Fr. Antonio Guirao Casanova
is appointed superior and first forma-tor of the Nairobi CIF, as from 18 October 2005.
Bro. Alberto Parise
is appointed assistant formator of the Nai-robi CIF, as from 18 October 2005.
Fr. Enrique Javier Rosich Vargas
is appointed assistant to the secretary and secretariat of evangelisation, as from 1 January 2006.
Fr. Giuseppe Frigerio
is appointed the person responsible for the printing department in the Curia, as from 1 November 2005.
Bro. Domenico Cariolato
is appointed assistant to the printing department in the Curia, as from 1 November 2005.
The General Council (GC) has studied the proofs of the six-year plans which reached them between June and October. Thanks again to the provincial and delegation councils for the work done with commitment and Comboni missionary spirit. The “Particular Notes” and observations to the Six-year Plans made by the GC will soon be sent to the provincials and delegates.
The programmes are being implemented as foreseen. The workshops continue in the provinces and delegations. The GC notes with satisfaction the good participation and the environment which is being formed in the Institute. We hope that this re-reading of our life may become more and more a grace for Mission. We invite the provincial and delegation councils to assist all confreres to enter into this process requested by the XVI General Chapter, bearing in mind that the activities demanded by the Ra-tio Missionis should not be reduced to a few moments of the provincial and delegation assemblies. We thank the core and enlarged committees, the provincials and delegates, the continental councils and all who have helped in and directed the workshops.
“Code of Conduct” Committee
The committee for the “Code of Conduct” met at Rome from 17 to 24 October. After a week of intense work on the text presented during the 2003 General Chapter, the document is in the final preparation stage, on time and according to plan. The text has been rearranged and enriched with valid documentation. The reviewed text will be sent, in due time, to provincials and delegates for evaluation and further contributions.
Committee for the Review of the System of Formation
The GC has examined the conclusions of the assembly of formators of novitiates, scholasticates and CIF held at Palencia (see F.C. of Septem-ber 2005). The GC is satisfied with the participation and commitment of the formators and the guest speakers. It believes that a proper job has been done. The material produced is abundant but useful. It is obviously necessary to “weed out the darnel from the wheat”. The committee for the review of the system of formation will carry on the work starting from the Palencia conclusions. The members of the ad hoc committee have been nominated and will soon be appointed, after dialogue with those con-cerned.
The Intercapitular Assembly is a privileged time of the Institute which encourages listening and discernment regarding some priorities of the preceding General Chapter and other important issues in the life of the Institute. The GC, together with the general secretaries, has reflected on themes and method for the Intercapitular, bearing in mind the pressing aspects found in the minutes of the provincial and delegation council’s meetings.
The letter of convoking the Intercapitular Assembly, its agenda and other relevant information will be sent out in good time. An ad hoc com-mittee will help to prepare the event.
Pope Benedict XVI remembers St. Daniel Comboni
On Sunday 9 October, during the Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI invited the faithful to pray that the Synod of Bishops may deepen the relation be-tween the Eucharist and the Mission. On the same occasion he men-tioned St. Daniel Comboni, whose memorial the Church keeps on 10 Oc-tober, with these words: “We entrust this intention to the intercession of Our Lady and St. Daniel Comboni who is remembered in the liturgy to-morrow. May he who was an outstanding evangeliser and the protector of the African continent, help the Church of our time to respond with faith and courage to the mandate of the Risen Lord, who sends it to proclaim to all peoples the love of God”.
Letter of Fr. General to the Holy Father
“With heartfelt gratitude and deep feelings, I am happy to offer Your Ho-liness our deepest thanks for the missionary message which you commu-nicated to the Church and to the world during the Sunday Angelus of yes-terday. You implored for all the intercession of the missionary and bishop St. Daniel Comboni “outstanding evangeliser and protector of the African Continent”.
“Your Holiness, on behalf of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, the Comboni Missionary Sisters and the entire Comboni Family, I am happy to assure you that your words have been received with faith and devotion, especially by those confreres and Sisters of ours living in difficult missionary situations in various parts of the world, announcing to all peoples the love of God.
I am glad to take this opportunity of the 124th anniversary of the death of our holy Founder (Khartoum, 10 October 1881), to invoke abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit upon you personally and upon your universal ec-clesial and missionary ministry. At the same time we implore your pater-nal and comforting Apostolic Blessing on all the members of the Comboni Family, including the lay members and benefactors, and on the works en-trusted to us by the local Churches.”
Prayer Intentions 2006
The Prayer Intentions 2006 of Familia Comboniana were sent out in mid October. If you do not receive them before the end of November, please contact the general secretariat.
General Secretariat for mission promotion
Courses and assemblies
Two formation Courses for mission promoters, two Continental Assem-blies and one sub-continental Assembly for mission promotion have taken place during the past few months.
The first Continental Assembly was held in San José of Costa Rica from 17 to 19 July for the members of the continental group of America and Asia. The participants were 18 confreres and 6 Comboni Sisters. Fr. Giovanni Munari, the provincial of South Brazil and in charge of mission promotion for the continent, coordinated the meeting. Each province of-fered the participants comprehensive reports on its activities to promote comparisons and interactions. They tried to clarify what we Comboni Mis-sionaries understand as mission promotion. At the end, the Assembly formulated seven specific proposals, including the election of a Continen-tal Secretary for Mission Promotion.
The Sub-continental Assembly, together with a Course for mission promoters, was held between the 8 and the 20 of August in the novitiate house of Kimwenza, Kinshasa, in the DRC. This was for the members of the French-speaking provinces of Africa. There were 28 participants: 14 confreres, 10 Comboni Sisters and 4 Congolese lay missionaries. The Assembly was preceded by an enriching course for mission promoters which lasted ten days. Various themes on mission were studied in a con-textualised form and the art of communication was explored. The partici-pants were guided by well prepared Congolese priests, among whom we mention the Abbé Santedi and Fr. José Mpundu. The provinces were helped to plan and discuss a common programme of action and the As-sembly concluded by presenting six clear proposals, especially regarding the production and the exchange of material for mission promotion.
The second Continental Assembly, the largest if we look at the number of participants, took place from 12 to 24 September in Spain, in our house of Palencia, for the members of the continent of Europe. The two-week Course for mission promoters was attended by 37 confreres and Com-boni Sisters. The Assembly of 3 days that followed the Course saw a total of 43 participants. The most interesting conference was that of the soci-ologist José M. Mardones, who presented a clear input about the social, political, economic and religious situation on the European Continent, to provide a realistic basis for the implementation of our activities of mission promotion.
We owe a lot of gratitude to the communities and the provinces that hosted these meetings.
Secretariate for evangelisation
Workshop in Mexico City
The workshop on the Ratio Missionis was held in the provincial house of Xochimilco from 3 to 7 October. The following confreres attended: Fr. Angelo Biancalana, Fr. Tesfaldet Asghedom Drar and Fr. Mario Malacrida (NAP); Fr. Miguel Pedro Andrés, Fr. Enrique Sánchez González and Fr. Giuseppe Moschetta (DCA); Fr. Domenico Guarino, Fr. Camilo Ortega Martínez and Fr. Jorge Oscar García Castillo (México). There were also the animators of the committee for the Ratio Missionis: Fr. Enrique Javier Rosich Vargas (E), Fr. Giacomo Palagi (I) and Bro. Joel Cruz Reyes (EC).
On Sunday 2 October, together with the confreres of the Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation, we celebrated a Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was a prayerful moment during which we presented to Our Lady the journey of renewal which awaits us. On Monday 3 October, then, after a general introduction about the progress of the Ratio Mis-sionis, the workshop began with all participants attentive and involved. The contributions were numerous and interesting and the group of par-ticipants emerged motivated to undertake promotion in their provinces. The welcome offered by the province of Mexico was just splendid, even if sunshine could not be supplied!
A second workshop on the Ratio Missionis was held in the provincial house of Quito from 10 to 14 October. The following confreres were pre-sent: Fr. José Luis Foncillas Bernáldez, Fr. Antonio Villarino Rodríguez, Bro. José Manuel Salvador Duarte (Colombia); Fr. Ernesto Vargas Vera, Fr. Rodolfo Coaquira Hilaje (Perú-Chile); Fr. Antonio D’Agostino, Fr. Claudio Zendron, Fr. Daniel Magaña Chávez, Fr. Bruno Bordonali (Ecua-dor); and the animators of the committee for the ratio: Fr. Enrique Javier Rosich Vargas, Fr. Giacomo Palagi e Bro. Joel Cruz Reyes.
On 10 October, feast of St. Daniel Comboni, we celebrated the Eucha-rist with all the confreres of the province of Ecuador.
Both on that day and the next, confreres representing all the communi-ties of Ecuador were present and participated in the ongoing formation thanks to the conference given by a professor from the Salesian Univer-sity of Quito on the social situation of Latin America and the progress re-port on the Ratio Missionis by the animators.
The day of ongoing formation was concluded with a time of prayer dur-ing which the more significant Comboni Missionaries of the provinces of Ecuador, Perú-Chile and Columbia were remembered. The workshop went ahead with the animators of the provinces and here, too, there was active participation and great interest.
Meeting of the reflection group for the Islamic world
The first meeting of such a group for pastoral work in the Islamic world took place in Cairo from 17 to 21 October in the Moqattam centre.
Those present were: Fr. Luigi Cignolini and Fr. Paul Annis (KH); Fr. Claudio Lurati e Fr. Giuseppe Scattolin (EG), Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse (ET), Fr. Austine Radol Odhiambo (ER), Fr. Antonio Campanini (MO), Fr. Ed-ward Mayanja Kanyike (MZ), Fr. Renzo Piazza and Paolino Tipo Deng Amayldh (TC), Fr. Giovanni Zaffanelli (CA), Bro. Alberto Lamana Cónsola (SS), Fr. Cosimo Spadavecchia (I), Fr. Fernando Zolli (General Secretary for Evangelisation). Some members of Dar Comboni assisted at some of the sessions: Fr. Simon Mwaura Mbuthia, Fr. Achilles Kasozi Kiwanuka and Fr. John Richard Kyankaaga Ssendawula. Two Comboni Sisters of the province of Egypt participated as observers: Sr. Samiha Ragheb e Sr. Anna Maria Sgaramella.
The meeting, prepared and animated by Fr. Cignolini, provided an op-portunity to become more aware of the challenge of Islam which, with var-ied intensity and to a lesser degree, already affects the whole of Africa and other continents.
After listening to the experiences of each participant and the situation of his province, the group, assisted by some experts, concentrated on the importance of dialogue/encounter which is achieved not only at the high-est level but especially in the daily situations and personal encounters, like on festive occasions and in trying and sorrowful circumstances. The need to increase awareness of citizenship and belonging to a nation rather than insisting on belonging to a religion was underlined.
The meeting reiterated the importance of schools, health centres and other activities of human promotion as occasion of coming together and solidarity, the usefulness of working to break down prejudices which Mos-lems and Christians have towards one another, through the preparation of adequate means to explain the faith of Christians to Moslems and vice-versa. The group also underlined the importance of working together with Moslems in the field of JPIC, even if we had often to emphasise that, where Islam takes the lead and is aggressive, it becomes difficult for Christians to find ways and space for dialogue.
The meeting was deemed to be positive and it laid the foundation for continuity in this reflection requested by the XVI General Chapter (CA ’03, 45) which indicated a coordination group, the need to create a database on the level of Dar Comboni and the general secretariat for evangelisa-tion, and requiring that meetings be held every two years.
The group agreed to meet again at N’Djamena in 2007 with the pro-posal to help all provinces and delegations of Africa to keep in touch with the other continents and to become aware of this forum which today chal-lenges our Comboni mission activity.
The report will be prepared on CD and may be requested from the gen-eral secretary for evangelisation (email@example.com).
Subscriptions to Archivio Comboniano
Provincials and delegation superiors should note that No. 84 of our pe-riodical “Archivio Comboniano” is about to be printed. This periodical, which was begun in 1961, systematically and scientifically presents the sources of our charism, studies and research on the history of the charism, how the charism developed historically and, finally, recent traces of the Comboni memorial. This instrument of research and study must not be missing in any of our communities, especially those of basic and on-going formation, and in the mission promotion centres. For some years now, the articles have been published in their original languages (English, Spanish, Italian and French), in order to facilitate their being understood by the greatest number of confreres.
We warmly invite provincials and delegates to guarantee subscriptions for all the communities of their respective circumscriptions.
Sc. Amaxsandro Feitosa da Silva (BNE) Kinshasa (RDC) 10.10.2005
Sc. Brisacani Giuseppe (I) Kinshasa (RDC) 10.10.2005
Sc. Kakule Muvawa Emery-Justin (CN) Kinshasa (RDC) 10.10.2005
Sc. López Pastor Luis Filiberto (DCA) Kinshasa (RDC) 10.10.2005
Sc. Ndjadi Ndjate Léonard (CN) Kinshasa (RDC) 10.10.2005
Fr. António Manganhe Natal (MO) Beira (MO) 04.09.2005
Fr. Huruwella Moses Samuel (MZ) Namulenga (MW) 08.10.2005
Fr. Marek Tomasz (PO) Źurowa (PL) 08.10.2005
Fr. Mumba Michael Nyowani (MZ) Lusaka (Z) 22.10.2005
Holy Redeemer Guild
October 01 – 15 P 16 – 31 RSA
November 01 – 07 SS 08 – 15 TC 16 – 30 T
– That St. Daniel Comboni may bless our candidates and the young members of the Comboni Family, so that, by their enthusiasm and resourcefulness, they may contribute to renew and contextualise our charism in the face of the ever changing world of today. Let us pray.
– That our elderly and sick members may experience lasting joy in living out their missionary consecration day by day as hidden stones, and be a source of grace for the Institute through their life of prayer and their love for the Mission. Let us pray.
Visit to the community of Guayaquil
Bro. Hernán Romero Arias shares the impressions of his visit to the Comboni community of the “Centro Afroecuadoriano”, Guayaquil, in Ec-uador, during early September 2005.
The community is made up of one priest and four Brothers and all is peaceful. I would like, above all, to share what one feels and not only what one thinks and does. Often we speak of being and doing but it seems to me that we miss an essential element, one which I believe I have perceived, an element which “one does not think” but which one feels, perceives, lives: it is “our being”. Well, this community has the char-acteristic of being welcoming, joyful, alive and involved in an apostolate which it carries out in harmony and cooperation.
It is wonderful to see how five people of different nationalities, cultures and formation (two Mexicans, two Italians and one Spaniard) can work well together. Once, during a Brothers’ meeting, having heard of their ex-periences someone asked: “How do you manage to live and work so well together?” The oldest confrere answered: “We preach brotherhood as an expression of our consecration but even more than preaching it, we try to live it”. Then another Brother, not entirely convinced, asked if there was some other element underpinning that experience and the reply was: “Academic preparation”.
During my visits I see many missionaries who devote their lives to God and the mission, they do praiseworthy deeds, and they work in frontier situations. However, they could add something of our “being”, namely the heart.
Besides this we have to bear in mind the fact that times have changed and our missions require something new. In this context, the Brother must be formed as a religious who desires to give his life, right to the end, for the love of God, and he must have a sound academic preparation to be able to respond to the challenges of our time.
We Comboni Missionaries have Brothers and priests who have dedi-cated their lives for the mission with all their heart and all their ability. There are many Brothers who trained themselves and eventually built ca-thedrals and created sculptures and paintings which we admire in our churches. Others have cultivated the kitchen garden, in all simplicity and humility, showing love by their manner of work.
I wish to describe briefly the apostolate of the Brothers of Guayaquil: Bro. Alberto Degan is responsible for the apostolate among the Afro.
Bro. Joel Cruz Reyes is responsible for social apostolate. He conducts courses of formation on the Social Doctrine of the Church and cooperates with different parishes and associations.
Bro. Roberto Misas Ríos is responsible for youth apostolate and the means of communication sector: he has already produced interesting multi-media CDs on the figure of St. Daniel Comboni and other themes.
Bro. Ivan Cremonesi is responsible for the maintenance of the house and cooperates with our other Guayaquil community in running a dispen-sary and a centre for meals for children.
Fr. Gustavo Guerriero Zúñiga is responsible for missionary animation and assists a group of friends and benefactors. As superior of the com-munity he animates and accompanies the Brothers in their activities.
Everything they do is called “Comboni work of human promotion”. I have not described many other things they do, but I wanted to bring out the “being” lived by this community. I thank God and the province of Ec-uador for this beautiful and meaningful experience.
124th anniversary of the Dies Natalis of St. Daniel Comboni
On the evening of 10 October, in the “Cordi Jesu” church, we held a prayer vigil on the theme “Witnesses to Hope”. It was followed by a sol-emn concelebration with Mgr. Camillo Ballin, Vicar Apostolic of Kuwait, as the chief celebrant. All the Comboni priests in Cairo as well as those of other Institutes and those studying at Dar Comboni concelebrated.
Among those present were Cardinal Stephanos II Gatthas, the Copto-Catholic Patriarch, who greeted the congregation at the end of the Mass, the Syro-Catholic Bishop, the Armeno-Catholic Bishop as well as the Monsignor Secretary of the Apostolic Nuntiature. The hymns and sacred dances were performed by Sudanese and Eritrean. Also present were many Comboni Missionary Sisters, sisters of other Institutes and numer-ous faithful. Both the vigil and the Mass were celebrated in Arabic with the readings and prayers of the faithful in other languages. Light refresh-ments were served afterwards.
In the morning the Mass was celebrated in the parish church according to the Coptic rite for the students of the nearby school for girls run by the Comboni Missionary Sisters. The National Director of the Pontifical Mis-sion Societies presided.
In collaboration with the Comboni Missionary Sisters, days of prayer and reflection on missionary themes were held during the month of Octo-ber at Tahta in Sohag Diocese, at Mallawi in Minia Diocese and at “Cordi Jesu” in Cairo. Participants were both numerous and enthusiastic.
Celebrations with Mgr. Camillo Ballin
Besides the Comboni community celebrations, the new bishop Mgr. Camillo Ballin presided at Sunday Mass in French at Zamalek Parish where he had been parish priest in the seventies. He also presided at a Mass in Arabic for the Sudanese at Sakakini and at a solemn celebration for all the neo-catechumenal communities of Cairo attended by 250 peo-ple, including the Greco-Catholic bishop who, like Mgr. Ballin, was for-merly “presbyter” of those communities.
Official opening of the temporary novitiate
On the 8 October the temporary novitiate of the delegation of Eritrea, situated in Dekamere, was officially opened. Three of our candidates (Oqbamichael Yosief, Qaleab Abrehe, Tecleberhan Uqbu) and eleven candidates of the Comboni Sisters were admitted to their respective novi-tiates during the same celebration that took place in Asmara. On this same day the members of the Comboni Family of the area, aspirants, postulants and some relatives of the new novices also celebrated the feast of Comboni. It was a good opportunity for mission promotion. The celebration was supposed to have taken place in Dekamere, but it was decided to celebrate it in Asmara to make it possible for the elderly Com-boni Sisters and confreres, unable to travel, to participate. Fr. Sebhatleab Ayele Tesemma, the delegate superior, in fact during his homily ad-dressed these elderly missionaries by saying: “The mission may have consumed your body, but your love and enthusiasm is as fresh as ever.” The elderly missionaries were happy to see fourteen young men and women decide to follow their footsteps.
The ritual of accepting them into the novitiate was jointly prepared by Fr. Tesfaghiorghis Hailè Berhane and Sr. Dehab Kidanemariam Berhane (the respective novice formators) together with the new novices. The two novitiates will have several joint programmes for liturgy and courses of common interest. The delegate superior together with the provincial of the Comboni Sisters led the ceremony of acceptance of the candidates and concluded by entrusting the new novices to their respective formators.
Though the Eucharistic celebration was simple, it was full of symbolic gestures. At the end, the novices presented Jeremiah 18:1-6 (the potter) in the form of a drama, accompanied with a beautiful song. One of the novices had prepared tablets made of clay with words imprinted on it, which were given to all. Ours said: “Though human and fragile, we never-theless start the novitiate trusting in God’s mercy.”
After the Eucharist the novices went to greet the elderly and disabled confreres and Sisters. The fraternal agape, prepared according to local tradition, was organized in the theatre hall whereby the entire Comboni Family participated. During the meals our aspirants and postulants enter-tained us with traditional religious dances (wereb) and other songs refer-ring to Comboni, who was uppermost in our celebration. I believe that he had nothing to complain about our celebration. We now ask him to send us a special blessing.
We truly wish Abba Tesfaghiorghis, Sr. Dehab and the fourteen novices the blessings of God and the protection of Comboni.
Celebration in St. Daniel Comboni’s parish
For the second year in a row on 10 October we celebrated the feast of Comboni at Fode, in the parish dedicated to him. More than 800 people from surrounding villages and communities attended the celebration. Among the invited guests were the delegate superior of the Comboni Missionaries, the provincial superior of the Comboni Sisters, religious, clergy, civil administrators, and army commanders, seminarians from Fode and Comboni aspirants.
The Comboni priests working in the parish, Fr. Mussie Abraham Ke-flezghi, Fr. Juan Martin Rodríguez González and Fr. Austine Radol Odhiambo prepared the youth and the community very well. There was a good spirit of collaboration and coordination.
Fode is a small village 278 Km north of Asmara, near the border of Ethiopia and Sudan. It is in a remote and isolated area. Actually, the last eleven Km that lead to the mission of Fode are practically travelled only by us. All the same, it is consoling to note that the people are beginning to appreciate the presence of the mission among them and that it is a bless-ing from God. It is an area forgotten by civil authorities and political lead-ers.
Unfortunately the celebration of this year was overshadowed by a shooting incident that took place in the military garrison, less than half a km from the mission, just a week before the feast. That made the celebra-tion sober and less cheerful than last year. However, the symbolic gifts of the Kunama people were presented and the people showed their love of and trust in God. They also showed appreciation for the presence of the missionaries.
The parish choir, made up mostly of young people, and the Comboni aspirants jointly animated the Eucharistic celebration. Considering that this year is the Eucharistic Year, it was nice to see thirty-five children make their first communion.
What also made the celebration very special was the procession after Mass, which took the entire congregation around the houses of the mis-sion area. Many of the local people felt the presence of God filling their homes, giving them courage in these days fear and tension. At the con-clusion of the procession, the delegate superior expressed the solidarity of the Comboni Missionaries with the sufferings of the local people. The provincial of the Comboni Sisters, Sr. Libanos Ayele, outlined the plans the Comboni Missionaries had for Fode: to build a clinic, to upgrade the school, to set up a women’s promotion centre, a kindergarten, etc. She underlined that the Comboni Missionaries wanted to assist the people in making of Fode a spiritual and cultural centre of development. The people and the civil authorities showed appreciation for the plan and pledged to collaborate fully. In fact, after the fraternal agape, they invited us to choose the land we need for all these projects.
The people of Fode are poor in terms of material development and education, but they are rich in human resources. As Fr. Mussie rightly remarked, the real problem is that the people imagine they are alright, so much so that they do not see the need of improvement. It will be a chal-lenge for us to convince them otherwise, so that they will become the pro-tagonists of their development.
Inauguration of the kindergarten and church of Gilgel-Beles
On 24 September 2005 at the Comboni mission situated in the region of Metekel-Gumuz, the local population of the town of Gilgel-Beles cele-brated the inauguration of the new kindergarten built by the Comboni Missionaries. Among those present were Mgr. Berhaneyesus Demrew Suraphel, Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Abeba, Mr. Ato Dilensaw Belew, Vice Administrator of the area, local government authorities, Sr. Marisa Zorzan, provincial superior of the Comboni Sisters, Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse, religious and priests who work in the area. Fr. Corrado Masini, the former provincial who co-ordinated the opening of the mission among the Gumuz during his term of office, came specially from Italy for the event.
On behalf of the Comboni Missionaries, and especially of the three con-freres Fr. Giacomo Bellini, Fr. Marco Innocenti and Bro. Roberto Bertolo, who serve this new mission with such great generosity, Fr. Tesfaye thanked the Archbishop for having invited the Comboni Missionaries to work in his archdiocese, the local authorities who helped find and provide the site, the Comboni Sisters who provided accommodation at their com-munity of Amandre to the first Comboni Missionaries of the area, and all those present.
Fr. Tesfaye took the opportunity to speak of St. Daniel Comboni, of the Comboni Missionaries and especially of the confreres working in that mis-sion.
The local authorities expressed their appreciation for the commitment of the Catholic Church and the Comboni Missionaries. Mgr. Berhaneyesus spoke of the service rendered by the Church in the fields of education and training and thanked the Comboni Missionaries for having opened this mission and school among the Gumuz who have never had much school-ing opportunity.
The new kindergarten with four classes can accommodate 250 children. The local authorities showed immediate interest in sending their own chil-dren to the Comboni kindergarten. It is to be hoped that also the Gumuz who live in the small city and the nearby villages will be willing to send theirs. Since there is not yet as much interest in education among the Gumuz families as there is in agriculture and hunting, it is hoped that the opening of this kindergarten and some more schools may move the peo-ple of the area to provide their children with an education. The local Gu-muz cultural and artistic group performed various songs and theatrical sketches.
On the following day, 25 September, Mgr. Berhaneyesus blessed and dedicated the mission to Our Lady Mother of All (Kidist Mariam Eme Bu-zuhan), in the presence of the numerous religious and local authorities who had also been present for the opening of the school.
Mgr. Berhaneyesus presided also at the Eucharist, celebrated in the Ethiopian rite. We thank all the Comboni Missionaries who worked so hard to bring about this mission of first evangelisation among the Gumuz population.
The mission of Gilgel-Beles is the first step in the evangelisation of the local people.
Fr. Daniele Zarantonello was ordained priest by the former Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Marco Ce, on 10 September. The Christian community of Favaro Veneto, having prepared for the event with moments of anima-tion and prayer, attended the ordination and, the following day, first Mass in great numbers and enthusiastically.
Fr. Daniele made his mission experience in Perù (during the scholasti-cate and most of his diaconate), which greatly enriched him and, as he joyfully stated, left him “convertido al Dios de la Vida”.
Fr. Daniel must now spend some years in Italy, at the GIM of Venegono to be exact, trying to bring out in other young people the “burning bush of the mission” which Our Lord lit in all his disciples. Let us accompany him with our prayers that he may remain faithful to the missionary vocation he has received and to the people now entrusted to him.
Cooperation, the youth, the university, the missionary world: what great potential energy and dreams are hidden in each of these realities...
We Comboni Missionaries are called to become part of them, to animate them and to meet the young people in search of deep motives for living and serving life.
Why go to other places? Can anyone who leaves consider himself an “expert in humanity”? What sort of formation, listening and skills does the South of the world demand of the youth? What has cooperation to offer us if intended as an exchange? Starting from these questions, the Justice and Peace committee of the Italian province, in collaboration with Fr. Giulio Albanese, the GIM and the University Centre of Bologna, organized the “South-North Workshop – The oppressed people demand justice”: four evenings of challenge and study for about 300 young people.
The workshop was also a starting point for involving in the GIM young people who wish to follow this path on a deeper level.
80th anniversary of Piemme
On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the foundation of IL Piccolo Missionario (the PM magazine), the board has planned a series of events and initiatives to be carried out in the year 2006. These include: PM cele-bration for children and youth at Verona (the main event), Venegono, Troia and Pesaro; the participation of PM at the film festival, literary awards and cultural events for boys and girls; intense activity of education towards a world vision and missionary animation in schools, parishes and associations involved in the world of boys and girls including the collabo-ration of the Comboni communities of the Italian province.
Fr. Giulio Albanese wins prize for journalism
On Saturday, 15 October, together with the journalists Lorenzo Cre-monesi of Corriere della Sera, Giovanni Porzio of Panorama and Tiziana Ferrario of TG1, the Premio Giornalistico Nazionale “Antonio Russo” was awarded to Fr. Giulio Albanese. The award has now been presented four times and is promoted by the Fondazione Antonio Russo started by Bea-trice, mother of the Abruzzi journalist killed in Chechenya on 16 October 2000. The prize is awarded to journalists who distinguished themselves for their work in war zones and for the contribution to the truth given by their journalistic service. Congratulations to Fr. Giulio Albanese!
In memory of Professor John Richard Gray
A pioneer in the modern study of African history, John Richard Gray was born in Weymouth, Dorset, on 7 July 1929 and died, aged 76, on 7 August 2005 after a long and courageous battle with a virulent and progressive form of muscular dystrophy.
It was a serious loss to all those who have known him, whether person-ally or through his numerous works on Sudan or through his campaigns for justice and peace in that country.
Professor Gray was well known and highly respected for his abilities as lecturer and professor firstly at the University of Khartoum (1959-1961) and then at the London School of Oriental and African Studies (1961-1989), for his numerous scholarly works on the history of Africa in general and that of the Sudan in particular, his editorship of the Journal of African History (1968-1971), his chairmanship of the Africa Centre, Covent Gar-den, (1967-1972) and the Zimbabwe Society in the UK (1981-1984), for his interest in religious issues on the African continent, and for his com-mitment to peace and justice in his beloved Sudan.
Among Professor Gray’s best known works are: Two Nations (about the Rhodesias and Nyasaland with Philip Mason – 1960), History of the Su-dan 1839-1889 (1961 – this book soon became a standard work and gained Richard entry onto the teaching staff at SOAS), Materials for West African History in Italian Archives (1965 with D. Chambers and giving a valuable insight also into the materials held at the Vatican Library), one volume of The Cambridge History of Africa (1975), Christianity in Inde-pendent Africa (edited conference papers, 1978), Black Christians and White Missionaries (1990), Religion and Conflict in Sudan (2002 – papers from a conference at Yale University and edited with Yusuf Fadi Hasan). Richard Gray was made a member of the Pontifical Committee of Histori-cal Sciences in 1982).
In the past Professor Gray was a number of times a collaborator of Ni-gritia, a very good friend of the Comboni Missionaries, many of whom he met in Khartoum (Sudan). In 1988 he accepted to write the presentation of the study by Giampaolo Romanato, Daniele Comboni. L’Africa degli esploratori e dei missionari (Rusconi, Milano 1998).
We, the Comboni Missionaries, remember him with affection and grati-tude and offer our sincere condolences to his wife, Gabriella, to his son and daughter and to the whole family.
50 years of religious life
Twelve o’clock noon, time to say the Angelus. This time, however, it is not simply the daily Angelus which Bro. Martin Ploner says in the factories of San Francisco of Rincón. This year, in fact, both he and Bro. Enrico Massignani complete fifty years of religious life.
On 9 September they reached this blessed goal. However, the celebra-tion was held on 10 October with a Mass of thanksgiving with the provin-cial Fr. Rafael González Ponce presiding.
The Comboni seminary of this city was filled with joy for this celebration. The people, as always, participated fervently in thanksgiving for these Comboni Missionary Brothers.
The provincial in his homily took his listeners back in time, beginning with the day when the two Brothers, separately, took their vows. It was certainly a time when things were very different from now but with the same challenge of today: to seek holiness in this vocation “more difficult still than that of the priesthood”.
Before the final blessing Bro. Martin and Bro. Enrico addressed the congregation. Solemnly dressed in albs, they invited everyone to thank God for what he gave them and asked for prayers for their perseverance and that “the Lord of the harvest might send labourers into his harvest”.
From the table of the Eucharist we moved to the table in the dining room, where it was prepared a real Mexican meal: the two Brothers, though Italian, in their hearts belong to Mexico and therefore the pleasure and music of the Mariachi could not be absent.
Best wishes to both and may God grant another fifty years to Bro. Mar-tin and Bro. Enrico and eternal life as well. May Our Lady of Guadalupe accompany them always.
25 years of priesthood
The provincial superior, Fr. Rafael González Ponce, celebrated his sil-ver jubilee of ordination on 3 September surrounded by his family and a number of confreres.
Congratulations and best wishes.
25° anniversary of the Comboni Missionaries in Monterrey
On 8 October our Comboni Family celebrated twenty five years of pres-ence in the archdiocese of Monterrey. The Eucharist, celebrated in the basilica of Guadalupe, was presided over by Mgr. José Lizáres Estrada who took the opportunity to praise the work of the Comboni Missionaries both in the local Church and in the world.
In the presence of about 100 friends, well-wishers and supporters of our missionary work, gazing at the intrepid and bold figure of our Founder, Mgr. Lizáres encouraged the Comboni Missionaries around him to repro-duce, for the Church of today, missionaries of the same quality as St. Daniel Comboni. These are his exact words: “I want to see St. Daniel Comboni in every one of you”.
Among other things, the bishop highlighted the important work of ani-mation which our Institute has accomplished, creating a missionary con-sciousness and opening the way to vocations for the ad gentes mission. Thanks to this work, the archdiocese may already count on a number of Comboni Missionaries working among peoples where the first proclama-tion of the Gospel is lacking.
Many missionaries, priests and Brothers, beginning with the provincial, listened closely to his words and were deeply moved by the sympathy and goodwill which the bishop showed towards the missionary work of the Comboni Missionaries as well as by the reaction of the people filling the building. All these things created a great atmosphere of celebration.
At the moment we have no seminarians in the postulancy for Brothers but we look to the future with hope, since we are certain that St. Daniel Comboni continues to look down on this work for which he was so com-mitted, for the benefit of the poorest and neediest.
Best wishes to our missionaries who work in the province
Retreat of the CLM
Each year the group of Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM) attend the spiritual exercises as part of their formation programme. From 23 to 25 of September more than 20 people met in a retreat house to reflect upon their commitment as CLM. Besides the Lima group, others from very far away joined them in this experience. The seriousness with which all ac-cepted the challenge to place themselves before God and take responsi-bility for their own lives was very positive. The theme of the retreat was The beginning and foundation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola with the purpose of making part of one’s life project the possibility of sharing the faith the less privileged people and discovering what God wants of each person.
Meeting of families
On 8 October, on the eve of the feast of our father and Founder, the doorbell of the provincial house rang more often than usual. There ap-peared the faces of the family members of our Peruvian confreres who, as the hours went by, grew in serenity and confidence.
About fifty people stayed with us that day and were addressed by Fr. Gaetano Beltrami who spoke of the importance of supporting their sons, the majority of whom work outside the province, following the example of St. Daniel Comboni in his relations with his family, with the necessary “crosses” which are always with us. He also informed them of the situa-tion in the countries in which our missionaries work and tears were shed when some of the messages which they sent for the occasion were read. The community of Monterrico shared a nice meal with these relatives and the day ended with a Eucharistic celebration and a photo-session.
Doubtless this was an experience which strengthens our family ties and helps us to be close to those Peruvian families who have given us their sons.
On 10 October, the feast of St. Daniel Comboni, representatives of all the communities of Lima came together to thank the Lord for the gift to the Church of our Founder.
With the help of reflections outlined by Fr. Lorenzo Bergantin, the par-ticipants were able to discover the power and the relevance today of his figure. This Comboni day was characterized by moments of prayer, reflection and gathering together.
Meanwhile at Huánuco, at the Comboni novitiate, the provincial council and confreres of other nearby communities such as the Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM) who work in the area, attended the liturgical celebra-tion during which nine new young men from the three provinces of South America began their novitiate. They concluded with a nice Eucharistic celebration in the parish of San Pedro and a fraternal meal together with the various parish groups.
Activities of mission promotion
We wish to highlight two extraordinary activities of mission promotion: the first is the Mission Promotion (MP) meeting prepared by the partici-pants of the course in Costa Rica
On 22 September the confreres of the communities more closely in-volved in this sector were invited to share together the precious material which had been prepared. Through “Power Point” images, we studied the nature, the subjects, contents and target groups of the message of MP were studied. It was an interesting initiative which helps us to feel more Comboni Missionary.
We also wish to highlight the experience which the second-year novices have been conducting for some time now as part of their formation: they spent two weeks in the parish of Cerro de Pasco (altitude 4,300m) and two weeks in that of Santo Domingo di Palca e Tarma, visiting schools and parish groups to promote the Comboni publications. Nowhere else do Comboni publications reach such heights as in this zone of the central si-erra of Perù.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Bro. Agostino Stocco (01.06.1936–26.09.2005)
Bro. Agostino Stocco died on Monday 26 September in our house in Mi-lan where, for four years he had suffered the consequences of a stroke which had paralysed his face.
Having completed the fifth elementary class on 21 April 1951, on 4 Oc-tober of the same year he was already in the apostolic school at Thiene preparing to become a missionary Brother.
On 10 September 1954 he entered the novitiate of Florence where Fr. Giovanni Giordani was novice master. He found the newcomer “attentive and diligent in his duties, attached to his vocation, charitable, well-balanced, faithful, sincere and humble”.
After spending nine months in Florence Bro. Agostino was sent to Sun-ningdale in England to finish his novitiate. At first he underwent such a se-rious crisis that he wanted to go home, but then, as Fr. Guido De Negri wrote, “he recovered and is making good progress. He is punctual in eve-rything and seems happy”. On 9 September 1956 he took his first vows. On 15 January 1957 Bro. Agostino was already in the mission. He was 20 years old.
His first appointment was to Kitgum in Uganda where, on 26 November 1961, he took his perpetual vows after just five years of temporary vows. The reason for this is explained by Fr. Igino Albrigo who wrote: “Since Bro. Agostino has been working for a year now renovating the old church of Kitgum and is doing a magnificent job, I would like him to take his per-petual vows on the opening and consecration of the church, something which he greatly desires”. And so it was.
After his first holidays and a period of rest in Italy (1965-1967), he re-turned to Uganda where he was assigned to the mission of Kalongo. He worked alongside Fr. Giuseppe Ambrosoli enlarging and looking after the maintenance of the hospital. Though he worked tirelessly, he always put prayer and the activities connected to it first. In the morning he was there in church doing his meditation and, during the day he never omitted either the visit to the Blessed Sacrament or praying the rosary.
In 1972 he was appointed to the Nairobi procure but this job lasted just a short while since it was not suitable for him. He was then sent to the Kampala procure as assistant to the procurator. His health, however, had begun to fail and he had to return more than once to Italy for treatment.
On 30 August 1988 he was again at Kalongo as general technician of the hospital. The smooth running of the hospital, as regards maintenance and works, depended on him. On 17 April 1992 he received a “life resi-dence” permit from the Ugandan department of immigration.
At the age of 62 Bro. Agostino suffered a cerebral stroke and was taken to Nairobi hospital. At the end of August he underwent surgery.
In 1998 he returned to Milan, Italy, for further medical tests. After a pe-riod of intensive treatment he felt better and insisted on being sent back to Uganda, the country that had become his world. He obtained permis-sion to leave and the provincial appointed him to the house of Kampala in charge of maintenance and guests. It was then that Bro. Stocco showed his gift of hospitality: he was always ready and available so that confreres passing through would feel comfortable.
In 2001 he returned for good to Italy where he began a long period of suffering. On hearing of his death, the Superior General wrote to the con-freres of Milan and Uganda: “Together with the general Council, I wish to unite myself to you all at this time when Bro. Agostino has left us to go and take the place prepared for him by the Lord. I wish to be among you to help you to thank God for the gift of the missionary vocation of Bro. Agostino. In 44 years of profession and 42 of tireless service to the mis-sion of God in Uganda, he lived the parable of the grain of wheat im-mersed in the life of the most needy and, recently, in the Comboni life of the “hidden stone” which one cannot see, but which is precious in the sight of God. I am certain that God and Comboni are happy with him. May his witness and his communion with us as a Comboni Brother obtain graces and vocations for the Institute and for the Church in Uganda. I al-ways take you with me to the altar and I thank you for the strength you give me by your example and your communion of prayer.
Fraternally, in the Heart of Jesus. Fr. Teresino.”
Fr. Igino Benini (18.02.1916-28.09.2005)
The last of eleven children, Fr. Igino Benini came from a deeply Chris-tian family who tilled the soil.
It was in the environment of his family and parish that his vocation had its roots. “I was eleven years old when I won the Roma Award in the catechism contest of the Associazione Fanciulli Cattolici d’Italia and I was chosen to represent the dioceses of Verona before Pope Pius XI. Having returned from Rome I felt in myself an ardent desire to become a priest. So it was that I finished primary school and entered the diocesan semi-nary. What great sacrifices on the part of my parents and all my family! However, I learnt the lesson that it is necessary to make great sacrifices and much self-denial to gain anything from life”.
While he was in the seminary his missionary vocation matured: “I used to envy the Comboni seminarians who used to attend school with us and they all seemed like saints to me as they bore in their hearts the greatest ideal that one can possibly imagine: to bring Jesus to those who do not know him. Their ideal fascinated me. For some years I resisted the voice of the Lord, until I finally surrendered and gave in to the voice of the Spirit”. In his diary Fr. Igino continues: “One day at the end of 1946, while the village band played as though for a feast, in a carriage decorated with flowers and bunting, I was about to leave for Africa. There were the final tears, a mother’s embrace and my final blessing with the feeling that we would never again meet on this earth – as in fact things turned out”.
After a period of ‘running in’ at the mission of Mupoi, Fr. Igino was di-verted to Naandi and on 19 January 1952 to Nzara as superior of that mission which was still just at its beginnings. In fact it bears the date of 31 October 1951.
We note that Nzara was in the area reserved for Protestants, but Fr. Igino, with his friendly personality, convinced the authorities to make room for him and transformed the humble chapel into a beautiful church with houses for the priests and Sisters.
The mission diary thus sums up the work of Fr. Igino and his confreres: “They work in harmony and with much joy, insisting on the formation of catechists, the explanation of the catechism, the visits to the villages and the lepers and in the exercise of charity”. “The love for the catechism”, Fr. Igino continues, was taught me by Fr. Ernesto Firisin, the man of the Word of God, one who greatly exemplified the Comboni charism – hum-ble, a zealous apostle, of intense spiritual life, one who really knew how to make common cause with all.”
One of the first initiatives which Fr. Igino introduced at Nzara was the Legion of Mary, certain that Our Lady would work marvels. And so it was. Then he founded the Bino Eklesia (the field of the Church). Every Chris-tian had to set aside a small piece of his field to cultivate produce for the poor. The arrival of the Sisters on 22 May 1954 helped to resolve the problem of the formation of the women and girls.
The Peregrinatio Mariae, which Fr. Igino organised in all the villages, served to increase the faith and devotion to Our Lady.
In 1960 Fr. Igino was expelled from South Sudan. However, he had the privilege of staying in Khartoum where he continued his missionary life as if he had just arrived from Italy, without as much a word of regret for his expulsion from the South. He was certain that if God wanted him to be in Khartoum he had his reasons. In fact Providence prepared an abundant harvest for him to cultivate.
In 1977 we find him in the parish of St. Joseph, canonically erected that year. For 25 years Fr. Igino also directed the groups of young people (nadi) who were fleeing from the South because of the war.
He taught them the prayers and the catechism and, when they were ready, they were baptized. Besides being an evangeliser, he was a man of charity towards all those poor and needy people.
The amount of good which Fr. Igino did was immense because he never tired catechising. He translated the catechism and a couple of prayer books into various languages to meet the needs of the young peo-ple from the South who did not know Arabic and learned their languages.
When in 1990 the opportunity came to return to South Sudan, he was the first to leave, despite his advanced age and the still dangerous situa-tion due to the war. In 1994 he had to return home for health reasons. He went to Gozzano where he spent the remaining eleven years of his life in ministry (he was always looking forward to it) and looking after the kitchen garden.
A few months before his death, Fr. Igino had gone to Milan for medical treatment. There, during the celebration of Vespers on 28 September 2005, the Lord called him. After the funeral in Milan, his remains were taken to Verona where they lie in the Comboni chapel of the city ceme-tery.
Fr. Giorgio Stefani (12.05.1965 – 20.10.2005)
His necrology will be published in the next issue of Familia Comboniana.
Let us pray for our dead
Perpetua of Fr. Leo Tibenda (U).
Nilo of Fr. Aldo Chistè (RSA); Rino of Fr. Pier-giorgio Rossi (U); Cesar Bokoyo of the scholastic Mboka Ngere Faustin (CN); of Fr. Sandoval Luiz Dutra da Luz (BS); Cosma Wasswa of Fr. John Richard Kyankaaga Ssendawula (EG).
Letizia of Fr. Cesarino Donati (BNE).
THE COMBONI SISTERS:
Sr. M. Assisia Gigola; Sr. M. Filomena Di Nello; Sr. M. Callista Cozzi; Sr. Alodia Terpolilli.