Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
Nairobi: missionary grace
There was a significant and positive Comboni presence among the thousands of people from all over the world who took part in the World Social Forum in Kenya.
The General Councils of the Comboni Missionaries and the Comboni Missionary Sisters wish to thank the confreres, sisters and lay groups who dedicated those five days at the Social Forum for the good of the mission.
We are grateful above all for two other moments of grace celebrated in Kenya (Theological Forum on “The Third World and Liberation” and the Comboni Forum on “Evangelisation and Human Development” ).
During the latter, the Comboni family reflected upon its being and doing mission. Fifty Comboni missionary men and women “wove a close-knit fabric of the Gospel of Jesus and the gospel of the suffering of the poor. Doubtless, those provinces which did not participate, missed an appointment with a missionary grace.
The mission requires of us a deep missionary conversion at personal as well as at Institute level. Conversion means being in harmony with Christ who sends us out with this precise charge: “Preach that the Kingdom of God is near; cure the sick, raise the dead, heal the lepers…” (Mt 10, 8-10).
The Comboni Social Forum provided us with the opportunity to listen to the cry of our people and reminded us once again that we cannot keep our tents for ever on Mount Tabor (even if this experience is an important grace). Jesus commands us to descend and pitch our tents in that “vale of tears” where “the blind, the deaf, the lame, the lepers and the sick” await us.
Our special thanks to those who organised the Comboni phases of the World Social Forum, concerned only with making us appreciate the beauty of the Comboni charism and of Comboni as missionary among the poorest and most abandoned.
It is our hope that the final documents of the various phases of the World Social Forum become available to the provinces and delegations and promote missionary reflection.
Fr. Teresino Serra, mccj – Superior General
14 February 2007 (Feast of SS. Cyril and Methodius, missionaries)
Radio Bakhita: Thanks from the SCBC
Dear Fr. Serra and Members of the Curia,
I write to you in the name of all the Ordinaries of the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference (SCBC) to express our deepest thanks for the opening installation of the Bakhita Radio in Juba, Sudan, with the first broadcast of the Christmas Midnight Mass on Christmas night 2006.
We are now looking at the official inauguration of Radio Bakhita in Juba on St. Bakhita’s day, February 8th 2007.
We are overjoyed and truly thankful for this extraordinary means of instruction, evangelization and unification that you have enabled our dioceses to have. It will transform our reaching out to people through the radio waves to enlighten an infinite member of souls that so far we have not contacted or catechized in the knowledge of the Good News.
We thank you as SCBC Ordinaries, but also in the name of the countless people who will be enriched by the radio network. We shall do our best to make sure that this radio programme will be developed in each of our dioceses with God's providential help.
Cordially in Christ,
+ Bishop Caesar Mazzolari
Bishop of Rumbek – Sudan (22 January 2007)
Meeting of provincials/delegates of English-speaking Africa and Mozambique
The meeting of the ten provincials/delegates with the General Council took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 29 January to 3 February 2007.
Fr. Teresino opened the proceedings by thanking the participants and stressing how a spirit of optimism should characterise the meeting. Despite the time of emergency which the Institute is going through, it is necessary to believe in the presence of the Spirit, who inspires and leads those who work for the mission of God.
Having read and approved the acts of the previous meeting, the provincials and delegates presented the situation of each province and delegation. Various difficulties came to light which stand in the way of a more qualified and incisive presence.
In order to foster the greater effectiveness and better coordination of the activities of the circumscriptions, a sub-continental plan was prepared. This plan includes concrete proposals in the field of basic formation, evangelisation, governance, ongoing formation, missionary animation and the service of the Brothers.
Particular attention was paid to the process of the Ratio Missionis and basic formation, again referring to some decisions taken at the sub-continental level: continent-based scholasticates and CBC and a period of missionary service after theology and before perpetual vows. Interprovincial postulancies were proposed and a new form of scholasticate, better inserted in an urban environment and with a limited number of candidates, was encouraged.
An evaluation was made of the Intercapitular Assembly and preparation for the next General Chapter was discussed. The forthcoming African Synod was mentioned as was the need to involve the local Church in the preparation for this event.
The meeting also discussed the following points: the importance of fostering greater participation and responsibility of the African confreres in the life of the provinces and of the Institute; reflection upon the situation of nomads and pastors; considerations on the Code of Conduct.
There was also a meeting with the editorial board of New People Media Centre to evaluate the work done and future prospects. (Fr. Massimo Robol)
Meeting of the provincials of Europe and the delegate superior of Poland
The meeting of the five provincials of Europe and the delegate superior of Poland with the GC was held in Rome from 11 to 15 February 2007.
Meeting of the provincials/delegates of America and Asia
The meeting of the provincials of America and Asia with the GC took place at São Paulo, Brazil, from 22 to 28 February 2007.
General Secretariat of Missionary Animation
European meeting of the representatives of the Mass Media
The directors of the Comboni centres of the Means of Social Communication (Mass Media) in Europe held their annual meeting at the General Curia in Rome from 29 to 31 January 2007.
The following were present: the Comboni directors of Além-Mar and Audácia (Fr. Manuel Augusto Lopes Ferreira), Mundo Negro (Fr. Ismael Piñón López and Fr. Ramón Navarro Catalán) and Aguiluchos (Leo Salvador), Comboni Mission (Fr. John McGuire Downey), Kontinente and Werk des Erlösers (Fr. Anton Pramstrahler), Misjonarze Kombonianie (Fr. Manuel Ramón Torres Gómez), Nigrizia (Fr. Carmine Curci) and Il Piccolo Missionario (Fr. Matteo Merletto), EMI (Fr. Ottavio Raimondo), MISNA (Fr. Venanzio Milani). Also present were the provincial in charge of this sector in Europe (Fr. Paul Neri Augustine Felix) and the General Secretary of the General Secretariat for Mission Promotion.
Having examined the outcome of last year’s proposals, the meeting proceeded to present the situation of the various centres. Our directors certainly are not found wanting when it comes to imagination and daring in seeking to render our magazines and internet sites more effective. Nevertheless, there is a continual drop in circulation almost everywhere. There is agreement, therefore, to increase cooperation with our Comboni communities, especially those specifically dedicated to mission promotion and with the European group for theological reflection. The need to foster greater collaboration with other missionary Institutes present in the countries was insisted upon.
The conclusions underlined: the need to give greater space in our mass media to strictly kerygmatic content; fostering specialisations in this field of confreres from other continents, providing them with concrete opportunities for apprenticeship in our centres; to continue to examine the possibility of an on-line missionary magazine in English.
We recall that some of our magazines have celebrated or are celebrating important anniversaries (e.g. Além-Mar: Golden Jubilee; PM: 80th anniversary; Nigrizia: 125th anniversary) with various initiatives and special issues.
General Secretariat of evangelisation
Meeting with the restricted committee of the Ratio Missionis
The members of the restricted committee of the Ratio Missionis met from 5 to 10 February at Florence. The meeting was held to engage in an experience of community discernment starting from some points brought forward by the continents during the first part of the process, in order to use this methodology during the second phase of the Ratio Missionis. We were assisted in this evaluation by Professor Sergio Lanza, of the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome.
A methodology based on community discernment. The experience we underwent convinced us of the importance of community discernment as a methodology to continue the process of the Ratio Missionis, which will be carried on until the 2009 General Chapter. The first phase brought to our attention various aspects of our work, our community life, of our charism… It can be said to be the description of our situation starting from our concrete experiences. The second part will deal with three sectors of our Comboni life: spirituality, identity-charism, mission-evangelisation. The goal will be to promote in the Institute an overall vision of our identity and our missionary service, to re-examine the idea of mission and to propose some criteria governing the choice of our fields of work.
Attitude of listening. In this second phase, it will not only be a question of listening to ourselves, but of listening to God. He speaks to us through the Word, the world, the confreres and so forth. This requires an attitude of openness and conversion which facilitates silence, attention and listening in order to understand what God wants of us today. The experience we went through made us see that the basic aspects of discernment are: prayer, listening and fraternal community.
Continuity of the same process. Community discernment allows us to clarify, understand, delimit, deepen and decide together in view of the personal, community and provincial renewal of the Institute. It is important to note that, in this phase, we do not start from scratch, but from the results of the first phase of the process, which will be revisited in various moments and in different forms.
Guided by the Spirit. What we lived out during this meeting has made us experience the presence of the Spirit (in prayer, reflection, sharing and study). We became aware that when we let ourselves be guided by Him we are able to go beyond mere discussion, which prevents us from making progress.
The positive experience we went through encourages us to share and to propose the method of community discernment as a school of growth for all in view of the renewal which we desire. This is the aim of the second phase of the Ratio Missionis which will begin after the March Consulta.
Holy Redeemer Guild
March 01 – 07 DCA 08 – 15 EG 16 – 31 EC
April 01 – 15 DSP 16 – 30 E
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.
April - For the Comboni Missionary Sisters, that as true women of the Gospel, they may be able to proclaim by their life the Resurrection of Christ to the whole of humanity. Let us pray.
Fr. Neno Contran and Louis Kalonji: "Que leur vie soit racontée", in French, 208 pages, edited by Afriquespoir, price $3 in Kinshasa. It presents the profiles of about 200 lay Africans killed by violence, dictatorships, hatred and reprisal, men and women of peace, committed to democracy and dialogue, determined not to respond to violence with violence, hatred or revenge. Bearers of universal values, they are models of hope especially for the poor and the least important, that is, for the majority of the population. In their lives one discovers that compassion and hope may exist even in the most sordid circumstances. The authors are well aware of the limits of this book since the 200 people remembered are only a few of the legion of those who, in Africa, gave their lives for the Kingdom of God and its values. The story of their lives must be told so that it may not be forgotten but serve as an example to other men and women of peace.
The book is available from Fr. Neno Contran: email@example.com
Fr. Luigi Moser Jr. : “La Musique”, in French, 320 pages, edited by Afriquespoir. This is a complete manual of musical knowledge and learning. Its first chapters present all the theory of music, followed by three chapters on harmony, musical analysis, Gregorian chant, how to listen to and enjoy both Western and traditional African music, an explanation of almost 400 musical terms and 150 progressive scale exercises. The book is for all lovers of music, cantors, choirmasters, instrumentalists, composers and professionals.
It is available from P. Luigi Moser (firstname.lastname@example.org) for US$ 15 (€ 12).
N.B. It is very expensive to send these books to Europe and elsewhere. Please contact Fr. Contran for more information.
Twenty five years of love for the mission
At Cali on Sunday 21 January 2007, the Church gathered together with the Comboni family to celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of the arrival of the Comboni Missionaries in Cali on 20 January 1982. The commemorative Eucharistic celebration took place at the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, presided by Mgr. Juan Francisco Sarasti and Mgr. Luís Adriano Piedrahita, Archbishop and Auxiliary Bishop respectively of the diocese of Cali and by Fr. José Antonio Girau Pellicer, superior of Colombia delegation.
The commemorations actually began two weeks earlier with the interprovincial meeting of Comboni Brothers at Bogotà CBC. Brothers from all parts of Ecuador, Perù, Centralamerica and Colombia met to discuss themes regarding the mission and the spirituality of the Comboni Brother in America. From 15 to 20 January the members of the delegation, the Brothers of the CBC and the Comboni Missionary Sisters met at the “Sagrada Familia” spirituality centre for the spiritual exercises on the theme: “The heart, origin and goal of the mission”. Fr. Alberto Degan of the Comboni community of Guayaquil (Ecuador) led the retreat.
The shrine of Our Lady of Fatima welcomed numerous faithful, priests, religious, friends and benefactors who affectionately gathered round the Comboni Missionaries for this important event.
Representing the delegation, Fr. José Girau thanked the Church of Cali represented by its archbishop and auxiliary bishop, the Comboni Missionaries who laid the foundations of our presence in Colombia, those who worked and still work there, friends and benefactors for their unconditional support and their closeness.
The commemoration was also enriched by the presence of Fr. Bruno Bordonali and Fr. Natale Basso, “pioneers” of the opening in Colombia (together with Fr. Enrico Farè who died in 1989), as well as Bro. Gustavo Montoya Mondragón (now serving at Rebbio) and Fr. Martín Adolfo Bolaños Palacios (now working in Karamoja), first fruits of vocations ministry in this country.
While dessert was being served, some friends who, right from the start, cooperated full-time with the Comboni Missionaries, especially in difficult times: Herrera, Richard ed Eduardo who, with feeling, told interesting stories about the beinnings (which we could insert in the “Florilegio Comboniano”!). The Fathers and Brothers who served at Cali in the past but who are now either in other provinces or are deceased, were called to mind: Fr. Giuseppe Forlani, Fr. Claudio Zendron, Fr. Giampaolo Pezzi Trebeschi, Bro. Arnaldo Braguti, Fr. Dario Toffolo, Fr. Giulio Celadon… not forgetting either Fr. Vincenzo Cioffi (who died in 2003), or the most recent such as Fr. Rodolfo Heriberto Valdez Ponce, Fr. Jacques Théodore Monsengo Pwobe or those who today form part of the community: Fr. Vicente Serrano Aparici and Fr. Tarcisio Loro. The provincials who sustained the opening in Colombia from Quito were also remembered: Fr. Giovanni Fantin, Mgr. Eugenio Arellano Fernández, Fr. Angel Lafita Irigoyen and Fr. Enea Mauri.
On the following day the delegation Assembly began. The members continued the celebrations by thanksgiving, acknowledgment, evaluating and sharing, with the eyes and heart of St. Daniel Comboni.
DVD on the pastoral work of Fr. Robert Sottara in Rondonia
The South-Tyrolese filmmakers Sepp Hollweck (SVD) and Wolfgang Penn have produced a documentary (in DVD) about the pastoral work of our confrere Robert Sottara in the parish of Ouro Preto in Rondonia, Brazil. The 30-minute documentary is entitled, in German, “In der Fremde nicht mehr fremd”, meaning “No longer a stranger in a foreign land”. A South-Tyrolese himself, Fr. Robert has worked in Ouro Preto for six years. As the Comboni Missionaries have recently handed over this parish to the diocese, Fr. Robert has moved to Cacoal, still in Rondonia, to continue his pastoral work. The DVD can be useful for mission promotion. Anyone interested in it, may ask the provincial administrator of the DSP for a copy.
On Saturday 6 January 2007, the priestly ordination of Fr. Sergio Iván Paucar Simbaña was celebrated in the parish of San José Obrero in the archdiocese of Quito. Fr. Iván was ordained by Mgr. Eugenio Arellano Fernández, bishop of Esmeraldas.
The parish celebrated in style, with Comboni Missionary Sisters and parishioners making all the preparations. During the previous week there were various mission promotion meetings and, as a result, people were motivated and gathered in great numbers.
On the following day, Sunday, Fr. Iván celebrated his first Mass in the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, situated within the parish. This event, too, was well attended and marked by many celebrations. A number of Comboni Missionaries and representatives of the local clergy concelebrated on both occasions.
Fr. Iván will soon leave for South Africa, his mission appointment. We thank God for the Comboni vocations he has granted us and we pray that those he calls may respond generously. We wish also to thank God for the great missionary figures he gave to the Institute through this land of Ecuador.
The parish of Ongata Rongai: a bit of history
The Comboni Missionaries have worked in the diocese of Ngong since the late 1970’s. A few have taught in the minor seminary in Kiserian, while also giving a hand in pastoral work. In 1983 we opened the postulancy in Ongata Rongai, a small town of stone miners at the outskirts of Nairobi. Two years later Ongata Rongai (narrow plain in the local Maasai language) was detached from Kiserian to become a parish. Fr. Santiago Jiménez Calvo was the first parish priest. Fr. Santiago, and the Comboni Missionaries who followed him, worked hard both in the town and in the surrounding territory. Twenty six new outstations were opened in the following years.
In 1997 the parish was split into two, with the opening of Noonkopir parish, which is cared for by the Society of African Missions. A year later the parish of Kandisi was created by further dividing the territory of Ongata Rongai. The Don Orione Fathers took charge of the new parish. The same year, the large Ngaimurunya station was attached to Embulbul, a new parish carved out of Ngong.
On 21 January 2007 the Comboni Missionaries handed over the parish of Ongata Rongai to the diocese. The parish, with a population of about one hundred and twenty thousand people, is self reliant and a hive of activities. The new parish priest, Fr. Francis Mwangi, who is also the vicar general of the diocese, praised the work done by the many Comboni Missionaries in Ongata Rongai.
Crisis in Tchad: the present situation
The last quarter of 2006 saw the war in Eastern Tchad take on a truly deadly and destructive aspect: both government and rebels have made use of a great quantity of material and human resources.
What is the present situation? How is one to understand these events and forecast immediate and long-term developments?
The government has enormous financial resources due to oil royalties which have also helped increase the political action of the regime. Now it can buy all the arms it wants to eliminate the rebellion. It seeks to silence political opposition and civil society by means of corruption and, when necessary, by declaring a state of emergency. It forces France to support it by threatening to accuse it of supporting the rebels. The opposition is paralysed by the present state of emergency (now in force for six months), by control of the independent newspapers and by intimidating the trade unions whose hands are tied. Nevertheless, civil society and the democratic political opposition are ready for talks that will include all groups.
Meanwhile, the armed opposition is consolidating its military and political unity. Though the government may succeed in buying off people who agree to support it in exchange for substantial economic benefits, for their part the rebels do all they can to recruit, acquire arms and organise themselves and thus challenge the regime.
Mahamat Nour (head of the UCF who reached N’djamena on 13 April 2006) did join the government, but a sizeable portion of his men joined the other organisations that are still fighting. The latter, however, lack a common plan and political vision.
Among the members of the public there is a great desire for change, although there is also anxiety and resignation regarding means and prospects. People want a more just, clearer and determined leadership, but there is fear that it might be a too costly price to pay and that the rebels, once in power, may behave just like the present government.
France finds itself unable to put pressure on the regime, which is aware of this and blocks its every initiative. Nor can France intervene militarily due to the military power of the rebels. Because of this, in the present electoral context it moves very cautiously. It tries to intervene through the EU, while the USA is watching what France and Europe will do, especially regarding the stabilising of the border with Sudan.
Obviously it is impossible to foresee the outcome of the war, even if the situation seems to favour the rebels. Any result, even the most unexpected, is possible.
The priestly ordination of Fr. Robert Ochola Lukwiya took place in the square in front of the Church of Christ the King in Kitgum Town on 20 January 2007. For a full week, the mission and vocation promotion team animated the people to understand the significance of the event. The time indeed had come for the Acholi people, and in particular for the people of Kitgum, to share their faith with other nations by offering one of their sons as a missionary to the world in the family of the Comboni Missionaries.
The celebration was very well organised and it was attended by a large crowd coming from various parishes, even as far away as Gulu. The celebration was presided over by Mgr. John Baptist Odama, archbishop of Gulu who, in a colourful way, conveyed his missionary message to the people and invited the congregation to live up to the vocation they had received from God. A true vocation is always characterised by service and care for all, without any discrimination.
Many diocesan priests and Comboni Missionaries (sisters, brothers and fathers) were present as a way of welcoming the newly ordained priest among the evangelizers and offering him support in his future mission. At the end of the celebration, Mgr. Odama gave the mandate to Fr. Robert to go out to the world and to share the faith of his own people. The provincial, Fr. Giuseppe Filippi, welcomed him on behalf of the Institute and announced to the faithful the mission appointment given to the newly ordained priest by the Superior General: South Africa.
To Fr. Robert go our best wishes for a fruitful and joyful missionary service.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Fr. José Miguel Florencio Maulén Merino (11.07.1969-14.02.2007)
Let us pray for our dead
THE FATHER: Norman (and also the sister-in-law and two nieces), of Fr. Jude Eugene Burgers (MZ).
THE MOTHER: Lucie, of Fr. Elias Afola Kossi Mensah (PO).
THE BROTHER: Piergiorgio, of Fr. Efrem Tresoldi (RSA); Dante, of Fr. Eusebio Pozzi (†); Agostinho, of Fr. Celestino Seabra Invaha Namaneque (SS).
THE SISTER: Santina, of Fr. Giuliano Ignazio Alghisi (†); Maria, of Fr. Leonardo Mango (†); Carmen, of Fr. Alejandro Lafuente Hernández (BNE) and Fr. Florentino Lafuente Hernández (PE).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Rosaria Borghetti, Sr. Letizia Berhe.
THE COMBONI SECULAR MISSIONARY: Maria Teresa Tebon.
Visit our website: http://www.comboni.org