebrated by the provincial, Fr. Conrado Franco Lorenzo. Some Peruvian missionaries concelebrated and a good number of people attended. After Mass they all enjoyed a reception.
On 20 April, the local superiors gathered in assembly went to the postulancy to thank God with a Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Jaime Rodríguez Salazar, currently the diocesan administrator of Huánuco. The reflection was given by Fr. Máximo Huamán Inga, first Peruvian formator, who spoke with great enthusiasm and remembered the years he spent working in that house. A curious annotation: the last four provincials of these past 25 years were present at the celebration – Fr. Alois Weiss, Fr. Silvester Engl, Fr. Herbert Heinz Gimpl and Fr. Conrado Franco Lorenzo. We concluded with a festive meal , thanking God for the Peruvian missionaries who have accepted the invitation to follow the Lord in the missionary life.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Fr. Luciano Fulvi (15.05.1928 – 30.03.2004)
In 1880 St. Daniel Comboni wrote to a Jesuit friend, rector of a Seminary in Belgium, asking to give him his best students to become missionaries for Central Africa: “I beg you, dear father, to give me the best students you have, the most virtuous, the purest, the holiest, because Central Africa is the most difficult and trying mission in the whole world… for Central Africa we need martyrs…” (MDC 119).
With Fr. Luciano Fulvi’s death, the Comboni Missionaries Martyrs in Uganda during the past 30 years have reached number 15. The Northern part of Uganda is still most probably, in the words of Comboni, “one of the most difficult and trying missions in the world.”
Yesterday morning at Mass, thinking of the death of Fr. Luciano, I was inspired and consoled by this sentence of Jesus from the Gospel of John: “whoever keeps my word will never know the taste of death”. I am sure that Fr. Luciano, a good and kind man, who loved and kept God’s Word, did not know the taste of death even after that horrible night of 31 March, when he breathed his last in a pool of blood after his throat was cut by a sharp knife.
It all happened between 9 and 9.45 p.m. Fr. Luciano had bid good-night to the confreres of his Layibi community in the sitting room at around 9 p.m. Most probably he found his killer/s already in his room trying to steal. Did they have any other motives? We are not sure. We do not know what really happened during those terrible tragic forty-five minutes.
A confrere who passed in front of his room at around 10 pm, found the door ajar and the lights off. He called Fr. Luciano, but there was no re-ply. Thinking that he was already asleep, he simply closed the door. The following morning, not seeing Fr. Luciano around, while his bicycle and car were in the same place as the evening before, the members of the community felt something was wrong.
Entering into his room they found Fr. Luciano lifeless, still with his day-clothes on, lying next to his bed in a pool of coagulated blood. He had bruises on his face and signs of blows received during a possible self-defence struggle with his killer/s. His throat was cut on the right and on the left. He must have bled to death in a few minutes. Even physically, Fr. Luciano had poured all of his blood for God and for the people he loved.
Who was Fr. Luciano? Chaplain of Layibi College and of St. Daniel Comboni Vocational Institute, he had recently been appointed, at the age of 75, youth chaplain of Gulu archdiocese.
Fr. Luciano was born on the 15 May 1928 at Uzzano, in Tuscany, Central Italy. Of his five siblings only two sisters survive, one of whom, Sr. Daniela, is a Comboni Sister working in Cairo.
Fr. Luciano had joined the Comboni Missionaries in 1946 coming from the diocesan seminary. He was ordained priest on 30 May 1953. He then spent three years in England (1953-1956). In 1956 he was sent to Uganda, where he remained until 1964 working as a school chaplain in Nyapea. Then for 25 years (1965-1990) he worked in England, especially in vocation promotion.
Fr. Luciano returned to Uganda in 1990. He was posted in Arua Diocese as chaplain of Ombaci College and as vocation promoter. In 1996, in spite of a major heart surgery and five bypasses, he willingly went back to Uganda, to Kampala, to resume his work as vocation director and in youth ministry. In January 2002 he was assigned to Layibi as su-perior of the community and chaplain of Layibi College.
In June 2003 he joyfully celebrated his golden priestly jubilee in his home parish in Italy, his two sisters being present.
What was Fr. Luciano’s personality? The best description is given by his sister, Sr. Daniela. She was contacted and spoke about his late brother as follows: “My brother was for me the dearest person after the Lord. In 2003, after 11 years during which we could not see each other, finally we met in our hometown on the occasion of his priestly golden jubilee. Those three months of holidays spent with him were the best of my life. Fr. Luciano was a marvellous person. He was open, smiling, jovial and good. He loved everyone. …Yesterday, before I came to know of the death of my brother, I got up early at 4.30 am. I had the impression to hear a voice. I do not know whether it was from inside or outside me. The voice was saying: Love and sacrifice generate life. That was exactly what Fr. Luciano did with his life: he loved everyone and gave himself totally for them”.
Sr. Daniela cannot understand “why” Fr. Luciano was so brutally murdered. We ourselves, like her, cannot understand it. “He was truly a peaceful man”, says Sr. Daniela. Two days ago during the funeral Mass at Lacor Hospital I heard many people crying out in tears why it had to be so. “Most probably, adds Sr. Daniela, the true reasons for his death will be discovered later”. We, too, hope so!
This morning I was personally struck by the Benedictus antiphon and I felt that Fr. Luciano was saying together with Jesus: “I have done many good works for you to see; for which of them do you wish to kill me?” Sr. Daniela concludes her interview with words that we all want to make our own: “I would like that people pray for my brother, for my family, but also for those who killed him, because certainly they did not know what they were doing. May the Lord have mercy on them”.
That’s why we are here: to pray for the eternal rest of Fr. Luciano, for the conversion of his killers and for all those who cause death to others in Acholiland.
Yesterday I checked through books, documents and things belonging to Fr. Luciano. I found a letter he wrote to a friend on 27 March, three days before his death. I found in this letter a sort of Fr. Luciano’s spiri-tual last will. Allow me to quote some meaningful passages: “God must be the God who permeates my whole life, 24 hours a day… When we work with a human being, with all his/her problems, we need patience, which must be ‘divine’ and without deadlines… A person finds peace only in a relationship of personal love with the person of Jesus”.
In particular, referring to the situation in Acholiland, he wrote: “Here things are getting worse. All seem to be waiting for something, but noth-ing ever happens… There are no limits to the atrocities and killings. Cer-tainly the future appears to be very bleak. We are in God’s hands”. In-deed, Fr. Luciano is now fully in God’s hands: “Whoever keeps my word will never see death”.
On Fr. Luciano’s souvenir card for his golden priestly jubilee there was a prayer that is meaningful also at this moment: “Thanks, Jesus, / be-cause you have loved me, / because you love me / and because you have made me able to walk with you in the mystery of you love. / With immense gratitude / I thank you / for those who have walked with me”.
Fr. Luciano is thanking us for walking with him up to this Gulu cathedral. He has left us a great challenge to continue walking with him in wit-nessing Jesus’ love and smile wherever we are. Fr. Luciano, thank you! (Fr. Guido Oliana)
Witness of Giampaolo Romanato (Il Corriere del Veneto)
With the murder of Fr. Luciano Fulvi last week in Uganda the number of Comboni Missionaries killed around the world over the last 50 years has gone up to 25. These numbers lead us to deep thinking and deserve some reflection. I knew Fr. Fulvi very well. Some years ago he was my guide when I spent a week travelling through Uganda from South to North, as far as the border with the Sudan. I remember his intelligence, his extraordinary knowledge of the country, the languages, the people, and his love for the Africans and for Africa, where he wanted to be buried.
Nothing that wasn’t evangelical darkened his activity – no nostalgic neo-colonialism or third world musings. And yet they killed him, just as they had killed Fr. Adone Santi, also in Uganda. Or as in Brazil they had murdered 38 year old Fr. Marco Vedovato and Fr. Ezekiel Ramin, only 32. The same had happened to Fr. Dal Maso, killed in Uganda in 1979.
What are these missionaries doing? They evangelise, and they engage in activities in the social, educational, health fields, they assist people, often living themselves in conditions beyond belief. I can vouch that, because I saw the missions of North Uganda, where Fr. Fulvi was working, just as I saw those in the Amazons, where Fr. Ramin was ambushed.
Over these last several years the situation in Uganda has deteriorated due to the guerrilla war waged by the LRA rebels. Three fourths of the population has been displaced. In the evening the missions are packed full with desperate people who don’t know how and where to spend the night, who don’t have anyone to protect them. The infamous plague of child soldiers is still festering, a plague recently condemned vigorously also by the Pope. It can be excluded that Fr. Fulvi, who was dealing with the local youth, may have been killed also for this. And other missions in other African countries, from Congo to Sudan, are not any better. Mis-sionaries in Uganda know that they are targeted by the rebels, without being able to rely on the protection of government forces. The fact that they stand in defence of the people exposes them to acts of revenge and reprisal. In spite of it all, they have chosen to stay. Recently the Superior General of the Comboni Missionaries shared his anguish with me. Each decision may cost someone’s life.
The world is full of humanitarian peace missions led by soldiers, volun-teers, technicians and non government organizations. We justly worry about the chances of anyone who accepts to operate in risky situations. But there does not seem to be, I believe, the same attention given to the perennial peace mission of missionaries who work, it bears remind ourselves of it, without pay or bonuses, who take care of all people without any distinction of religion, race or political leanings. It is an example for all of us and I believe it should get a better recognition even on the part of our public institutions.
Fr. Francesco Leali (08.03.1918 – 18.04.2004)
Fr. Francesco Leali, the ninth of ten brothers, left his hometown of Sabbio Chiese, Brescia, after grade school and went to live in Mompiano, where his brother Primo was parish priest. He seemed to be destined to become an accountant or a surveyor as he studied at the Nicoló Tartaglia Institute of Brescia, where he used to travel daily on his bicycle. Rev. Primo had felt the pull of a missionary vocation, but had to give it up under pressure from his family, his superiors and his bishop. This, however, did not prevent him from filling his little brother’s heart with his passion for Africa. In 1913 their father Alessio, who had always been against the missionary vocation, died. Three months later, Rev. Primo escorted Francesco to the Comboni Institute of Viale Venezia saying: “This brother of mine has a missionary vocation.” And left him there.
In an interview he gave in 1999 Fr. Francesco said that “at first I wasn’t too enthused about it. I could see the difficulties this choice entailed, but I found superiors who were very understanding, who enlightened me and who assured me that this was indeed a true call from God. This reassured me. They told me very clearly that I should not expect too many human consolations, but assured me that God’s help would never fail me, even in times of suffering.”
Fr. Francesco took his fist vows on 7 October 1939 and was ordained priest on 29 June 1945, in Como, where the scholastics were living because of the war. After a year of preparation in Italy, he left for Africa with the first group of missionaries that returned there after the war. He had been assigned to South Sudan. Here he soon showed the stamina of a true missionary dedicating his energies to visiting the villages, running schools and preparing the catechumens. He worked hard up to the point of undermining his health, so that, after five years, he had to return to Italy to recover, where he used his time of rest to do mission promotion. Two years later he was back in the Sudan and remained there until the expulsion of 1964.
He tried to work in Spain between 1964-1965, but Europe was not for him, so at the end of 1965 we find him in Uganda (1965-1972), then he was in Kenya (1972-1974) and finally back in Uganda, among the Karimojong (1974-1999) who became “his people of preference.”
Love for the Africans was a characteristic of Fr. Francesco’s that turned into zeal for their salvation. In 1998 he was sent to Italy to take care of his health. He saw this as a kind of expulsion from the land where he would have wanted to put his bones to rest. “Age and some physical weakness are not sufficient reasons to stand in the way of re-turning to the missions. I believe that the essential qualities of a missionary are love for our African brothers and sisters and the desire to bring to them the message of Jesus Christ. All other qualities are good, but are not essential. What is the use of having good health, youthfulness and physical strength, if we do not have love for the Africans? We are missionaries, not mercenaries. I have known Africans who have accepted death in order to be faithful to Jesus Christ; I have seen Sudanese catechumens who were beaten because they refused to attend the kalwa (Koranic school)… This letter of mine is not written in protest, even though moving me out of Africa is similar to an expulsion. I accept God’s will. But I believe that, in giving me this cross, God used my con-freres. I do not bear a grudge against anyone and I pray that God may bless us all. It means that, when I will appear at his judgment, I will tell him that leaving the mission was not my idea, but someone else’s, and He will understand.”
This is a very moving letter because it shows the missionary spirit of Fr. Francesco, but we must say that the superiors acted with prudence and wisdom, because he was really sick. Despite of all this, he was able to return to the missions once more, but his depression attacks became more and more frequent and serious so that, in the year 2000, he was sent to Italy for good. He was in Brescia for a time and it was helpful to him. He would be taken to hear confessions in various places where the ministry of the Comboni Missionaries was requested. He was very happy to go, as it made him feel that he was still a priest and a missionary. While in the car, he kept saying the rosary because, he would say: “It is by prayer and sacrifice that we save souls, even those of our Chris-tians.”
At a certain point Fr. Francesco was sent to Milano, at the Ambrosoli Centre, and there he spent his days in prayer and also suffering some spiritual pains that he offered up for the Institute and for the missions. Lately he had been confined to a wheelchair until sister death came to take him and bring him to the Lord. It was 18 April 2004. Following the funeral, held in the church of Our Lady of Fatima, the body was taken to his hometown. (Fr. Lorenzo Gaiga)
Let us pray for the diceased
THE FATHER: Petro of Fr. Clement George Orango (C); Ettore of Fr. Lorenzo Schiavon (I); Antonino of Fr. Giuseppe Crea (I); Joaquim of Fr. Germano Joaquim dos Santos Serra (U).
THE MOTHER: of Fr. Celestino Prevedello (KH).
THE BROTHER: Alessandro of Fr. Mariano Prandi (CN); Carlo of Bro. Antonio Marchi (BS).
THE SISTER: of Fr. Giampietro Baresi (BS); Yessi of Fr. Adjétey Louis Mawoulolo Koueyi (CN).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Osvalda Moro; Sr. Venanzia Larcher; Sr. Marcelinda Formenti; Sr. Gerardina Zadi; Sr. Cosima Pietrobelli.
MISSIONARI COMBONIANI VIA LUIGI LILIO 80 - ROMA