Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
New General Secretary
As planned, the new general secretary, Fr. Umberto Pescantini, takes office on 1 June 2007. Starting on that date, therefore, we would ask you to please send your e-mail messages to the address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr. Giuseppe Sandri will retain his address email@example.com for his own personal use and will assist Fr. Pescantini until the end of June.
Fr. Sandri wishes to thank all his collaborators, the members of the General Council, the provincials, delegates and all the confreres for their cooperation during his past eight years as general secretary and wishes to all the Lord’s blessings, confident that they will continue to give their full cooperation to the new general secretary.
We warmly welcome Fr. Pescantini to this very important office of the Institute and wish him every success under the protection of St. Daniel Comboni.
Some statistics about Africa between 1957 and 2007: Fifty years ago there were 25 African bishops; today there are 630. They actually number 631 as a Congolese White Father was recently made bishop. There were 2500 diocesan priests where now there are 19,959. Major seminarians were 1900 whereas today there are 21,909. In 1957 there were 24 million Catholics and now there are 159 million. There were no African cardinals but now there are 13. (Mundo Negro, April 2007, p. 28).
Rome Renewal Course
The 2007 Renewal Course in Rome was concluded with an event-filled pilgrimage journey to Egypt and the Holy land. There were twelve Comboni participants (eight priests and four Brothers) at the Course which lasted from 7 January to 22 May.
The Course was a wonderful opportunity of human and spiritual renewal for the participants and an experience of the joys of a Comboni community life.
Steadily but calmly, the course went through the various stages, the longest of which was spent in Rome where we had experts speaking to us on such topics as: spirituality, consecrated life, Christology, pastoral planning, the history of the Mahdi and the Comboni martyrs in Sudan, the sociological and spiritual reality of Islam, missiology and more.
The members of the GC and the general secretaries brought us up to date on the situation of the Institute.
The spiritual exercises at Pesaro, a long stay of twenty days at the Comboni places of Limone and Verona and the peaceful and constant rhythm of community and personal prayer, helped towards the “renewal of the heart” – something that we all considered most important for the renewal of our missionary service.
At the end, the full month in Egypt and in the Holy Land allowed us to see, touch and experience many places where Comboni lived, affirming his deep adherence to “a God who dies on the cross for love”, a love which he saw as specifically aimed at the Africans, since they were the poorest people of his time.
We have ended this deep experience of renewal with wholehearted feelings of gratitude towards Fr. Carmelo Casile who, with discretion and personal commitment, guided us for the last five months.
We also thank our superiors who allowed and financed this experience. But most of all we thank the Lord of Life and of the Mission who once again has made us feel the presence of his love, calling us anew to missionary service, to which we return with joy and, like St. Daniel Comboni, the desire to give all of ourselves. (Fr. Antonio Villarino)
For those who wish to participate in the next course
Those who wish to participate in the 2008 Renewal Course in Rome should apply to Fr. Carmelo Casile before the end of September 2007, e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Secretariat for Evangelization
Three “discernment” meetings on the Ratio Missionis
Three continental “discerning together” meetings have been held for the Ratio Missionis’ provincial animators. The first was in Cairo, Egypt, for English-speaking Africa, from 12 to 18 April 2007; the second in Bogotá, Colombia, for America and Asia, from 15 to 21 April; the third in N’Djamena, Chad, for French-speaking Africa, from 30 April to 5 May.
The Cairo meeting was led by Bro. Johann Eigner and by Fr. Lino Spezia, assisted by Fr. Simon Mwaura Mbuthia. That of Bogota’ was led by Fr. Enrique Javier Rosich Vargas and Bro. Joel Cruz Reyes. The N'Djamena meeting was animated by Fr. Enrique Javier Rosich Vargas and Fr. Laureano Rojo Buxonat.
The first phase was concerned with seeing, understanding, collecting data and listening to one another. In the second phase, which we have now begun, we need first of all to understand what God has said to us, is saying to us and wants to say to us, starting from our confreres and the situations which we are living as an Institute in the Mission. It is important to maintain an open and attentive attitude because God is speaking to us in various ways. It is the time now to listen to God.
Some characteristics of common discernment were explained and the groups experienced discerning together on some fundamental questions regarding our spirituality, identity or mission, in order to enable the animators to assist afterwards their confreres in their provinces. The meetings were especially enriching since we were able to touch upon questions which are central to our lives and which we do not usually discuss. Sharing, for instance, our own experience of encountering Christ or on intercultural society and Comboni, was very interesting. The participants felt deeply involved and this created a climate of trust and awareness among them all. The sharing was profound and meaningful.
The welcome given by the confreres of Egypt and Colombia delegations and of the province of Chad, the three places where the meetings were held, was truly fraternal. We felt very much at home. Doubtless, hospitality is a necessary aspect when discerning together.
After this experience, many returned to their provinces encouraged. Some said that discerning together is something useful for us all: it can help us to be deeply renewed as persons and as an Institute. However, we must not consider this method as being for special occasions (e.g. something to be used in preparation for the General Chapter), but rather something which can help us to grow significantly, if we use it frequently.
General Secretariat for Mission promotion
Meeting of Comboni Lay Missionaries
The continental meeting of the provincial coordinators of Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM) of Europe was held in Florence, Italy, during the last week of April. Those present were: the Provincial of Portugal Fr. Manuel Alves Pinheiro de Carvalho (in charge of the sector at continental level) and two other confreres from Portugal: Fr. Alfredo Manuel Gomes de Sousa and Fr. Joaquim José Moreira da Silva. From Spain: Alberto de la Portilla and Fr. Alejandro Canales Maza. From Italy: Fr. Claudio Longhi. From DSP: Fr. Günther Ludwig Hofmann with Birgit Schardt and Christoph Koch. There were also two member of the Central Committee present: Gloria Morales Hernandez Torres from Mexico and Fr. Umberto Pescantini from Rome. The presence of Bro. Umberto Martinuzzo, member of the General Council, was most appreciated.
This meeting concluded the work begun a couple of years ago, namely that of putting together a working document which, starting from the base, would describe as clearly as possible the situation of the CLM movement in the provinces of Europe, touching upon the main topics: the CLM identity, their formation curriculum, their journey towards the formation of international CLM communities and towards economic autonomy and their insertion in the province on returning from missionary service in another continent. The first paragraphs of this document, already drafted in 2006, were accepted by the General Assembly in Ellwangen.
The next continental meeting will take place in Portugal in 2008.
Meeting of the Central Committee
The meeting of the CLM Central Committee was held in Florence, Italy, in two stages (27 April and 1 May 2007) for the first time after the General Assembly in Ellwangen (November 2006). The four members Alberto de la Portilla, Gloria M. H. Torres, Fr. Günther Hofmann and Fr. Umberto Pescantini appreciated the encouraging presence of Bro. Umberto Martinuzzo, member of the General Council.
The Committee first of all reviewed the 18 final proposals of the Ellwangen Assembly, noting and suggesting the steps required for their acknowledgment and implementation in all the provinces and delegations. For this purpose, a letter will be sent to all the provincials and delegates and all those in charge of the CLM.
The Committee then tackled the specific task entrusted to it by the General Assembly, namely that of drafting a basic plan of formation for the mission. A text was agreed upon which will be sent to all the groups, so that, always starting from the present ongoing experience at the base and with everyone’s contribution, a common plan may be reached, especially at continental level, which allows for times of formation together for groups from different provinces and delegations, in order to facilitate later international community experiences in mission. The plan will be sent to the provinces and delegations that have CLM groups.
The possibility of a CLM opening a blog, so as to be able to invite other members to share and discuss themes regarding their life, was discussed.
In the meantime, the Comboni website www.comboni.org will continue to give some space to the LCM as members of the Comboni Family.
Agreement was reached on the best way to raise funds to finance the travelling necessary to participate in these meetings.
The next meeting of the Central Committee will take place concurrently with other continental meetings in America and Africa, whenever and wherever these will take place.
Fr. Palmiro Mileto successfully defended his thesis: Le diversità etnico-culturali: tra sfida e progetto. Un’indagine esplorativa nell’Istituto Missionario Comboniano (verso la comunità religiosa interculturale), at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, for his doctorate in Social Science.
Bro. Adigbo Komlan Cyprien (M) Lomé (TGO) 12.05.2007
Bro. Dzinekou Yawovi Jonas (T) Lomé (TGO) 12.05.2007
Fr. Castro Fernández Ernesto (M) Degollado (MEX) 05.05.2007
Fr. Reveles Vásquez Pablo Rodrigo (M) León (MEX) 19.05.2007
Holy Redeemer Guild
June 01 – 15 KE 16 – 30 KH
July 01 – 07 LP 08 – 15 CO 16 – 31 MZ
June - That the Pierced Heart of the Good Shepherd may enable us to be moved by the wounds of humanity, make common cause with the people who receive us and maintain the hope of a world transformed by the Gospel. Let us pray.
July - That the preparation for the upcoming Synod may render the Churches of Africa bold and courageous in promoting reconciliation, justice and peace among the peoples of the continent. Let us pray.
Parish of Notre Dame de Fatima
The parish of Notre Dame de Fatima at Bangui, where, on Sunday 6 May 2007, more than 300 of the newly baptized received confirmation, celebrated on 13 May its patron’s feast, that of Our Lady of Fatima. Fr. Gabriele Perobelli, addressing the congregation assembled in the open air, reminded them of the message of Our Lady during her apparitions to the three Portuguese children: “Pray, pray unceasingly the Rosary for an end to war and world peace”.
P. Perobelli said this message is now applicable to the RCA, where continual armed attacks by the guerrillas are bringing the people to their knees, worn out by great and pitiful sufferings. The Mass was presided by the Comboni Missionary Fr. Patrick Benywanira, assistant parish priest, who said goodbye to the Christian community of Fatima after nine years of missionary service in RCA. In his homily, the main celebrant invited the people to take responsibility for the parish, a “pilot parish” in this capital city.
All the Comboni Fathers, Brothers and Sisters working in Bangui were present at this great celebration. The Mass, well participated and moving, created a fraternal and joyous atmosphere.
Among the concelebrants was Fr. Felice Pezzin, 87, a Comboni Missionary and full of memories of the province. He came to RCA in 1967 and has remained faithful to his mission ever since. Afterwards, all the faithful gathered in their respective Small Christian Communities to share a fraternal meal. The celebration continued until the evening with sketches, games with prizes, tombola, religious songs and traditional dances.
Perpetual and temporary professions
On 25 April, at Padova, Bro. Claudio Parotti consecrated himself to God and the mission through his perpetual profession. It was a beautiful celebration which gathered not only the Comboni community of Padova, but also the relatives and neighbours of Bro. Claudio, the youth of the GIM which he assisted by his work of mission promotion, the CLM and many friends of the community.
The celebration was preceded by two prayer vigils. The first on 23 April in Busto Garolfo, Bro. Claudio’s native parish, organised by the Venegono GIM. The second was held in our house in Padova on the following evening, with the participation of the youth of the GIM.
Fr. Alberto Pelucchi, the provincial, presided the Eucharistic celebration, sharing the reflections with Bro. Umberto Martinuzzo, assistant general. Everyone present participated actively and some intervened with heartfelt prayers of the faithful and in the thanksgiving. The celebration also took on the tone of missionary sending, since Bro. Claudio is preparing to return to his mission in Colombia, where he has been assigned by the General Council.
On 26 May, the novices Paolo Malerba (priest of the diocese of Molfettan and assigned to Kenya), Daniele Marin (priest candidate assigned to the scholasticate of Casavatore) and Paolo Rizzetto (a Brother candidate who will soon leave for a mission experience in Uganda) took their first vows in the parish church of Venegono Superiore. The other three Polish novices are expected to take their vows on 2 June in Warsaw.
The St. Daniele Comboni rosary
The Cardinal of Khartoum, Mgr. Gabriel Zubeir Wako, makes no secret of his devotion to St. Daniel Comboni. During a talk to the faithful he revealed his way of praying. “I recite 50 Glorias in honour of St. Daniel Comboni”, the cardinal revealed, “with the intention of praising the Blessed Trinity for the fifty years of life he gave to St. Daniel Comboni. It is a simple prayer which you can all say and I assure you that it is truly effective. I speak from personal experience.”
We Comboni missionaries could also adopt it and recommend it to others, perhaps dividing the life of Comboni into five decades, remembering what God did through him during each ten-year period. “This prayer has been of great help to me in facing the great problems of the diocese. It has become second nature to me now.”
The confreres of the Mexican Province have many reasons to be thankful to God, but even more so now that two new priests have been ordained for the mission. They are Fr. Ernesto Castro Fernán-dez and Fr. Pablo Rodrigo Reveles Vázquez.
The first, Fr. Ernesto, originally from Degollado, Jal., was ordained on 5 May by Mgr. Javier Navarro in his home town parish of Our Lady of Guadaloupe. During the ordination Mass Fr. Ernesto was accompanied by several Comboni Missionaries, diocesan priests, friends and benefactors and, naturally, by his own family members. The ordaining bishop, Episcopal administrator of the diocese of San Juan de los Lagos, is now titular bishop of the diocese of Zamora, where our novitiate is located. A fraternal festive meal was shared afterwards.
Fr. Pablo, instead, was ordained by Mgr. José Guadalupe Torres Campos, auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Chihuaha. Mgr. Jose Guadalupe was formerly Fr. Pablo’s parish priest and Pablo was one of his altar servers. At the invitation of Fr. Pablo, the bishop wanted to be the one to ordain him. In fact, this was Mgr. Jose’s first ordination (as auxiliary bishop he never had the opportunity) and the first ordination in that parish ever. The very lively celebration took place on 19 May at the parish of the Word Incarnate, in the diocese of León, Guanajuato. A substantial group of confreres, relatives, friends and benefactors, who gathered to celebrate important event, expressed their joy for the gift of a new priest. After the concelebration, all those present were invited to share a fraternal meal and to continue the feast.
Following the established tradition, our novices took their vows early in May. The happy occasion took place at the parish of The Holy Family in the centre of Sahuayo, Mich.
Present at the ceremony were Fr. Enrique Sánchez González, delegate of the DCA and Fr. Rafael González Ponce, provincial of Mexico, as well as a good number of priests, confreres, religious, friends and benefactors. This time there were four novices taking their first vows, all from Central America, since the only Mexican had decided, in agreement with the novice master, to postpone his profession.
Fr. Enrique received and signed the profession formula. The occasion was also an opportunity for mission promotion and to tell the youth that Christ is still calling and is waiting for a generous response from us. The friends and benefactors were invited to continue to accompany those young men and all missionaries by their prayers. Once the concelebration was over, we moved to the novitiate where a festive meal was shared with our friends and benefactors.
Perpetual vows at Pietermaritzburg
On 29 April the scholastics Bonaventure Henri Gnaha Cossi and Ghislain Amoussou Comlan, both from Benin, and Randito Recalde Tina, from the Philippines, made their perpetual profession in the parish church of St. Joan of Arc.
The provincial superior, Fr. Benno Singer, presided at the celebration of the Eucharist. Priests, teachers and friends of our scholastics and many students of other Institutes joined us in the celebration.
The choir of St. Joan of Arc, the parish entrusted to the Comboni Missionaries, did not spare their beautiful voices to embellish the celebration with songs in English and especially in Zulu. Some faithful from the Parish of St. Martin de Porres, also entrusted to our Comboni community, joined us for the feast.
The people were happy yet trying to understand what makes young men like those in question undertake such an adventure, in a world where commitment for life is very difficult to accept.
The three scholastics have accepted the challenge of the mission. Our dream is that their example may move many young people from South Africa, especially from the Kwa-Zulu Natal area, to follow Christ. Africa and the world need courageous young people who, out of love, commit themselves to follow Christ in a total and unconditional way.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Fr. Giuseppe Barbàra (21.03.1941 – 06.04.2007)
Bro. Giuseppe Eugenio Belotti (29.12.1942 – 14.05.2007)
Fr. Antonio Simeoni (22.06.1923 – 14.05.2007)
Let us pray for our beloved dead
THE FATHER: Theodore, of Fr. Roberto Misas Ríos (EC); Nicanor, of Fr. Carlos Alberto Malásquez Quispe (A).
THE BROTHER: Salvatore, of Bro. Alfio Guzzardi (T); Alfredo, of Fr. Giovanni Lombardi (†); Stefano, of Fr. Massimo Cremaschi (I).
THE SISTER: Virginia, of Bro. Matias Martins dos Santos (BS); Lina, of Fr. Aristide Guerra (ER).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. M. Rosaria Picciocchi; Sr. M. Ignazia Surcis; Sr. Rosangela Broccardo.
Visit our website: http://www.comboni.org