Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
Message from the two General Superiors about Radio Bakhita
“I bring you news of great joy, joy for all people: today a Saviour is born for you; he is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2,10-11). This is the news that for the past two thousand years breaks the silence of the night to bring the Good News: Emmanuel, God with us, is coming to visit us. Glory to God in the Highest Heavens and Peace on Earth.
On this holy night, for the first time, the message of peace for all the people of Sudan has been broadcast on the radio. This event not only marks the beginning of a new era, but it also accomplishes the dream cherished for years by the Comboni Family that had decided to cooperate in establishing this radio station at the time when the Father of Sudan, Daniel Comboni, was canonised. It was meant to be a meaningful sign for the benefit of his adopted land.
While we wish to thank those who worked so enthusiastically to achieve this dream, now a reality, we hope that this means of communication may sustain the long process of peace, reconciliation and dialogue, and build up a new country.
Happy Christmas, and may the New Year be full of the blessings of the Emmanuel, the God who will never abandon us.
(Sr. Adele Brambilla and Fr. Teresino Serra - 24 December 2006)
Meeting with the provincial superiors of French-speaking Af-rica
In line with the proposal made during the Intercapitular Assembly and the plan proposed by the General Council, a meeting took place at the Generalate from 15 to 19 January between the provincials of French-speaking Africa and the GC. Rome was chosen as the most accessible venue compared to the French-speaking countries of Africa.
Among the points discussed we wish to note: a greater knowledge of the situation of French-speaking Africa, especially as regards the balance between personnel and commitments, like difficulties, prospects, concrete undertakings and projects; our future commitment in carrying on the proc-ess of the Ratio Missionis as a priority for personal and mission renewal; sharing views on the situation of basic formation in order to study how to implement, at continental level, the orientations which were voiced during the Intercapitular Assembly; indications for the preparation and implemen-tation of the next General Chapter; the parameters of a missionary plan for Africa where the Comboni Missionaries work.
Other points referred more specifically to French-speaking Africa, espe-cially the Paris community’s position and the programme of interprovincial meetings for this year.
The atmosphere of dialogue and listening as well as of shared prayer during the days of the meeting, helped to make of this moment a useful experience of fraternity and corresponsibility.
Updated version of the “Annuario Comboniano”
Once again, with the invaluable help of Fr. Fabio Baldan, we are send-ing you the electronic version in PDF (837 KB) of the “Annuario Com-boniano”, updated to January 2007. We ask in particular the provincials and delegates to make the file available to the confreres.
N.B. Please, check the data referring to you and your province or delegation and send eventual corrections, suggestions and changes to the Secretary General as soon as possible.
Fr. Vicente Luis Reig Bellver has defended, “summa cum laude”, his doctorate thesis: La salvación en los movimientos religiosos afri-canos. Propuesta de tres Iglesias Independientes de Kenya, at the faculty of theology of Granada (Spain).
Fr. Paucar Simbaña Sergio Ivan (EC) Quito (EC) 06.01.2007
Fr. Ochola Robert Lukwiya (U) Kitgum (UG) 20.01.2007
Fr. Tesfaab Bekit Sliman (ER) Bambi (ER) 21.01.2007
Holy Redeemer Guild
February 01 – 15 BS 16 – 28 CA
March 01 – 07 DCA 08 – 15 EG 16 – 31 EC
February - That the decisions of the Intercapitular Assembly of the Comboni Missionaries may become a means of growth towards a more radical and authentic religious lifestyle. Let us pray.
March - For the Comboni Missionary Brothers, that their way of life may be a source of inspiration in building a more caring and just world. Let us pray.
A renewed effort in the field of vocation promotion
After a process of discernment, the provincial council of the DSP de-cided to have the work of vocation promotion carried out by several coop-erating confreres based in three places: Ellwangen, Milland (Brixen) and Nürnberg. Doubtless at each place there will be a special point of starting off from or connecting with other fields of work: In Milland (Brixen) it is go-ing to be our involvement with the youth work, in Nürnberg our commit-ment with the Comboni Lay Missionaries and in Ellwangen the opportu-nity of working in missionary animation.
A confrere of the vocation promotion team has helped us to deepen the question of vocation promotion in a more refined way: "Vocation promo-tion in the DSP has always had the aim to promote missionary vocation in a convincing way, whereby we do hold that our missionary commitment is of importance, to be set in the context of today’s reality and to be imple-mented across borders. The aim has always been the same, but the situations of the young people have changed. We know this well and we have discussed a lot about it. Now the time has come to initiate a process of spiritual renewal of all the members of our Institute, trusting that the Ratio Missionis will provide the necessary support. We ourselves must, in the first place, be people who are enthusiastic about their vocation and thus become credible to others. Only in this way it will be possible to make people aware of God calling them and to make such call audible in a clearer way.”
Starting off from themes of missionary animation, we then planned to present with increased efforts the necessity of worldwide mission effort in the Church. As a consequence, it will also be possible to talk about be-coming a missionary and, God willing, to start a process of discernment of a personal missionary vocation with interested persons. To get down to practical action and the involvement of as many confreres as possible, the confreres in Ellwangen, Milland (Brixen) and Nürnberg will try their level best to carry out vocation promotion with commitment and creativity. May God bless these efforts of ours!
P. Giulio Albanese appointed Director of P.M.S. magazines in It-aly
Mgr. Luigi Bressan, bishop of Trent and president of the Missio Founda-tion (an organisation of the Italian Episcopal Conference - CEI - which gathers and coordinates the various national bodies working for the mis-sion), at the suggestion of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies and with the approval of the General Secretary of the CEI and the Presidency of Mission Foundation, with a decree dated 2 January 2007 has appointed the Comboni Missionary Giulio Albanese director of the magazines sector of the National Administration of the Pontifical Mis-sion Societies in Italy. The appointment is for three years and concerns the magazines “Popolo e Missione” and “Il Ponte d’Oro”.
The appointment reflects the esteem of the Italian Church for our mis-sionary service. We congratulate Fr. Albanese in the certainty that he will be able to place his skilled experience in missionary communications and information at the service of the P.M.S.
Comboni reflections on the eve of the Social Forum
Around fifty Comboni Missionaries of male and female Institutes, repre-senting almost as many nations, gathered at the Amani Centre (Peace Centre) to prepare for the World Social Forum (WSF) in Nairobi.
The meeting on the evening of the first day (18 January) focused on the expectations and concerns of the representatives in view of the WSF’s provocative slogan: “A new world is possible”. The expectations were ex-pressed with phrases such as: believing that a new world is possible; placing oneself in the context of the world movement; re-awakening the true motivations of a society which seems to be sliding towards commer-cial exploitation; comparing ourselves to groups that work in society and which do not have missionary motivations; having a vision of reality which is more faithful than the one presented by the mass media; building up contacts to build this new world together.
The concerns were just as clear and striking: we are meeting in Africa, but no strong African voice is heard; we must avoid staying on the theo-retical level, but come down to concrete experiences; Latin America’s rep-resentatives, where this movement has started, are absent; one has the impression that the WSF always starts from the centre of power, i.e. the cities, and that fear of globalisation is mainly a city-based fear; many movements, faced with the immense power of capitalism, show signs of tiring; many WSF’s themes do not touch the local situations around us.
During the Eucharist, on the following day, Fr Francesco Pierli ex-pressed these concerns by summarising them under two questions. The first was: “We affirm our conviction that a new world is possible. But who wants this new world? Certainly not the better off. And the less well off? Same answer. The oppressed rather dream of taking the place of their oppressors and having their privileges; they dream of taking the place of those in power, not of changing the world”.
The second question was: “How can we begin our journey towards the birth of this new world? The icon is certainly not that of change, but of res-urrection, to renew the things proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah. This icon is a call to a simple and uncomplicated life which rejects as death a soci-ety built on the economy of possession”. (Fr. Giampaolo Pezzi Trebeschi)
The “usual suspects” strike again
On Tuesday 12 December Kenya is on holiday, celebrating independ-ence day. Not all, however, celebrate it in the same way. In the late after-noon, four armed men force their way into the Comboni provincial house in Ngong Road and make the watchman lead them to the office of “the boss”. The provincial is out, so the intruders go into the rooms and com-pel the occupants to assemble into a single room, before helping them-selves to everthing easy to carry: laptops, cell phones and other elec-tronic gadgets.
Their first victim is Bro. Simplicio Soliven Buena, a Filippino confrere just arrived in Kenya and awaiting his assignment. They take away his knapsack containing his documents, camera and the little money left over from the journey. An elderly German couple, guests in the house, have to hand over their money, watches and wedding rings.
The superior of the house, Fr. Giancarlo Guiducci, sees the thieves take his suitcase and use it to carry away the booty, but he is surprised when one of them gives him back his driving license, showing him also that his gun is loaded.
The procurator, Fr Romeo De Berti, comes off best of all. He hands over his wallet, but points out that there are no computers or money in his room. Led into the office, he is ordered to open the safe. He obeys and shows them the empty safe. At that very moment the phone rings, fright-ening the robbers and causing them to flee.
This is not the first time the community of the Nairobi procure is the tar-get of thieves. There have been other robberies, some rather incredible, like that of the two gentlemen dressed as priests, carrying breviaries and wearing Roman collars.
Bakhita Radio: the voice of the Church in Southern Sudan
On Christmas night, Bakhita Radio 91 FM began transmitting. It is now the voice of the Church in Southern Sudan and the first radio station of the new Catholic network, which will cover all the Sudanese dioceses. It is dedicated to the country's first saint, Josephine Bakhita.
Bakhita Radio, based in Juba, the capital of the autonomous Southern Sudan, went on air on Christmas Eve with carols and Christmas mes-sages from Catholic and Anglican church leaders.
At midnight, it broadcast live from St. Theresa's Cathedral, in Kator, the Mass celebrated by Archbishop Paulino Lukudo Loro of Juba, as it was reported by CISA Agency in Nairobi.
Archbishop Loro welcomed with enthusiasm the beginning of Bakhita Radio and thanked the Comboni Institutes for "the Christmas present to the Catholic Church in Southern Sudan."
Bakhita Radio broadcasts a daily programme of two hours. On 8 Feb-ruary, the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, it will be on air with transmis-sions in the mornings and evenings.
The radio is the mother-station of Sudan Catholic Radio Network. The signal covers a 30 km-plus radius around Juba and has a potential audi-ence of more than 500,000 listeners.
Sudan Catholic Radio Network is a joint venture of the Comboni Mis-sionary Institutes. The network was set up to celebrate the canonization of St. Daniel Comboni and was offered to the Catholic Bishops Confer-ence of Sudan. Once completed, the network will have eight radio sta-tions, one in each diocese in Southern Sudan, plus the Nuba Mountains. (Agenzia Fides)
A week of prayer for peace in Northern Uganda
“Enough of war! Peace is a gift of God which we are called to build up day by day with prayer, dialogue, welcoming and forgiving one’s broth-ers”. With these words Mgr. Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda closed the week of prayer for peace in Northern Uganda with the celebration of Mass on Friday 12 January.
The Nuncio also recalled the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI on building peace through the conversion of hearts and expressed his thanks for the unceasing work of mediation in the conflict in Northern Uganda carried on by the local Church and in particular by Mgr. John Baptist Odama, Arch¬bishop of Gulu.
This was an important event since the aim is to involve the inhabitants of the region in a real process of reconciliation from below, starting with the families, involving the neighbours, the various villages and tribal groups. It is necessary to make the people aware that peace is built up in the hearts of people and between people. It was the second time that the week of prayer for peace was held. The first was held last year at Aju-mani; this year was held in Lira at the Comboni Centre which is affiliated to the Martyrs of Uganda University; next year it will be held at Nebbi.
The event was organised by the Justice and Peace commission of the ecclesiastical province of Gulu (Gulu, Arua, Lira and Nebbi dioceses). The diocese of Soroti was also invited to participate. These are in territo-ries affected by the civil war waged by the LRA and by tribes in conflict over land ownership.
The initiative was organised by the Catholic Church with an ecumenical and inter-religious outlook. At least seven thousand people took part, among whom were not only Catholics, but also Christians of other de-nominations and Moslems. It was an experience that involved in the first place the entire Catholic community of the region, which thus succeeded in providing a concrete sign of pacification and reconciliation.
On the political and diplomatic level there is growing uncertainty due to the LRA changing the venue from Juba in Sudan to Nairobi in Kenya for the next round of negotiations with the government of Kampala. The un-certainty is due to the statement by the Sudanese president, Omar Bashir, who said that he intends “to eliminate the LRA from the Sudan”.
As previously agreed, the members of the LRA who have observed the ceasefire met at camps in Sudan and DR Congo. The Ugandan govern-ment, wishing to continue the talks, warned that it would consider as a re-newal of hostilities the return of LRA fighters to Uganda.
The possible move of negotiations to Kenya would give rise to further complications. The leaders of the LRA are wanted by the International Penal Court and could be arrested by the Kenyan authorities, since Kenya has signed the Agreement set up by that Court. (Agenzia Fi-des).
Alice Lakwena, who inspired the LRA, died in exile
The woman who inspired the LRA, Alice Lakwena, died in the refugee camp of Dadaad, situated in Northern Kenya and near the border with Uganda, where she had been living in exile for the past eighteen years. During the eighties, Alice Auma took the name of Lakwena that in Acholi means “messenger”, and founded the “Movement of the Holy Spirit”.
In 1986, under her guidance, the “Movement of the Holy Spirit” began a guerrilla warfare in Northern Uganda. In a series of battles that left 5,000 rebels dead, its army of 7,000 was defeated by government troops in 1987. The cause of the present conflict is to be found in the magic prac-tices of Lakwena who would sprinkle her warriors with “miraculous oil” which should have protected them from enemy bullets. In 1989, from the ashes of the “Movement of the Holy Spirit”, the LRA was born, led by Jo-seph Kony, a cousin of Alice Lakwena. (Agenzia Fides)
IN PACE CHRISTI
Fr. Mario Marchetti (19.02.1922 - 26.12.2006)
Bro. Adolfo Xilo (13.08.1916 - 04.01.2007)
Bro. Michael Rieger (17.03.1938 - 10.01.2007)
Fr. Luigi Moser sr. (12.12.1934 - 13.01.2007)
Let us pray for our dead
THE FATHER: Joaquín, of Fr. Jorge Donato Decelis Burguete (M); Abilio, of Fr. Manuel Martins de Pinho (†).
THE MOTHER: María Teresa, of Fr. Salvador Castillo Valenci-ana (M); Raffaella, of Fr. Tarcisio Loro (CO); Romina, of Fr. Gian-franco Bettega (I); Andreina, of Fr. Siro Stocchetti (C); Ginetta, of Fr P. Dario Toffolo (C); Caterina, of Fr. Carmelo Casile (C).
THE BROTHER: Battista, of Fr. Luigi Varesco (I); Gerardo, of Fr. Michele Sardella (C); Don Livio, of Fr. Cirillo Tescaroli; Luigi, of Fr. Ambrogio Grassi (T); Martin, of Bro. Ottmar Spihs.
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Viviana Pollastri, Sr. Manuelita Serughetti.
Website: Visit our website at: http://comboni.org