Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
Confirmation of the elections of the vice-provincials
Having reviewed the results of the elections of the respective provincial councils, the Superior General and his Council have confirmed as vice-provincials the following confreres:
Fr. Agostinho Carvalho Alves (BNE)
Fr. Alcides Costa (BS)
Fr. Eguíluz Eguíluz Ramón (CA)
Fr. Farronato Lorenzo (CN)
Fr. Altenburger Josef (DSP)
Fr. Reig Bellver Vicente Luis (E)
Fr. Minurri Raffaele (EC)
Fr. González Núñez Juan Antonio (ET)
Fr. Palagi Giacomo (I)
Fr. Moschetti Daniele (KE)
Fr. Annis Paul (KH)
Fr. Troy John Martin (LP)
Fr. García Castillo Jorge Oscar (M)
Fr. Franzolin Emilio (MO)
Fr. Kanyike Edward Mayanja (MZ)
Fr. Quigley Brian Joseph (NAP)
Fr. Avelino Gonçalves da Silva Maravilha (P)
Fr. Díes Maeso Lorenzo (PE)
Fr. Riegel Bernhard Josef (RSA)
Fr. Mawa Bosco Anthony (SS)
Fr. Sindjalim Essognimam Elias (T)
Fr. Navarrete Arceo Miguel (TC)
Fr. Alenyo John Peter (U)
Confirmation of the election of the vice-delegates
Having reviewed the results of the elections of the respective delegation councils, the Superior General and his Council have confirmed as vice-superiors of the delegations the following confreres:
Fr. Víctor Manuel Tavares Dias (A)
Fr. Rees Gordon Paul (CO)
Fr. Marín Artavia Ignacio Enrique (DCA)
Fr. Sobhy Basily Attalla (EG)
Fr. Alvarado Ayala Javier (ER)
Members of the provincial councils and delegation councils
ASIA Superior of the delegation Fr. Glenday David Kinnear
Delegation Councillors Fr. Víctor Manuel Tavares Dias, vice del.
Fr. Consonni Paolo
BNE Provincial Superior Fr. Codianni Luigi Fernando
Provincial Councillors Fr. Agostinho Carvalho Alves, vice prov.
Fr. Covarrubias Rodrígues Gustavo
Fr. Guglielmi Antonio
Fr.. Rodríguez Martín Juan Manuel
BS Provincial Superior Fr. Munari Giovanni
Provincial Councillors Fr. Alcides Costa, vice prov.
Fr. Garbagnati Alessandro
Fr. Sottara Robert
Fr. Vanderlei Bervian
CA Provincial Superior Fr. Castillo Matarrita Víctor Hugo
Provincial Councillors Fr. Eguíluz Eguíluz Ramón, vice prov.
Fr. Barrera Pacheco Luis Alberto
Fr. Bungama Théodore
Bro. Visintin Alberto
CN Provincial Superior Fr. Bernasconi Fermo
Provincial Councillors Fr. Farronato Lorenzo, vice prov.
Fr. Kamanga Mutombo Stephane
Fr. Ngumba Lelo Joseph
Bro. Piasini Antonio
CO Superior of the delegation Fr. Girau Pellicer José Antonio
Delegation Councillors Fr. Rees Gordon Paul, vice del.
Bro. Binaghi Marco
DCA Superior of the delegation Fr. Sánchez González Enrique
Delegation Councillors Fr. Marín Artavia Ignacio Enrique,
Fr. Andrés Miguel Pedro
DSP Provincial Superior Fr. Schneider Anton
Provincial Councillors Fr. Altenburger Josef, vice prov.
Fr. Engl Silvester
Fr. König Josef
Bro. Nährich Günther
E Provincial Superior Fr. Rojo Buxonat Laureano
Provincial Councillors Fr. Reig Bellver Vicente Luis, vice prov.
Fr. Carrera Augusto Francisco
Bro. Holgado Salvide Arístides
Fr. Sánchez Macías Joaquín Manuel
EC Provincial Superior Fr. Bordonali Bruno
Provincial Councillors Fr. Minurri Raffaele, vice prov.
Fr. Brito Carvajal Byron Gustavo
Bro. Cruz Reyes Joel
Fr. Zendron Claudio
EG Superior of the delegation Fr. Lurati Claudio
Delegation Councillors Fr. Sobhy Basily Attalla, vice del.
Bro. Gonzales y Reyero Enrico
ER Superior of the delegation Fr. Sebhatleab Ayele Tesemma
Delegation Councillors Fr. Alvarado Ayala Javier, vice del.
Fr. Tesfaghiorghis Hailè Berhane
ET Provincial Superior Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse
Provincial Councillors Fr. González Núñez Juan Antonio,
Fr. Di Iorio Nicolino
Fr. Ivo Martins do Vale
Fr. Ocaña Iglesias Julio
I Provincial Superior Fr. Pelucchi Alberto
Provincial Councillors Fr. Palagi Giacomo, vice prov.
Fr. Breda Rossano
Fr. De Angelis Marco
Bro. Della Monica Simone
Fr. Fenzi Giovanni
Fr. Generoso Luigi Stefano
KE Provincial Superior Fr. Tibaldo Mariano
Provincial Councillors Fr. Moschetti Daniele, vice prov.
Fr. Lobato García Jesús Wolfango
Bro. Parise Alberto
Fr. Rico Hernández Rafael
KH Provincial Superior Fr. Cignolini Luigi
Provincial Councillors Fr. Annis Paul, vice prov.
Fr. Marrone Salvatore
Bro. Paulo Luís Correia Aragao
Fr. Ssemakula Yozefu-Balikuddembe
LP Provincial Superior Fr. Felix Paul Neri Augustine
Provincial Councillors Fr. Troy John Martin, vice prov.
Fr. Castello Danilo
Fr. Goffredo Donato
Fr. Tesfamichael Debesay Negusse
M Provincial Superior Fr. González Ponce Rafael
Provincial Councillors Fr. García Castillo Jorge Oscar,
Fr. Contreras Ramírez Crisóforo
Bro. Enríquez Sánchez David
Fr. Mazzon Renato
MO Provincial Superior Fr. Robol Massimo
Provincial Councillors Fr. Franzolin Emilio, vice prov.
Bro. Ceja Ceja Raul
Fr. López García Antonio
Fr. Vigo Gianfranco
MZ Provincial Superior Fr. Casagrande Luigi
Provincial Councillors Fr. Kanyike Edward Mayanja,
Fr. Dário Balula Chaves
Fr. Ochoa Gracián Jorge Elías
Bro. Pettersen Regueyra Gilbert de Jesús
NAP Provincial Superior Fr. Gasparini Luigi
Provincial Councillors Fr. Quigley Brian Joseph, vice prov.
Fr. Binaghi Maurizio
Fr. Malacrida Mario
Fr. Tesfaldet Asghedom Drar
P Provincial Superior Fr. Manuel Alves Pinheiro de Carvalho
Provincial Councillors Fr. Avelino Gonçalves da Silva Maravilha
Fr. Filipe Miguel Oliveira Resende
Fr. Jerónimo Alberto Vieira da Costa
Bro. Silvério Maria dos Santos
PE Provincial Superior Fr. Bustos Juárez Rogelio
Provincial Councillors Fr. Díes Maeso Lorenzo, vice prov.
Fr. Coaquira Hilaje Rodolfo
Fr. Gimpl Herbert Heinz
Fr. Messetti Giuseppe
RSA Provincial Superior Fr. Singer Benno
Provincial Councillors Fr. Riegel Bernhard Josef, vice prov.
Fr. Armada Díez de Rivera Rafael
Fr. Converset John
Fr. Wanjohi Thumbi Andrew
SS Provincial Superior Fr. Perina Luciano
Provincial Councillors Fr. Mawa Bosco Anthony, vice prov.
Fr. Okello Yala Joseph
Bro. Iacomella Raniero
Bro. Ianetti Rosario
T Provincial Superior Fr. Manuel João Pereira Correia
Provincial Councillors Fr. Sindjalim Essognimam Elias,
Bro. Guzzardi Alfio
Fr. Habtú Teclai Tiluck
Fr. Rabbiosi Giuseppe
TC Provincial Superior Fr. Ruiz Molina Jesús
Provincial Councillors Fr. Navarrete Arceo Miguel,
Fr. Esquivel Hernández David Arturo
Fr. Piazza Renzo
Bro. Todjohon Luc Mathurin
U Provincial Superior Fr. Filippi Giuseppe
Provincial Councillors Fr. Alenyo John Peter, vice prov.
Bro. Bettini Gilberto
Fr. Ciaponi Pietro
Fr. Gerner Josef
Fr. Moroni Ferdinando
Fr. Paolucci Torquato
Statistics as of 1 January 2005
Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus: 1783, including 16 bishops, 1301 priests, 299 brothers, 167 scholastics.
Comboni Missionary Sisters: 1647, including 1536 with perpetual vows and 111 with temporary vows.
Comboni Missionary Secular Institute: 136, including 129 with perpetual vows and 7 with temporary vows.
The Superior General spent several days in the hospital
Fr. Teresino Serra was treated in a Cairo hospital for blocked arteries. On 17 February the operation to clear the blockage was successful. Fr. Teresino has returned to Rome for his period of convalescence.
General assembly of provincials and delegates
The general assembly of provincials and delegates took place in Cairo, Egypt, from 13 to 23 February, followed by the continental meetings (24-26 February). Besides the provincials and delegates, the entire General Council, and the general secretary were present. Also participating were the general treasurer as well as the general secretary for evangelisation who spoke on the “Ratio Missionis”.
General Secretary’s Office
From 16 of February up to the end of the month, the e-mail service was down due to problems with the telephone lines. If you think your important messages or changes for the Annuario Comboniano failed to arrive, please send them again.
General Secretariat for Mission Promotion: internet site
On Monday 24 January - an important anniversary, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of mass media and communications - the inauguration of the new Comboni Missionaries’ internet site www.comboni.org took place. It was presented to journalists and various confreres at a press conference by Fr. Fabio Carlo Baldan, the vicar general, Fr. Jaime Calvera Pi, the general secretary for mission promotion, and by Francesco Diani, the project coordinator.
In June of 1999 the General Curia of the Comboni Missionaries already had an internet window on the world through www.comboni.pcn.net. Now, after four years the site is renovated as an international site in seven languages. It has unedited services, the complete “Scritti” (Writings) of Daniel Comboni, effective search engines, a rich archive of documents and multi-media material ready for downloading, etc. All of this is meant to provide wider interaction and a virtual meeting place for the confreres.
Also new is the section NEWS which began its information service and widened the area of interest to anything that regards Comboni life: evangelisation, mission promotion, human development, etc.
We ask the provinces and delegations to appoint someone (perhaps the provincial or delegation secretary for mission promotion) to send material to email@example.com which could be included in the section entitled Comboni news. We remind the provincials and delegates that the user name and the password they have received should be passed on to the confreres of their province or delegation so they can have access to the Reserved Area.
Besides the site www.comboni.org, other sites are available:
1. www.comboni.net – to reach the “home page”;
2. www.familiacomboniana.org – direct access to Familia Comboniana;
3. www.danielecomboni.org – direct access to the section on St. Daniel Comboni;
4. www.danielecomboni.it – direct access to the Scritti (writings) of Comboni.
We are open to suggestions, corrections or new information. Send your contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org or click on the words “scrivici” (write to us) on the bottom of the web page.
General Secretariat for Vocation Promotion and Formation
Aspirants and Pre-postulants: 168, with 95 seminarians (minor seminary) and 73 pre-postulants (introductory phase). We have 5 minor seminaries (2 in Mexico, 1 in Portugal, 1 in Eritrea and 1 in Mozambique) and the stage of pre-postulancy, in various modalities, is now present in many provinces and delegations of America and Africa and is doing well.
Postulants: 241, with 215 candidates for the priesthood and 26 for the Brotherhood. We have 27 postulancies (14 in Africa, 9 in America, 3 in Europe and 1 in Asia). Two of them are specifically for Brothers (Monterrey and Layibi).
Novices: 103, with 98 for the priesthood and 5 for the Brotherhood. The total number of newly professed this year should be 53 (49 scholastics, 4 Brothers). We have 8 novitiates: 4 in Africa (Namugongo and Lusaka for the English speaking African provinces and Kinshasa and Cotonou for the French speaking African provinces), 2 in America (Sahuayo and Huánuco), 1 in Europe (Venegono), 1 in the Philippines (Manila).
Scholastics and Brothers with temporary vows (TV): 203, with 161 scholastics and 42 brothers. Distribution by continents: 103 from Africa (86 scholastics and 17 brothers), 59 from America (52 scholastics and 7 brothers), 32 from Europe (17 scholastics and 15 brothers) and 9 from Asia (6 scholastics and 3 brothers). The provinces with more scholastics and brothers with TV are Mexico (28), Togo (27), Congo (19) and Uganda (16). We have 9 scholasticates and 2 CIF (4 in America, 4 in Africa and 3 in Europe).
The number of those who left the Institute last year (2003-2004) is 33 (25 scholastics and 8 brothers).
For the formative year 2005-2006, scholastics and brothers should be 229 in all: 187 scholastics (182 in the scholasticate and 5 in pastoral experience) and 42 brothers (18 in the CIF and 24 in missionary experience).
Ordinations and Brother Finalists: this year (2005) we expect 22 ordinations (14 from Africa, 3 from America, 4 from Europe and 1 from Asia). 6 brothers will make their perpetual professions this year (2 from Africa, 1 from Asia, 3 from Europe); The brother finalists in the CIF are 5 (4 from Africa, 1 from America). Last year (2004) 22 were ordained, 3 brother completed the CIF and 3 brothers took perpetual vows.
Personnel: There are 157 confreres working in the vocation sector. They are distributed as follows: 74 promoters (46 full-time and 28 part-time) and 83 formators (77 full-time and 6 part-time: 47 in the pre-postulancies and postulancies, 15 in the novitiates, 21 in the scholasticates/CIF). Compared to last year there has been a decrease in the number of confreres working in fulltime vocation promotion: 46 (compared to 56) and of those working in the postulancies: 56 (compared to 64).
All the communities are invited to have a confrere in charge of vocations, so that vocation promotion may become a regular activity everywhere we are present.
Specializations: 21 confreres are presently attending courses of specialization, including brothers in the CIF (4) and scholastics (2). Last year (2003-2004), 7 confreres have obtained a degree (5 licentiates and 2 diplomas). The confreres presently attending courses for a direct preparation to a particular service are 6 (5 of them are for formation). Last year they were 9 (8 of them for formation).
General Secretariat for Evangelisation
JPIC promotion directors meeting for French speaking Africa
From 31 January to 8 February 2005 the JPIC promotion directors of the French speaking provinces met at Sarh (Chad) to put together a post-chapter program.
Participating were: Fr. Jesús Ruiz Molina (continental provincial in charge), Fr. Fernando Zolli, general secetary for evangelisation, Fr. Fiorenzo Felicetti (CA), Fr. Giampaolo Pezzi (CN), Fr. Alejandro Canales Maza (TC), Fr. Aurelio Boscaini (TGB). Also present as invited participants were: Fr. Pedro Percy Carbonero Mogollón, Fr. José Gabriel Martínez Torres and the Comboni Missionary Sister, Sr. Maria Teresa Soto Botello.
The meeting helped the participants understand better that JPIC is a fundamental dimension of evangelisation that cannot just be delegated to one person, and even less an optional task among many others.
JPIC promotion must become a life style that permeates every missionary activity: from formation to economics, from training vocation promoters to liturgies, from mission promotion to interreligious dialogue.
Among the priorities that emerged from the continental planning, two were especially underlined: the formation of JPIC promoters, which must be periodic and with some depth, and the need to create a data bank in every province so as to be able to document the progress and keep a record of what has been accomplished in the JPIC various efforts.
Also underlined was the fact that JPIC needs to be the fruit of cooperation with the local Church and other religious Institutes, with special attention to civil society.
The meeting also provided an opportunity for the participants to see some of the reality, the suffering and the challenges the people of Chad are facing. Contact with those involved in the promotion of justice and reconciliation helped them understand the dramatic situation of the semi-enslaved children, the conflict between farmers and those raising animals, the landowners and the growing influence of Islam on society, in spite of the constitutional declaration that Chad is a secular nation.
Sc. De la Cruz Hinojosa José (M) Elstree (LP) 13.02.2005
Sc. Hernández Almaguer Marcial (M) Elstree (LP) 13.02.2005
Sc. Jovilla Nolasco Robiso (A) Elstree (LP) 13.02.2005
Sc. Oswal Baptist Abakar Abushaka (KH) Elstree (LP) 13.02.2005
Holy Redemer Guild
March 01 – 07 DCA 08 – 15 EG 16 – 31 EC
April 01 – 15 DSP 16 – 30 E
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.
April – That the Plan of Comboni and his lifestyle may stimulate us to share our faith with the peoples we serve, so that they may become the community of faith that the Gospel of Christ wants them to be. Let us pray.
Fr. Alberto Doneda: Jesús formador de discípulos, El espíritu de Jesús, Editorial Sin Fronteras, Quito (Ecuador), 2003, pp. 104.
Fr. Alberto Doneda: Los grandes valores humanos, en su contexto lógico, Editorial Sin Fronteras, Quito (Ecuador), 2004, pp. 128.
Fr. Alberto Doneda: Historia de la Iglesia, Compendio, Editorial Sin Fronteras, Quito (Ecuador), 2° edición, 2004, pp. 184.
Fr. Alberto Doneda and Fr. Enea Mauri: Con Pasión y Audacia, Historia de los Misioneros Combonianos en Ecuador, Editorial Sin Fronteras, Quito (Ecuador), 2004, pp. 90.
Fr. Alberto Doneda: Los que abrieron caminos, Realizadores de un sueño: ejemplos de entrega (1955-2004) Editorial Sin Fronteras, Quito (Ecuador), 2004, pp. 138.
Bro. Alberto Degan: El rostro negro de Dios, Una lectura inculturada de la Biblia desde el Pueblo Afro, Editorial Sin Fronteras, Quito (Ecuador), 2004, pp. 168.
Bro. Alberto Degan: La danza de amor, Una propuesta política alternativa desde la espiritualidad del Pueblo Negro, Editorial Sin Fronteras, Quito (Ecuador), 2004, pp. 160.
Bro. Alberto Degan: Vino a anunciar la paz, La noviolencia evangélica y sus implicaciones misioneras, Editorial Sin Fronteras, Quito (Ecuador), 2004, pp. 128.
Bro. Joel Cruz Reyes: El valor de lo humano, Elementos básicos para una pastoral encarnada, Editorial Sin Fronteras, Quito (Ecuador), 2004, pp. 176.
Anyone interested in these books can contact the Publisher by e-mail: email@example.com or write to: Misioneros Combonianos, Av. 10 de Agosto 5656, Apartado 17-11-06350 C.C.I. Quito (Ecuador).
At the doors of China
When the confreres who serve at St Joseph the Worker church in the Iao Hon area of Macau stand at the altar and look out through the open doors, in the middle distance they can see the skyscrapers of the city of Zuhai in the People’s Republic of China. Just ten minutes’ brisk walk from St Joseph’s, there is the recently rebuilt “Porta do Cerco” frontier post: streams of people move back and forth across this border at all hours of the day and night, many of them some of Macau’s poorest residents, scraping a living from acting as couriers for goods to be bought and sold on one side or other of the frontier, others in search of often scandalously low-paid work.
The Comboni community in Macau (four priests, one of whom at present in Hong Kong learning Cantonese, and one brother) evangelises against this background, in a place of stark contrasts: Macau is a tiny land mass with a very high density of population, and yet – for reasons of work and culture - it is often not easy to make significant personal contact with people; with its fast-appearing casinos, this “Special Administrative Region” of China is making a name as the “Las Vegas” of the Orient (in 2004 around 16 million tourists visited Macau) and yet, in spite of – or perhaps because of – this, it is home to situations of poverty and injustice.
The confreres reach out in various ways: through ministry to and presence among the community of Chinese Catholics entrusted to their care; through the catechumenate, regularly organized at St Joseph’s; through involvement in the diocesan Caritas (where Bro. Fabio Patt works full-time); through co-operation with the local Church (one of the confreres is a member of the diocesan presbyteral council).
The quiet, patient work of presence and insertion, which has characterized the Comboni commitment in Macau since its inception some thirteen years ago, provides the launching-pad for a second phase, foreseen since the start: finding forms of presence, witness and apostolate in Mainland China. This will be one of the main points on the agenda of the meeting of all the confreres engaged in the China apostolate (and hence also of the community of Taipei) scheduled for later this year.
International African Institute of Kisangani
On Saturday, 15 January 2005, Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kisangani and president of the Congo National Episcopal Conference, opened the great Catholic Conferences, prelude to the inauguration of the International African Institute of Kisangani
The opening of these great Conferences was honoured by the presence of
Michel Camdessus, ex-director general of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and president of the Social Weeks of France, of the governor of the Eastern Province and of the members of the Board of Administration of the University of Kisangani.
The ceremonies took place in the amphitheatre of the university before an audience made up of the university’s academic and scientific and administrative community, of the university’s students and students of other institutes of higher learning present in the capital of the Eastern Province, as well as the priests and religious of the various institutes working in the area of the archdiocese of Kisangani, totalling about 2000 people.
The program included a welcoming speech by the rector of the university, the reading of the Holy Father’s message, a message of blessing and support for the initiative of Archbishop Monsengwo to open an African International Institute with the purpose of preparing an elite that would have high ethical standards and that would be inspired by the social doctrine of the Catholic Church in the day to day running of public affairs. Next was the presentation of the African International Institute and the opening Conference by Camdessus, the orator of the day, “The Christian Ethic and Public Life at the Dawn of the 21st Century.”
Archbishop Monsengwo spoke of his personal initiative to bring about this new institute as an answer to the concerns that arose in the special Synod for Africa. The Archbishop quoted the Holy Father’s exhortation Ecclesia in Africa (n. 90), “Christians who occupy positions of responsibility are to be adequately prepared for their political, economic and social tasks through a solid formation in the social doctrine of the Church so they can be faithful witnesses to the Gospel in their respective fields.”
The International African Institute, according to its founder, is a high level school for the formation of a elite group able to merge ethics and political science in public administration. In fact the Institute will accept only those with diplomas or doctorates “cum laude”.
Camdessus began by pointing out the lack of a common set of values shared by the North and the South. And development will be sterile if it is not based on a common set of values, such as the dignity of the human person, brotherhood, equality, respect for the common good, the universal distribution of the earth’s resources: these are the values to promote. What can be done to get these values to permeate the minds and hearts of those in positions of responsibility? The social ethic of the Church can be a decisive factor. It is in this way of thinking, specified Camdessus, that the initiative of Archbishop Monsengwo has meaning and will bear fruit. In this way Christians who are in positions of responsibility will work to implant “good structures” that will combat “bad structures”.
Meeting at the University of Azhar in Egypt
On Monday, 14 February, upon invitation of the Rector of the University of Azhar in Egypt, I presented my study on the Egyptian mystic poet of the middle ages, 'Umar Ibn al-Farid, who died in 1235. As I wrote in my introduction, I was called upon to speak of the poet “of divine love” on the feast of love, St. Valentine’s day.
It was a rather unique occasion that presented itself unexpectedly. It was a matter of presenting at the most prestigious Islamic university my own work (me, a western catholic priest) on a Muslim mystic, a mystic who was often the recipient of attacks by Islamic authorities of whom Azhar has always been one of the main centres. However, since I’ve been working for some time on this mystic, I was evidently sufficiently prepared for the meeting. In practice I presented a literary critique of his poetry based upon some contemporary hermeneutic principles. Furthermore, having already concluded a critical edition of these poems, based upon a wide reading of the Arabic manuscripts and modern texts, I also presented my own work which was received as a contribution to the critical understanding of the Islamic heritage. Naturally my presentation was followed by a discussion and exchange of opinions, with criticism and appreciation. The meeting lasted over two hours. The atmosphere was, from beginning to end, very cordial, and I found myself completely at ease even while replying to various critical observations. The rector intervened cordially adding a promise of collaboration in future research. I hope this will be a real first step in contacting personalities usually far from our own. It should be noted however that Islamic participation in various levels of cultural collaboration is growing more frequent and on a wider scope. Recently Azhar itself has been committed to a large project in cooperation with Italian universities.
All this work is to be seen as dialogue and dialogue, as the documents of the Church state, has various levels: of life, of work, of thought and of spiritual experience. The field of dialogue of thought, I believe, is one of the most important for the world of Islam. I learned this from people better skilled than I, and I hope that also our Institute will commit itself to this direction and that there will be confreres who have this broader vision of our missionary commitment. It is not a work that gives immediate visible results, but brings about a basic change in mentality. I believe this is one of the main points needed to prepare a peaceful life together in our global village. This precisely is the purpose of dialogue of thought. (Fr. Giuseppe Scattolin)
Workshop on peace-building and conflict resolution
The Association of Major Superiors in Eritrea has organized a workshop on “Peace Building and Conflict Resolution”. The workshop was given to three different groups of people in three rounds of two days each during the last week of November 2004. The first group was that of major and local superiors of religious communities; the second of religious and clergy in general and major seminarians; the third of the laity.
The workshop was facilitated by Fr. José Carlos Rodríguez Soto and Mr. Lam Cosmas, who came from the archdiocese of Gulu in Uganda. Both of them are actively involved in peace talks between the rebels of Joseph Kony (the Lord’s Resistance Army) and the Uganda government.
More than three hundred people attended the workshop. The facilitators helped us to reflect on the importance of opting for peace and taught us many ways of solving conflicts. The workshop came at the right moment, as our country is still involved in a border conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia. It is a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people already and inflicted wounds of hatred, revenge and division. These feelings are yet to be healed.
The role of the Church in regard to peace and justice was also a dominant topic during the workshop. Many of the religious asked themselves whether what they are doing to defend the rights of the people is sufficient. A memorandum was drafted to be forwarded to the concerned authorities. Among other things the memorandum calls on the local Church to assume more of its prophetic role with courage and determination. It also proposed that an office for “Justice and Peace” be added to the structures of the Catholic National Secretariat.
Our delegation celebrated its assembly from 7 to 9 December 2004, graced by the presence of Fr. Fabio Carlo Baldan, vicar general, and Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel, assistant general. All the confreres of the delegation attended the assembly. It was indeed an intensive moment of reflection and discussion on our reality and the global situation we live in. Ample time was given to the presentation of Chapter Acts 2003 during which Fr. Fabio enlightened us on the entire process, from its inception to its final edition. Other topics discussed were the reality of formation in our delegation and of the entire Institute, evangelisation in Gash Barka, the possibility of starting our presence in the Keren Eparchy and the contents of our six-year plan. Mgr. Tesfamariam Menghesteab, Eparch of Asmara, presided at the Eucharist on the first day of the assembly and gave an input on the present Church and state relationship.
The Comboni Missionary Sisters sent an observer to our assembly. Their provincial superior, Sr. Libanos Ayele, attended the session when we discussed about the opening of a provisional novitiate in Dekameré. The general atmosphere was positive and motions were discussed and voted upon during the last session. The closing Eucharist was presided by Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos and was attended also by the two communities of the Comboni Missionary Sisters and their aspirants residing in Asmara and by our postulants.
Patron feast of St. Micheal in Haikota
According to our religious tradition, in Eritrea the annual feast of the Patron Saint is a big event. And that is what happened in Haikota on 20 January 2005. Haikota is a parish in Barentu Eparchy, 312 km north of Asmara. Though it is a feast of the Catholic community, a minority in this country, the Orthodox Christians were fully involved in its preparation and celebration. During the speeches given at the occasion by the ministers of both the Orthodox and Catholic communities, our Comboni confrere, Fr. John Webootsa Shikolio, underlined the ecumenical aspect of the feast.
The feast was striking, indeed, not so much for its organization and numerical aspect, but because of the values and symbols it portrayed. More than one hundred and fifty Sudanese Refugees (mostly Dinka) attended the feast. The crowd was deeply moved when they saw Eritrean as well as Dinka’s young children dancing and singing together in Tigrigna and Dinka languages. They had been trained to learn one another’s languages and dances, which they did very well. Their songs and dances had messages of peace, unity and reconciliation. This portrayed a powerful message especially in this moment when the two respective countries are on bad terms. We have witnessed that faith does not have boundaries and that people of different religion, race and border-side can live together in harmony.
Gold Medal to Bro. Antonio Marchi
On 26 January the local administration conferred the “Premio Ercole Città di Asola” on Bro. Antonio Marchi “for having dedicated his life to the missions.” Bro. Marchi, in accepting the award stated, “I admit to feeling quite confused. To receive an award is to conquer, to be better than others, while I feel that I have been conquered. Conquered by the Lord who called me, conquered by a family that has always loved me, conquered by a Missionary Institute that has welcomed me and given me the possibility to realize my dreams… especially conquered by the love of God and of so many brothers. Thank you! This award is not mine, but ours!”
Forum 3 – Listening and prophecy
From 31 January to 4 February the members of the institutes that are specifically missionary met at Ariccia for the Forum “Mission without borders. The Missionary Institutes in Italy between listening and prophecy.” The final declaration states: “In response to our reading of the Church and of contemporary reality in Italy, we propose to live our mission as prophecy: to be men and women of God, capable of a prophecy made up of little gestures of listening and acceptance of the different, witnesses of a mission to the ends of the earth, carried out in life choices and revealed in a passion for that part of humanity that remains marginalized.”
Does the State have the right to kill?
On 22 February, at the Leopardi Palace in Trastevere Square, the book of Fr. Tarcisio Agostoni: “Lo Stato ha il diritto di uccidere? Una domanda dall’Africa” (EMI 2005) was presented to the public. The speakers included Msgr. Crepaldi of the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace, the journalist Caladanu, Dr. Marazziti from the St. Egidio Community, and Professor Marchesi from the University of Teramo. The event was well covered by the media. Congratulations to Fr. Agostoni who, in spite of his 85 years, still has the strength and the creativity needed for valuable work such as this.
At the town hall of Rome preparations have begun for the activities of ItaliAfrica which will take place in May. Fr. Venanzio Milani is among the members of the committee which involves various organizations such as the St. Egidio Community, FAO, Movimondo, Legambiente, as well as representatives of Africa and the rest of the third world. The objectives of the demonstrations and round tables are those of the Millenium.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Fr. Elvio Cellana (10.06.1938 – 05.02.2005)
Fr. Teresino Serra, the Superior General himself, announced the death of this confrere on 5 February. “Dear confreres, with deep sorrow I have learned of the death of our much esteemed confrere, Fr. Elvio Cellana. I am united with all of you in common prayer and happy memories of this great confrere of ours. Faith moves me to thank God for the missionary life of Fr. Elvio: a life lived and celebrated with missionary enthusiasm and love for the land for which St. Daniel Comboni lived and died. I thank God for the presence of Fr. Elvio in our missionary family. I thank God for his witness of fidelity, total dedication and love for the mission. I thank God for the Comboni enthusiasm which Fr. Elvio planted in the hearts of many. I thank God for his human virtues, spiritual and so like Comboni with which he infected everyone. I thank God because Fr. Elvio, with his total dedication helped “Combonise” and sanctify our Institute. His presence among us was a sign of the blessing and of the love of God for our Institute. May the Lord grant us the grace to follow the example of Fr. Elvio, loving our vocation, the missions, the Institute… as he always did.”
This unusual and authoritative message is very significant. We are presented with a model, according to what is written in the Rule of Life (n. 1.4) “the best example of the original charism.”
Born at Tiarno di Sopra (TN), he lived in large family with the hard working example of his father, Agostino, a blacksmith, and his pious mother, Dolores. He arrived at the minor seminary of Trent with the testimonial of his parish priest stating he was a decisive boy who was committed to his Christian identity. He went on then to the minor seminary of Brescia and entered the novitiate of Gozzano on 13 November 1955. He made his first vows on 9 September 1957. In all his requests to his superiors, he briefly but clearly indicated his desire to live the religious life, become a priest and go to the missions (if possible in Africa).
He completed his formation in Verona (1957-1960) and Venegono (1960-1964). He was ordained on 28 June 1964 in the chapel of the Motherhouse in Verona by Cardinal Gregorio Pietro Agagianian
He was assigned to Khartoum as of 1 July 1964, and spent one year in Sunningdale and another in El Obeid learning English and Arabic. The ten years spent in Khartoum (1966-1976) showed he was a totally dedicated missionary as parish priest, and to a certain extent in formation ministry while he was formator of seminarians coming from the South. He suffered from the difficulty he found in creating true community with people who were uprooted from their culture. Therefore he asked and was granted permission to go to the South. This brought about, through his arrival and that of Bro. Francsco Ragnoli, the return of the Comboni Missionaries among the Shilluk. As he was leaving for Malakal he wrote that he had before him the example of Fr. Giuseppe Beduschi.
At first Fr. Elvio and Bro. Ragnoli were guests of Bishop Pius Yukwan, then in 1977 he was reassigned to the station of Tonga. His missionary time among the Shilluk (September 1976 – end of June 1984) was a time of immersion in a new language and culture, with total commitment and a special liking for catechesis and the catechists. The arrival of other confreres, especially the late Fr. Miguel Angel Istúriz Agudo, gave him the joy of a greater community life, something he felt was extremely necessary.
Meanwhile, however, the clouds of civil war were gathering, and Tonga suffered bloody attacks. This caused the retreat of our missionaries to Malakal in 1983. Therefore Fr. Elvio, for historical reasons, was pushed even further south and he served in the community of Kw'rejik-Juba (1984-1985) and finally at Nzara, among the Azande of the diocese of Tambura-Yambio, where he remained from February 1985 to April 1989. He jumped into that situation enthusiastically, finding the Azande quite different, organized in numerous Christian communities, divided into various chapels.
When he returned to Italy he stayed in Troia, doing mission promotion, while his mission of Nzara, as well as that of Tambura, were evacuated because of the war. When the “storm” was over in July of 1999 he asked the superiors if he could return to Nzara.
Fr. Ezio Bettini, delegate and provincial of South Sudan during Fr. Elvio’s last years at Nzara, remembers that at the end of June 1999 Nzara was turned over to the diocese.
“During the departure celebration I saw clearly how Fr. Elvio was loved and appreciated. He had been there for many years, some (1991-1994) as parish priest, learning the Azande language and sharing in their joys and difficulties. Before taking on another commitment he asked to spend a period of time in prayer, also in order to realize somewhat an old desire for a more contemplative life. He spent a month in the Abbey of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. One of the monks accompanied him during his discernment. At the end Fr. Elvio was advised to continue in his clearly missionary vocation.”
“In the year 2000 he was assigned to the mission of Agang Rial among the Dinka in the diocese of Rumbek. As parish priest he dedicated himself to the Dinka as if they had always been in his heart. Fatigue and lack of attention to his health resulted in serious problems which had to be treated first in Nairobi and then in Milan (2002) and finally in Arco. Out of obedience he accepted to be the superior in Trent, where he ended up spending all his remaining energy for the community, priestly ministry and mission promotion.”
Fr. Bettini concludes: “Fr. Elvio was an outstanding person, one to be proposed to our Comboni family as an example of a missionary completely fulfilled and committed to his work.” (Fr. Pietro Ravasio)
Let us pray for the deceased
THE FATHER: Angelo of Bro. Egle Serafino Paternoster (I); Emmanuel of the scholastic Antoine Kondo Komivi (T).
THE MOTHER: Bartola of Bro. Antonio Muñoz Cabrera (M).
THE BROTHER: José of Fr. Aarón Cendejas Ponce (M); Ivo of Fr. Giuseppe Furlanetto (I).
THE SECULAR COMBONI MISSIONARY: Giulia Pedretti.
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Irene Sorzi; Sr. Anna Augusta Comparin; Sr. Merifranca Rossi; Sr. M. Aquilina Gaslini.