Peace agreement in Sudan
The government of Sudan and the southern rebels have signed a comprehensive peace agreement in Nairobi, Kenya. Foreign dignitaries, including twenty Head of States, were among those attending the ceremony in the Kenyan capital. The agreement was signed by Sudan’s Vice President Ali Osman Taha and SPLA's Leader John Garang.
In communicating this news to all provinces and delegations, the General Council joins with all our Sudanese brothers and sister and with the Comboni Family in Sudan in thanking God for this joyful event. It also invites all confreres to pray for true and lasting peace in Sudan, confiding in San Daniel Comboni’s intercession for this land, which he so much loved.
Co-director of MISNA
As of 6 January, MISNA has a co-director: Fr. Cesare Baldi, of the PIME missionaries. He is a native of Novara and is a freelancer. He worked as a missionary in Chad and, later, in Ivory Coast as a professor of missiology and pastoral theology at the Catholic University of Abidjan. Recently, the Italian missionary publishing house, EMI, published a book of his that deals with the relations between mission and parish. The title is, “Parrocchia, verso una Responsabilitá Globale” (The Parish, towards Global Responsibility).
The task of editor-in-chief remains in the hands of Fr. Venanzio Milani, president of MISNA. To the new co-director go our best wishes for a fruitful service in the field of information, “giving a voice to those who have no voice.”
General Secretariat of Evangelisation
The official opening of the activities in preparation for the Ratio Missionis was announced by Fr. Teresino Serra, Superior General, in the course of a Eucharistic celebration attended by all our communities of EUR (Rome) and by several neighbours.
During the homily, Fr. Teresino explained how this work, demanded by the XVI General Chapter, is not optional and it calls on all the followers of Comboni to enter into the spirit of the Exodus experience, by allowing the spirit to guide them in this task of missionary renewal and of personal conversion.
After communion, Fr. Teresino personally handed out to all the Comboni Missionaries present – about 70 between scholastics, brothers, confreres studying in Rome or attending the renewal course and the community of the Curia – the letter of the General Council and of the commission for the preparation of the Ratio Missionis, that gives the goals and the spirit that must move the Comboni Missionaries, an out-line of the work, a methodology, those who will oversee the process and a tentative timeline.
There was a very touching moment when Fr. Teresino, showing the chalice used by Comboni at his ordination to the episcopate, reminded all the Comboni Missionaries that the journey of preparation for the Ratio Missionis will be neither easy nor triumphalistic, on the contrary, “if there is going to be true renewal, there must be the determination and the courage to drink from this same chalice. In order to renew ourselves and the mission, we must keep our eyes focused on the pierced side of the Crucified and allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by his compassionate and merciful love for the poorest and most abandoned in today’s world.”
This task will be carried out together with the local Churches, by our provinces and delegations, and together with other members of the Comboni family. It will keep the entire Institute busy until the General Chapter of 2009.
Sc. António Manganhe Natal (MO) Matola (MO) 01.08.2005
Fr. Raimundo Nonato Rocha dos Santos (BNE) Balsas (BR) 01.08.2005
Holy Redeemer Guild
February 01 – 15 BS 16 – 28 CA
March 01 – 07 DCA 08 – 15 EG 16 – 31 EC
February – That the entire Comboni Family, revitalised by the inspiration of the Founder, may accept with gratitude the diversity of gifts and cultures, and live with renewed passion and courage the grace of the Mission. Let us pray.
March – That, through the intercession of St. Joseph and by following the example of St. Daniel Comboni, we may experience the joy of offering ourselves completely, sharing with the crucified people of our time the liberating power of the Gospel. Let us pray.
Fr. Tarcisio Agostoni: Lo Stato ha diritto di uccidere? (Does the State have the Right to Kill?) EMI 2005, 160 pages, price € 10,00. It is a supplement to the original English edition of “Every Citizen’s Handbook” (Paulines, Nairobi 1997) on the social doctrine of the Church and human rights. The book wants to help in forming consciences to a culture of life as the foundation of freedom and human rights.
Fr. Ezio Santangelo: O Evangelho da solidariedade e paz (The Gospel of Solidarity and Peace), Loyola Editions, São Paulo (BR), 224 pages. Copies may be obtained from the Provincial of Brazil South).
Fr. Ezio Santangelo: Não podemos calar (We cannot be silenced), Loyola publications, San Paolo (BR), 208 pages. Copies may be obtained from the Provincial of Brazil South).
Antonio Di Lella and Ezio Santangelo: Como se libertar do medo das forças ocultas (Parapsychology at popular level), O Recado Editions, São Paulo (BR), 89 pages. Copies may be obtained from the Provincial of Brazil South).
When sixteen of the seventeen confreres presently serving in Asia gathered at the beginning of January 2005 for their assembly on the Six Year Plan, their thoughts naturally turned to the future. The only “miss-ing” confrere was Fr. Moises Estacio De la Cruz, unable to leave Taiwan, where he has just begun the study of Chinese-Mandarin, to avoid complicating the processing of his immigration papers there.
The assembly expressed its mind on many issues, including the pos-sibility of accepting candidates to the Institute from mainland China, how to energise mission promotion both in Manila and in the southern islands of the Philippines, and ways to grow towards the Total Common Fund in the coming years.
The ongoing reflection on the Ratio Missionis was warmly welcomed as both a stimulus and opportunity for the Delegation to share with the rest of the Institute.
The gathering ended with a heartfelt thanksgiving and farewell to Fr. Alberto de Oliveira Silva, one of the first Comboni Missionaries assigned to Asia: after sixteen years of ministry, first as formator of the postulants and then as delegate superior, he has been assigned to Portugal. Gifts were exchanged: Fr Alberto presented each community with both a hard and soft copy of a pictorial history, compiled by him, of the first fifteen years of our Institute’s presence in this vast continent; and he was presented with gifts signifying our mission in the very diverse cultural contexts of Macau, Taipei and the Philippines.
Recognition of the Afro Cultural Centre (ACC)
On 16 December 2004, in Esmeraldas, there took place a general session of the National Congress in order to familiarise the Afro-Ecuadorian population with the document, unanimously approved, on the Collective Rights of the Afro-Ecuadorian people.
On that occasion, awards were given together with original copies of the Legal Agreement in which the activities of some institutions and organizations on behalf of the Afro-Ecuadorians are highlighted.
The National Congress of Ecuador believes that the Afro Cultural Centre is an organization that promotes the strengthening of the ethnic and cultural values of the Afro community in Ecuador. For this reason it congratulates the directors and the members of the ACC for their contribution to the full participation of ethnic and multicultural groups in forming a just and more humane nation.
Dr. Rafael Erazo Reasco, delegate of the province of Esmeraldas, in the name of the National Congress of Ecuador, presented the ACC with the “Alonso de Illescas” medal and with a signed copy of the Legal Agreement.
This recognition gives us reason to thank God for the Afro population of Ecuador and for the work done by the Comboni Missionaries, the Sisters and lay people in their service. At the same time, it is a new stimulus to continue in the effort of walking with the Afro-Ecuadorians, redeeming and appreciating their values.
Presentation of the Crucifix to the Afro missionaries
The Christmas retreat for the Afro missionaries took place at the Afro Centre of Guayaquil on 17 December 2004. The theme was: “To transform time: waiting for the Messiah at night.”
As it is done every year, at the end of the retreat, the Afro missionaries, twenty people who have been through this process many times before, received from the hands of the provincial, Fr. Enea Mauri, the crucifix with which they promised to dedicate their lives to Christ and to the Afros.
Two married couples attended the retreat, representing the group of Afro couples just started this year. It is a new experience born of the will and desire of the couples themselves as a sign of the presence of the Spirit: a development that has helped us better understand that “to save the Afro with the Afro” means “to save the Afro families with the Afro families.” The Spirit tells us that we must accept the values of the Afro family as evangelising agents of their own people.
Cultural event, “Africa, the third root”
The cultural event, “Africa, the third root,” was held at the “Gran Albo-centro” of Guayaquil on 18 December 2004. It was organized by the Catholic University and the Afro-Ecuadorian Pastoral Centre. The title “Africa, the third root,” was chosen in order to involve the spectators, mostly of mixed race, and help them understand that in Ecuador, beside the indigenous and European roots, there is also an African root which, in one way or another, is shared by all.
The event was presented by the “Cimarrones,” the historical-musical group of the Afro Centre of Guayaquil which, through songs (arrullos y alabados), dances and decimas, offered to the audience a brief pano-ramic view of the history, spirituality and worldview of the Afros. The audience, about 180 people, greatly appreciated the spirit of the event.
The struggle for freedom, the presence of the Black Christ standing by the slaves, the connection to the ancestors who hand down strength and energy, the communion with nature and the dangers that threaten the land of Esmeraldas, together with a spirit of joy that, despite everything, gives the strength to “lead the people forward”, were the themes that fascinated the audience. Beside the “Cimarrones,” also a group of chil-dren from the Comboni parish of the Malvinas performed by dancing an andarele and by acting out the song, “Duerme, negrito.”
The Provincial Council has approved the Vademecum della Salute (Health Handbook) prepared by CANAM (Commission for the Sick and Elderly). It is a short collection of norms and directions for the confreres (Italians and others) who are, or arrive, in Italy for medical reasons. In fact, in order to avail oneself of proper medical attention, it is necessary to know what the Italian province has to offer and to know the rights and duties of the patient.
The provincial, Fr. Alberto Pelucchi, who will take advantage of the meeting of the provincials in Cairo to distribute the handbook to all the provinces and delegations, wishes to let everyone know that the task of following the elderly and sick confreres in Italy is no longer in the hands of the vice-provincial, but that he himself will take care of it.
Consequently, from now on any communication regarding sick confreres travelling to Italy should be sent to the provincial secretary’s office (email@example.com).
Fr. Ezechiele Ramin on the chair of the martyrs
The Church of Padova continues its activity with the chair of the martyrs: five events aimed at getting to know the people who witnessed to faith and charity.
Among the martyrs who have become familiar and wellknown through the words of those who knew him well, we find Fr. Ezekiele Ramin, witness of charity and justice, murdered in Cacoal (Brazil) on 24 July 1985, at age 32, while he was on a peace mission on behalf of dispossessed farmers and of the Suruì Indians in the Amazons of Brazil.
Twenty years have passed and the memory of this young missionary is still inspiring the hope and the dreams of a peaceful life of the little ones and of the poor in the world. “He was born in Padova and died in Brazil to teach us to build bridges rather than walls.”
The event took place on 13 January, from 9 to 11 in the evening, at the Pius X Hall (MPX) on Via Bomporti, Padova. It was presented by Fr. Giorgio Padovan, superior of the local Comboni community, who interviewed Fr. Alessando Zanotelli and Mr. Fabiano Ramin, the brother of Fr. Ezechiele. Bishop Antonio Mattiazzo concluded the evening.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the martyrdom of Fr. Ezechiele, the website of the young people of the local GIM has a completely renewed page, devoted to him: it is now very rich and valuable. Visit www.giovaniemissione.it/testimoni/ramin.htm
Pontifical recognition for two special benefactors
On 2 January 2005, the two sisters Teresa and Maria Cimadomo of Corato, Bari, great benefactresses of the servant of God Fr. Bernardo Sartori and of many other Comboni Missionaries, were awarded the medal “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” during the Sunday Mass in the parish church of Santa Maria Greca. The Cimadomo sisters, 99 and 89 years old, have been outstanding in their missionary cooperation on behalf of various missions of the Comboni Missionaries and of other Institutes. Archbishop Giovanni B. Pichierri of Trani-Barletta-Bisceglie was the presider at the Eucharist, accompanied by the Comboni Missionaries Fr. Romeo Ballan, Fr. Arnaldo Baritussio, Fr. Giovanni Capaccioni and Fr. Francesco Mastromauro, together with other priests and a large crowd.
Before the final blessing, Fr. Ballan, in the name of the superior gen-eral, handed out to the two sisters the parchments and the pontifical medals. Fr. Mastromauro spoke on the presence of Fr. Sartori in Corato and, even earlier, of St. Daniel Comboni himself, who, around the year 1870, spent two days there (S 3025), because he had succeeded in tak-ing to the Sudan four priests from Puglie regions, first among them Fr. Pasquale Fiore, a young parish priest and canon of Corato, whom Com-boni had met in St. Peter’s Basilica on 29 June 1870 (S 2550-2559, and others). Anyone interested in this documentation may request it from Fr. Mastromauro.
Fr. Teresino Serra in Mexico
During his visit to the Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation in Mexico, from 8 to 23 January, Fr. Teresino Serra found the time to visit also the communities of Baja California and take part in their assembly that took place on 18-20 January at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Constitución. Fr. Rafael González Ponce, the new provincial, and Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel, assistant general, were also present.
Their presence was most welcomed by the confreres of BCS. It was an occasion of communion, of sharing of experiences that gave new courage to work for the Kingdom of God.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Fr. Vincenzo Capra
Fr. Vincenzo Capra was born in Alba (CN) on 3 October 1932. Ordained a priest on 31 May 1958, he left for Mozambique in 1962 and remained there until December 2004. Because of his deteriorating health situation (he had Parkinson for several years) and a case of malaria not properly treated, he was flown to Verona, Italy, with the valuable assistance of the Comboni Sister Elizabeth Raule, MD. In the following days he developed pneumonia and died at the hospital of Negrar, Verona, on 23 December. The funeral was held on 27 December in the presence of many confreres, some of whom from Mozambique. The body was then taken to Alba, his hometown, for burial.
Fr. Vincenzo had begun his missionary service in Lunga, as pastoral associate to Fr. Giovanni Zani. A considerable number of people gravi-tated around the mission and in 1963 there were already 50 weddings.
On 3 May 1966, by a decree of the bishop of Nampula, the new mission of Alua, detached from the old mission of Mirrote, was entrusted to the care of Fr. Vincenzo. The mission had over 850 students and a notable number of religious activities.
On 1 January 1971, the new mission of Namapa was officially detached from Alua and Fr. Vincent moved there on October 1971, together with three Third Order Carmelites of the Sacred Heart Sisters.
In 1974 Fr. Vincenzo was a member of the commission that had gathered in Carapira to prepare the text of the Conscience Imperative. He then actively contributed to the preparation of the final text that was destined to have a great impact on the work of the Comboni Missionaries in Mozambique.
On 11 April 1974, Holy Thursday, Fr. Vincenzo was called to Carapira together with other four Comboni Missionaries, and from there he was expelled from Mozambique because of the document he had helped produce. The missionaries were moved to Inhambane, then to Lourenco Marques (Maputo) and finally flown Lisbon on 13 April.
After the independence of Mozambique, with the establishment of a Marxist-Leninist regime and vast nationalisation, some missionaries entered the field of education. Fr. Vincenzo was one of them. He always remembered the experience as an enthusiastic time, because of the positive interaction with school age young people. He was praised by the government more than once because of his dedication to his work.
In December 1975 the bishop asked him to move to Iapala to help that mission that had been left almost without priests. Fr. Vincenzo worked with enthusiasm with the small Christian communities, taught in the sec-ondary school of Ribáuè, the district capital, and in the middle school of Iapala.
During the last months of 1996 he was appointed as formator of the Comboni postulancy of Matola. He also taught at the philosophy seminary of “S. Agostinho” and helped with spiritual direction.
In May 2003, after a longer holiday stay in Italy, he was asked to go to the mission of Alua and take care of the activities of the diocesan Marian shrine of “Maria, Mãe da África,” a service to which he gave himself with faith and enthusiasm up to just a few weeks before his death.
On the day of his death, Fr. Francesco Antonini wrote from Italy: “A great missionary has left us, one who deeply loved the people of Mozambique and the Comboni Institute. He was always active, dynamic and positive. He was a missionary who left a mark in the history of the Comboni presence in Mozambique. He will remain as a blessing for the people and for us.” (Fr. Giorgio Giboli)
Fr. André Imolu Babaya
Fr. André Imolu Babaya was born in Kisangani on 4 May 1967, the second male child in his family. After attending grade school and secondary school in his parish of St. Camille, he earned a state diploma in general education. He wanted to enter the Institute of the Comboni Missionaries, whom he knew as they were in charge of his parish, but he had to wait a while. He filled the time by doing some teaching. Meanwhile, he had begun to follow the path of the Neo-Catechumenal movement that was growing in the parish.
After entering the Comboni Institute he studied philosophy and was a postulant in Kisangani and entered the novitiate of Isiro where, on 21 May 1995, he made his first religious profession. He was then assigned to the scholasticate of São Paulo, Brazil, where he studied theology, took his perpetual vows and was ordained a deacon. He then returned to the province of Congo and spent some time as a deacon in the diocese of Bondo, where he was put in charge of youth pastoral.
He was finally ordained on 19 January 2003, a few days after the death of Fr. Pasquale Palermo, who was associate parish priest in his parish and had had an important role in André’s life journey. He was then assigned to the parish of Maboma to work in the parish and among the Pigmies. Fr. André loved to work in the field of justice and peace, particularly vital in the current situation in Congo. He contributed to the establishment of the diocesan committee on human rights and contributed, with courses of formation, to help the people to be aware of their rights and their responsibilities in order to build a democratic and law abiding nation.
His health, however, had already begun to show some problems and, at the beginning of 2004, he had been sent to Nairobi for treatment. In November, seemingly in good shape, he had gone to Kinshasa to attend the provincial assembly. In December, however, some problems developed: he was hospitalised on 24 December, but was called to the Lord on 10 January, the anniversary of Fr. Palermo’s death.
The body was taken to Kisangani where the wake, according to tradition, drew a large crowd and his confreres, who stayed by him with tears and prayers. On Monday, 17 January, the archbishop held the funeral rites in the cathedral packed with people. He was then buried near Fr. Palermo, in the cemetery of the pastoral agents of Kisangani.
Let us pray for the deceased
THE MOTHER: Maria do Rosario of the Schol. José Angel Sánchez Cañenguez (DCA); Maria of Fr. Norberto Stonfer (KH); Genoveva of Fr. Ignacio López Toro (M); Concepción of Bro. Jesús Pérez Torta-jada (DCA); Margaretha of Fr. Josef Scheuerer (DSP).
THE BROTHER: Franco of Fr. Roberto Pegorari (U); Leonardo of Fr. Marco De Angelis (I); Frediano of Fr. Silvano Barbieri (P).
THE SISTER: Eufrasia of Fr. Antonino Orlando (I); Ancilla of Fr. Andrea Filippi (†); Gina of Fr. Felice (U) and Fr. Gino (MO) Centis; Florida of Fr. Paolo Negrini (†).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. M. Amalia Melzani; Sr. M. Niva Di Tommaso; Sr. Maria Teresa Monni; Sr. Rosalba Ronca; Sr. Giorgina Feliciani; Sr. Lariana Nodari; Sr. M. Paola Ghilardi; Sr. Eustella Cagliari; Sr. Angiola Belli.