Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
We wish to remind those involved (secretaries of the general secretariats, provincials, delegates, etc.) that all reports to be presented at the Intercapitular Assembly must be sent to the general secretary in two versions: one in the original language and, if the original is in Italian, Portuguese, French, Spanish or German, an English translation; originals in English must also be presented in Italian or Spanish.
Formation Reflection Committee
The formation reflection committee, appointed by the General Council during the October 2005 Consulta, met from 13 to 18 February 2006 at the General Curia in Rome.
The committee also met with Fr. Teresino Serra, Superior General, and Bro. Hernán Romero Arias, general assistant, as well as with the secretaries of the general secretaries. These meetings were both interesting and fruitful.
The committee took up, on the one hand, the proposals of the continental assemblies (2004) and that of Palencia (2005) and, on the other, endeavoured to present a new plan which would rewrite the entire Comboni formation itinerary.
The results of the week’s work were sent to the enlarged committee which will have until 30 April next to make observations, comments and suggestions.
The month of May will be taken up with the work of reorganising all the material received in view of the second meeting of the committee planned from 29 May to 3 June in Rome.
This meeting will prepare a draft which will be presented to the General Council (June Consulta) and afterwards to the provincial and delegation superiors for reflection and study before the Intercapitular Assembly in September 2006.
General Secretariat for Vocation Promotion and Formation
Candidates and Pre-postulants: 196, with 116 seminarians (minor seminary) and 80 pre-postulants (introductory phase). We have 4 minor seminaries (1 in Mexico, 1 in Portugal, 1 in Eritrea and 1 in Mozambique). The pre-postulancy, organised in various ways, is now present in many provinces and delegations of America and Africa and is giving good results.
Postulants: 205, with 185 candidates for the priesthood and 20 for the Brotherhood. We have 27 postulancies (15 in Africa, 8 in America, 3 in Europe and 1 in Asia). One of them is specifically for Brothers (Layibi).
Novices: 86, with 79 for the priesthood and 7 for the Brotherhood. The total number of newly professed this year should be 41 (39 scholastics, 2 Brothers). We have 8 novitiates: 4 in Africa (Namugongo and Lusaka for English speaking Africa and Kinshasa and Cotonou for French speaking Africa), 2 in America (Sahuayo and Huánuco), 1 in Europe (Venegono). The noviciate in the Philippines (Manila) at present has no novices.
Scholastics and Brothers with temporary vows (TV): 183, with 149 scholastics and 34 Brothers. Details by continents: 93 from Africa (80 scholastics and 13 Brothers), 57 from America (49 scholastics and 8 Brothers), 28 from Europe (16 scholastics and 12 Brothers) and 5 from Asia (4 scholastics and 1 Brother). The provinces with most scholastics and Brothers with TV are Togo (26), Mexico (25), Congo (22), Italy (13), DCA (10) and Uganda (9). We have 9 scholasticates and 2 CIF (4 in America, 4 in Africa and 3 in Europe). Elstree will close in June 2006.
The number of those who left the Institute last year (2004-2005) is 28 (26 scholastics and 2 Brothers).
For the formative year 2006-2007, scholastics and Brothers should be 194 in all: 162 scholastics (156 in the scholasticate and 6 in pastoral experience) and 32 Brothers (12 in the CIF and 20 in missionary experience).
Ordinations to the priesthood and Brother Finalists: this year (2006) we expect 26 ordinations to the priesthood (17 from Africa, 7 from America, 2 from Europe). The Brothers who will make their perpetual professions this year will be 4 (2 from Africa, 2 from Europe). The Brother finalists in the CIF are 4 (2 from Europe, 1 from Africa, 1 from Asia). In 2005, the ordinations were 21, the finalist Brothers in the CIF were 5 and the Brothers who took perpetual vows 6.
Personnel: There are 174 confreres working for vocations. They are distributed as follows: 82 promoters (48 full-time and 34 part-time) and 93 formators (81 full-time and 12 part-time: 58 in the pre-postulancies and postulancies, 14 in the novitiates, 21 in the scholasticates/CIF).
All the communities are invited to have a confrere in charge of vocations, so that vocation promotion may become a regular activity everywhere we are present.
Specializations: 13 confreres are presently attending courses of specialization, including Brothers in the CIF (2) and scholastics (1). Last year (2004-2005), 7 confreres obtained degrees (7 licentiates). The confreres presently attending courses to prepare for a specific service are 3 (all for formation). Last year they were 6 (4 of them for formation).
Fr. Joseph Musanga Mumbere (CN) attended a course in Psychology at the Pontifical Silesian University, Rome for the past three years and in early February was awarded the Laurea Breve in Psicologia dell’Educazio-ne with the thesis: “Lo sviluppo delle competenze personali e interpersonali nella comunità formativa – Towards the prevention of defections and unease and for the promotion of the well-being of the Kisangani (DRC) Comboni Postulancy”.
Fr Joseph also studied at the Claretianum and obtained a Master’s Degree in Theology, Psychology and the Sociology of Consecrated Life as well as a specialization in community dynamics: “Animate and build the formation community: A workshop project for the leadership responsible for the Comboni formator.”
Fr. Adaku Isaac Augustine (U) Arua (UG) 28.01.2006
Fr. João Luís Rodrigues (BS) São João do Oeste (BR) 11.02.2006
Holy Redeemer Guild
March 01 – 07 DCA 08 – 15 EG 16 – 31 EC
April 01 – 15 DSP 16 – 30 E
March - For all Comboni Missionary Brothers, that through their witness and their ministry, they may bring about greater fraternity both within our communities and among the people. Let us pray.
April – That the contemplation of the Paschal Mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ may help us to die to our own personal plans and to take up together the plan of God in our provinces and delegations. Let us pray.
Asian Mission Congress
Preparations are under way throughout Asia for the Asian Mission Congress to be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from 18 to 22 October 2006. The initiative for the Congress was taken by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and it is being organized by the Office of Evangelization of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) in collaboration with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand.
About one thousand delegates are expected to participate: three hundred will be from Thailand itself and the others from throughout Asia. The Congress Executive Committee has proposed that delegates should be selected from among people who have real potential for mission animation/catechesis in their home country as well as “decision makers” such as lawyers, doctors, and politicians witnessing to Christian life. The official languages of the Congress will be English and Thai.
The bishops of Asia are being encouraged to organize national and diocesan events in preparation for the Congress, the theme of which will be: “The Story of Jesus in Asia: a Celebration of Faith and Life”.
Needless to say, the Comboni Missionaries in Asia are keen to be involved in this significant event, and the March issue of WORLD MISSION Magazine carries a reflection by the National Director of the Pontifical Missionary Societies in the Philippines. In the editorial, Fr. José António Mendes Rebelo writes that the Congress “will give the Church of this vast continent, rich in history and wisdom, the opportunity to meet - the delegates will surely be drawn from among the Church’s most active and mission-motivated elements - to celebrate its faith and God’s presence in its midst, to acknowledge the Spirit’s action in the variety of its peoples, cultures, traditions and religions, to share difficulties, struggles and dreams, and to recount the inspiring experiences of life and mission in such pluralistic societies and diversified religious and cultural contexts - stories of peaceful coexistence, mutual tolerance, dialogue, prayer and social commitment with believers of other faiths.”
WORLD MISSION will continue to draw attention to the Congress throughout the coming months and plans are well advanced for a Special Issue of the magazine to coincide with the Congress. Indeed, the Congress organizers have expressed their interest in making this issue available to all the participants and to bishops throughout Asia. The Delegation is warmly encouraging the communities in Macau, Taipei and the Philippines to find ways of being actually present at the Congress, even though there is likely to be stiff competition for places.
Seminary on bioethics and mini provincial assembly
From 9 to 13 January the annual provincial assembly was held at São Luís. It was attended by almost all the members.
The first two days were devoted to ongoing formation. This year the theme, “Bioethics: impasse and alternatives”, aimed at familiarising us with the problem. We studied some issues regarding the beginning of life such as, for example, stem cells and cloning, moral implications and prospective as well as developments in the field of genetics and genetically modified foods which are now part of what we eat. We also discussed ageing and the issue of euthanasia, a very complex and topical problem.
Chairing the discussions were the Comboni Missionaries Fr. Juan Manuel Rodríguez Martín and Fr. Ottorino Bonvini, who used technical and pedagogical instruments, including videos on the themes, to help us understand the problems. Everyone was very happy with the discussions on such issues and hoped we would repeat the experience.
The mini provincial assembly was held immediately afterwards. The secretariats and the provincial presented the annual reports. The Ratio Missionis process was then launched, the issue of finance was studied and basic formation was discussed.
On 21 January, at Imperatriz, Maranhão, Deacon Herivelto de Sousa Marques was ordained priest by the local bishop, Mgr. Gilberto Pestana. The celebration was very beautiful and meaningful as was the first Mass.
Herivelto had participated in the Cursillos movement, some of whose members were present and who led all the events surrounding the ordination.
Herivelto will remain in the community of Açailândia until July when he will leave for Mozambique.
Retreat with the Superior General
In early February Fr. Teresino Serra, Superior General, preached a retreat at São Paulo for almost all the confreres of the province, including two candidates to the novitiate and all the scholastics with their formators.
It has not only been a time of deep spirituality but, most of all, it was a family encounter where we discussed and shared the main issues and concerns of the Institute.
For the province it was the conclusion of the first phase of the Ratio Missionis’ process. The Superior General helped individuals and communities in viewing the Ratio as a time of evaluating and strengthening our charism.
The themes proposed met with approval, since they were in harmony with the daily life of the mission. All appreciated this Comboni week and being able to meet personally with the Superior General.
The province wishes to thank him for his availability and brotherliness.
Immediately after the retreat, the priestly ordination of João Luís Rodrigues was held in the parish of São João do Oeste, in the state of Santa Catarina. São João do Oeste is a former German settlement that has, for generations, resisted integration with the rest of the country. The family of João Luís continues to keep the German language and culture alive.
The bishop of Chapecó performed the ordination ceremony which reflected the many aspects of the Brazilian culture. Many confreres of the province, scholastics and friends came from various locations to join the local people. The first Mass after the ordination was celebrated in the German community, with the traditional barbecue and a feast which lasted the whole day.
Fr. João Luís is our tenth priest from Brasil Sul and has been appointed to Kenya.
On 18 February the new Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Congo was promulgated and celebrated with many official ceremonies, even if the event was largely irrelevant to the “ordinary” people who have their own daily problems to think about, mainly their own survival.
The event, however, has a value of its own: the way is now open to elections and the end of the transition. The transition has officially lasted almost three years, but it may be said to have begun in 1991. Since that year, much has got worse. However, we must not lose hope, but keep alive our commitment to help the people and to live this coming event with awareness and courage.
Retreat and provincial assembly
Numerous confreres met at Isiro Magambe for the retreat and the provincial assembly. We were around 50 with two Comboni Sisters who attended the whole assembly. We had come from all over the Congo. This in itself was unusual considering the difficulties in travelling overland as well as by air.
We endeavoured to tackle the central issue of the Ratio Missionis, our identity and our missionary service as Comboni Missionaries. There were different points of view on how to tackle it: from sharing on the main issues of the life of our province, to reflecting on “finances and mission” and to share on the reflections we already had concerning the Ratio. As regards finances, we were greatly assisted by Fr. Alessandro Guarda, the general treasurer. We analysed our situation regarding the Provincial Common Fund in order to make some progress towards it and to direct the discussion towards the self-sufficiency of our province as a missionary life-style.
One important outcome of this assembly was the awareness of the need to follow up the work of reflection as a standing commitment of ongoing formation.
International Seminar on Bioethics
From 6 to 9 February 2006 an international seminar on “Human Genetic and Reproductive Technologies: Comparing Religious and Secular Perspectives”, was held in Cairo. The Catholic Church was represented by Mgr. Camillo Ballin, Vicar Apostolic of Kuwait who, speaking in Arabic, presented a lecture on the theme: “Where the Catholic Church stands on Genetic Issues: How and where do we draw the line?”. The Vatican was officially represented by the Egyptian Prof. Mounir Farag, expert in bioethics and director of the Institute for the Family to the Catholic Coptic Patriarchate and permanent member of the Pontifical Pro-Life Academy.
Mgr. Ballin’s lecture was very much appreciated and brought out many areas of agreement with the Islamic position on the question of the origin of human life.
New Apostolic Nuncio
In these times of conflicts, the appointment of the new Apostolic Nuncio to the Arabic Republic of Egypt and Delegate to the Arabic League met with broad approval. Mgr. Michael Fitzgerald of the Missionaries of Africa, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, is well known and highly regarded in Islamic circles in Cairo, having been a member since its foundation and for some years co-president of the joint commission for inter-religious dialogue made up of the Holy See and the Islamic University Al Ahzar in Cairo.
On hearing of his appointment, the Great Mufti Tantawi, supreme religious authority in Islam, immediately sent his congratulations to the Nunciature. It is to be hoped that this sign of openness may strengthen peaceful relations.
President of CIMI
In January, Fr. Alberto Pelucchi, provincial of Italy, was chosen as president of CIMI (Conference of the Missionary Institutes in Italy). The CIMI includes the male and female provincials of the fourteen exclusively missionary Institutes present in Italy and promotes communion among them.
Some of its aims: to plan and coordinate common activities of formation and action, thus promoting vitality and making it more incisive in its specific service to the Italian Church; to suggest common priorities for mission awareness and vocations; to encourage contacts, reflection and regional and national collaboration among promoters; to foster focussing on issues of justice, peace and the integrity of creation (JPIC), while supporting relevant activities; to encourage the study of issues relating to it; to attend to mass media (press, magazines, audiovisuals) in order to coordinate and boost information and formation as regards mission, countries of the South, peoples, cultures, religions, the young Churches and the idea of mission.
The following institutions depend on it: the theological and anthropological mission review Ad Gentes, the Secretariate of Missionary Formators which unites male and female formators of the members of CIMI for consultation, coordination, the analysis of common issues, the sharing of formation experiences and the Justice and Peace Commission. The latter, expression of the common commitment of the missionary Institutes to justice and peace, aims at forming and sensitising the Institutes themselves, as well as offering collaboration and other initiatives elsewhere.
Institutes connected to it are SUAM (United Secretariate for Missionary Animation), SERMIS (the organization which runs EMI), MISNA and FeSMI (Federation of the Missionary Press in Italy). Lastly, CIMI cooperates and collaborates with “Fondazione Missio” of the CEI (Italian Bishops Conference) and its organisations such as the CUM (National Missionary Council).
Course for Missionary Promoters
From 30 January to 3 February the 33rd Course of Ongoing Formation for Missionary Promoters, organised by SUAM was held at Seiano di Vico Equense (NA). The theme of the meeting was “Witnesses of Hope in the Church and for the World”.
Around sixty missionaries from fifteen Missionary Institutes and associations, a representative of the Missionary Centre of Bolzano and the CEI representative of the Missionary Youth Movement participated.
The sharing was done in small groups and assemblies with a facilitator, evaluating first the world and then the local situation and finally, the effect all this has on our service.
Suggestions made gave rise to new points of reflection and re-thinking on our presence as promoters who live in a social context which lacks a Christian framework to facilitate the service we wish to offer to the Church and the world. We were assisted in our understanding of how the CEI succeeded in recognising, interpreting and challenging the process of secularization which is taking place in our society, but the lack of leadership among the laity was also noted which, sadly, results in preserving the status quo and seeing our young people living the ambiguity of the situations and values taken for granted.
Even if Vasco Rossi had a song that went: “I want to find the meaning of life, even if it has none”, as missionary promoters we find ourselves witnessing and living what Blessed Pope John XXIII wrote: “There is no room for those who have no hope” in a world whose “illness is the lack of hope” (Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini).
On the final morning, Fr. Alessandro Zanotelli challenged us to recognise future situations and challenges which will effect those involved in the Church: challenges which increasingly require a united response from the Missionary Institutes that cherish hope and desire that this world should guard it, together with the other the most precious goods, through lifestyles of fraternal life and the sharing of the Word which forever bears the dream of God for our world.
The presence of Fr. Mario Cerda Contreras, provincial secretary for missionary animation of the LP, provided an element of communion with a European Church that is experiencing great challenges and the desire to live more fully a relationship of sharing with those who are missionary animators in Europe.
Visit of Bro. Hernán Romero Arias
Bro. Hernán Romero Arias arrived in the Mozambican province through Malawi. His presence was received with joy in all the missions of the North and the south. His message was beautiful and interesting.
He presented fraternity as a missionary value for all the communities. Referring to internationality, he underlined that this is possible only for those missionaries who have identified well with their vocation. Speaking of the Common Fund, he said it was not only a question of money, but of an option for solidarity and communion. He reminded the Brothers that their distinguishing mark was to create “fraternity” and a peaceful atmosphere among the confreres of the community. He also underlined the importance of the ability to communicate and the spirit of openness on the part of everyone if we want to overcome the difficulties which the mission and consecrated life present today.
Approval of the “Projects Statute”
The province has finalised the Projects Statute. The projects are catalogued according to three types: those for the indispensable needs of the Comboni community, those for development and the pressing needs of the people and those intended to renew existing structures. The most interesting aspect is the process: all projects must first be examined by a committee and, if approved by it, the provincial council will discuss it.
The Deacon Celestino Seabra Invaha Namaneque is with us to prepare for his ordination to the priesthood planned for 26 March 2006, in the cathedral of Nampula. The ordaining bishop will be Archbishop D. Tomé Makwleliha. On 2 April Celestino is due to celebrate a special Mass in his native village of Anchilo before leaving for South Sudan, where he has been assigned.
Workshop on the Ratio Missionis
The workshop had been scheduled some time ago, but it could not be held then as our confreres responsible for the Ratio Missionis were unable to attend the meeting in Nairobi. Fortunately Fr. Fernando Zolli came to our help and agreed to direct the workshop here in Mozambique. The provincial secretary for ongoing formation and all the local superiors of the province attended. Now, after a more intense preparation in our communities, we shall celebrate its conclusion by zonal mini-assemblies of three or four days' duration.
Priestly ordination of Isaac Augustine Adaku
Isaac Augustine Adaku was ordained priest in his own parish of Christ the King in Arua, Uganda, on Saturday 28 January 2006, presided by the local bishop, Mgr. Fredrick Drandua, and concelebrated by over 50 priests, 15 of whom were Comboni Missionaries mainly from within the diocese, but several from other parts of Uganda. Worth mentioning was the presence of Fr. Joseph Gerner the superior of Kitgum Comboni community to which Fr. Isaac has been assigned for his first pastoral service.
A diocesan deacon, Silvanus, was also ordained priest together with Isaac.
During the week leading to the day of ordination the local community was animated by the Comboni vocation director, Fr. Ruffino Ezama, who, knowing the local language, was also the commentator at the ceremony. The response of the people was great and an enthusiastic large crowed gathered in the open space prepared outside the Church of Christ the King. Many people from the neighbouring parishes joined in prayers and intercession for the newly ordained priests. Many of them offered gifts to the young priests as a sign of their affection.
The provincial in his brief speech thanked all, recognizing that a priestly vocation is the result of God's call, the generous response of the individual and the support of the Christian and religious institutes. He reminded the newly ordained, quoting from the book of Wisdom, that understanding is given in prayer and it is to be shared with others. The missionary is the one who is willing to share his faith and understanding of God with his own people.
On the following day Fr. Isaac celebrated his first Mass in the church of Christ the King.
Let us pray for our dead
THE FATHER: Antonio of Fr. Ramón Navarro Catalán (ET); Angelo di P. Giorgio Stefani (†); Manuel of Fr. Juan Sánchez Arenas (E).
THE MOTHER: Restuta Igbandama of Fr. Emmanuel Denima Darama (KH).
THE BROTHER: Silvestro of Fr. Luigi Andriollo (BS); Martino of Bro. Giovanni Tomas (MO); Roberto of Fr. Moises Dela Cruz Estacio (A); António of Fr. Ivo Martins do Vale (ET); Giovanni Carlo of Bro. Mario Vermi (I); Daniel of Fr. Michael Jesto Bwalya (CN).
THE SISTER: Lisetta of Fr. Lino Venturini (I); Gertrude of Bro. Kuno Stösser (PE); Agnese of Fr. Alessandro Preda (†).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. M. Battistina Johannes; Sr. Gianna Maria Pedretti; Sr. Veralba Cipolla; Sr. Rosalda Sprea; Sr. M. Giuseppina Mascalzoni; Sr. Aurelia Anselmi; Sr. Alba Pia Benati; Sr. Lanfranca Mosna.