Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus


General Secretariate

As we begin 2006, those working in the General Secretariate wish to thank all the provincials, delegates, their secretaries and other confreres who have so generously collaborated with them during the year 2005.
Our heartfelt thanks go especially to the confreres who helped with the translations into various languages. Their assistance is vital to ensure that communication reaches everyone.
It is to be hoped that this collaboration may increase during the current year.

General Secretariate for Finance

American Continental Assembly

The continental assembly for provincial and delegation treasurers was held in Bogotà (Colombia) from 22 to 27 August, following the programme to implement the directives of the 2003 General Chapter on financial matters. The meeting was preceded by a two-day dialogue with the general treasurer on technical topics, to solve and clarify difficulties and issues of interest to provinces and delegations.
The assembly, attended by all the treasurers, except those of the DCA and Asia due to rotation and the impossibility of sending their replacements, tackled the themes suggested by the 2003 General Chapter, with the aim of providing an American context to our reflection.
Apart from the technical options chosen and proposed to the provincials and delegates, the meeting was dominated by the perspective of an American continent that is growing within the Institute through its increase in number of vocations and the search for its own Comboni missionary style, proposing financial self-sufficiency linked to mission promotion and simplicity of lifestyle attuned to local situations.
Looking to the not too distant future when the European and North American presence will be greatly diminished, as well as its financial support, some new ways of tackling this new situation were discussed.
Fixed assets were seen as the base upon which missionary activity of the provinces and delegations rests: having a house owned by the province/delegation, for instance, in good condition, which, therefore, avoids the expenses of renting other venues for our gatherings, would already provide the minimum necessary for a better secure position for the future.

Convinced that all should contribute towards the smooth running of provincial/delegation finances, it appears that the Common Fund is the obligatory way to be coherent in our missionary and community lifestyle.
The main ways to be studied, as indicated by the treasurers, were therefore: Fixed Assets, the Common Fund and continental financial self-sufficiency. This requires: The formation of “American” treasurers prepared to run things in the future. Finances are to remain “an important sector of human and missionary life” (CA ’03, 101).

Secretariate for Evangelisation

Towards the Ratio Missionis: meeting of the committee

A meeting of the entire committee (the core and enlarged committees) for the preparation of the Ratio Missionis was held in Rome from 5 to 10 December 2005.
Those present were: Fr. Fernando Zolli, secretary of the general secretariat for evangelisation; Fr. Danilo Cimitan, co-ordinator general for ongoing formation; the continental provincial coordinators for evangelisation: Fr. Jesús Ruiz Molina, Fr. Sebhatleab Ayele Tesemma, Fr. Rafael González Ponce; the members of the core committee: Fr. Enrique Javier Rosich Vargas (E), Fr. Anton Schneider (DSP), Fr. Simon Mbuthia Mwaura (EG), Bro. Hans Eigner (DSP); the members of the enlarged committee: Fr. Benito De Marchi (LP), Fr. Miguel Navarrete Arceo (TC), Fr. John Baptist Keraryo Opargiw (MZ), Fr. Daniel Cerezo (A), Bro. Joel Cruz Reyes (EC). Fr. Giacomo Palagi (I), member of the core committee, was absent for health reasons. Fr. Lorenzo Frattini also took part as secretary.
P. Odelir José Magri, general assistant, and the secretaries of the general secretariats: Fr. Alessandro Lwanga Guarda (finance), Fr. Girolamo Miante (vocation promotion and formation) and Fr. Umberto Pescantini (mission promotion), attended some sessions.
The meeting provided the opportunity to evaluate the progress made in the various circumscriptions of the Institute, to reach a common view and to make proposals to make the preparation of the Ratio Missionis more speedy and participated.
The participants expressed their appreciation of the process of renewal which has been set in motion within the Institute, both for the methodology adopted and for the themes proposed through workshops and inserts published in Familia Comboniana.
Interest and involvement on the part of the confreres are continually increasing in all the continents, even if the rhythm and planning may vary from one province to another and some provinces may not have yet started the process.
The committee noted that the Forum, opened on the website of the Institute, has not found much support among the confreres, perhaps because some may feel inhibited regarding the use of new means of communication and cannot easily express their opinions.
As has been said several times, the mission will be renewed to the degree that individual confreres allow themselves to be converted by the Spirit and open themselves to the reading of the signs of the times in order to provide ever more evangelical and hope-filled answers to the poorest of the earth.
The renewal of mission and the conversion of persons always require time and perseverance, as well as the willingness to undertake a journey of ongoing formation with determination and humility, openness and listening, confidence and courage; this is why the process of preparation of the Ratio Missionis is quite long and will bring us up to the 17th General Chapter (2009).
The meeting provided the opportunity to make plans up to the Intercapitular Assembly and to establish some criteria for the preparation of the reports which the provinces and delegations will have to send to the general secretary for evangelisation in view of the continental assemblies and the preparation of the first draft for the Intercapitular Assembly (2006).
Finally, the committee, in dialogue with the secretaries of the general secretariats, studied a series of proposals for the various sectors of missionary service (basic formation, mission promotion and finance). Particular attention will be paid to confreres in formation (scholasticates, CIF and novitiates), to confreres undertaking their first missionary assignment and old and sick confreres. The opportunity to involve the confreres engaged in some specific areas of missionary service (city slums, religious dialogue, minority ethnic groups, insertion, mass media, JPIC, theological reflection groups), will not be ignored.
The participants agreed to meet in Lisbon in November 2006 to plan the phases of discernment (2007) and listening (2008) so that this process may make the Comboni Missionaries ever more holy and capable in view of the mission at the beginning of the third millennium.

“The second day of December is a feast day also for MISNA, a small but important news agency, with a characteristic all of its own which makes it unique in the field of information. The past eight years bear witness to a job-well-done which has produced up to fifteen million hits per month”: these are the words of Alberto La Volpe, vice director of Tg2, a channel of RAI (Italian TV) at the opening of the conference “Let us Raise our Voices: for Information on the Southern regions of the world” organised by MISNA in the Carroccio Hall of the Campidoglio, Rome. “The great paradox of our society” he added, “is that the problems of the so-called Third World would really be “news” for an observer coming from another planet”. Instead, all too often, as noted by the mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, in his message read by Fr. Venanzio Milani, president of MISNA, the South of the world, and especially Africa, “is remembered only for reasons of poverty and despair, in spite of the great potential of that continent”.
Other participants in the discussion were Vittorio Zucconi, representative in Washington of the daily ‘La Repubblica’ and director of Radio Capital; Jean Léonard Touadi, a Congolese journalist and writer; Giulio Pecora, vice director of ‘Ansa Agency’ and Sigfrido Ranucci, author of the Rainews 24 report on the use of white phosphorous at Fallujah in Iraq, which attracted the attention of the mass media of the entire world and made it possible to glimpse the truth about the type of arms used by the USA. Messages of greetings were received from the president of the Republic of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, and from the secretary of State at the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, in which, among other things, MISNA is described as a reality “of unquestionable value”.

Perpetual vows

Sc. Hernández Rogel Juan José (DCA) Rome (I) 08.12.2005
Sc. Körber Markus Lorenz (DSP) Rome (I) 08.12.2005
Sc. Nambasi John Bosco Mangeni (U) Rome (I) 08.12.2005

Priestly ordinations

Fr. Ngoré Gali Célestin (TC) Sarh (Tchad) 26.11.2005
Fr. Onoba John Kennedy (U) Nebbi (UG) 10.12.2005
Fr. Indacochea Quimis Pedro Jimmy (EC) Guayaquil (EC) 10.12.2005

Holy Redeemer Guild

January 01 – 07 A 08 – 15 C 16 – 31 BNE
February 01 – 15 BS 16 – 28 CA

Prayer Intentions

- For all missionary men and women who live in difficult and tense situations caused by war, sickness or old age, that the Father may console them and renew their missionary enthusiasm. Let us pray.

February - For all consecrated people that they may, with enthusiasm and creativity, renew their radical dedication to the mission among the poorest men and women of our age. Let us pray.


Decisions and developments

The early days of the New Year will see the confreres of the Delegation gathered for their annual retreat and assembly. Both these events, focused on the Ratio Missionis, will be facilitated by Fr John Converset from South Africa.
The year 2006 promises to be characterized by the implementation of decisions taken by the Delegation Council as a consequence both of the common discernment on the Six Year Plan and of the visit of the Superior General in August/September 2005. As regards the Comboni mission in China, it is foreseen that by the end of 2006 a second community will be opened in Macau to focus on various forms of outreach to Mainland China, and to provide the base for the team of confreres responsible for the Fen Xiang Project. In Macau, too, it is foreseen that Bro. Fabio Patt’s involvement with Mainland China through Caritas-Macau will be further intensified.
Also as regards China, with the end of January 2006 one confrere, Fr Rocco Bettoli, will begin his immediate preparation for taking up full-time responsibility for the accompaniment and formation of prospective candidates to the Institute from Mainland China. In the meantime, the communities of Taipei and St Joseph the Worker (Macau) continue their patient but vital work of first evangelisation in the urban area.
In the Philippines, the closure of Calamba has provided the opportunity to start a presence in the South of the country, intended, in the first instance at least, as a development of our ministries of mission awareness and vocation promotion.


Community Closures

The BS province will officially close two communities at the end of this year 2005. The first, the parish of Conceição da Barra, where Comboni Missionaries were engaged in pastoral work for almost 50 years, has been entrusted to the diocesan clergy of São Mateus, now growing in number and quality. The province is discussing a timetable with Comboni Bishop Aldo Gerna for the hand-over of a further two parishes during the next two years.
The second closure is at Carapina, where the two communities have united into one located in the site which the 2005 Annuario Comboniano describes as Carapina (2).
The closure of these communities is due both to the reduction in number of personnel and to the requalification of our presence in Brazil. Instead of parishes, the province will try to open centres of mission promotion, aware that this is one of the best ways to contribute to the local Church.

Fr. Paolillo is chosen Human Rights Personality of the Year 2005
Fr. Saverio Paolillo, programme coordinator of the “Atendimento à Criança e Adolescente” (AICA) TV channel of the Catholic Church in the state of Espírito Santo, was chosen as the Personality of the Year 2005, and received the award entitled National Prize for Human Rights of the Special Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic. The prize, awarded for the tenth time, was presented on 12 December 2005 in the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice.
Fr. Paolillo was chosen as one of the six selected by the President of the Commission for Human Rights of the Federal Parliament, the Honourable Iriny Lopez, from among 48 names presented by organisations involved in human rights. In all, twelve were selected from the three categories (NGO’s, public institutions and personalities).
Fr. Paolillo came second in overall votes received. The first was a “mãe de santo” from Bahia, chosen for her struggle against racism. Third place was won by an eighty-eight year-old woman who dedicated most of her life to the disabled, while the fourth place went to the novelist Glória Perez for her writings that deal with social problems.
Fr. Paolillo has been in the state of Espírito Santo since 1999. His first effort was that of providing living quarters for children and adolescents to a district of the town of Central Carapina, a work he had already begun in Novo Horizonte, in the Serra. These hospitality houses, now increased in number, have become a network called the AICA which takes care of 700 children, boys and adolescents living in difficult situations.


Refugees at San Lorenzo

At the moment the situation of refugees coming from Colombia is fairly quiet. More than forty families have settled at San Lorenzo and another thirty at Ibarra. Conflict continues on the border area between Colombia and Ecuador. The guerrillas do not allow the peasants to abandon the cocaine fields. It is said that some of those who spoke too openly to the media of their flight to San Lorenzo have been killed. Some leaders are at Ibarra because they were threatened with death. A thirteen year-old girl, who managed to flee, has told chilling stories. One of his friends, a girl of fourteen, was shot. The situation of the refugees is very difficult. As usual, after the first weeks of the emergency, the many helping organisations withdrew leaving the parish alone to solve the problems of food, shelter and work for so many people. Thank God, these people are quite active and know well how to provide for themselves. We Comboni Missionaries try especially to assist the weakest, such as the women and children. We have celebrated the Christmas novena with them, according to their traditions. The unity and mutual support among the various groups is something to be admired.

Justice and Peace Meeting
The first justice and peace meeting of the diocese of Guayaquil took place on 24 November 2005. This meeting, organised by the Comboni Brothers of the Comboni Work of Human Promotion (Afro and social areas), in cooperation with the social pastoral work of the archdiocese, is the beginning of something which, it is hoped, will become a process of awareness, formation and restructuring within the framework of justice and peace. It is foreseen that this may become the diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace, made up of representatives of various groups and civil and church movements which are already at work to contrast violence and injustice.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the movement Fuerzas de Paz no Violenta, the Pastoral de la Mujer, the Movimento Humanista, the Misioneros Laicos Afro and the Comboni Missionaries.
During the meeting it was said that violence in the family, discrimination in its various forms, organised crime, lynching, social insecurity and the sale of arms on the streets are expressions of “normalized” violence, in the sense that society has become accustomed to it or is resigned to living with such violence or even to consider it as one of the many ways of human relations.
The meeting was largely a sharing of experiences and points of view about violence, justice and peace. It also wished to find ways to encourage citizens to tackle the issues of justice, peace and violence. What should be done in situations of violence? How should economic violence be faced?
It was felt that it was necessary to bring about peaceful civil and democratic reforms which involves various process levels (personal, community, precinct), bearing in mind that the problem of violence and injustice is one of structures and values.
The necessity of becoming involved, not only in limiting the damage but also in joining forces, and not being concerned only with the victims but also with the aggressors, was discussed. This network of solidarity in view of a more just and peaceful situation, requires the identification of “what” and “why”. It also implies a process to reach an agreement on the meaning attributed to the terms we use: justice, peace, violence and reform. At the same time it is necessary to set a timetable to our action in order to avoid the mistake of a response which is too generic or not concrete enough.

Second Afro Cultural week at San Lorenzo
The second Afro cultural week, whose purpose is to rediscover the roots of the Afro people and increase ethnic education in the schools of the region of San Lorenzo del Pailón to assist young blacks to know and value their own culture, was held at San Lorenzo from 7 to 13 November organised by the Comboni Missionaries.
During this week, students and professors participated in meetings and debates about the socio-economic situation of Ecuador, the history of the blacks in Ecuador, the role of black women, the African Ecuadorians world vision, the message of Martin Luther King (the great African American leader), African American music, blacks in the Bible and the value of the human aspect. The members of the team of the Centro Afro of Guayaquil, Francesco Viteri, Fr. Alberto Degan and Fr. Joel Cruz Reyes, dealt with most of these issues while the parish priest, Fr. Claudio Zendron, assisted by professor Amada and by Dr. Caterina, dealt with the rest.
With regard to the historical aspect, Viteri presented the figure of Alonso de Illescas and the importance of the “palenques”, shelters for fleeing slaves, which may be considered the first experiment in America of democracy and citizen participation in a period when the European monarchies governed through local representatives.
As regards music, it was noted that, in the absence of a language of its own, music became the main element of identity for the African American people. It derived from a mixture of cultures through which the black people of America reconstituted its own identity.
With respect to the Bible, Bro. Degan spoke of the importance re-evaluating the presence of black personalities both in the Old and New Testaments. The search for black personalities in the Bible leads us to understand that God has great faith in the black people whom he sees as a protagonist of evangelisation. For example, the first community in which the followers of Jesus were called Christians – Antioch – was led by a multiracial group of five “prophets and doctors” (Acts 13, 1), two of whom were Africans: Simeon the black and Lucius of Cyrene. The Afro people is not, therefore, something foreign to the Bible or something added on later, because, right from the beginning, God wanted it to be present in the Church to exercise its prophecy. The same themes were discussed in the afternoon with the young people of América Misionera and of the Pastoral Work among the Blacks of San Lorenzo and, in the evening, with the heads of families, giving rise to great interest.
The Centro Afro of Guayaquil presented CD’s, leaflets and books produced by themselves on all the issues. Both professors and students appreciated the inputs as useful instruments of ethnic education, which will help the young and adult blacks to rediscover the beauty of their own spirituality and historical-cultural heritage.
The Week was concluded with a course of formation for catechists and leaders from all the Christian communities of the parish, conducted by Bro Joel Cruz Reyes, during which an analysis of the situation, the spirituality and the methodology of the pastoral agent, from the perspective of social pastoral work, were tackled.


Provincial Assembly of Superiors

The superiors of communities met at Pesaro from 21 to 24 November for a time of formation, reflection and encounter. The meeting was composed of three parts. The first day was spent in providing ways of animating the community and, in particular, on the family council. With the help of a facilitator, Sandro De Toni - a former Comboni seminarian -, the participants shared their experiences, deriving from them possible solutions to the issues that are normally discussed in family councils and concern community life.
The second day dealt with the Ratio Missionis. In the morning Fr. Fernando Zolli restated the motives for this process of reflection and renewal and explained what had been already done at the level of the General Administration and of the Institute; in the afternoon the participants discussed what steps to take at the provincial level.
On the third day the provincial, Fr. Alberto Pelucchi, made a brief report on the situation of the province and asked those present for their views and suggestions regarding some practical issues such as the community charter, the financial surplus and the relationship between the superior, the vice superior and the treasurer.
The work of the assembly was deemed to be positive both from the point of view of personal formation and in view of the next general provincial assembly (Verona CUM, 3-17 March 2006) when some of the issues dealt with in Pesaro need further discussion. Great appreciation was expressed for the “facilitator” and the enthusiasm and clarity of Fr. Zolli, who motivated the participants to become protagonists in the process of the Ratio Missionis.

South-North Workshop
On the evening of 29 November the South-North workshop, an initiative organised by the GIM of Bologna, by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Italian province and by the G. Donati University Centre, was brought to a close. Its purpose was to make the “worlds” of the university, the mission and overseas aid challenge and communicate with one another.
The workshop took place over four evenings which made it possible for the university students to meet various witnesses: Fr. Giulio Albanese, Annamaria Gentili (African sector of the faculty of Political Science of Bologna), Aluisi Tosolini (lecturer and author of various books on overseas aid), Fr. Gianni Nobili, Gianluca Borghi (former regional assessor of overseas aid in Emilia Romagna), Gianfranco Morino (volunteer doctor in Kenya), Jean Léonard Touadi (journalist), Luigi Guerra (responsible for a master’s course on formation and overseas aid in Bologna), Matilde Callari Galli (lecturer in the science of formation and responsible for the overseas aid sector of Bologna university).
The students gathered for a “workshop” afternoon, which led to a reflection and the preparation of some questions which were addressed on the last evening to two last speakers, Sergio Marelli (president of the Association of NGO’s in Italy and of the FOCSIV) and Fr. Alessandro Zanotelli. They spoke to over six hundred people. The success of the workshop led to the formation of a group which aims at continuing this experience by means of new initiatives. It also made the GIM better known in the universities and has opened new areas for mission awareness and vocations promotion among the youth.


The “Proper Calendar” of the Church in Kenya

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has approved the Proper Calendar of the Church of Kenya. This calendar had been submitted to the Vatican about a year ago as part of the preparation of the revised “Roman Missal” for Kenya and, ultimately, for all the English-speaking dioceses of Africa. Several saints are included, among them some of earlier times, like Victor I, Adrian, Zeno of Verona, and Marcellinus. There are also some “blessed” of recent times, like Isidore Bakanja, Clementine Anwarite, Cyprian Tansi, Victoria Rasoamanarivo, Daudi Okelo and Jildo Irwa.
Two important celebrations in honour of Our Lady were also approved, namely, Our Lady, Mother of Africa, and Mary, Help of Christians. Two outstanding missionaries have also been included. Their missionary activity was so exceptional and prophetic that it can be of inspiration to the Church today. The first is St. Justin De Jacobis, who can be seen as the pioneer of missionary enculturation, and the other is our Founder, St. Daniel Comboni, who formulated a plan for the regeneration of Africa by involving the Africans themselves. From now on, Comboni will be celebrated on 10 October as a memorial in Kenya! The veneration of African saints highlights the call to holiness for all the disciples of Christ in this continent. Thanks to the example and intercession of our ancestors in the faith, our young Christian communities receive the necessary gifts to grow in faith and become true witnesses of Christ in today’s world.


National Missionary Congress

With the theme: “Living the faith and sharing it with others”, the Church in Poland celebrated its fourth Missionary Congress of the Pontifical Missionary Union (PMU), with the participation of 600 delegates: priests, religious, seminarians and lay people. The venue was the national Marian shrine of Jasna Gòra a Czestokova and the meeting lasted from 2 to 4 December 2005. The congress was organised by the Pontifical Mission Societies also to mark 85 years of the PMU in Poland, a country where the number of ad gentes and ad extra missionary vocations on the five continents is increasing.
The main speaker at the congress was the Comboni Missionary Fr. Romeo Ballan. He gave inputs on: a) “Mission spirituality, fruit of mature faith, at the service of the ad gentes mission”; b) “Being missionaries in the era of globalization: motivations for the mission ad gentes.”
Some Comboni Misionaries present in Poland as well as our postulants from Krakow attended the congress. At the end of the meeting, the national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Mgr. Jan Piotrowski stated: “We hope that, after this meeting, the Church in Poland may be more missionary and increase its commitment towards the universal mission”.


Priestly ordination

On 10 December 2005 the small parish of Wadilai, Nebbi diocese, burst into songs of joy and “Jonam” dances, as one of their sons, the Comboni Missionary Fr. John Kennedy Onaba, was being ordained a priest. Fr. John Kennedy has just finished his theological studies in Chicago. His formator, Fr. Raphael Wokorach P’Moni, was in attendance.
The bishop of Nebbi, Mgr. Martin Luluga, was the main celebrant. He was assisted by 32 priests, eleven of whom were Comboni Missionary. There was also a Comboni Brother, two Comboni Sisters and many other religious from various Institutes. In the days before the ordination, the vocation promotion team had done a thorough work of animation. Peoples’ nostalgia for Comboni Missionaries was evident in the speeches and warm welcome. Fr. John Kennedy has been assigned to Keny. One of the local speakers addressed him as follows: “You have now become our ambassador, wherever you will be. Make us proud of you.”
To Fr. John Kennedy our warmest congratulations and best wishes for a fruitful missionary ministry.

Handover of Akanyo Parish
On Sunday 11 December 2005, in a colourful ceremony, the Comboni Missionaries handed over the parish of Akanyo to Mgr. Martin Luluga, the bishop of Nebbi diocese in West Nile.
Akanyo was part of Angal parish and was established as a parish in 1999. During these years the confreres who have worked there were Fr. Luigi Sala, parish priest, Fr. Dino Mirandola, Fr. David Baltz and Fr. Gino Stocchero.
The chairman of the parish council thanked the Comboni Missionaries, and especially Fr. Sala, for the great unity created between the missionaries and the Christians. This unity has given good fruits: the full establishment of the parish, the beautiful buildings (a new Church, the parish house, 17 new chapels, 12 kindergartens), but especially a good, supportive Christian community.
The bishop, in his speech, praised the cooperation of the Comboni Missionaries with his diocese and invited them to remain among the Alur in the diocese.
Present at the ceremony was also the new vicar general of Nebbi diocese (Mgr Santo Wanok), the vice provincial (Fr. John Peter Alenyo) and various Comboni Missionaries.
The confreres of Akanyo community have moved to Angal parish. Our presence in Nebbi diocese consists now of just one community, that of Angal.

Let us pray for our dead

Manuel of Bro. Bernardino Dias Fruttuoso (P); Michael Ronaï of Bro. Alfred Ngaryembaye (TC).

THE MOTHER: Natividad of Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot (C); Teresa of Bro. Giuseppe Foglio (EC); Antonietta of Fr. Fernando Zolli (C); Lena of Fr. Carlo Castelli (M/Z); Kathleen of Fr. Robert Kleiner (NAP).

THE BROTHER: Pietro of Fr. Elio Farronato (CN) and Fr. Lorenzo Farronato (CN); Luis Arturo of Bro. Gustavo Montoya Mondragón (I); Ferdinando of Fr. Cesare Pegoraro (T).

THE SISTER: Tabho of Fr. Pascal Subari Garasoma (C); Ersilia of Fr. Ambrogio Reggiori (MO); Eugenia of Fr. Aldo Domenici (KE); Vittoria of Fr. Aldo Rossi (†).

THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Maria Carla Colombo; Sr. Maria Filomena Dias da Costa; Sr. Magdala Bonomi.

Familia Comboniana n. 627