Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
Misna held its AGM on 11 June. As associates, the Superiors General of the Comboni Missionaries, the Consolata Missionaries, the Xaverians and a PIME representative (as the General was occupied with the kidnapped Fr. Bossi) were present. The representative of Sermis, the delegates of the Superiors General of the Divine Word Missionaries, the Dehonians and the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, as well as the members of the executive council, were also in attendance.
The assembly approved the financial report for 2006 and the budget for 2007. It also confirmed the decision of the council to entrust to the Misna-Onlus-Foundation the subscriptions campaign and the advertising agency and approved the “revision” of the website front page in order to make it more “visible”, according to the needs and the style of an on line agency.
Reliable sources indicate that the number of Misna hits is steadily increasing. There were 105,000 hits in July 2004 and 1,003,000 pages were viewed. In the same period of 2006, there were 200,000 hits and 2,000,000 pages were viewed. July 2007 is expected to maintain this level of hits.
The assembly appointed a new council for the next three years with the following members: Fr Venanzio Milani, president, Fr Luigi Goduto (PIME), vice-president, Fr Marco Marini (Consolata), administrator, Fr Fabio Baldan (representative of the Superiors General), Fr Cesare Baldi (PIME), councillor, Fr Marcello Storgato (Xaverians), councillor, Fr Raimondo Ottavio (Sermis), councillor.
E-mail information – Curia
From October of this year, 2007, all the Curia, Rome, e-mail addresses ending with ...@pcn.net (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), will be cancelled.
We therefore request that you remove these addresses from your e-mail address book and use only those addresses ending with ...@comboni.org (e.g.: email@example.com). Thank you.
Sc. David Octavio Aguilar Guzmán (M) São Paolo (BS) 14.07.2007
Sc. Bojórquez Sandoval Rubén (M) Lirangwe (MZ) 15.07.2007
Fr. José Jaime Lomas García (M) Teocuitatlán (Mex) 07.07.2007
Holy Redeemer Guild
September 01 – 15 NAP 16 – 30 PE
October 01 – 15 P 16 – 31 RSA
September - That the contemplation of Christ on the Cross may help us to support and accompany those of us who are experiencing difficulty, suffering or illness. Let us pray.
October - That justice, peace and the integrity of creation may be increasingly seen as essential aspects of the proclamation of the Kingdom and of the Comboni charism. Let us pray.
Fr. Rinaldo Ronzani has written a series of books in English, published by Pauline Publications Africa, Nairobi. We list the titles and the year of publication: “Understanding the Eucharist” – Pastoral reflections on the Sunday Mass – 2004; “Serve the Lord with Joy” – Pastoral guidelines for altar servers – 2004; “Sing to the Lord” – Pastoral Reflections on Singing the Sunday Eucharist – 2004); “Proclaim the Word of Life” Pastoral Reflections on the Ministry of the Reader – 2004); “The Sunday Eucharist” – 2005; “The Living Eucharist” 2005; “Guided by the Spirit – Prayer, Lectio Divina and Examination of Conscience – 2005; “Christian Initiation – Baptism and Confirmation – 2007; “Conversion and Reconciliation” – The Rite of Penance -– 2007.
On 16 July 2007, the Congregation for Catholic Education appointed Fr. John Richard Kyankaaga Ssendawula president of “Dar Comboni for Arabic Studies” and, at the same time, renewed its pontifical approval of that Institute for a further three years.
At present there are around forty students, six of whom are Comboni Missionaries, enrolled in the 2007-2008 academic year.
During July, three work camps for youth were organised in collaboration with the Comboni Missionary Sisters. During the first, which consisted of young university students and workers, the mornings were spent working in the Abu Zaabel government leprosarium, where three Comboni Sisters are involved. Around twenty young people took part.
The second entailed a work experience at Sakakini and Manshiat-an-Nasr in the Zabbalin quarter. The camp was based at Helwan and around thirty young people from secondary schools took part.
The third, at Tahta in Upper Egypt, comprised a course of formation for missionary animators and drew 35 participants from among the youth.
On 15 September next, the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary occurs of the first arrival of St. Daniel Comboni in Alexandria, Egypt. The event will be commemorated with the launch of the new website of the delegation.
African men and women religious and JPIC
The first African session of training organised for male and female religious working in JPIC (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation) took place at the Mbiti Centre, Kinshasa. The participants numbered around forty and represented numerous Institutes: Holy Union Sisters, Missionary Sisters of O L of Africa (DCR and Kenya), Comboni Missionaries (Benin, Cameroon, RCA, DRC, Chad and Togo), Comboni Missionary Sisters (RCA, DRC, Chad, Togo), Scheut Missionaries (Nigeria, DRC, Senegal, Zambia), The Heart of Mary Institute (DCR), Spiritans (DCR), Divine Word Missionaries (DCR), Missionaries of Africa (Burkina, DCR, Tanzania) and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
In their final message to the superiors of their respective Institutes, the participants undertook to work more resolutely with their African brothers and sisters to put an end to the humiliations and sufferings of which they are victims and to make come true the dream of an Africa which is united and prosperous, reconciled and peaceful, and capable of taking charge of its own destiny while remaining open to the rest of the world. “We wish to remain faithful to the prophetic dimension of our religious calling and continue to be an effective stimulant for the salvation of our continent”, they said.
Apart from specific problems and the challenges proper to each of their countries, the men and women religious decided to work together in the field of literacy, a strategic area which is always to the fore in Africa. It is for a better outcome to this common action, in all of Africa, that the participants launched the beginnings of an African network of male and female religious involved in the field of JPIC. The newly launched network will permit them, among other things, to share experiences, acquire and share useful information and better coordinate the skills and resources of each Institute.
On 27 July 2007, Fr. Anton Schneider of Bamberg community received a “new” heart. The heart transplant had become necessary after about two and a half years’ ailment. He was hospitalized at the University Clinic at Erlangen (between Bamberg and Nuremberg) where he had to wait for a donor’s heart for about two and a half months. Only after the transplant did the specialists find out that the reason for Fr. Anton’s heart problems was a rare disease caused by a virus that makes the normal cells of the heart grow larger.
Three and a half weeks after the surgery, Fr. Anton was able to leave the hospital and undergo a program of rehabilitation of several weeks. Considering the circumstances, he is doing well and is grateful to the Lord for this new lease of life. He thanks the confreres and the many friends for their heartening support and prayers.
Closure of Thiene community
On Sunday 1 July 2007, the closure of the small Comboni community of Thiene was officially announced. The decision somewhat disappointed our friends and supporters of the area.
Comboni roots at Thiene go back to 1919. The first Comboni Missionaries first settled in a place some distance from the city. For seven years they worked in training Comboni Brothers, until the Bishop of Vicenza, Mgr. Elia Dalla Costa, invited us to change the house into a seminary for aspirants to the priesthood. A large house at Thiene was then acquired with a spacious church, open to the public, attached.
Many Comboni Brothers and priests went through this house of formation, but due to the vocations crisis affecting the whole of Italy, the house was closed as a minor seminary. Part of the house was used to receive immigrants. Such a large house needed regular and costly maintenance and a radical solution was required.
Various solutions were proposed and it was finally decided to sell the house to the Thiene City Council, to be used as a school (2004). We kept the church and the small Sisters’ house in order to continue missionary animation and some ministry in the area. It soon became apparent that personnel who was fit and willing to return from the mission for this work was not easily found and the final closure was decided. The announcement was made at the 9.30 Mass, on Sunday 1 July, in the presence of the new parish priest of Thiene, the provincial Fr Pelucchi, some confreres form the nearby community of Padova and the last two confreres of the community itself, Fr. Adriano Galeazzo and Fr. Francesco Grotto. Speaking after the Gospel and having thanked all concerned for the warm welcome given to the Comboni Missionaries, the provincial announced that, due to the shortage of personnel, it had been decided to close the community.
The parish priest thanked the Comboni Missionaries for all their good work and emphasised that he himself had noted among the faithful their great esteem and love for the missions and for the Comboni Missionaries. He also expressed thanks for the gift of the church which was donated to the parish along with the use of the house. He hoped to use this gift to continue working in the Comboni missionary spirit to help the “poorest and neediest”. The faithful who thronged the church replied with repeated and heartfelt ovations.
From 9 to 12 July 2007, the second Comboni Symposium was held, in accordance with the unanimous decision to make this an annual event. Relative to the ongoing reflection on the position to be taken regarding Ad Gentes in Europe, the inputs tackled the following theme from various angles: “Comboni and Europe: past developments and present-day perspectives”.
The meeting, organised by the Italian province in cooperation with the other provinces of Europe, was attended by a well prepared group of about thirty people, Comboni Missionaries and laity, among whom were some from European provinces, as well as the members of the theological reflection group. Fr. Vicente Luis Reig Bellver and Fr. Alessandro Zanotelli, introducing the theme of our presence in Europe, presented a complete picture of the journey of reflection travelled in recent years, with special reference to the document presented by Europe to the last Chapter.
After this introduction, the first reflection on the reinterpretation of the past (“Re-reading of the connections between Comboni and Europe of his time”) was most ably chaired by Fr. Joaquim José Gonçalves Oliveira Valente da Cruz.
The study of the present day in the continent of Europe was introduced by a report given by Dr. Franco Chittolina, president of APICE (a specialist in labour and social affairs, the future of Europe, the European Union, etc.). He spoke of the socio-political-economic situation of Europe in its internal problematic (especially the new constitution). The second input looked at Europe more from the ecumenical and religious angle. The speaker was Rev. Peter Ciaccio, pastor of the Valdese Methodist Church, a theologian and member of the working group for human rights of the Conference of European Churches.
On this basis the symposium entered the heart of the debate: the Mission in Europe today. Prof. Dottolo of the Urbanian University gave us a broad view of the new trends in missiology today, with particular reference to Europe, underlining turning points and changes in perspective. Closer to home, Fr Pierli offered the assembly an exciting presentation of “The Journey of the Comboni Missionary Provinces of Europe”.
The last day saw special involvement on the part of the EGRT (European Group for Theological Reflection), Fr. Pierli and Prof. Dottolo, as they sought out the challenging elements of the relationship between evangelization and missionary animation with a view to reinterpreting the Comboni charism in identifying “missionary ministry possibilities” for Europe today and the eventual re-examination of our structures, with a view to possible changes.
The work was concluded with a final report containing suggestions for an agenda for future symposiums and the establishment of a coordination team.
Limone “my love”
When every morning and evening, as superior of the community of Limone, I open and close the door to pilgrims visiting the house where Comboni was born, I feel a lump in my throat. For years, Luigi Comboni would open and close this door, surely thinking of his son far away. In the morning I wait and read what pilgrims have written the previous day in the visitors’ book: “Ich danke dass Ich Leben darf! Der Mensch ist nur im Glauben stark!” And: “What a beautiful and peaceful place, conducive to prayer! Tranquillity and serenity is all around!”.
There are also Africans who come to say thank you: “I am very moved as I visit this house of Comboni. Comboni has always been an exemplary missionary who sacrificed himself for Africa and the good of the African people. He is a hero. I cannot find words to express how I feel. Thank you, Comboni, for all you have been” (8 August 2007). Sister Brigitte, from Togo, left a sketch of Africa with a mark showing where Togo is located, for the benefit of those who never heard of it.
These words of the visitors often become points for my meditation as I think of the task entrusted to this community – that of welcoming and accompanying all who come here, first and foremost those belonging to the world of Comboni – and leading them to encounter the figure of our father and founder. As someone wrote: “Every Comboni missionary should consider Limone as ‘holy ground’, the land where his missionary ad gentes vocation originated. Many confreres, either before leaving for the missions or on their return, feel the desire to make the ascent to this place to regain their spiritual strength: “to encounter the living spirit of Comboni, live in communion with him, receive from him strength and inspiration, hear the sound of his footsteps”, as a confrere wrote. It is my hope, and one of my main priorities, to see to it that the confreres will find here a place of welcome, of prayer, of silence, a place to contemplate nature and the joy of reliving the freshness of their vocation. “Limone – so the Italian Provincial Council wrote – is unique in its unbreakable ties with Daniel Comboni and it is the shrine of the Family for which he gave his life”. “Pray for us that we may not only be the custodians of its walls, but also of the spirit it breathes”. All of you are always and at any time welcome to the ‘home of the father and founder.’ (Fr Danilo Castello)
Golden jubilee of Mgr. Antonio Menegazzo
On 15 June, feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we celebrated in El-Obeid the golden jubilee of Mgr. Antonio Menegazzo and his 50 years in the Sudan. He came to the Sudan soon after his ordination.
Mgr. Menegazzo has worked in El-Nahud, his first appointment and where he learned Arabic, El-Fasher, Kadugli (six years), Port Sudan (1972) and from 1976 up to 1985 he was Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Khartoum, first with Mgr. Agostino Baroni and then with Mgr. Gabriel Zubeir Wako. In 1985 he was made Episcopal Vicar of Kosti and in 1992 Apostolic Administrator of El-Obeid. He was ordained bishop on 3 March 1996.
For the jubilee celebration there were Cardinal Zubeir, the auxiliary bishop Mgr. Daniel Adwok Kur, the provincials of the MCCJ and CMS, several confreres and all the priests of the diocese. The governor of El-Obeid came at the reception and offered lunch to all the priests. The appreciation of his priests was very moving: “He is a true Comboni Missionary. He eats and drinks whatever he is offered. He sleeps anywhere, whether there is a bed or not. He never complains and, in spite of his age, he is tireless. He cares for us.”
The Cardinal told the people that to Mgr. “Antun”, though he has reached the age of retirement as a bishop, we wish ad multos annos.
From 17 to 27 July, for the first time in nearly twenty years, the Sudanese Bishops’ Conference was able to meet again in Khartoum. All the bishops were present. The conference was held at St. Paul’s Major Seminary.
The bishops were also received by the president of the republic who embraced Mgr. Macram Max Gassis and said: “This is certainly the result of peace. In fact even Mgr. Macram could come back without my permission…” The meeting was very cordial and successful.
Handing over of Wad Medani parish
On 16 August, the parish of Wad Medani was handed over to the Archdiocese of Khartoum. It was the day after the Assumption, to which the parish is dedicated. The Comboni Missionaries took over Wad Medani in 1961 from the Greek Catholics who had built the church. Wad Medani is the place that witnessed, in the mid seventies, the conversion of the “Abdullahis”, a clan of Muslims under the leadership of a certain Abdullahi who was converted on account of a vision. Many of our confreres worked in this parish. We thank Fr. Martin Lako, the last Comboni Missionary in Wad Medani, for his service and commitment to the parish.
Rosaries from Sudan to Finland
Catholics in Finland are really very few. Mrs. Ieena Kontula, a Finnish lady who became a Catholic upon marrying a Catholic man, is very fond of the Rosary. She came to the Sudan working for an NGO in Dar-Fur. At Nyala she got to know our confreres and the Catholic community. She became enthusiastic about the Missionary Rosary, so every time she went to Khartoum she made sure to come to our house and take back some Rosaries. Two months ago she went back to Finland and brought with her some of these rosaries. It was a success and very soon she ran out of them. She needed more, so she got Mr. Ralph, a Canadian working in the same NGO, involved in the matter. As Ralph was going on holidays, she managed to get him, who is not a Catholic, to pass through Finland and bring her some more Rosaries. At this stage, I think we should open a centre for missionary promotion in Finland.
Fr. Paul Neri Augustine Felix
On 15 August Fr. Paul Neri Augustine Felix, the provincial of the LP, was taken to St. George’s Hospital in London. The doctors confirmed that he had suffered a heart attack. They applied the necessary treatment to which Fr. Paul responded well. Six days later he was back in Sunningdale, where he will have a complete rest for 4-6 weeks. Fr. Paul thanks everybody for their good wishes and prayers.
Priestly ordination of Fr. José Jaime Lomas García
On 7 July the parish of San Miguel Arcángel di Teocuitatlán de Corona, Jal., entered into a festive atmosphere for the priestly ordination of the Comboni Missionary Fr. José Jaime Lomas García by Mgr. Braulio Rafael León Villegas.
Surrounded by Comboni priests and Brothers and by his own family members, benefactors and friends, and in a missionary environment, Fr. Jaime experienced some of the most important moments in his consecrated life.
This year our province has had three ordinations to the priesthood: Fr. Ernesto Castro Fernández, ordained on 5 May and appointed to the Congo province; Fr. Pablo Rodrígo Reveles Vázquez, ordained on 19 May and appointed to Mozambique; Fr Jaime, appointed to Mexico to work in the region of Chinantla in Oaxaca.
Perpetual professions and ordinations to the diaconate
On 15 July, the scholastic Rubén Bojórquez Sandoval, at present in Malawi, took perpetual vows, surrounded by confreres and the Christian community in which he is engaged for a pastoral experience. On 17 July he was ordained deacon. After some months of ministry as a deacon in Malawi, he will return to his home province to be ordained priest.
The scholastic David Octavio Aguilar Guzmán also made his perpetual profession. On 18 July he was ordained deacon and hopes to complete his studies in São Paolo during the coming months and then return to his home province to be ordained priest.
Provincial assembly and spiritual exercises
On 26 July we started our spiritual retreat directed by Fr. Daniele Cerezo Ruiz, who is working in Taipei as a member of the Asia delegation. Those days were filled by a strong Comboni atmosphere due to the fact that we not only reflected on Biblical passages but also examined ourselves regarding the missionary journey of our father, Daniel Comboni.
The provincial Assembly was held during the days following the retreat, beginning on the first of August. In three days, with a high degree of participation, both numerically and by way of interventions, we evaluated our situation and planned the future itinerary of the province.
Having concluded the Assembly, we returned to our respective occupations to continue to spread the charism of Comboni in the land of Mexico.
Mission appeals season
In June, the annual Archdiocesan mandated mission appeals preparation workshop, Mission Cooperation Plan, was held at the Comboni Mission Center in Cincinnati. The one day intensive program began back in 1984 as a way to prepare assigned missionaries to do a more effective job of informing people and getting help for the missions when they go out into the Cincinnati Archdiocesan parishes. It also gives the participants an overview of the Archdiocese. The program is held here at the Cincinnati CMC because Father Joe Bragotti has had an active part in it since its beginning and because the priests always find that the CMC offers a welcoming, relaxing atmosphere. Close to 30 priests attended.
From July 3-5, the Cincinnati Comboni Mission Center hosted the group of priests who have come to the States to help the Comboni Missionaries with mission appeals. The priests are here for a minimum of eight weeks and offer their services freely. Their gathering in Cincinnati provided an opportunity for them to be together, to feel part of a team working for a common goal. Some had been here before and so got reacquainted, while for others it was the first time.
Their stay allowed us to share with the priests how the Mission Office works, and to explain its goals and the small mission projects process. We provided for them a more in-depth look at the priorities and goals of our work and the different reasons for our presence in the USA. They heard together the “nuts and bolts” of mission appeals Comboni style.
At the end, the unanimous response was one of gratitude for the experience. The priests felt warmly welcomed and sincerely valued the chance to be with one another and with us in a community setting. This was a first for such a gathering, and its success assures its continuation.
The first gathering of America-Asia continental provincials and delegates here in the United States left all the participants with a sense of light and hope, including the assistants general, Fr. Odelir José Magri and Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel. Building on what was accomplished during the encounters of Ratio Missionis, the Intercapitular Assembly in Mexico, and the Proposal for a Continental Plan in São Paolo, the provincials and delegates spent their time together focusing on what is essential and unique to the American provinces in the way of renewal and regeneration. A detailed article will appear in the Fall issue of the Comboni Newsletter.
Focus on Sudan
On 6 August, Fr. Michele Stragapede gave a talk on Sudan’s Gift to the World at the Comboni Mission Center in Montclair, NJ. The evening brought together many friends of the Comboni Missionaries in that area.
Fr. Michele spent six years in Southern Sudan teaching and working among the poorest and was transformed by the resilience of the Sudanese people. His talk provided a social and political analysis of Sudan in all its dimensions. To Fr. Michele, Sudan “is a microcosm of Africa and what its culture and way of life has to offer the world.”
Fr. Michele has spent the summer interning with Vivat International in NYC as part of the Master’s program he is pursuing at Loyola in Chicago.
On August 22, the Comboni Missionaries in Cincinnati presented a mission education event, “Two Lives for Sudan: Darfur and the South.” Fr. David William Bohnsack and Fr. Luciano Perina, who have, between them, spent forty years in Sudan, shared their experiences of praying with people in crisis, breaking bread, and extending their hands with the love of Christ in two of the bloodiest, most contentious and unstable areas of the world.
As provincial superior, Fr. Luigi Gasparini said, “The world must take notice. It is our hope that this event will inspire more people, through prayer and action, to take a stand for their brothers and sisters in Africa who, from the very depth of their suffering, find the Christ of Hope for the future.” The event was held in the hall of the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse.
Spiritual retreat for youth group
The Youth Group of St. Martin de Porres in Chicago came to spend a weekend at the Comboni Mission Center in Cincinnati for their first ever spiritual retreat. Accompanied by Fr. Maurizio Binaghi, they spent three days together during which, using the Bible, they prayed and reflected upon the meaning of being a Young African-American Catholic in today's World and especially in our own society. They held in-depth discussions, socialized, and paid a visit to the Cincinnati Freedom Center. Located in downtown Cincinnati, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center serves as a means to bring to life the importance - and relevance - of the struggles for freedom of the African-American community in the United States.
The idea among the Comboni Missionaries of sharing some of "our" publications here in the Americas is beginning to take a concrete shape. Esquila Misional and Aguiluchos from Mexico are in the process of making their way into the parishes where the Comboni Missionaries serve the Hispanic communities as well as into the vocation offices in Los Angeles and Chicago.
We are beginning with a distribution of 700 copies and hopefully people will want a subscription as they see how informative and interesting the magazines are. The Mexican province sends appreciation for this initiative. It is an encouragement to them.
On 22 August, Bro. Ivan Bernardi and I, Fr. Rogelio Bustos Juárez, were travelling towards the zone recently struck by an earthquake with a ton of foodstuffs for the people hit by it in the area of El Carmen and Sunampe (Chincha), when at 6.15 a.m. we became the victims of armed robbers, not far from our house of Monterrico.
Five bandits blocked the road and, at gunpoint, made us hand over the pickup and all its load. At that time there were few vehicles circulating so neither the police patrol nor passing motorists were there to help us. At last, we found a taxi and went to the nearest police station to report the matter. Thank God neither of us was physically harmed apart from the loss of the goods.
This is not the first time vehicles have been stolen during disasters. If the robbers had been the victims of the earthquake, we could have understood them stealing out of desperation. It is, however, outrageous that such ruffians should be able to take advantage of others’ misfortune without any police action and, in so doing, prevent aid reaching those really in need.
We continue to pray for Peru so that, in spite of such happenings, we may not be discouraged but continue to work for the Kingdom of God.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Bro. Anton Rieger (01.02.1932 - 12.07.2007)
Bro. Antonio Gasparini (25.02.1924 - 25.07.2007
Fr. Giovanni Marengoni (18.01.1922 - 27.07.2007)
Let us pray for our beloved dead
THE FATHER: Matthius Lukyamuzi, of Fr. John Ssenyondo (FC); Yisrashi Banksira, of Bro. Dessu Yisrashe Banksra (KE); Amedji, of Bro. Pascal Abotsi (KE).
THE MOTHER: of Fr. George Adiang Kur Nok (†).
THE BROTHER: Peter Paul, of Fr. John Paul Somanje (EC); Raymond, of the Sc. Eric Zadji Sègnandè (NAP); Antonio, of Fr. Giovanni Girardi (SS); Agostino, of Bro. Pietro Martin (MO); Aldo, of Fr. Angelo Di Prisco (BS).
THE SISTER: Nicoletta, of Fr. Felice Sciannameo (I); Andreina, of Fr. Silvio Scanziani (†).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Matilde Maule; Sr. Fedele Dolci; Sr. M. Eugenia Rigon; Sr. Idelmina Vivaldo; Sr. M. Luigia Savegnago.
THE COMBONI SECULAR MISSIONARIES: Maria Federico, Caterina Forte.
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