From the Vatican to Fr. Teresino Serra, Superior General
13 April 2005
We have received the courteous message in which you, in the name of your religious family, express sincere condolences on the death of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II.
The College of Cardinals, through my offices, sincerely thanks you for your devout sentiments, rendered all the more significant by the offering of spiritual suffrages for the beloved Pastor and Father.
I take this opportunity to express renewed sentiments of marked esteem.
Yours most devotedly, in the Lord
Mgr. Gabriele Caccia
Message to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.
20 April 2005
Most Blessed Father,
All of us Comboni Missionaries, united in prayer and thanksgiving to God, greet you as Pontiff and Supreme Pastor of the Church and offer our humble respects of sincere affection and unlimited obedience.
As we ask for your blessing, we renew our consecration to God for the Missions in the name of the Church.
Fr. Teresino Serra
From the Vatican to Fr. Teresino Serra, Superior General
27 April 2005
His Holiness Benedict XVI has received your courteous message in which, in the name of your Religious In-stitute, you express affectionate good wishes on the occasion of his elevation to the chair of Peter and assure him of your special prayers for his universal ministry.
The Holy Father, appreciating this gesture of devoted homage, wishes to show his deep gratitude and is happy to grant to you and all who join in this expression of filial devotion, the Apostolic Blessing, promise of abundant celestial favours.
I take this opportunity to express renewed sentiments of marked esteem.
Yours most devotedly, in the Lord.
Mgr. Gabriel Caccia
Help to the victims of the tsunami
The General Council wishes to thank all the confreres, provinces and delegations which have given their con-tributions to help the victims of the tsunami in South-East Asia.
It was decided not to give our contributions to the usual international organizations but to the religious and missionary Institutes working in the countries struck by the disaster.
The General Council chose four male and four female Institutes.
Male Institutes: PIME, which is running projects aimed at generating income and work – rebuilding schools, pro-viding new boats for fishermen (on the islands of Andatane and Nicobar); The Divine Word Missionaries: who are helping to solve problems of water supply, rebuilding churches and schools, providing training workshops, primary assistance and boats (Nias, Banda Acheh, Sabang, Lhokseumawe and Singkil islands); the Guanellians who are at present running projects for the benefit of minors, for rebuilding houses, for supporting the work of fishermen and the adoption of families; and the Caritas Italiana.
Female Institutes: The Pious Disciples of Jesus who are working to rebuild homes in India; the Dominican Presentation Sisters who have as their priority the repair of boats in India; The Institutes of St. Vincent De Paul (male and female) which are helping children in Indonesia and Java; The Sisters of Charity of St. John Antida who work in Thailand.
In this way Comboni solidarity extends throughout most of the stricken area in different and complimentary sectors, where charitable works are part and parcel of the proclamation of the Word.
III Meeting of Comboni Bishops with the General Administrations
The third meeting of Comboni Bishops with Fr. Teresino Serra and Sr. Adele Brambilla took place in Cairo from 5 to 9 May, for the purpose of examining pastoral and Comboni themes of mutual interest. Twelve Com-boni bishops attended, while six more sent apologies for their absence due to old age or ill health.
The agenda of the meeting was prepared by Fr. Romeo Ballan, the general procurator, in dialogue with the participants. The meeting was held at the house of the Catholic Coptic Clergy at Maadi (Cairo).
The morning of the first day was given to a broad, fraternal sharing of the spiritual and pastoral situation each one was experiencing. In the afternoon, four confreres of the Delegation of Egypt presented interesting aspects of the presence of missionaries in that country: 150 years of Comboni history in Egypt, our parish of Sakakini for Sudanese in Cairo, the Dar Comboni Institute for the study of Arabic and Islam, the beginnings of a new missionary presence among the children (almost all Moslems) who work in the refuse dumps of the capital. Sr. Adele completed the picture with information regarding the presence of the Comboni Sisters in Egypt.
The main theme of the meeting was, for three days, an introduction to Islam and inter-religious dialogue, with the help of professors from Dar Comboni, Comboni Missionaries and otherwise, who illustrated: the impact of Islam world-wide, the five pillars of Islam, Sharia law, the articles of faith, the Mahdiya and the Comboni Mis-sionaries, Christian minorities in the Islamic world and inter-religious dialogue.
The general view of Islam and the Church in Egypt was enriched by dialogue with other ecclesiastic person-alities: the Catholic Coptic Patriarch Cardinal Stephanos Ghattas CM, the Apostolic Nuncio Mgr. Marco Dino Brogi OFM, and Mgr. Giuseppe Bausardo SDB, Vicar Apostolic of Alexandria (Latin rite).
On the final day Fr. Teresino and Sr. Adele presented the situation of their respective Institutes: the mandate of the General Chapters, the Ratio Missionis, fewer personnel, formation problems and a review of the mis-sionary presence. The Comboni Bishops showed their keen interest in these themes, vital for the Comboni Family and also their willingness to cooperate in preparing the Ratio Missionis, especially in its elaboration at provincial level.
Visits to some of the communities of the Delegation proved very useful: Helouan (cemetery and school), Zamalek (Dar Comboni and parish), Sakakini (Mass with the Sudanese community), Cordi Jesu (residence of the Delegation), Eucharist with Fr. General presiding and dinner with the Comboni Missionaries of Cairo, including priests and Brothers of the renewal course), visit to Old Cairo and places associated with Comboni.
The bishops more than once expressed their deep gratitude to the confreres of Egypt and the General Ad-ministration both for their welcome and for their financial support for such meetings. The next meeting will take place, God willing, in August 2008 in Quito (Esmeraldas), coinciding with the third American Missionary Con-gress (COMLA 8).
Annuario Comboniano 2005
The Annuario Comboniano should be ready by the beginning of June 2005. Its despatch to the various prov-inces and delegations is always difficult.
We remind the provincials and delegates who have not already done so to let us know the best way to send the Annuario so that these arrive safe and without delay.
The best way would be to ask a confrere going to a province to bring them along with him. Therefore, if you know of someone about to come to your province, ask him to contact the general secretary as soon as possi-ble. If we do not hear from you before 10 June, the Annuario will be sent by post.
The new curia e-mail addresses which appear in the Annuario, e.g. email@example.com, will not come into effect until 1 August. Until then please use the existing addresses which end with pcn.net, like, for instance, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sc. Huruwella Moses Samuel (MZ) Lunzu (MW) 09.04.2005
Sc. Endrias Kacharo Ganebo (ET) Addis Ababa (ETH) 16.04.2005
Br. Bortoli Nicola (I) Nairobi (KE) 30.04.2005
Br. Degan Alberto (I) Rovigo (I) 01.05.2005
Sc. Marek Tomasz (PO) Piquia (BR) 01.05.2005
Sc. Herivelto de Sousa Marques (BNE) São Paulo (BR) 08.05.2005
Sc. Mumba Michael Nyowani (MZ) Lusaka (Z) 16.05.2005
Fr. Francisco de Assis Coqueiro (BNE) Codó (BR) 21.05.2005
All the e-mail addresses of the Curia ending in pcn.net will be changed to comboni.org. So, for example: email@example.com becomes firstname.lastname@example.org (as in the new Annuario Comboniano 2005).
BOLOGNA – Provincial house. The May issue of Familia Comboniana carried a note to the effect that there were difficulties in receiving e-mail. The address email@example.com is now functioning correctly.
Holy Redeemer Guild
June 01 – 15 KE 16 – 30 KH
July 01 – 07 LP 08 – 15 CO 16 – 31 MZ
– That we may find in the Pierced Heart of Christ, the Good Shepherd, the model, the inspiration and the strength for placing our life at the service of the poorest by making common cause with them. Let us pray.
– That St. Daniel Comboni may grant us the grace to live as ‘Cenacles of Apostles’, sharing deeply in the experience of God, strengthening our ties of fraternity and giving witness to the gospel of charity. Let us pray.
Consecrated life in China
From 25 May to 12 June, Fr. Daniel Cerezo Ruiz, on behalf of the Asia Delegation’s Fen Xiang Project for Mainland China, will accompany Sr. Judette Gallares, editor of the review Religious Life in Asia and a staff member at Manila’s Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia (ICLA), on an exploratory trip to China. Fen Xiang or-ganised the trip in response to a request from ICLA itself, where the need is felt to have firsthand knowledge of the situation of the Church in China and of consecrated life in particular.
Fr. Daniel will accompany Sr. Gallares in visits to several communities of Sisters in the four provinces of Shanxi, Hebei, Liaoning and Shaanxi, as well as to centres of formation and leadership training initiatives; the visitors will also attend the religious profession of Sisters in two provinces. Talks are scheduled with the major superiors of at least ten Institutes and are likely to focus on the complex situation of female religious life in pre-sent-day China.
The trip will also provide an opportunity for the Fen Xiang Project to develop its contacts with various Chinese bishops, priests and seminarians.
Human development in Asia
The closing days of May saw Bro. Fabio Patt, of the Comboni community in Macau-China, travelling to Pat-taya, Thailand, for the annual gathering of representatives of the twenty-three Catholic social work agencies that together make up the Asian Partnership for Human Development (APHD). Bro. Fabio serves full-time in Macau’s diocesan Caritas organisation.
The meeting reviewed projects underway at national, regional and continental level, the latter currently having to do with sustainable agriculture and the fight against the trafficking of women and children.
Also on the agenda of the Pattaya meeting is the preparation for APHD’s quadrennial general assembly, to be held in the Philippines in November this year. The assembly, which gathers the heads of all APHD’s mem-bers, will on this occasion focus on a major overhaul of the organisation’s structures and approach, so as to fa-vour convergence on human development projects throughout the Asian continent: the aim is to ensure that projects have a deeper and more meaningful impact on the life of the region’s poor.
“The challenge,” comments Bro. Fabio, “is not insignificant, but the alternative (should action not be taken now) would be to gradually die out (or become insignificant) because of dated approaches to fast-changing re-alities.”
New president of CSMC
On 19 April 2005, the Provincial Fr. Victor Hugo Castillo Matarrita, was elected President of the Conference of Religious Superiors, CSMC. His mandate will last until 2008. Congratulations.
Memorable Comboni Missionary Days
It was at Cairo that St. Daniel Comboni began to carry out his “Plan”. It was there that he personally founded the church of “Cordi Jesu”, where the Leo XIII Anti-Slavery Centre left the legacy of the parish of St. Joseph of Zamalek with the adjoining works of the Comboni Missionary Sisters and, more recently, the “Dar Comboni In-stitute for Arabic Studies” as well as a refuge in Cairo for the thousands upon thousands of Sudanese war refu-gees assisted in many ways by the Comboni community of Sakakini.
In this atmosphere, following the important assembly of provincials and delegates held in February 2005, the triennial meeting of Comboni Bishops took place.
Among the participants were Fr. Teresino Serra, Superior General of the MCCJ, Fr. Romeo Ballan, Procura-tor General and organizer of the meeting, and Sr. Adele Brambilla, Mother General of the CMS with Sr. Bianca Bresciani, one of her general assistants.
The meeting was held at the “Foyer Saint-Etienne” for elderly priests at Meadi, at the Inter-Rite Major Semi-nary.
Apart from the conferences related to the Comboni Institutes, there were also reflections on the “mission” and conferences held by the staff of Dar Comboni on Islam and the challenges it presents.
The participants were offered the opportunity of visiting the places associated with Comboni and some fa-mous Egyptian monuments such as Sinai, the monasteries of the Dead Sea and Aswan.
The most moving moment was the concelebrated mass in the church of Cordi Jesu with the participation of all the confreres of Cairo and its surroundings, the provincial of the Comboni Missionary Sisters and her council and the confreres of the Renewal Course in Rome, which had travelled from Rome together with their director, Mgr. Giuseppe Franzelli, who has recently been appointed bishop of Lira, Uganda. The Mass was followed by a festive fraternal meal.
The confreres attending the Renewal Course in Rome, who arrived on 30 April, also had the opportunity to visit various places, such as Aswan, and to attend the conferences on Islam. They afterwards left for the Red Sea monasteries and Sinai, on their way to the Holy Land.
May Comboni obtain for us all an ever-new missionary commitment according to his heart.
A three-month Course for Lay Leaders
After careful preparation and wide consultation of the parish priests and of the different diocesan councils, a three-month Course for Lay Leaders of the parishes of the Apostolic Vicariate of Awasa started on 23 January 2005 at Dongora Pastoral Centre. Fifty catechists, elders and community leaders (only five of whom were women) gathered with great hope and expectations from the five areas of the Vicariate: Sidamo, Ghedeo, Guji, Borana, and Amaro.
Starting with a week of spiritual retreat centred on the Bible, the programme included ten fundamental topics: Bible Study, Gospels, Ecclesiology, Church History (in general and in Ethiopia), Sacraments, Islam, Social Doc-trine of the Church, Self Reliance, and issues about youth and women.
Qualified teachers and some parish priests came to share their experience. It was a very full timetable: les-sons in the morning, study groups in the afternoon, evaluation of what had been discussed and shared in the evening. Videos on the different topics helped to expand the range of the material learned. On Saturday there was the evaluation of the whole week, while on Sunday groups of participants went to different chapels of Dongora, or to nearby missions, to help the priests and to check if what had been learned in the Course was being put into practice.
Only one weeklong break was allowed in the middle of the Course, so that it has been a big sacrifice for all the members, as it was not easy for them to leave the family, the fields and other activities for so many weeks in a row. But the fact of meeting leaders of other missions, often with a different set up, of other cultures and languages, was a positive experience acknowledged by everybody, which opened up their minds and gave flexibility to their work. Another difficulty was the language barrier: some of the participants knew only their own ethnic language, and were not familiar with the national one, namely Amharic. Translation was often needed, and the groups were formed according to language. This, too, was a “psychological gymnastic” and an exercise in love and patience.
The course was solemnly concluded on 15 April by the Bishop of Awasa, Mgr. Lorenzo Ceresoli, surrounded by all the parish priests of the Vicariate and the staff of the Pastoral Centre. The encouraging words of the bishop underlined that the aims of the Course had been achieved: to give a deeper formation, human, spiritual and technical, to the leaders, so that, going back to their parishes, they might in turn be “formators” of other leaders. This is the typical Comboni methodology to save Africa with Africans.
Convivenza for young confreres 2005
In accordance with tradition, the week of convivenza and formation of the “Young Comboni Missionaries” working in Italy (those working in Poland were also invited) was held this year at Limone sul Garda and centred on non-violence.
Bro. Alberto Degan and Fr. Justino Martínez Pérez directed the meeting, which was intended to be not so much a study seminary or a series of workshops, but rather the nurturing of an approach that was existential, biblical, theological and pastoral in a typical Comboni style. The starting point was our own experience of non-violence as individual participants and the accounts of popular non-violent resistance that some of us shared in the missions where we worked. Among the conclusions reached, were the importance of reaffirming peace as the missionary priority of God, the need to confront non-violence in our basic and on-going Comboni formation and the usefulness of shared accounts of our missionary non-violent experiences.
By way of method, we underlined Bible reading or starting from life and vice-versa, the need to encounter an ‘unknown’ God with the dream of replacing the empire with a Kingdom, of cultivating ‘political’ holiness – which becomes the spouse of justice (2Pet. 3, 13) – and of nourishing a personal attitude of courage (the paressia of the Acts) and of non-violent resistance (the hypomonè of the Apocalypse).
On the occasion of ItaliAfrica 2005, sponsored by the Rome City Council with the participation of around thirty associations and organizations, including the exclusively missionary Italian Institutes, the community of San Pancrazio also gave its contribution in collaboration with MISNA and OPAM (an alphabetization pro-gramme which finances quite a few Comboni projects)
Two displays were held at the Rispoli community library: one about the street children of Kinshasa and the other about South Sudan by Massimiliano Troiani.
Two round table conferences were held entitled “Set Information Free” and “Set Peace Free” with the par-ticipation of Fr. Mario Benni, director of MISNA, Roberto Morrione, director of RAINews 24, Fr. Venanzio Milani, Marco Dirceu, author of the “Dizionario critico delle nuove guerre” (EMI), J. Léonard Touadi, a Congolese jour-nalist, P. Cesare Baldi, co-director of MISNA e Massimiliano Troiani, documentary producer.
The parish of San Pancrazio was also involved. On 26 May it organized a conference on “Education in Af-rica with particular reference to Uganda”.
On May 22, “AfricAmica” day was held at the Agrarian Institute of Latina with the participation of several lo-cal organizations concerned with Africa. Mass was celebrated in the “Zaire” rite and a conference was held on the theme of “New strategies of solidarity: towards independent aid”. Among those present: Silvestro Mon-tanaro, Fr. Venanzio Milani and J. Léonard Touadi.
Finally, displays were set up with advertising material: 25 May in Piazza Vittorio, by ACSE, 28 May in Piazza del Popolo by MISNA and 29 May at Villa Pamphili by the Comboni Missionaries.
New Comboni Lay Missionaries
On 22 May the Comboni Lay Missionaries of the North American Province commissioned five new lay mis-sionaries who will serve in the Comboni mission site of Alto Trujillo, Peru. In the near future, they will join the Comboni pastoral team there. Living and working in the shanty town of Alto Trujillo, the lay missionaries will be involved in pastoral youth programs, health care, centres for handicapped children, soup kitchens, job training, and teaching at the new Fe y Alegria School run by the Sisters Daughters of St. Mary of Providence (Las Hijas de Santa Maria de la Providencia).
The lay mission team includes: Ralph and Theresa May of Jerome, Idaho, and their 3-year old daughter, Hannah; Vanessa and Jason Lively of San Antonio, Texas, and Shannon Callahan of Prior Lake, Minnesota.
The Comboni Lay Missionary Program is in the able hands of Allen Scheid, director for the past two years, and Mary Ellen O’Donnell, associate director for several years. Allen has had considerable experience as a lay missionary in Latin America and as an organizer of lay missionary training programs.
Visitation and Provincial Assemblies
Taking advantage of the official provincial visitation of Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel, the NAP held two separate “mini-assemblies” in Los Angeles, CA (26-28 April) and in the Chicago area (3-5 May) at St. Cecilia Parish and at the Mission Centre of La Grange Park respectively. This arrangement made it pos-sible for most of the confreres to attend and for the gathering to keep a very informal and friendly atmosphere. The topic of the first day was the Institute and the Ratio Missionis. On the second day the focus was on the NAP as a whole. The third day was given to a sharing of personal faith stories of Comboni mission experience and to a discussion of local issues, plans and project. A Eucharist and a joyous supper concluded both assem-blies. The upcoming provincial retreat will give the confreres of both East and West the opportunity to meet as a province.
The NAP is very grateful to Fr. Tesfamariam for his friendly presence, his willingness to listen and to encour-age, and his contribution to an understanding of the Institute’s life today and of the NAP’s role in it.
Religious Profession at Huánuco
On 7 May two young Peruvians made their religious professions: César Chacón Huamán, originally from Cerro de Pasco, a Brother candidate who will continue his formation at the Nairobi C.I.F., and Miguel Oswaldo Ramírez Torres, from the city of Piura, a priest candidate assigned to the scholasticate of Lima.
The celebration took place in the church of San Pedro of Huánuco, presided over by Mgr. Jaime Rodriguez Salazar with the provincial, P. Rogelio Bustos Juárez, concelebrating. The latter reminded the two newly-professed of the importance of the step they were about to undertake. Also present were Fr. Girolamo Miante, general secre-tary for Formation and Vocation Promotion, their novice masters and some representatives of the Comboni commu-nities in the area.
After the concelebrated Mass, refreshments were served in the parish dining room for friends and relatives. That evening an entertainment was held, during which the parish groups thanked the Lord for the generous response of the two missionaries. Fr. Lorenzo Caravello, who was novice master in Huánuco for ten years, was thanked several times.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Fr. Anton Maier (31.10.39 – 01.05.2005)
Fr. Anton Maier died at the missionary clinic of Würzburg on 1 May 2005 after a long illness. For more than a year he had suffered from cancer of the lymphatic glands.
Fr. Anton was an outstanding personality among the Comboni Missionaries. Born in 1939 at Wäschen-beuren, he entered the Comboni seminary at Ellwangen/Jagst at the age of ten.
After secondary school he joined the novitiate at Bamberg and was ordained priest on 17 March 1965 in Bamberg cathedral.
A short time afterwards he was appointed to South Africa where he remained almost continuously for 17 years. He was provincial of South Africa for six years.
During the eighties, while in charge of the office for development and peace in the archdiocese of Bamberg, he used his missionary experience to good advantage. He was familiar with several parishes of the archdio-cese and gave an enormous contribution to mission promotion. He was very much involved in the “cursillos” of the diocese.
In the early nineties he worked in the secretariat for justice and peace in the NAP and while he was there he even established contacts with the UN. Three years later, in 1996, he was appointed provincial of the German-speaking province based in Bamberg. This role presented him with many challenges, all of which he faced with courage and committed himself totally to keeping alive the missionary spirit in his country.
Thanks to his experience and his missionary vision of the Church, he gave a valid forward drive to his con-freres in the province, even if at times, due to his dynamic and modern ideas, he perhaps demanded more than was possible from them.
He was one of the initiators and founders of the “Netzwerk Africa Deutschland” - NAD), which comprises 45 religious Institutes which work for justice, peace and a better world.
After his three years as provincial were completed, he was called to the Curia in Rome as co-ordinator of the commission for justice and peace. In this post he gave an important thrust and orientation for the develop-ment of justice and peace to many Comboni Missionaries, to male and female religious, to the local clergy and pastoral agents. He returned to South Africa in 2002 to continue his missionary work in direct pastoral service.
A year later he had to return to Germany for health reasons and became aware of the seriousness of his condition.
In the death of Fr. Anton Maier, we Comboni Missionaries have lost a dynamic, convinced and committed missionary, one who would willingly have given many more years of his life for Africa. His funeral took place at Ellwangen on 4 May 2005.
Fr. Eladio García Camporro
(11.01.1947 – 18.05.2005)
His obituary will be published in the next edition of Familia Comboniana.
Let us pray for our dead
Arnold of Fr. Benedict Kaliya (CN); Renato of Fr. P. Gianluca Contini (MO);
Gustavo of Fr. López Marín José Luís (CA); Guido of Fr. Italo Gheno (I); Fausto of Fr. Luigi Ruggera (†);
Ester of Fr. Philip Zema Waigo (U); Martha Clarisa of Fr. Rogelio Bustos Juárez (PE);
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS:
Sr. Maria Ida Pracilio; Sr. Stefanina Spalenza.