Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
Happy New Year
The letter of Fr. Teresino Serra on the occasion of the appointment of Fr. Enemésio Ângelo Lazzaris as Bishop of Balsas
My dear confreres,
“This day was made by the Lord, let us rejoice and be glad”
With joy we have received the news of the appointment of the new bishop of Balsas in the person of Fr. Enemésio Ângelo Lazzaris, Vicar general of the Institute of Don Orione. In communion with the Holy Father in the choice he has made, we thank Fr. Enemésio for having accepted this episcopal diaconia. I am confident that Dom Franco Masserdotti is pleased with this appointment. He, too, dreamed of seeing a Brazilian bishop in the diocese of Balsas.
We Comboni Missionaries are called to perfect communion with the new bishop. I am hopeful that every Comboni Missionary working in Brazil, and especially in Balsas, may become like Simon of Cyrene to Mgr. Enemésio. Seeing a son of Don Orione succeed a son of Comboni, I am reminded of the words of St. Paul: “I planted, Apollo watered, but it is God who has given the growth. Neither the one who sows nor the one who waters is important but it is God who makes things grow. There is no difference between the one who sows and the one who waters but each one will receive the reward of his labours. We are, in fact, God’s collaborators” (1Cor 3, 6-9).
Let us continue our work in communion with the new Bishop with that missionary passion handed down to us from Comboni. I offer my heartfelt thanks to Fr. Antonio Guglielmi for his work in administering the diocese during the period of sede vacante.
12 December 2007
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Fr. Teresino Serra, Superior General and Council
BNE Fr. Codianni Luigi Fernando
BS Fr. Alcides Costa
CA Fr. Zaffanelli Giovanni
CN Fr. Tacchella Eliseo
DSP Fr. Altenburger Josef
E Fr. Cerezo Ruiz Daniel
EC Fr. Zendron Claudio
ET Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie
I Fr. Pelucchi Alberto
KE Fr. Tibaldo Mariano
KH Fr. Pacifico Salvatore
LP Fr. Paul Neri Augustine Felix
M Fr. González Ponce Rafael
MO Fr. Robol Massimo
MZ Fr. Dário Balula Chaves
NAP Fr. Gasparini Luigi
P Fr. Alberto de Oliveira Silva
PE Fr. Bustos Juárez Rogelio
RSA Fr. Sandri Giuseppe
T Fr. Manuel João Pereira Correia
TC Fr. Navarrete Arceo Miguel
U Fr. Filippi Giuseppe
A Fr. Glenday David Kinnear
CO Fr. Villarino Rodríguez Antonio
DCA Fr. Sánchez González Enrique
EG Fr. Spadavecchia Cosmo Vittorio
ER Fr. Sebhatleab Ayele Tesemma
To Provincials and Delegates
Let the peace of Christ and the wisdom of His Spirit be springs of blessings for you, the Institute, his mission and the confreres you are called to serve.
I thank you for having accepted the responsibility of guiding, coordinating and animating your circumscription. Moreover, together we carry on our journey towards the General Chapter 2009.
Let us thank God
With the entire General Administration and the General Assistants in particular, we thank God for the Provincials and Delegates who have completed their mandate. As they return to the “land of freedom”, we wish them all a time of well deserved rest and a time to get fresh air for their heart, spirit and body. You have worked with generosity, spirit of sacrifice and love for the confreres. All of you have being sowing with hope and God will certainly bless and provide results for your efforts.
Let us continue our Journey
The Church, in this Third Millennium, has entrusted to us a spirituality of communion. Obedience to mission holds the Institute together and the confreres in harmony with Comboni’s charism. At all times the service of obedience and that of authority experience common challenges, which are undertaken with the capabilities and limits of each one of us. We are reminded of the words of the Centurion in the Gospel: “I, too, am a man placed under the authority of superior officers, and I have soldiers under me. I order this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; I order that one, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and I order my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it” (Lk 7:8).
To come and to go, two verbs that require obedience and fidelity to one’s vocation and communion between the one who sends and the one who is sent. One who obeys to his vocation imitates the faith and availability of the Centurion, therefore he goes when he has to go and comes when he has to come.
Unfortunately in many cases the reality of religious life appears to be different. Still for this very reason I encourage you to always believe in communion which is God’s gift, aware that people, community, Province or Delegation and the Institute are God’s work, holy things to be looked after in faith: “For they who observe holy things in a holy way will be deemed holy” (Ws 6:10).
I wish everyone a humble heart that seeks communion in truth, a patient soul that knows how to listen, a courageous will that knows how to take even the unpleasant decisions and, above all, a heart capable of seeing and serving Christ in every confrere.
Let us also remember that our way of relating to others depend on the way we relate to God. If God does not animate and enliven our community and working relationships, we run the risk of wasting our breath, as beautiful words and brilliant speeches cover up divisions and personal interests.
Let us listen to Comboni
Esteemed confreres, as Comboni’s disciples make the mission loved, invest in mission. Act in such a way that the mission may always be your only love, your only passion. Do not hesitate to invite and to persevere in making the confreres keep their eyes fixed on Christ the Lord. Do not get tired of preaching that our life makes sense only in God. Recommend, in no uncertain terms, the evangelical radicalism which takes us back to appreciate our vocation and to say with Comboni: with my vocation and my mission, I am the world’s happiest man. Keep your Province or Delegation like a cenacle around Christ who revitalises our human relationships and makes the Institute an expression of love and grace.
12 December 2007
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Fr. Teresino Serra, Superior General, and his Council
MISNA celebrates its tenth birthday with a new language
MISNA, the news agency for the South of the world, celebrated its tenth birthday on 4 December 2007. To mark the occasion, it opened a new page in Arabic. The agency, which daily avails of an intercontinental network of missionaries and volunteers, producing news and studies on the South of the world, now adds a new language to those it already uses: Italian, English, French and Spanish. With its archives of more than 250,000 topics of study, MISNA is today – due also to its integrating and critical style – a valued reference tool for many people working in the world of information, not only in Italy, Europe and North America, but especially in various countries of Africa and Latin America.
Pietro Mariano Benni, director of MISNA: “The Arabic page is meant to be another means of strengthening the desire for intercultural and interreligious dialogue and to foster that Alliance of civilisation of which the Mediterranean has often been the incomparable crucible. Under the direction of Arabic-speaking editors and translators with considerable experience in journalism in Arabic countries, the page aims at serving the many immigrants from Arabic countries now living in the Northern hemisphere for reasons of work and study”.
Fr. Venanzio Milani, president of MISNA: “The constant growth of the agency and the number of those who regularly consult it and use it, are proof not only that the original inspiration to found MISNA was correct, but also that such an instrument of information, flexible and free from the traditional influences of advertising, politics and finance, is necessary”.
Ten years of MISNA
On 4 December 2007, the first decade of MISNA was celebrated in the solemnity of the Julius Caesar’s council hall at Campidoglio, Rome. Among those present at the round table conference, chaired by Piero Badaloni, were: the president and director of MISNA, the director of ANSA, a representative of the Foreign Press Association, Fr. Rafic, soon to be director of the Arabic edition, and Paolo Masini, vice president of the cultural committee of the City Council of Rome, representing Mayor Veltroni. Fr. Giulio Albanese also addressed the meeting.
There was above-average participation on the part of the public. It was an occasion for discussions on the issues of information, especially about the Southern hemisphere, and to launch the MISNA edition in Arabic (2008), which has met with a high degree of approval on the part of ecclesiastics and others in the Arab world.
Fiction programme on Comboni in two parts?
Towards the end of 2004, Laurentina Guidotti, executive of Iterfilm and producer of acclaimed programmes broadcast by, among others, the RAI, in a meeting with the mayor of Rome, Veltroni, expressed the desire to produce a film on Africa. Veltroni suggested the figure of Daniel Comboni. There followed several meetings with Fr. Venanzio Milani, the Superior General Fr. Teresino Serra and some other Sisters and confreres. On 23 June 2005, Iterfilm presented a contract with RAI to start work on the theme and the scenes.
The first layout was produced and then a second, benefiting from indications by the RAI and comments by some confreres. The final layout was presented to the RAI in mid May 2006. The judgement was favourable and at the end of 2006 all was ready. All expenses would be met by the RAI and it only remained to draw up a contract for production to start.
It was expected that this would be concluded in early 2007 but everything was postponed. The RAI had planned a production on the story of St. Bakhita.
It is hoped that, in spite of the changes in the fiction department of the RAI, the contract will be agreed in 2008.
The programme will be in two parts and be “inspired” by the figure of St. Daniel Comboni and the African mission. Angelo Pasquini and Francesco Martinotti are to direct the film to be produced by Iterfilm.
Sc. Aguirre Charre Rubén Simeón (PE) Lima 10.11.2007
Sc. Castro Sánchez Jhon Jani (EC) Lima 10.11.2007
Sc. Mambueni Makiadi Yves (CN) Lima 10.11.2007
Sc. Serafim A. Rodrigues da Costa (BS) Lima 10.11.2007
Sc. Sito Atambise Ferdinand (CN) Lima 10.11.2007
Sc. Akpako Théotime Parfait (T) Lomé 17.11.2007
Sc. Bwalya Andrew (MZ) Lusaka 07.12.2007
Holy Redeemer Guild
January 01 – 07 A 08 – 15 C 16 – 31 BNE
February 01 – 15 BS 16 – 28 CA
January - That in our communities we may welcome the gift of the others and be a visible sign of unity, justice and peace. Let us pray.
February - That the Comboni family may be blessed with vocations that are generous and willing to offer themselves completely to the service of God’s Mission. Let us pray.
Studium Combonianum and Archivio Comboniano
Important discovery: in number 86 of Archivio Comboniano (pp. 15-16, note 1) the circumstances of the disappearance of the Marienverein archives of Vienna, which in 1880 became first inaccessible and then untraceable. That was why in 1884 Dichtl could not consult the archives when planning his Der Sudan. In 2007 we finally succeeded in tracing a very small part of these archives (134 letters, minutes and other administrative documents), concerning the period from April 1862 to June 1864 (109 letters and minutes) and containing also separate documents from the preceding period (1852-1860) and the one following (1877-1881). There are documents signed by Casolani, Knoblehar, Kirchner and Comboni (two brief letters), and also by Mitterrutzner (13 letters), Mardrus (4 letters), by the superior of Khartoum, Fr. Pfeifer (19 letters), the superior of Shellal, Fr. Abondio da Smarano (17 letters) etc.
Because of their rarity, the letters of the lay missionaries Heintz, Klein, Pohl, Schweighofer, Sonnweber, Wischnewski, Zipfelmair are of great interest as well as a letter by Consul Hansal to the Austro-Hungarian Consul General at Alexandria, Cavalier von Boleslawski, on the succession of Comboni, written on the afternoon of 11 October 1881, only a few hours after his funeral.
We have begun to publish the MFSC story in Archivio Comboniano, from the separation in 1923 to reunification in 1979. It is a shorter version of the vast work of our confrere Fr. Reinhold Baumann who starts with the collaboration between the subjects of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the Germanic states and Comboni (a sort of MFSC pre-history) and then tells the ins and outs of a history which today, with reunification, has become the patrimony shared by all MCCJ.
We have chosen to publish this work in English as many confreres have drawn our attention to the difficulty of reading texts in Italian in many of our communities (especially in houses of formation in Africa). In future, we shall try to apply this choice of language as far as possible to other articles, so as to render the content accessible to an ever increasing number of confreres.
Several provinces have informed us that they did not receive some numbers of Archivio Comboniano. We would ask the provincials and delegates, who have not already done so, to send us the list of the numbers they have not received (the last number published was 87).
Brixen-Milland: finding a solution
On our property at Brixen-Milland there are various buildings: the recently renovated house used by the community, the Xaverianum (our ex-minor seminary) and the farm buildings. The last two have not been serving their original purpose for quite a number of years, so that it is sensible to find a solution about it.
There are, nevertheless, a number of difficulties, such as the local legislation concerning farms and the municipality legislations concerning historical buildings, the decision of the town council of Brixen concerning residential areas within the municipality and also the One World Organisation (which serves the South Tyrolese One World Groups), which presently occupies the Xaverianum and would like to remain. All of this makes it difficult to find a solution.
The citizens of Brixen and Milland have been informed about the intention of the Comboni Missionaries to arrive at a decision about the farm and the Xaverianum. They are also aware of the last project about this issue: a competition has been organised between twelve architects who have been given the task of drawing up a project called "Village Within a Village". On 21 December a jury will evaluate their proposals and adjudicate the winner of the competition.
“Be citizens of peace, reject violence, build unity”
On Saturday 1 December 2007, the new archbishop of Nairobi, His Eminence Cardinal John Njue, when visiting the parish of Kariobangi run by the Comboni Missionaries, made a very strong appeal for concord, unity and peace during this time of elections. Having received the “red hat” in the consistory of 24 November, in Rome, he returned to Nairobi five days later.
Using the occasion of his visit to one of the largest parishes in Nairobi, he invited all the citizens of Kenya to avoid sectarianism, tribalism and political hatred which urge people to resort to violence, threaten the very structure of the nation and cause destruction and death.
Taking the parish choir as an example, Cardinal Njue encouraged unity and collaboration: “this choir”, he said, “ is composed of men and women coming from the most diverse parts of the country. They sing together without asking where one is from, East or West, North or South. They form a single choir and sing in harmony. Imitate their example. Live, work and grow together as one people and nation, without distinction of race, and resist every attempt to set one Kenyan against another”.
In Kenya, the campaign for the election of the president and the members of parliament is in full swing. Recourse to violence, caused by tribalism, which still remains strong, fed by politicians and exploited by sometimes hidden powers which seek only their own interests, is an ever-present danger which frightens all honest citizens.
During the Eucharist, the Cardinal blessed several marriages, met the catechists, the extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and representatives of the Kariobangi and Korogocho organisations engaged in the fight against AIDS.
The Solidarity Award given to Fr. Daniele Moschetti
On the afternoon of 28 November Fr. Daniele Moschetti received a letter from the Italian Embassy. His first reaction was one of annoyance, thinking that they were inviting him to a meeting. It was instead a letter that recognised Fr. Daniele’s remarkable missionary work in the slums of Korogocho.
Fr. Daniele has struggled to give the poor a voice and position in society. He used to spend a lot of his free time in the slums of Korogocho even when he was still studying theology at Tangaza College, way back in the 90s. He even wrote his thesis on urban apostolate.
For the past seven years Fr. Daniele has assisted the people living in Korogocho, and often also people from other slums, to learn their rights and to live by them. He has worked hard to stop evictions planned by the city council and other powerful people interested in the little space of land occupied by the poor. He has spearheaded the plan of National Slum Upgrading and the fight against Dandora Dumping Site that has caused diseases and hundreds of deaths. It is through his efforts that Napenda Kuishi Rehabilitation Home is functioning, so that former street children, children born around the dumping site, drug addicts and alcoholics are now taught and treated and given a new lease of life.
The Plan for Safer Cities and the World Social Forum in Nairobi this year owe him a lot of their success. The Kutoka Network, International Debt Cancellation, Justice and Peace Initiatives, Economic Justice Forum are part of his daily program. For Fr. Daniele, mission is to follow Jesus’ master plan we find in Luke 4:16-20: “He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor… to set prisoners free and proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.”
His award, nevertheless, came as a surprise. When it was given to him on the evening of 14 December by the Italian Ambassador to Kenya, in the name of the President of Italy, Fr. Daniele remarked that the Solidarity Award was not for him but for the poor people of Nairobi as a whole and for the slum dwellers of Korogocho in particular.
The Award is an encouragement to all the Comboni Missionaries not to renounce making the world a better place for all and to take the side of the marginalized.
Congratulations are due, in a special way, to Fr. Daniele for his courage and realistic way of spreading the good news of the Gospel.
XII Comboni Missionary Congress
“Passion for Christ and passion for the mission” was the theme of the XII Comboni Missionary Congress of candidates in formation. It was attended by the aspirants and seminarians of the pre-postulancy, postulancy and novitiate, a total of 50 seminarians and five candidates in the vocational discernment phase. There were also formators and vocational promoters present. The Congress was held in the postulancy, Mexico City, from 17 to 19 November 2007.
One single idea was at the centre of reflection during the entire congress: a passion for the mission that is not founded on the love of Christ is doomed to failure and will fail sooner or later.
Daniel Comboni was gripped by the love of Christ and therefore he had a passion for the mission. In the context of the Fifth Latin-American Episcopal Conference, it was said that formation must be, first and foremost, a process which brings the candidate to be a missionary disciple of Jesus Christ and helps him to reach a personal encounter with Jesus who calls him to stay with Him, before sending him out (Mk. 3,13-14). And all of this is based on the viewpoint and the context of the Comboni charism.
The Congress was concluded with a Eucharistic celebration during which the Mexican novice Pablo Gabriel Torres took his first vows. The Congress was characterised by commitment, brotherhood, joy and cordiality. The next one is planned for 2009 in Sahuayo novitiate.
Oaxacan Catholic Community of Los Angeles
In the surroundings of St. Cecilia Church in Los Angeles, California, there are a considerable number of people from Oaxaca, Mexico. Over time, this cultural group saw the need to find a way to maintain their culture and traditions before they got absorbed by the enormous city of Los Angeles. They formed a community that has had a great influence in creating folkloric dance groups, bands, restaurants, and stores that sell native crafts from Oaxaca.
Fr. Luigi Zanotto was instrumental in helping the Oaxaqueña community transform into a parish group at St. Cecilia’s. From this nuclear cell came the creation of the “Oaxacan Catholic Community of Los Angeles.” The testimony of this Catholic community and their activities stimulated the formation of other ethnic groups. Along with a spirit of fidelity among themselves came the construction of an avenue of dialogues with other cultures. Serving as a role model, the Oaxaqueños of St. Cecilia’s inspired the formation of other communities such as the Señor de Esquipulas, Igbo, Salvadoran and Guadalupana communities. And so the parish realized the ideal of a communion of communities.
In Los Angeles, a city of diversity and secularization, the Oaxacan Community offers the religious dimension as a necessary element for identity, unity and improvement. The Comboni Missionaries not only had an essential part in providing opportunity for an already good community group to take on an even greater dimension, they continue to offer vital support and encouragement to this group that witnesses to the world the Catholic spirit of justice and peace lived out in communion with others.
The Oaxaqueños, during their recent celebration of the feast of their patroness, Our Lady of Solidarity, presented to Fr. Louie Gasparini, the provincial, a certificate of gratitude and appreciation to the Comboni Missionaries for the ongoing support they have given through the years.
Comboni Missionaries take lead role in new book
The Comboni Missionaries take a lead role in a new book by award- winning Canadian journalist Kathy Cook. “Stolen Angels: The Kidnapped Girls of Uganda” tells the story of thirty schoolgirls abducted from St. Mary’s Aboke School, run by the Comboni Missionary Sisters in Northern Uganda, and the heroic endeavours to rescue them. “The book details the tragedy of Northern Uganda and focuses on the incredible bravery of the various Comboni Missionaries living there,” Cook said.
In acknowledging people who helped her in the project of writing the book, Ms. Cook wrote: “I hadn’t heard of the Comboni Missionaries before I began writing this book. To me, they are a testament to the incredible in Catholicism. I am a Protestant by birth, and don’t regularly attend church, but knowing the story of the Comboni Missionaries as I do now, I am in awe of them. I could not here tell you all their stories, but the heroism that I offer in the depictions of Sr. Rachele Fassera, Sr. Alba Burlo, Fr. John Fraser and Fr. José Carlos Rodríguez Soto is shared by the hundred or so Comboni Missionaries that now live in Northern Uganda and by the thousands more living in the poorest areas of the world. The Comboni Missionaries are special. I have never encountered such an Institute of selfless heroes before, and the world should know more about them.”
Comboni Lay Missionary from the south evangelizes the north
Born in Mexico and educated in both her native country and the United States, Dina Bello y Bello has spent the last six years working in the US as a Comboni Lay Missionary. Through Fr. Bill Jansen, she came to Ohio and has been involved with the activities of the Hispanic community in Hamilton and in coordinating the work of twenty volunteers. We see in Dina an impressive example of a missionary from the south evangelizing here in the US. She is as invaluable here as the Comboni Lay Missionaries who from the US are serving in other countries.
Let us pray for our beloved dead
THE FATHER: Raymundo, of Fr. Andrés García Chávez.
THE BROTHERS: Giovanni, of Bro. Giuseppe Dalle Mulle (U); Antonio (priest), of Fr. Fidel González Fernández (I).
THE SISTERS: Maria da Conceição, of Fr. Manuel António da Silva Machado (P); Giovanna, of Fr. Enrico Cordioli (DCA); Brigitte, of the Sc. Eric Zadji (T).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Malvina Bertazzi, Sr. M. Silvana Filippini, Sr. Emiliangela Rigo, Sr. Illidia Pisciarelli, Sr. M. Redenta Moraschetti.
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