In communion with Benedict XVI
As soon as Mgr. Daniel Comboni heard the news of the election of the new Pontiff, Leo XIII, he wrote him a letter of missionary obedience and filial homage.
“Allow, Most Holy Father, that I and all the priests and mission agents, members of the Missionary Insti-tute for Africa who work in my Vicariate, and the Missionary Sisters, members and candidates of my Insti-tute of the Pie Madri della Nigrizia, may offer you our humblest and warmest greetings with which we too salute you as Pontiff and Vicar on earth of Jesus Christ.
Be pleased to accept the deep homage of our hearts and the warmest and sincerest wishes of our hum-ble, perfect and unlimited submission, reverence and affection.
You are the chosen one of God, Supreme Pastor of souls. Inspired by you, the world looks for peace. The world hopes that you will unite all under the shade of the one Sheepfold of Jesus Christ.
We, the members of the above mentioned Institutes are ready to endure all the hardships, privations, dangers, the fiery climate and all sorts of difficulty and fatigue which ceaselessly accompany our danger-ous and thorny apostolate. We are always ready to suffer martyrdom; and we place all our trust in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, in St. Joseph and in you.
Deign, therefore to turn your merciful gaze towards this forgotten part of the sublime inheritance of Je-sus Christ, for whose Redemption we dedicate both mind and heart, our very blood and our lives and im-part to it that special blessing of yours which will bring it to true life (cf. S 5213-5217).”
With these sentiments of our Founder, Daniel Comboni, we greet the Supreme Pontiff, Benedict XVI, in communion of prayer and evangelical and missionary obedience.
We ask God to give us the grace to enrich the Church with our fidelity to our Comboni missionary charism, and, as Comboni said, to assist the holy Father, Benedict XVI, to turn his gaze towards the poorer countries for which thousands of men and women missionaries, both religious and lay, consecrate their lives and give their all. Let us renew our consecration to continue to commit ourselves to the mission among the people en-trusted to us, in order to give them hope of brotherhood and peace.
In fidelity to the Church and in communion with the Holy Father,
19 April 2005
Fr. Teresino Serra
General Notes of the of March-April Consulta
The 6th Consulta began on 7 March and lasted till 12 April 2005. It was interrupted for the Holy Week and Easter celebrations. On 1 April we received the news that Fr. Giuseppe Franzelli had been appointed bishop of Lira, Uganda.
The following day, 2 April, the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, was called by God and returned to the Father’s house. The General Council (GC) gathered in prayer with the whole community of the Genera-late. On behalf of the entire Comboni Institute the Superior General sent the following telegram:
His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Sodano
00120 Città del Vaticano
Your Eminence, Cardinal Sodano,
It is with heartfelt and deep sympathy that the Superior General, his Council and all the Comboni Mis-sionaries gather around the Holy See in their profound sorrow for such a heartbreaking loss, but also to praise a pontiff, John Paul II who has strengthened us Comboni Missionaries to move onwards in the missionary journey, indicating in the holiness of our Founder, Daniel Comboni, a love for the Church and a prophetic voice that believed in a hopeful future for peoples and nations, for the poor and margin-alised. In this moment only the gratitude for the blessings received, which rises from every corner of the world where the Comboni Missionaries commit themselves for the Gospel, is capable of alleviating our sorrow and provide us with a sense of hope.
With our deepest condolences,
Fr. Teresino Serra
Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
His Excellency Stanislaw Dziwisz
00120 Vaticano City
Dear Mgr. Stanislaw,
Indelible memories bind us to you, who were the closest and most trustworthy friend of the late Pontiff, as well as being his most accredited intermediary.
Feelings of great sorrow are linked with the awareness of the great gift which God, in the person of John Paul II, has given to his Church.
Wherever the Holy Spirit may place you, please rest assured that the Comboni Missionaries will forever as-sociate, whether in blessing or in counsel, the name and blessed memory of Pope John Paul II with that of you his Secretary, who were always so attentive and available regarding the Comboni Family.
With heartfelt condolences,
Fr. Teresino Serra
Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
Reply of His Excellency Stanislaw Dziwisz:
Rome, 16 April 2005
Reverend Superior General,
I have received the telegram in which you express your spiritual closeness and that of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, in this time of sorrow, on the death of the Holy Father.
I thank you with all my heart, Reverend Superior General, for this witness of filial affection and devo-tion to the Pope which you have shown, remembering the generous service which he rendered to the worldwide Church.
I thank you for your kind remarks regarding myself and offer you my humble respects.
On Sunday, 3 April, at Huánuco in Peru, Mgr. Jaime Rodríguez Salazar was ordained bishop. Also on this occasion the GC gathered in prayer for the new bishop and his diocese.
The Pope’s funeral
On Friday, 8 April, the Consulta was interrupted and the GC took part in the Holy Father’s funeral in St. Peter’s square.
Evaluation of the assembly of provincials/delegates
The GC’s evaluation of the assembly of provincials and delegates in Cairo, from 13 to 27 of February, was positive. They thank the participants for their cooperation. In spite of some unforeseen events, the work proceeded well, thanks to everyone’s commitment and to the family spirit that prevailed.
The Superior General, in particular, thanks all the participants for the consideration he has received and, especially, for their carrying on with the work and their deep attention to the life of the Institute. He will prepare a written reflection on some of the priorities that have emerged from the assembly.
Emergency in South-East Asia
The GC was very pleased with and thanks the provinces and delegations for the generous response to their appeal for the victims of the Tsunami in South-East Asia. Our provinces, delegations and friends, have so far collected €105.821.37 and US $87.400. The money has been shared among various Mission-aries Institutes working in the affected areas.
Meeting with the new General Council of the Comboni Missionary Sisters (CMS)
The General Councils of the CMS and MCCJ came together on 7 April at the Generalate of the CMS. During the meeting the importance of a deeper cooperation between the two Councils in different fields was once again underlined. Future meetings and possible common initiatives were programmed.
Extraordinary contributions of the provinces and delegations towards the General Administra-tion
We gratefully thank the provinces and delegations that have sent or will send their extraordinary contri-butions to support the General Administration for the year 2005. The total amount of contributions re-ceived so far is €303,866.78. The provinces and delegations that have not yet sent their contributions are eight, two of which, though, in their provincial or delegation’s council meeting have already decided the amount they will send.
Fr. Brian Joseph Quigley
(NAP) is appointed member of the General Council for Finances to rep-resent America and Asia, retroactive to 1 January 2005.
Fr. Rubén Padilla Rocha
(M) is appointed novice master of the Sahuayo novitiate in Mexico, from 1 July 2005.
Fr. Juan de Dios Martínez González
(MO) is appointed assistant novice master of the Sa-huayo novitiate in Mexico, from 1 July 2005.
Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins
(P) is appointed formator of the Pietermaritzburg scholasti-cate, RSA, from 1 August 2005.
General Council’s Activities
Fr. Teresino Serra:
from 5 to 9 of May - meeting of the Comboni bishops in Cairo (Egypt); from 25 to 27 May - semester meeting of Major Superiors in Rome; in July - General Assembly of Formation in Palencia, Spain; from 22 August to 6 September - visit to Taipei and Macau; in November - Retreat for the London Province - visit to the province of Uganda until the middle of December.
Fr. Fabio Carlo Baldan:
from 1 to 28 May - visit to the province of Khartoum, including, if possible, Juba; from 28 to 31 May – Nairobi to discuss proposals about starting a radio station in South-ern Sudan; during the last week of July - Poland; from the end of August to the middle of September - visit to the province of Malawi-Zambia.
Fr. Odelir José Magri:
from 11 April to 8 May - visit to Ecuador - celebrations of the 50° foundation anniversary of the province of Ecuador; from 10 to 30 July - assembly for formators of noviti-ates and scholasticates in Palencia, Spain; in November - Retreat for Togo-Ghana-Benin - visit to the province.
Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel:
from 20 April to 18 May - visit to the NAP and the Chicago scholasticate; from 22 August to 15 September - visit to the delegation of Asia; Novem-ber - visit to some communities in Italy; in the first two weeks of December - visit to the LP.
Bro. Romero Arias Hernán:
from 19 to 22 April – meeting of the General Council for Fi-nances in Rome; from 24 to 29 April - Assembly for Finances of French-speaking Africa in Paris; from 30 April to 3 May - Brothers’ meeting in Pesaro; from 8 to 22 May - visit to the province of Togo-Ghana-Benin; month of July - visit to Spain - Assembly for Formators of Novitiates and Scholasticates in Palencia, Spain.
The Retreat of the GC and members of the General Administration is planned for the second half of September 2005 at Pesaro.
The next two Consulta
These will be held during the months of June and October.
Fr. Tarcisio Agostoni:
“The Comboni Missionaries. An Outline of History 1867-1997”. Biblio-theca Comboniana, Rome, 2003, 642 pages.
This book, presented to the members of the General Chapter in September 2003, is the first complete and documented attempt to record our historic memory.
The author had been requested to introduce the Namugongo (Uganda) novices to the knowledge of our his-tory, as required by the Ratio Studiorum (1991). Since there was no textbook, and at the suggestion of the General Secretary for formation, Fr. Agostoni prepared an outline – little more than 100 pages – which was presented to the English-speaking centres of formation.
Subsequently, the superiors urged him to complete the research. In order to do this, it was necessary, over sev-eral years, to consult the historical archives. Included in the Bibliotheca Comboniana (Sezione fonti/storia n. 14), this work is very useful both for basic formation and for confreres engaged in ongoing formation. It actu-ally contains the spiritual heritage of the Institute that the Rule of Life (RL 1.4) presupposes for our identity: history, traditions, evangelisation and role-models.
The book is available from the General Secretariat. Price €10,00.
It will soon be also available in Italian.
P. Sodokin Jakob Pâques (Benin) 02.04.2005
Sc. Atipoupou Komlavi Stanislas (T) Chicago (USA) 08.04.2005
Sc. Onoba John Kennedy (U) Chicago (USA) 08.04.2005
Holy Redeemer Guild
May 01 – 07 ET 08 – 15 ER 16 – 31 IT
June 01 – 15 KE 16 – 30 KH
– We pray that, faithful to the Gospel of Christ and the rule of Life, by which our options are in-spired, our sense of belonging to the Institute may grow, freeing us from individualism in living out our con-secration to the mission. Let us pray.
– That we may find in the Pierced Heart of the good Shepherd the model, source and strength to give our lives for the poorest, making common cause with them. Let us pray.
Looking to the future
For the Comboni Missionaries in Asia, the final days of April and first days of May bring two appoint-ments, each in its own way important for the future of the Comboni project both here and farther afield.
During the last week of April, Daniel Comboni Seminary in Quezon City hosts the annual pre-postulancy retreat to be attended by candidates from various parts of the archipelago (a good number of them need to travel by sea or air to reach the venue). This activity is the final stage of a process of promo-tion and accompaniment entrusted to the Delegation’s vocation promotion team composed of Fr. Marnecio Cuarteros Coralde and Fr. Vincent Mkhabela Masoja. All the confreres currently present in the Philippines (seven) contribute to the retreat, and it includes a visit to St. Daniel Comboni Mission Center, the home of World Mission Magazine on Metro Manila’s south side.
The first weekend of May, instead, sees the Delegation’s young confreres gather in Taipei for their an-nual time of fellowship and ongoing formation. This year there are six participants (originating from Peru, Portugal, Philippines, South Africa and Mexico) and, given the limited space available at our Jen Ai par-ish site, they will be accommodated at an apartment recently leased to us for three years by the Diocese of Macau. The formal part of the program has two focuses: the process of the Ratio Missionis (here the fa-cilitator is a Xaverian Missionary working in Taipei who was much involved with his own Institute’s Ra-tio Missionis) and an introduction to the Chinese world by a local expert. The confreres from outside Taipei will also have the opportunity to become acquainted with our mission there and to meet the local Christian community.
Due to restructuring work to the provincial house, the provincial administration and office will reside at EKOS in Rua das Juçaras, Q. 44 – C 05 – bairro Renascença – CEP 65075-230 – SÃO LUÍS – MA – Tel. (98) 3235-1088 – Fax (98) 3227-7335.
Fr. Gabriele Marcon, Br. Rodolfo Fasolo e Fr. Alfonso Tebaldini will reside at the house of the Olho d’Água – tel. (98) 3226-5526; (98) 3226-4446.
This set up is expected to last until September of this year, when all the confreres will return to the pro-vincial house.
Sunday liturgy with a missionary slant, via Internet
The CIAM (International Centre for Missionary Animation) proposes a series of reflections on the Sunday liturgy, with a missionary slant, for priests, laity and religious, directed by Fr. Romeo Ballan. This is not meant to be a complete text for homilies, but suggestions for missionary meditation, individually or in groups, on the Word of God which constantly and surprisingly continues to shed light on, strengthen and sustain the missionary journey of the Church and evangelisers all over the world. The purpose of this initiative is to offer assistance so that the mission may be truly, and to an ever greater degree, part of the ordinary pastoral plan of all local Churches and apostolic groups (cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 83).
The text is available on the Internet website of the CIAM: www.ciam.org and is published weekly before the Thursday preceding the Sunday referred to. For the present, this will be in Italian and Spanish, until transla-tions are made into other languages. The CIAM welcomes comments and suggestions. A mailing list of regu-lar subscribers is planned.
There is, of course, no fee. Access is gained by entering the main CIAM website: www.ciam.org and click-ing “parola per la missione” and the choice of language.
Fifty years of love for the missions: Superior General’s message
With joy and happiness, in the name of all Comboni Missionaries, I wish to send you my sincere greet-ings and blessing. God only knows how much I would have liked to have been present at the celebrations marking fifty years of Comboni presence and missionary grace; to be present and, together with all of you, to give thanks to God for all the good and the marvels which he has accomplished in Ecuador.
How I would like to say to each one of you: “Thank you for accompanying our Comboni Missionaries during the past fifty years”. I know that the people of Ecuador are truly big-hearted, a people with mis-sionary hearts, and that whoever loves the missions is a friend of God.
I will be with you all in communion of prayer, while remembering all those men and women who have always encouraged us in our work and in our missionary vocation. A special prayer for all the missionary communities and, particularly, for those whom God has called from this life. Finally, a prayer for all the Comboni priests, Brothers and Sisters who lived and died in Ecuador.
I do not wish to forget anyone: my blessing and my affection go out to all, from the most humble to the priests, men and women religious, the civil, political and ecclesiastical authorities.
Today we are as one family, a missionary family, which is at the service of the most needy.
Together we have done much for the missions and there is still much to be done. May God grant us the per-severance to continue sharing what we are and what we have with those most afflicted.
I wish to remember what the Holy Father said to us the day of the canonisation of Comboni: “Let us give thanks to God for having given the Church St. Daniel Comboni, a champion of evangelisation. May his example encourage you to respond with generosity to your Christian and missionary vocation. May he render fruitful every initiative of yours towards the spread of the Gospel of hope”.
With the blessing of the Holy Father, may you also receive that of St. Daniel Comboni who today says to us: “Courage for the present time and especially for the future, without hindering the plan of God”.
May God bless you all. (Fr. Teresino Serra)
Aid for a journey of faith
Insieme per la vita (Together for life) is the title of a series of 46 pamphlets for a journey of faith that re-traces the experience of the two disciples of Emmaus. The series does not presuppose a class of catechu-mens guided by a catechist, but a “catechumenal” community made up of those preparing for baptism and those who, already baptized, wish to rediscover the riches of their Christian life. The one who leads is him-self on a journey, and, from this point of view, all are both masters and disciples at the same time.
The growing number of foreigners, who, in Italy, approach the baptismal font, indicates how important this aid is at present, an aid that takes its inspiration from the Lumko Pastoral Institute of South Africa.
Produced by the Catechetics Office and the Migrantes of the diocese of Rome, it is the brain-child of Fr. Paolo Serra, who has only recently returned to Uganda after almost ten years spent working in Rome with ACSE (the Comboni Association for the Service of Immigrants).
Youth and Mission
The website www.giovaniemissione.it continues to be involved in formation and sharing, with almost a thousand hits per day.
On 1 and 2 April, the staff of the site, composed of ten committed young people and some Comboni Mis-sionaries from the vocations secretariat, met in Bologna for two days of revision and planning.
Among the websites directed at the youth, giovaniemissione is coming to the fore: it is visited by many who wish to read of witnesses to charity, letters from the missions, the catechesis of the GIM and special people from the South of the world.
Recently, various articles of giovaniemissione have left their mark: a reflection on the “armoured calen-dar” of the Pontifical Mission Societies and the criticism of the CPT and means of showing disagreement; solidarity with “Famiglia Cristiana” (the “Christian Family” magazine) in defence of the conscientious ob-jectors against military spending; the “W Nairobi W!” campaign, etc.
“The Mission of the Heart”
After years of work by Fr. Giovanni Vantini, EMI has published the book “LA MISSIONE DEL CUORE”: The Mission of the Heart – The Comboni Missionaries in Sudan in the twentieth century (992 pages, € 40,00). It includes three onomastic, toponomastic and institutional indices.
Fr. Vantini has written many books and this work is the fruit of his direct knowledge of the ecclesial and civil situation of Sudan where he lived for no less than 48 years. Thanks to his meetings with numer-ous confreres who worked in Sudan and his work in the field of education (in the Comboni College in Khartoum), he was able to make use of an enormous network of contacts and sources of information.
In North Sudan, among the Muslims, and in Southern Sudan, among the Nilotic tribes, the Comboni Missionaries gave their best both before and after independence (1964).
With the subtitle, the author indicates the main actors in this story: the Comboni Missionaries. It is also to be noted that he begins with his predecessors, among whom the figure of St, Daniel Comboni looms large, and ends his narrative with the establishment of the ecclesiastical hierarchy of Sudan on 12 Decem-ber 1974. This is not simply a juridical date, but symbolically marks the implementation of the “Plan” of Comboni. Today, the presence of the Comboni Missionaries continues because Sudan remains, for the sons of St. Daniel Comboni, The Mission of the Heart.
The book is available either directly from EMI, with a discount of 40%, or through the Mission Procure.
Inauguration of the Trujillo’s new house
Three years after the community of Trujillo was started, we have had the satisfaction of seeing the com-pletion of the new house. The Comboni Missionaries are responsible for a large parish of around 100,000 inhabitants, on the outskirts of the city.
It is an area with many needs. The community is engaged in evangelisation, missionary animation and vocations ministry.
On 15 March, the anniversary of the birth of our Founder, the provincial council held its meeting here and blessed the new buildings.
Even though at the time the work was not entirely completed, the chapel and some other sections al-ready finished were blessed. With a shared Eucharist and the modest meal that followed, we thanked God and the many people who helped us complete this project.
Fr. Jaime Rodríguez Salazar is ordained as bishop
The 3 April 2005 was the date fixed for the ordination of Fr. Jaime Rodríguez Salazar, a Mexican Com-boni Missionary, as the tenth bishop of Huánuco, Peru.
Fr. Jaime had been working here since 1966 as curate and, afterwards, as parish priest of San Pedro at Huánuco, where we, the Comboni Missionaries, have a novitiate and run the parish. For over a year and a half Fr. Jaime was also the diocesan administrator.
As we well know, the Lord called Pope John Paul II to himself on 2 April and it was feared that many of those invited would ask to be excused. The Apostolic Nuncio was already at Huànuco when the news was broadcast. That very evening the Nuncio called us all to the cathedral to celebrate a requiem Mass. Speaking to the congregation, the Nuncio presented Fr. Jaime as one of the last gifts the Pope had given to Church in Peru, thus providing us with another reason to thank God for that which we were celebrat-ing.
In spite of the unforeseen event, as many as 24 bishops and more than a hundred priests both from Peru and abroad attended the ordination. Among those present were some Comboni Missionaries from Mexico, diocesan priests from his native diocese, his own dear mother and two of his brothers.
With the cathedral filled to capacity, giant TV screens were erected in the main square so that more people could follow the ceremonies.
The Apostolic Nuncio to Peru, Mgr. Passigato, lavishly praised the Comboni Missionaries and encour-aged the new bishop to put into practice the great values inherited from the Founder.
There were emotional scenes as Mgr. Jaime made his own the words of Comboni when he took posses-sion of the Vicariate of Khartoum: “I wish to consecrate myself to your greater good. Night and day, weather fair or foul, will find me equally and always ready to meet your spiritual needs: the rich and the poor, the healthy and the sick, young and old, lord or servant will all have equal access to my heart. I am determined to make common cause with each of you, and my happiest of days will be when I can give my life for you.”
At the end and, to the surprise of many, the congregation was joined by a group of Mexican musicians sing-ing a hymn to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose image occupied a place of honour during the liturgical celebra-tion. The new bishop went to kneel at her feet and, accompanied by the sighs and tears of many of those pre-sent, entrusted to Our Lady of Guadalupe the difficult task he had received.
During the days preceding and following his ordination, Mgr. Jaime Rodríguez Salazar received the greet-ings of the population and of representatives of the various civil, religious and military authorities. Happy with the choice of their bishop, they promised their complete availability to lighten the burden of his apostolate.
Handing over the parish of Villa Alhué (Chile)
On 10 April, while the people showed gratitude and sympathy, the parish of San Jerónimo de Alhué was handed over to the diocese of San José de Melipilla.
Among those present were: Mgr. Enrique Troncoso Troncoso, Bishop of Melipilla, Fr. Gerardo Alkemade, the Comboni Missionaries Fr. William Dal Santo, Fr. Gianluca Roso and Fr. Paul Pezzei.
The parish was entrusted to Fr. Pietro Salgado of the diocesan clergy. The Bishop thanked the Comboni Missionaries for their seven years spent in the parish, for their pastoral work, for the extension and renovation works carried out and, most of all, for the witness of a life of dedication to the people of the parish.
Let us pray for the deceased:
of the novice Sydwell Nkosi (RSA).
Maria of Mgr. Cesare Mazzolari (SS); of Fr. Eliseo Citton (ET); Mearo Ebre-mariam of the Scholastic Weldeyohannes Tesfay Weldeyohannes (ER); Teresa of Bro. Fernando Acedo García (ET).
Corrado of Bro. Flavio Giuliani (I); of the scholastic René Jean Marie Aholou (T).
Maria of Fr. Francesco Vialetto (BS).
The Comboni Missionary Sisters:
Sr. Anselmina Piazza; Sr. M. Onorina D’Aurizio; Sr. Anna Maria Ronchi; Sr. Alfreda Raimondi; Sr. M. Costanza Cristoferi.