Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
Consulta of March 2007
Fr. Miguel Navarrete Arceo (TC) has been appointed secretary of the general secretariat for vocation promotion and formation as from 1 July 2007. He takes the place of Fr. Girolamo Miante, to whom we are greatly thankful for his untiring service and collaboration.
Fr. Josef König – In the Consulta of March 2007 the General Council (GC) has approved the election, which took place on 22 November 2006, of Fr. Josef König as vice provincial of the DSP. Fr. Josef takes the place of Fr. Josef Altenburger, elected and appointed provincial of the same province. Fr. König’s term of office will end on 31 December 2007.
Fr. Alfredo Ribeiro Neres (CN) has been appointed superior of the scholasticate of Kinshasa as from 1 April 2007.
Fr. Luis Alberto Barrera Pacheco (CA) has been appointed formator of the scholasticate of Lima, Peru, as from 1 July 2007. He takes the place of Fr. Fernando Madaschi who has already left the scholasticate to go back to pastoral work, where he feels better identified and more at home.
Fr. Herbert Heinz Gimpl (DSP) has been appointed formator and superior of the scholasticate of Innsbruck as from 1 July 2007. He takes the place of Fr. Josef Altenburger who has been appointed provincial of the DSP.
Fr. Stéphane Kamanga Mutombo (CN) has been appointed formator of the scholasticate of Kinshasa as from 1 July 2007. He takes the place of Fr. Alessandro Bedin, whom we wholeheartedly thank.
Fr. (Fidèle) Kokouvi Katsan Fodagni has been appointed formator of the scholasticate of São Paulo (BS) as from 1 July 2007 to take the place of Fr. Renato Lanfranchi. Grateful thanks go to Fr. Renato for his many years of service in formation.
Fr. Giovanni Taneburgo (I) has been appointed superior of the scholasticate of Casavatore (I) as from 1 July 2007.
Fr. José de Jesús Villaseñor Gálvez (I) has been appointed formator of the scholasticate of Casavatore (I) as from 1 July 2007. He takes the place of Fr. Vincenzo Rino Percassi. The GC thanks Fr. Vincenzo wholeheartedly for his work in basic and ongoing formation.
Fr. Raphael Wokorach P’Mony (NAP) has been appointed formator of the scholasticate of Nairobi as from 1 July 2007. He takes the place of Fr. Giovanni Battista Antonini, to whom we are grateful for all his help and availability.
Fr. Vanderlei Bervian (BS) has been appointed superior of the scholasticate of São Paulo (BS) as from 1 July 2007 to replace Fr. Renato Lanfranchi.
Fr. Brito Carvajal Byron Gustavo (EC) has been appointed formator of the CIF of Bogotà as from 1 July 2007. He takes the place of Fr. Ramón Arturo Orendain Camacho. Many thanks to Fr. Ramón and best wishes to Fr. Brito.
Fr. Tarcisio Candian (MO) has been appointed associate novice master in the noviciate of Venegono (I). As from 1 July 2007 he replaces Fr. José de Jesús Villaseñor Gálvez. Many thanks to Fr. Jesús for his collaboration with the GC.
Fr. Habtu Teklay Tiluck (T) has been appointed novice master of Cotonou (T) as from 1 July 2007 to replace Fr. Sandro Cadei, whom we thank for the years he has spent in basic formation.
Code of Conduct
On 15 March, the birthday of St. Daniel Comboni, the GC sent out the document “Holy and capable: guidelines for the ministry and brotherly care of people in special situations”. The GC thanks the commission ad hoc and all the other collaborators for their precious and skilful work and hopes that the translation of the document in other languages will proceed with speed.
The second stage of the Ratio Missionis
It is three years since we have undertaken the process of the Ratio Missionis (RM) and it has been a time of grace. The RM has accompanied the entire Institute, generating a common feeling, a missionary brotherhood of a deeper quality, allowing us to do and to be mission together. Some provinces and delegations have worked hard, others less, others have barely started.
The GC has prepared a letter to present the report of this first stage, which was prepared by the secretary of the general secretariat for evangelisation and the commissions for the RM. This report will soon be sent to all the confreres as an important means to carry on with our reflection and the renewal of the Institute. Let us continue to walk together towards the future and to prepare ourselves for the General Chapter 2009.
Continental meetings of the GC with provincials and delegates
The continental meetings of the GC with the provincials and delegates have been moments of Comboni grace for all. They have been four opportunities when, as a missionary cenacle, we have revisited our mission and renewed our attachment to the Institute. Obviously, we have followed the broad paths pointed out during the Intercapitular Assembly of 2006: to reprogram the Institute, to redesign our presence in accordance with our specific aim, to re-qualify our personnel and formation and to get hold again of our spirituality.
In our four meetings we have identified common problems and together we have specified plans and proposals. It has not been easy to see clearly ahead of us, nor to draft precise plans. At the end of the Consulta, the GC will send out a letter regarding these meetings, specifying the pointers about which it felt on the same wavelength as the provincials and delegates. We all desire to believe, dare, risk: namely, to journey under the guidance of the Spirit.
Consultations for the elections of provincials/delegates
The letter of the Superior General concerning the consultations for the appointments of provincial and delegate superiors and the elections of their councillors was sent by e-mail and by post.
Taking into account the circumscriptions’ planned events, the opinion poll in particular, but also the other programmed events at the level of the Institute, continent, province and delegation, the GC sets 1 May 2007 as the date for the official start of the opinion poll and consultations, and 31 December 2007 as the closing date of the process of the appointment of provincial and delegate superiors and the election of provincial and delegation councillors.
The GC will soon send out a letter to outline new suggestions and initiatives concerning basic formation. These have also been discussed in the continental meetings of the GC with the provincials and delegates.
Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation (CYOF)
The GC reminds everyone that all the confreres have the right and the duty to attend the CYOF after ten years of priestly ordination or of perpetual vows (CA ’91, 38,4). The Institute is investing personnel and resources in the CYOF, therefore the GC, once again, asks the provincial and delegation councils to encourage and make plans for the participation of the confreres who will be called to take part in the CYOF.
The murder of Fr. Luciano Fulvi
On 23 March 2007 the High Court of Gulu has condemned to death Christopher Ojok, Innocent Akera and Michael Loum, found guilty of the murder of Fr Luciano Fulvi on 3 March 2004. The fourth accused, Charles Ayella, has instead been acquitted and set free.
As we Comboni Missionaries are against the death penalty, the GC supports and encourages the initiative of the province of Uganda to ask the High Court of Uganda to commute the death penalty into a life sentence.
Difficult situation in Eritrea
In the last months the GC has followed with concern the socio-political situation in Eritrea and its effect on the life of the Church. The situation, even before a difficult one, has turned for the worse after the publication of a letter of the local bishops, in which they criticised the plan of the government to further reduce the activities of the Catholic Church, by making compulsory the military service for seminarians and priests. Recently the government has even threatened not to renew the residence permit of a number of foreign religious.
The GC asks all the confreres to pray for the suffering people and Church in Eritrea.
Spiritual Retreat of the General Council and General Direction
The GC and the members of the General Administration will be away from the Generalate from 21 to 27 May 2007 for their yearly Retreat.
Next Consulta: from 4 to 30 June 2007.
Visits and journeys by the members of the GC
Fr. Teresino Serra from 20 April to 10 May 2007 is to give a spiritual retreat to the confreres of the NAP and to visit the province; from 7 to 24 July is to give a spiritual retreat to the confreres of Ethiopia and to visit the province.
Fr. Fabio Carlo Baldan from 13 to 20 April 2007 is to take part in the provincial assembly of Khartoum; from 21 April to 10 May is to visit the province of Southern Sudan.
Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel from 13 to 20 April 2007 is to accompany Fr. Fabio Carlo Baldan in his visit to the province of Khartoum; from 22 April to 6 May 2007 is to visit Asmara (ER); from 10 to 12 July is to take part in the meeting of provincials and delegates of the American continent in Los Angeles (NAP).
Fr. Odelir José Magri from 10 to 12 July is to take part in the meeting of provincials and delegates of the American continent in Los Angeles (NAP).
Despatch of the “Bulletin” and other documents
During the recent continental meetings with the GC, some provincials and delegates informed the General Secretary that they had not received some last years’ issues (2006) of the “Bulletin”. We refer to the “Bulletin MCCJ”, numbers 229, 230, 231 and 232 (the latter issue being that of the Intercapitular Assembly), and to “In Memoriam”, numbers 230 and 232.
We would ask you to kindly inform the General Secretary which issues you have not yet received, if you have not already done so. Please note that we will probably be able to send you only two or three copies of the missing numbers.
This year we have already sent out number 233 (January 2007) of the Bulletin and no. 86 (1/2007) of Archivio Comboniano. If you do not receive them before the end of April, please let us know.
General Secretariat for Vocation Promotion and Formation
Aspirants and Pre-postulants: 181, with 97 seminarians (minor seminary) and 84 pre-postulants (introductory stage). We have 4 minor seminaries (1 in Mexico, 1 in Portugal, 1 in Eritrea and 1 in Mozambique) and the stage of pre-postulancy (introductory), in various modalities, is now present in many provinces and delegations of America and Africa and is doing well.
Postulants: 217, with 197 candidates for the priesthood and 20 for the Brotherhood. We have 27 postulancies (15 in Africa, 7 in America, 4 in Europe and 1 in Asia); two of these are for the candidates to the Brotherhood (Layibi in Uganda and Lomé in Togo).
Novices: 85, with 73 for the priesthood and 12 for the Brotherhood. The total number of newly professed this year should be 39 (1 priest, 33 scholastics, 5 Brothers). We have 8 novitiates: 4 in Africa (Namugongo and Lusaka for the English speaking African provinces and Kinshasa and Cotonou for the French speaking African provinces), 2 in America (Sahuayo and Huánuco), 1 in Europe (Venegono) and 1 in the Philippines (Manila). With the beginning of the new formation year, all French-speaking novices will go to Cotonou. The novitiate of Kinshasa will thus be temporarily closed.
Scholastics and Brothers with temporary vows (TV): 158, with 134 scholastics and 24 Brothers. Distribution by continents: 88 from Africa (79 scholastics and 9 Brothers), 44 from America (38 scholastics and 6 Brothers), 21 from Europe (13 scholastics and 8 Brothers) and 5 from Asia (4 scholastics and 1 Brother). The provinces with most scholastics and Brothers with TV are Togo (26), Congo (20), Mexico (18), Italy (12), Perù-Chile (10) and Uganda (9). We have 8 scholasticates and 2 CIF (4 in America, 4 in Africa and 2 in Europe).
The number of confreres of VT who left the Institute last year (2005-2006) is 43 (36 scholastics and 7 Brothers).
Ordinations and Brother Finalists: this year (2007) we expect 11 ordinations: 5 from Africa, 5 from America, 1 from Asia. The Brothers who will make their perpetual professions this year will be 5 (2 from Africa, 2 from Europe, 1 from America). The Brother finalists in the CIF are 2 (1 from Europe, 1 from Africa). In 2006, the ordinations were 21, the finalist Brothers in the CIF were 5 and the Brothers’ perpetual vows 4.
Personnel: There are 173 confreres working for vocations. They are distributed as follows: 84 promoters (46 full-time and 38 part-time) and 89 formators (80 full-time and 9 part-time: 55 in the pre-postulancies and postulancies, 14 in the novitiates, 20 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 wherever we are present.
Specializations: 9 confreres are presently attending courses of specialization, including Brothers in the CIF (2). Last year (2005-2006), 10 confreres obtained a degree (4 doctorates and 7 licentiates). The confreres presently attending courses for a direct preparation to a particular service are 6 (for formation). Last year they were 3 (all for formation).
Secretariat for Evangelization
VIVAT (Europe) Justice and Peace meeting
Our missionary communities in various parts of the world encounter and become involved in different situations of poverty and exclusion. The work of human promotion, the defence of basic rights and the rebuilding of hope is a constant feature and has become and essential part of our missionary action.
However, the absence of a horizontally-oriented web connecting one experience with another is noted with the result that our efforts remain isolated and disconnected. At the same time we feel the need of vertical connections bringing us into contact with institutional and decision-making organisations where the really important political and economic policies are made (e.g.: EU and UN).
It was with this in mind that 40 male and female missionaries of various Institutes of European nations met in Rome from 11 to 15 March 2007, for a meeting organised by VIVAT, which is an NGO concerned with justice and peace and founded seven years ago by the Divine Word Missionaries and the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit. As well as the founding Institutes, the other five associate missionary Institutes attended: Spiritans, Comboni Missionaries, Comboni Missionary Sisters, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Missionary Sisters of the Rosary.
Among the Comboni participants were: Fr. Alejandro Canales Maza (Spain), Fr. Giacomo Palagi and Fr. Dario Bossi (Italia), Fr. Günther Nährich (Germany) and Fr. Enrique Javier Rosich Vargas (secretary for evangelization).
Reflection centred especially on common strategies of missionary action in Europe in the field of Justice and Peace (JPIC) and outlined plans towards exercising combined (networking) and effective pressure (lobbying) upon the UN decision-makers, in defence of justice, peace and fundamental human rights (advocacy).
During the four workshop days, the participants worked intensely on the following themes: how VIVAT came to be, its role as regards the UN in the present world political-economic equilibrium, possible relations between missionaries and the UN and how to improve cooperation between the same missionary families. During the exchanges, the richness and plurality of our commitments in Europe: supporting migrants and asylum-seekers, fighting against militarization and the arms trade, the defence of minorities, the homeless, the victims of alcohol and drugs, the public right to essential goods (water in particular), working against the Europe-Africa economic partnership trade agreements (EAEPTA) at present under discussion, in favour of equitable food distribution, fair trade and networks of cooperation with the developing world, etc.
VIVAT is an NGO approved by the UN, a member of the Economic and Social Council of the UN and staffs a permanent office in New York. In recent years, following the example of the DWM, other religious Institutes, which share the same objectives and feel the need to be present where world-wide decisions are made, became associates of the NGO and, through VIVAT, they are able to network among themselves and cooperate in pressuring the UN organisms and individual nations to the advantage of the poorest. Participating in a continually updated network, allows these Institutes to better collaborate among themselves and to become more effective in whatever action is proposed by JPIC.
Many challenges are still on the table: how to organise better these resources in view of a common commitment in these fields; how to present VIVAT to all the members of our Institutes; how to establish a more meaningful dialogue in our communities with the executive committee of VIVAT who represent us in New York at the seat of the UN; how to invest more in the formation of members of ours who might take up long-term commitments in JPIC.
All this and more enabled all the participants to share an experience of fraternity and collaboration in the name of mission and the people of the southern hemisphere with whom we are called to make common cause, precisely as Comboni would have done if he were here today.
Holy Redeemer Guild
April 01 – 15 DSP 16 – 30 E
May 01 – 07 ET 08 – 15 ER 16 – 31 IT
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.
May - That as in Mary, the woman in whom God dwells, contemplation may increasingly become a basic aspect of a life consecrated to the mission. Let us pray.
Moving towards China
The 15 March 2007 saw the Institute’s mission of first evangelization in Asia take a significant step forward with the formal establishment of a second community in Macau which has as its specific purpose the outreach to Mainland China.
The creation of this new community was the result of a proposal made unanimously by the confreres of the “China Group” when they met in Macau, in the presence of the Superior General and Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel in September 2005. The community, to be known as Macau-St. Zhao Rong, after one of the Chinese martyrs canonized by John Paul II in 2000, is presently composed of Fr. Daniel Cerezo Ruiz, Fr. Victor Manuel Aguilar Sánchez and Fr. Víctor Alejandro Mejía Domínguez and is also the new base for the Asia Delegation’s Fen Xiang Project, which favours activities of formation of local pastoral agents and of human development in Mainland China.
The St. Zhao Rong community joins the two existing communities of the China Group – Macau-St. Joseph and Taipei (Taiwan), also engaged in first evangelization in their respective territories – to carry forward the decision of the 1985 General Chapter that our Institute’s mission in Asia should have first evangelization as its principal focus.
From emigration to evangelization
From 16 to 18 March 2007, in the communes of Silz and Haiming the Austrian Tyrol, an event which happened in Silz on 16 March 1857, exactly fifty years previously, was commemorated.
On that day, around 200 emigrants greeted their relatives before departing for Peru in search of wok and a new fatherland. They were accompanied by a priest, originally from Innsbruck, Fr. Josef Egg. In his homily at the Mass of farewell, he explained the reasons for their departure: “Truly, the land of the Tyrol ought to weep knowing it could not feed its sons and daughters”.
At the port of Antwerp, the Tyrolese emigrants were joined by another hundred people as they boarded the ship “Norton”. They came from Reil, Briedel and Alf, towns along the banks of the Mosel in Germany and from Peterslahar and Burglahr, in the neighbouring area of Westerwald, on the Eastern bank of the Rhine.
Having sailed around South America, they reached Callao, Lima, and after two years, having crossed the Andes, the Pozuzo river in the Peruvian forest. In order to travel from the port of Callao to their destination in the virgin forest, they took two years as the road to Pozuzo promised by the government of Peru had not been built – and never was! In the course of this long and disheartening journey, a few of the migrants left the main group, but around 170 stayed together to the end and, encouraged and sustained by Fr. Egg, succeeded in founding the settlement of Pozuzo. Fr. Egg was not only their pastor, but also their doctor, judge, their friend and their guide. When he died in 1905, at the age of 85 years, his successor was another Tyrolese priest, Fr. Franz Schafferer.
When he died in 1936, the political situation in Germany and Austria did not allow priests to be sent to Peru. Some months afterwards, a friend of the Pozuzo settlers, having succeeded in returning to Europe, approached the Comboni Institute of the DSP and asked for a missionary priest for Pozuzo.
It was in September 1938 that the first Comboni Missionaries: Fr. Alois Ipfelkofer, Fr. Andreas Riedl and Fr. Michael Wagner reached Pozuzo, totally unaware that their arrival would pave the way for the Comboni missions in South America.
This year, for the first time, the celebrations at Silz and Haiming were attended by 30 citizens of Pozuzo as guests returning to their homeland. Our confrere Fr. Hans Wörner, parish priest of Pozuzo since 2000, managed to be present for the celebrations, despite the difficulties caused by floods in Peru. So, on 18 March 2007, he presided at the solemn commemorative Mass. During the final sung Te Deum, many had tears in their eyes – not tears of sadness as at the first departure, but tears of joy and gratitude to the Lord.
Symposium on religious life
With the title “Servants of the Mission of Christ – our journey as religious in Ethiopia”, the Conference of Religious Superiors in Ethiopia made the courageous and prophetic gesture of questioning itself on the future of the religious life in the local situation, starting from the ties with the great Christian tradition of the nation, the roots of religious life and inculturation.
The symposium took place in Addis Ababa from 4 to 11 February 2007 and involved more than 200 religious (20% of all religious in Ethiopia) representing almost all the religious Institutes (around 50) in the country.
The four days of work were carried out in an atmosphere of great commitment and involvement. The topics tackled during the symposium derived from a simple question put by a local religious: “What does it mean to be Catholics, Ethiopians and consecrated people today?”
The main speaker at the symposium was Fr Ezio Bianchi of the monastic community of Bose, Italy. His presence acted as a stimulus, giving rise to questions concerning the essence of consecrated life, in dialogue with the millenary Christian reality and a spiritual and monastic tradition going back to the sixth century.
The necessity of a Catholic inculturated religious life derives from the very essence of religious life, the choice of a Christian life that is based on celibacy and community life and which develops in various times and places with distinct modalities and characteristics. The development of consecrated life in the East has not followed the path of specialization as it did in the West where charismatic differentiation gave rise to innumerable Institutes and is today confronted by the need to reach convergence, if it wishes to meet the challenges of the modern world and continue to be relevant to the people of today.
The presence of so many foreign Institutes in Ethiopia has given rise to the tendency to assume Western models. The danger, rendered all the more serious by the existence of a tradition of religious life which permeates the Christian life of Ethiopia, is to create models of religious life alien to the tradition of a people and so create generations of male and female religious who are “alienated”, strangers in their own land and tradition.
The presence of Mons. Abune Samuel, Auxiliary Bishop of Addis Ababa of the Ethiopian - Tewahedo Orthodox Church helped us to understand more deeply the deep roots and profound spiritual riches of the Ethiopian Church: the long development of the monastic life, the search for humility, service and love within a simple life, lived in obedience and prayer, demonstrate the deep connection with the monastic tradition of the first centuries of united Christianity.
The future of religious life in Ethiopia is bound up with the capacity of the different religious Institutes to overcome the limits deriving from their experience in their native countries and enter with mind, heart and exterior manifestations that complex reality which is the Ethiopian Church.
Religious life more and more needs men and women who are capable of living the primacy of God in their lives, beginning anew every day and every day renewing the passion for God together with the passion for the men and women of our time. We, too, want this experience to bear fruit in the Ethiopian Church, opening new and courageous paths to those who possess the great desire to serve God in the world of today.
“Veronese Comboni Year”
This year is the 150th anniversary of the first departure of St. Daniel Comboni from Verona for Africa (1857) together with other missionaries of the Institute of Don Nicola Mazza. It is also the 140th anniversary of the foundation of our Institute in Verona (1867) and the 125th anniversary of “Nigrizia” magazine, not to mention other missionary anniversaries. A plan of action to live these events meaningfully has been prepared by the community of the Mother House, in the context of a “Veronese Comboni Year”, in collaboration with other missionary realities (diocese, Comboni Missionary Sisters, Mazza Institute, etc.).
The Veronese Comboni Year was opened on 15 March with a solemn Eucharistic celebration presided by the Superior General of the Pius Society of Don Nicola Mazza, Don Corrado Ginami, and attended by Comboni Missionary Sisters and other invited guests connected to the world of mission.
On the evening of the same day, in the “Comboni Chapel”, a series of monthly meetings, on a fixed date and on Comboni themes, devised for and with the participation of lay people attracted by the charism of Comboni (AVOCO, LMC, other volunteers etc.), was started.
As decided by the priests of the city, the public Way of the Cross (30 March) was prepared with a strong missionary and Comboni dimension. It began in Piazza Isola where the statue of Comboni, blessed fifty years ago, stands.
The placing of some plaques, to preserve his historical memory, in the places (in the city and province of Verona) most connected with the life of Comboni, is being studied.
The plan to provide a day of retreat for children preparing for confirmation is already under way and well received in various parishes. It includes a guided tour of the Museo Africano and a Comboni presentation in order to help them to discover the missionary and universal dimension proper to the sacrament of Confirmation.
It is expected that parishes will be given the possibility of celebrating a “missionary triduum” in the autumn, with ad hoc material, including, for those who wish, an itenerant relic of Comboni.
The Verona diocesan office for the pastoral care of tourists is thinking of organising, at the end of 2007, a pilgrimage “in the footsteps of Comboni in Egypt and Sudan, 150 years later.”
There are other ideas in the pipeline, cultural as well as spiritual, including some regarding our personal and community fidelity to the charism of Comboni and our missionary consecration.
Convention of Veronese Fidei Donum priests and laity
The diocese of Verona has celebrated an important missionary convention on occasion of the 50th anniversary of the encyclical Fidei Donum (Pius XII, 1957) which encouraged diocesan priests and laity to commit themselves to the ad gentes mission in other continents. All the Veronese Fidei Donum priests and some laity working abroad returned for this convention lasting a fortnight. They came to evaluate and re-launch thei commitment, following a full programme aimed at increasing awareness in all Church groups (council of priests, gatherings of clergy, parishes, Church organisations, confederation of religious etc.) and the citizens in and around Verona. During the concluding Mass, at the moment of missionary sending, also two Comboni missionaries returning to the missions were present.
During the convention, the name of St. Daniel Comboni was often mentioned as one who represented the missionary spirit of Verona and an example of mutual collaboration among peoples. The bishop of Bafatà (Guinea-Bissau), Mons. Carlos Pedro Zilli, Brazilian PIME missionary, came to celebrate Mass at the Mother House. He had recently inaugurated a parish dedicated to Comboni in that small African country, where he is assisted by Veronese priests and laity. The bishop spoke enthusiastically of our Founder.
"Veronetta" in CD-Rom
The Municipality of Verona, in collaboration with other organisations, has produced an interesting CD-Rom about "Veronetta", the area of the city along the left bank of the Adige River, where our Mother House is located. The sub-title explains the purpose of this cultural initiative: “A network of cultural resources for over 3000 years”. The long civil, military, social, cultural and Christian history of this interesting area of the city, connected to the origins of our Institute, is illustrated with photos and captions. The “Museo Africano” has contributed to this CD by providing various pictures.
Activities of the community of San Pancrazio
The Comboni community of San Pancrazio, apart from continuing its work as a travel agency, even if in a reduced way, is becoming more involved in different areas of mission promotion, such as ACSE, the Urbanian and Gregorian universities, the Teresianum and Salesian Athenaeum, as well as in other more traditional, but no less important ways.
They organise days of mission promotion in parishes, schools and other groups. They have recently been accompanying two initiatives of the Municipality of Rome. The first consists in animating the secondary schools of the city in order to increase their awareness of the situation of Malawi and have them contribute, even financially, to the construction of two schools there, one of which is located in our Lilongwe parish. The second consists in carrying out the Italia Africa programme which will end with various activities on 12 May 2007. The aims of the initiative are those of the Millennium with the meaningful motto: “Every promise is a debt”. At the level of the parish of San Pancrazio and of ACSE, in March there was a review of classic and contemporary African films, already shown at numerous international film festivals.
Fiftieth anniversary of the seminary of San Francisco del Rincón
On Sunday 11 March 2007, the residents of our junior seminary of San Francisco del Rincón, Gto., experienced a mission day which will remain impressed upon the minds and hearts of all who participated at the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Comboni presence there.
At 12:00 sharp the procession to the altar, well prepared for the Eucharistic celebration, began. The Mass was presided by Mons. José Guadalupe Martín Rábago, Archbishop of León, accompanied by around thirty priests, mostly Comboni Missionaries, led by their provincial, Fr. Rafael González Ponce. The presence of our friends and benefactors coming from various places of México to share in this day was truly impressive. No-one could remember, among the Comboni celebrations, such an attendance of people (five or six thousand). Speaking during the Mass, Mons. Martín Rábago praised the presence and work of our Institute in the archdiocese, emphasising the formation and the sending of missionaries to very needy regions of the world: many of these missionaries, both priests and Brothers, were from the archdiocese of León.
Soon after the concelebration, the feast continued with the sampling of typically Mexican dishes and a show prepared to commemorate these fifty years of missionary work of which St. Daniel Comboni dreamed of and made possible for the Mexican province.
Explosion at the army arsenal
On Thursday 22 March 2007, from 4 to 9 in the afternoon a continuous series of explosions at the largest army arsenal in Mozambique, located near Maputo airport, caused death and destruction. The enormous munitions storage area was built by Soviet engineers in the eighties, during the 1975-1992 civil war, in what was then a deserted place. However, as years went by and great numbers of people fled the countryside, many people built their dwellings all around the arsenal. Some houses were even built against the wall encircling the military complex. We Comboni Missionaries, together with the teachers and more than 200 children of the afternoon shift of the school of our parish of St. Francis Xavier, passed those hours leaning against the church wall for protection.
In January of this year at that same very place there had been an accident which resulted in some minor injuries. The authorities had promised to transfer the arsenal to a safer and more remote place, but this never happened and the people now mourn their dead: conservative official sources put these at around 100, with 500 wounded. It seems the cause of the tragedy was the greed of people who tried to extract the “mercury” from the bombs to sell it.
Both we and the schoolchildren were unharmed, even if frightened. We witnessed the collapse of part of the roof of the church, but suffered no injuries. The other parish buildings were all damaged by the blast of the horrific explosions.
The government expressed solidarity and condolences to the people, but no-one believes any concrete action will follow their words. With this tragedy we begin our “Week of the Passion”, a daily situation for many people in this area. On the Sunday after the explosion (25 March), the church, though damaged, was thronged with people with heavy hearts and tears in their eyes, but showing great faith in time of trial. Many, however, were absent, such as Marisa who was baptised at Easter last year and was killed with her little nephew and her pregnant sister-in-law.
(P. Leonello Bettini)
The Cardinal of Chicago visits the Peace Corner
24 February 2007 will be remembered at the Peace Corner as a very special day: the cardinal of the archdiocese of Chicago, His Eminence Francis George, came to visit our little youth centre. The cardinal had wanted to visit the Peace Corner for a long time, but his very busy schedule and lately some health problems, prevented him from coming. However, right before Christmas, the cardinal called Fr. Maurizio Binaghi and expressed once more the desire to visit first hand the Peace Corner, and the date of February 24 was set.
On the day of the visit, it seemed like the infamous Chicago winter was true to its fame, and snow and strong freezing wind battered the city, but at 4 pm the cardinal arrived to a crowded and very warm Peace Corner. In fact, a lot of our youth came to the centre knowing that the cardinal was coming. Everybody wanted to meet him, even if more than 98% of our youth are not Catholic. The cardinal was very gracious and kind, meeting all the youth, asking them questions and listening to their stories and concerns. Daniel, one of the staff members, delivered a wonderful speech welcoming the cardinal who is now, in Daniel’s words, “A Peace Corner guy.”
After the solemn blessing of the centre, the cardinal spent time with Fr. Maurizio and the staff, asking questions and gathering information about the various activities that are part of our programs. He was very attentive and sensitive to the challenges and problems many of our youth face daily. While he found time also to meet with some of the members of our Advisory Board, the cardinal’s primary attention focused on our youth, and he sought to interact with them as much as he could.
At the end of the visit, the cardinal asked Fr. Maurizio to thank, on his behalf, the Comboni Missionaries for their commitment to the African-American community in Chicago. He reiterated how this ministry in one of Chicago’s poorest and most violent neighbourhood is a true missionary activity (80% of the population here is not affiliated to any church), strongly affirming: “This is Mission too.”
This visit surely made a strong impression on all our youth and helped all of us to rediscover the importance of our presence to serve the African-American community by witnessing the Gospel to some of the poorest and most abandoned here in Chicago in the footsteps of Daniel Comboni who is our example of dedication and passion for the poor.
While the cardinal’s visit was something very special, it is important to note that Bishop John Manz, the Episcopal Vicar for our area, is a great friend of the Peace Corner. Bishop Manz visited the centre in the past and always attends our main events. He paid a visit to the Peace Corner on March 24 to show his support and friendship. He is truly a friend of the centre and many of our youth know him and appreciate very much his support. He knows of our activities and also of our struggle, and he is always there to support us in any way he can.
Our friendship with the cardinal and with Bishop John Manz makes us realize that we are part of the local church, connected and in communion with the universal Church, and that our being missionaries must be not an isolated event, but a sign and an instrument of Christ’s love.
If you would like to know more about the Peace Corner and its programs and activities, we invite you to visit our web site at: www.thepeacecorner.org There you will also find how to write to us with your comments.
Former parish communities get together
Parish doors too often close - for good - here in the United States, particularly in the poor, inner city areas. Back in the mid 90s, two Comboni parishes were handed back to the archdiocese of Cincinnati and, within a couple of years, were closed. Memories didn’t fade away, however. The church communities dispersed, but the community spirit survived. A St. Michael’s community group, for example, has continued through the years to get together once a month for dinner. Recently, the Comboni Mission Centre had the opportunity to throw open wide its doors and welcome this group to “break bread” here with the Comboni Missionary community. We celebrated Mass, and then enjoyed a potluck dinner, lots of story sharing, and table after table filled with pictures that evoked even more stories. Shortly after the St. Michael’s gathering, we had a similar celebration with people from the former St. Pius parish. It was just as warm, just as full of stories and memories, and just as much a proof that structures and forms may change, even disappear, but the Comboni spirit lives on.
Inauguration of the “St. Daniel Comboni” kindergarten
On 11 March last, the members of the provincial council held their usual meeting in the white city of Arequipa (about 1000 km. South of Lima) and could assist at the inauguration of a kindergarten in a suburb of the parish of El Buen Pastor, in the Independencia district, named after our Founder.
Behind this initiative there are some beautiful facts which we would like to underline. The originator of the school was the Comboni Missionary Fr. Herbert Heinz Gimpl, parish priest for over eight years. Having seen the many gaps in the education of the children, he presented his project to some friends in Germany. Assisted also by people of the parish, he managed to begin the work. Among the supporters we remember especially Mrs. Clara Comboni (1938-2000), her husband Rolf Danneler and their daughter Manuela who live in Switzerland. On the death of his wife, Rolf felt the desire to assist a project of her wife’s saintly relative who gave his life for the poorest. Soon the daughter, the Comboni Missionaries of Germany, the dioceses of Rottenburg-Stuttgart and Eichstätt and many other people close to our Comboni family became involved. Today, at Villa Ecológica (the name of the place where the kindergarten is built) there is a comfortable and functional building which caters for around 100 children who will come to know the work of the Comboni Missionaries.
The sending of the first Peruvian CLM
At the end of February 2007, the community life stage of the first group of Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM) of Peru ended its preparation. Two CLM, Doris Pereira e Enrique García, were accepted and will begin their missionary experience by going to reinforce the group of CLM who have already worked for several years in the Huarin area of Baños parish (central sierra of Peru).
The 15 March, the birthday of St. Daniel Comboni, offered us the opportunity of sending them off officially, during a solemn Eucharistic celebration, to live out the values experienced in the course of their training. This is a meaningful time both for our province as well as for the growing of those who share the Comboni charism.
New parish of St. Daniel Comboni of Christ the Redeemer
The ENTEL settlement at San Juan de Miraflores is a densely populated part of Lima where the Comboni Missionaries of the provincial community come to help in pastoral service. During the last fourteen years, Fr. Peter Taschler from South Tyrol had served the area, committing himself with faith and constancy to the people there. Since Fr. Taschler’ s retirement over a year ago on account of ill-health, other Comboni Missionaries carried on the work until last December. On 15 March, though, they had the pleasant surprise of seeing Mons. Carlos García Camader, bishop of Lurín, establish this new parish with the name of St. Daniel Comboni of Christ the Redeemer. There was a beautiful celebration presided over by the bishop in the presence of Fr. Peter Taschler, Fr. Rogelio Bustos Juárez and some Comboni Missionary Sisters representing the Comboni Family. The bishop had words of praise for what was accomplished by our confreres who had worked there with an open heart and a great missionary spirit. He invited the new young parish priest to absorb the Comboni spirituality and transmit it to the faithful, underlying the importance of 15 March and 10 October.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Bro. Carlo Mosca (16.04.1929 - 15.03.2007)
Fr. Luigi Marini (04.07.1944 - 17.03.2007)
Let us pray for our dead
THE FATHER: Hugo, of Fr. Ramón Alberto Vargas Euges (EC); Giovanni, of Fr. Agostino Bertolotti (KE); Annibale, of Fr. Francesco Pierli (KE); Alberto, of the novice Paolo Rizzetto (I).
THE MOTHER: Soledad, of Fr. José Javier Parladé Escobar (SS).
THE BROTHER: Don Giuseppe, of Fr. Pietro Premarini (NAP); Luc, of Fr. Jacob Sodokin (MO); Gerald Thomas, of P. David Baltz (U).
THE SISTER: Caterina, of Fr. Luigi Varesco (I); Maria Rita, of Fr. Vincenzo Turri (DCA); Augusta, of Fr. Eugenio Palla (TC); Lydia Hockenmaier, of Fr. Anton Maier (†).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Maria Luigia Turchi; Sr. Faustina Paiola; Sr. Armida Gariboldi; Sr. M. Eletta Laner; Sr. Maria Nora Onnis; Sr. Mounira Estephanos Ibrahim.
Visit our Website: http://comboni.org