Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
Consulta of April (3-21) and Consulta of June (4-27) 2008
General Chapter. The letter of convocation of the General Chapter 2009 was sent out bearing the date 30 May 2008, feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The XVII General Chapter will take place in Rome, at the General Curia. It will open on Sunday 6 September 2009 with a solemn Eucharist at 9 a.m. The Chapter Delegates, however, will have to be in Rome by 12 noon of 31 August 2009 for a week of immediate preparation for the Chapter.
Ratio Missionis. The Core Commission of the Ratio Missionis met in Rome from 27 to 29 March 2008 to take stock of the journey of the phase of Discernment in common and to foresee the next steps in order to carry on with the process: provincial synthesis, continental meetings, meeting for the final synthesis and initiatives for enhancing the process of the RM in view of the Chapter.
We have noticed with satisfaction the commitment of the Provinces and Delegations in carrying on the meetings for the phase of Discernment, evidenced also by the Provincials and Delegates in their last meeting in Rome.
We are certain that together, through everyone’s involvement, we will be able to establish in the Institute a new style of living the mission and of facing the future with courage and creativity for a type of mission that is according to Comboni’s charism.
- In June 2008: meetings took place in Europe and America/Asia for the continental synthesis.
- 09-16 July2008: Meeting for the continental synthesis for English-speaking Africa in Pretoria (RSA).
- 21-26 July 2008: Meeting for the continental synthesis for French-speaking Africa in Lomé (Togo).
- 05-15 September 2008: Meeting of the core and enlarged commissions for the final synthesis.
Commission for basic formation. The replies to the questionnaire sent out in January to the provinces and delegations are coming back a little at a time. The commission will meet again in Limone from 1 to 10 September. Besides the updating of the Ratio Fundamentalis and the synthesis of the replies, the commission will try to arrive at some proposals/reflections in view of the Chapter.
European Novitiate. The GC has discussed the request of 4 March 2008 signed by all the European Provincials. After reflection, discernment and further dialogue, it has decided to reopen the Novitiate of Santarém (Portugal) beginning on 10 October 2008, feast of St. Daniel Comboni. On the same date, the Novitiate of Venegono Superiore will be canonically closed. Santarém becomes, therefore, the new European Novitiate: the community will consist of the novices who will begin the second year together with those who enter to begin their novitiate.
The GC has appointed Fr. Beretta Fausto as novice master and Fr. Ivo Martins do Vale as his assistant, starting from 1 September 2008.
American Interprovincial Novitiate Following the programme guidelines of the continental council of America/Asia and after having consulted all the Provincials/Delegates, the GC has decided to temporarily close the Novitiate of Huánuco (Peru) from 1 November 2008.
For the Provinces and Delegations of America, the continental Novitiate will be moved to Sahuayo, Mexico, from 31 August 2008. The GC confirms Fr. Rubén Padilla Rocha as novice master and appoints as his assistant Fr. Laureano Rojo Buxonat.
Eritrea: House of formation for the newly professed. On 3 June 2008 five novices (4 Scholastics and 1 Brother) made their first religious profession. Unfortunately, the present situation in the country does not allow them to move to international Scholasticates/CIF.
• The GC gives permission to start, for the time being, a community of insertion in the parish of Kidane Mehret, where the newly professed of the Delegation will be able to continue their formation journey.
• The GC appoints Fr. Estifanos Helafu Woldeghiorghis as the person responsible for and formator in the new community of insertion.
Community of the Scholasticate of insertion in Lusaka. After the visit of the GC to Lusaka in December 2007 and the remarks of the new Provincial Council of Malawi/Zambia, we have come to the decision of postponing the opening of the new scholasticate inserted in a parish community. The GC wishes to take more time and to consider other possibilities in preparation of this opening proposed by the Intercapitular Assembly.
Preparation of Formators and Specialisations
- Fr. Michael Jesto Bwalya (MZ): will continue his course for formators at the Gregoriana for a second year for a degree in Spirituality.
- Fr. Elias Sindjalim Essognimam (TGB): Psychology at the Gregoriana.
- Fr. Ngumba Lelo Joseph (CN): course in Science of Education (UPS), Pedagogy for vocations formation.
- Fr. Jean Claude Kobo Badianga (CN): will do a course in Social Sciences at the Gregoriana, with special reference to Social Communications.
- Fr. Matthew Remijo Adam Gbitiku (KH): will do a course for formators at the Gregoriana.
- Fr. Lako Martin (KH): will do a course in Leeds (LP) in Science of Education.
- Fr. Mpanda Chimwemwe Andrew (MZ): will do a Doctorate (PhD) in Philosophy in Rome.
- Fr. Pier Paolo Monella: will do a course in counselling at Glasgow University.
- Fr. Benywanira Patrick (U): will take a degree in Philosophy at the Urbaniana.
Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation. The CG thanks the coordinators of the CYOF, while planning for the next course in Pretoria. Heartfelt thanks to the provinces of Mexico and South Africa for their help and collaboration for Ongoing Formation in the Institute.
Through the journey and experience of the past years, the conviction of the validity of this initiative of ongoing formation has grown in strength. It is a gift of the Lord for the Comboni Missionary who longs for a deeper and more authentic encounter with himself, the Lord, St. Daniel Comboni, the community and the mission. Regardless, not everything is running smoothly, like in the case of confreres’ resistance to the CYOF and the little encouragement from some provincials for this sabbatical time, in obedience to the General Chapters.
Renewal Course in Rome. The Renewal Course this year was conclude at the end of May bringing about its good fruits.
We invite the confreres to make good use of this opportunity of Ongoing Formation, reminding everyone that the registration for the Course 2009 has to be received by the end of September this year.
Finances. In this Consulta of June the Institute’s financial report for the year 2007 was approved. We have reasons for thanking the assistance of our treasurer St. Joseph and to remember the treasurers and procurators who work for the good of the missions and of the Institute. The treasurers and procurators will have their Assembly at Pesaro from 16 to 26 September 2008. Our thanks go also to the benefactors and the provinces, which through sharing have made it possible to develop many projects in Africa and Latin America.
- Fr. Raphael Wokorach P’Mony has been appointed superior of the scholasticate in Nairobi, Kenya, as from 1 July 2008.
- Fr. Giuseppe Giannini has been appointed formator of the scholasticate in Nairobi, Kenya, as from 1 July 2008.
- Fr. Giuseppe Simoni has been appointed assistant novice master for the novitiate of Cotonou, Bénin, as from 1 July 2008.
- Fr. Fausto Beretta has been appointed novice master for the novitiate of Santarém, Portugal, as from 1 July 2008.
- Fr. Ivo Martins do Vale has been appointed assistant novice master for the novitiate of Santarém, Portugal, as from 1 July 2008.
- Fr. John Peter Alenyo has been appointed novice master for the novitiate of Namugongo, Uganda, as from 1 July 2008.
- Fr. Antonio Guarino has been appointed assistant novice master for the novitiate of Namugongo, Uganda, as from 10 October 2008.
- Fr. Estifanos Helafu Woldeghiorghis has been appointed formator and the person responsible for the house of formation in Asmara for the newly professed of Eritrea’s Delegation, as from 1 July 2008.
- Fr. Stéphane Kamanga Mutombo has been appointed superior of the scholasticate of Kinshasa, Congo, as from 14 September 2008.
- Fr. Fermo Bernasconi has been appointed formator of the scholasticate of Kinshasa, Congo, as from 1 October 2008.
- Fr. Laureano Rojo Buxonat has been appointed assistant novice master for the novitiate of Sahuayo, Mexico, as from 15 August 2008.
- Fr. Livio Tagliaferri has been appointed superior ad nutum of the Curia, as from 1 June 2008.
- Fr. Elia Pampaloni has been chosen and appointed by Card. Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, as Spiritual Director of the Urbano Pontifical College “de Propaganda Fide”, as from 1 September 2008.
- Fr. Jorge Oscar García Castillo, secretary general for Mission Promotion, has been appointed member of the core commission for the RM.
- Fr. Gian Paolo Pezzi Trebeschi, responsible of the Comboni Press, will be responsible for the Website www.comboni.org. Furthermore, he will collaborate with Fr. Enrique Javier Rosich Vargas, secretary general for Evangelisation, in the field of JPIC.
Annuario Comboniano 2008. The printed edition of the Annuario Comboniano 2008 is ready. It is being sent to the provinces and delegations and we hope that it will reach you very soon. Unfortunately the postal service is not always what it should be. In any case, we keep sending to provinces/delegations the monthly updated digital edition, what would be impossible to do with the printed edition.
Spiritual Retreat 2008 for the General Direction. This year the General Directions of the four Italian Missionary Institutes (PIME, Xaverian, Consolata and Comboni Missionaries) have arranged to do the Spiritual Retreat together. This will take place at Tavernerio (Como) during the week from 17 to 23 August 2008. The director will be Fr. Franco Mosconi, a Benedictine Abbot.
Agenda of the General Council
- Fr. Teresino Serra - 12-21 July 2008: Spiritual Retreat and visit to Portugal; 25 July-7 August: visit to Asia; 15-31 August: visit to Mozambique; 21 September-3 October: visit to Malawi/ Zambia.
- Fr. Fabio Carlo Baldan - 8-22 July: South Africa (Ratio Missionis); 25 July-7 August: visit to Asia.
- Fr. Odelir José Magri - 14-27 July: holidays in Italy; 8-26 August: CAM 3 COMLA 8 and continental meeting of the AM in Quito (Ecuador).
- Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel – Will be at the Curia in Rome.
- Bro. Umberto Martinuzzo - 1-17 July: Bogotá (CO), continental meeting of the Brothers (including a visit to Ecuador from 2 to 6 July); 22 July-7 August: Carapira (MO), meeting with the Brothers of Southern Hemisphere; 10-13 September: Pesaro, Assembly of Treasurers and Procurators of Latin America; 16-26 September: Pesaro, Assembly of provincial and delegation Treasurers and Procurators.
Renovation work at the Generalate in Via Luigi Lilio, Rome
Due to renovation work being carried out on the north-east wing (Bibliotheca section), which will begin in the month of July and last till the end of the year, it will not be possible to offer hospitality to confreres passing through. Anyone really in need of accommodation in Via Luigi Lilio during this period is asked to contact directly the new superior of the house, Fr. Livio Tagliaferri.
Thank you for your understanding during this temporary situation. We are trying to make the house as welcoming as possible for those who will take part in the next General Chapter.
Sc. Tabaquero Mantalaba Adrian (A) Manila (RP) 31-05-2008
Sc. Ghebrezghiabiher Woldehawariat
Kidane (ER) Decameré (ER) 03-06-2008
Sc. Tewoldeberhan Nayir Berkay (ER) Decameré (ER) 03-06-2008
Sc. Woldemichael (Maekele) Meskel
Freghi (ER) Decameré (ER) 03-06-2008
Sc. Yonas Sium Hagos (ER) Decameré (ER) 03-06-2008
Bro. Yemane Teclit Woldeghiorghis (ER) Decameré (ER) 03-06-2008
Bro. Basiński Tomasz (C-PO) Kraków (PL) 14-06-2008
Ordinations to the priesthood
Fr. Maciej Zielinski (C-PO) Tarnów (Polska) 31.05.2008
Fr. Palomar Alcántar Juan Apolinar (M) Messico 21.06.2008
Holy Redeemer Guild
July 01 – 07 LP 08 – 15 CO 16 – 31 MZ
August 01 – 15 M 16 – 31 MO
July - That the love of Christ and of the mission may guide the Comboni Missionary Sisters in their journey of reflection on ‘Consecrated Life as a sign of the Covenant’. Let us pray.
August - That on the occasion of the CAM3-COMLA8, America may renew its missionary commitment and answer in a practical way to the world’s expectations. Let us pray.
From 9 to 13 June, 2008, in Ellwangen-Josefstal, we had our Provincial Assembly which dealt with well-prepared topics, thus contributing to a good climate and efficiency.
The first topic centred on the “DSP Project”, a process within the province which is to elaborate a clear profile of the province and pave the way for the future. The motto was: “DSP: seeing limits, programming its beginning, under God’s Spirit”. Dr. Norbert Nagler from MISSIO was the moderator. Dates were set in the near future for confreres who are already working on this project to present some of their achievements.
The “DSP Project” is not an effort by just a few of us, but by everyone. It has been rightly linked to the process of the Ratio Missionis. Thus we dedicated the second day to the RM, though we already held three workshops on it, reaching better statements and results.
Another topic, based on our “Six - Year´ Plan”, was: “Our lifestyle and hospitality and its implications”. The moderator was Fr. Roman Loeschinger, a Premonstratensian of the monastery of Roggenburg. He helped us to see our lifestyle in a clearer and deeper way and the meaning and manner of hospitality, covering points that the confreres considered important.
At the end, time was given to the report of the provincial.
75 years of Comboni Missionary presence in Bamberg
On 30 May, Feast of the Sacred Heart, we celebrated 75 years of Comboni Missionary presence on the cathedral hill in Bamberg. Apart from confreres of other communities, there were also friends and benefactors of the area. Moreover, there were a good number of representatives of the local religious communities. Last but not least, we were able to have the Archbishop of Bamberg, Mgr. Ludwig Schick, who is actually our neighbour, to take part in the celebrations. In his homily the Archbishop looked back at the 75 years of our presence in Bamberg, at the long years of formation of candidates and especially at the missionary spirit we spread around the archdiocese. Further, he reminded us that Mgr. Matthias Kirchner, a priest from Bamberg, was vicar apostolic of Central Africa from 1858 to 1861. After his return from the missions, he continued to work as a formator and priest in Bamberg and in Schesslitz. Looking at it closely, one realizes that, in fact, for a while Mgr. Kirchner was Daniel Comboni’s superior. The Archbishop quoted Daniel Comboni from time to time and spoke of the present chains that the missionaries are called to break.
Incidentally, exactly 140 years ago, in 1868, Comboni came to Bamberg to participate in the National Catholic Assembly. He wanted to use the opportunity to create awareness for the missions of Central Africa.
The Eucharistic celebration was followed by a power point presentation showing how the house and its various services changed since 1933. For many years it was used as a house of formation of candidates to the priesthood until it became the residence of the provincial.
In his address, the provincial superior, Fr. Josef Altenburger, reminded the audience of the long-established bond with the Archdiocese. He pointed out that the name of our house, i.e. “Mission House St. Heinrich” has been a symbol of cooperation (missionary animation, commitments and pastoral care). Fr. Altenburger, hinting at the Archbishop’s tasks as the bishop-in-change of Commission 10 of the German Episcopal Conference, expressed the desire for even more intensive cooperation between the local Church and our Institute.
Fifteenth course for electricians held by Bro. Silvestro Fadda
On 6 May, 2008, the fifteenth course for training expert electricians organised by Bro. Silvester Fadda MCCJ, was concluded at Esmeraldas. This year Bro. Fadda will celebrate his Golden Jubilee of religious life. The course, which lasted four months, was patronised by Quito SECAP and is, therefore, recognised by the national department of education.
Forty three adults participated, including one woman who is studying engineering, and all finished the course. The closing ceremony took place in the hall of the “Commissioner of the City Council”, in the presence of the municipal authorities and the heads of the education sector. Those present thanked Bro. Silvestro for having given them the possibility of an opening into the labour market in the construction sector of Esmeraldas and also the possibility of helping their neighbours to install electricity in their houses in the poor areas on the edge of the city. The provincial was present at the ceremony with some confreres and thanked Bro. Silvestro, who, in spite of his years, continues to serve the people of Esmeraldas in his capacity as an expert electrician. He invited everyone to come to the feast being organised by the community of Merced for 15 September, 2008, the occasion of Bro. Silvestro’s Golden Jubilee of religious life. A souvenir plaque was presented to Bro. Slvestro by the participants and the City Council as a token of their appreciation.
Sixtieth Anniversary of Fr. Enzo Tavano’s Ordination
On the feast of the Sacred Heart, at the provincial house in Quito, Peru, Holy Mass was celebrated at which the Comboni communities of Quito were present. Among them were 11 postulants and young aspirants. Fr. Enzo Tavano was the main celebrant of the Mass on the sixtieth anniversary of his priestly ordination and he thanked God for this achievement.
The parish community of San Gabriele, valle di Los Chillos, also marked the anniversary by celebrating Mass with the bishops of Quito and organising a feast of thanksgiving. Many Happy Returns, Fr. Enzo!
Once every five years the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue meets at the continental level with its Members and Consulters as well as Chairmen of National Commissions for Interreligious Dialogue or representatives of Episcopal Conferences to discuss regional issues concerning relations with people of other religions. For the continent of Africa, such a Consultation was organized in Nairobi, Kenya, from 16 to 20 April 2008.
Fr. John Richard Kyankaaga Ssendawula, in his capacity as director of Dar Comboni, was invited by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, to take part in the Consultation. During the meeting, he was given the opportunity to tell the participants about Dar Comboni Institute, the nature of the courses available, their duration, the possible financial arrangements, and any other information that was considered useful to share with the Bishops of the countries in the sub-Saharan Africa.
After Nairobi, Fr. Richard proceeded to Bukavu, DRC for the General Assembly of the Association of Catholic Universities and Higher Institutes of Africa and Madagascar (ACUHIAM), which took place from April 28 to May 2, 2008, organized by the Catholic University of Bukavu. The theme of the Assembly was “Quality Education in our Catholic Universities and the Future of the African Society”. There are now 18 member Institutes including Dar Comboni whose membership was approved in the same Assembly. Currently, there are 27 Catholic Universities and Higher Institutes in Africa.
First profession of five Eritrean novices
Five Eritrean novices made their first profession in Decameré, in the chapel of our minor seminary. The occasion was witnessed by all the confreres of the Delegation, many Comboni Sisters, the novices’ parents, our candidates in the various formation stages and friends.
The Eucharistic celebration was presided by Fr. Sebhatleab Ayele Tesemma, the delegate superior. It was celebrated in the Ge’ez rite and during the offertory symbolic gifts were brought to the altar. During the homily Fr. Sebhatleab underlined the value of self-giving for the cause of “mission”, which often entails hardships and difficulties. He also stressed that the identity of the Comboni Missionaries is characterized by the ad gentes and the ad extra aspects. He explained to the faithful that the five candidates should have done their novitiate outside the country, but could not do so for political reasons. The antenna of the Comboni Missionary, nevertheless, is always tuned beyond one’s home boundaries.
The celebration was a good occasion for missionary animation, because it was the first time that five of our Eritrean novices made their profession in Eritrea. It was also of a special significance, because one of the neo-professed was a Brother candidate: indeed, the first Eritrean Brother.
After the celebration, a simple lunch was offered to the invited guests. The first year novices, together with the novices of the Comboni Sisters, recited some poems and sang songs to mark the occasion. The neo-professed thanked the novice master, Fr. Tesfaghiorghis Hailè Berhane, for his dedication and personal witness. As they are not allowed to leave the country for an international scholasticate, they will study theology in Asmara Theological College and reside with the Comboni community of Kidane Mehret Parish, near Sembel, with their formator Fr. Estifanos Helafu Weldeghiorghis.
Confiscation of the ECS National Head Office
On 15 May, 2008, a letter signed to by the governor of the central region arrived at the National Head Office of the Eritrean Catholic Secretariat (ECS) ordering them to leave the place by 21 May. The reason given was that the government needed the place. The total area is 30,000 square metres, with a complex made up of buildings, offices and several containers, all belonging to the Catholic Church.
The Bishops immediate reply stated that the Church was the rightful owner of the property, both movable and immovable goods; it had always paid the taxes; if the government was in need of the premises, it should provide an alternative place for it and compensate for the value of the buildings; the time given (five days) was too short for transferring everything elsewhere.
The letter got no reply. On 22 May, nevertheless, the governor sent a second letter in which there was no mention or reference to the letter written by the bishops. It stated that the time had expired for the transferral; that the government was going to take over the property of the ECS; the Church would have had to pay for the expenses of the removal and be charged rent for occupying the land it would be assigned. The government was not to be held responsible for any damage or loss of property during the transfer.
The Church immediately replied by expressing its dismay for such a decision and stating clearly that the law should be applied. It stressed once again that it needed to be given an alternative place to move to.
On Wednesday 28 May, huge lorries with trailers arrived at the ECS, escorted by the police, and started moving the containers of the ECS to a northern part of the outskirts of the town. It is a clear move to strike at the heart of the Catholic Church, leaving no room for dialogue, as the order came from the government’s highest office.
Prize awarded to Mundo Negro magazine
On 26 May last, the “Cadena 100”, music station in Spain presented the awards “Los Números 1 de Cadena 100” during its second edition at the Hotel Eurostars Grand Marina, Barcelona. One of the awards was given to Mundo Negro for its “social activity, its work in Africa, for the way it sacrifices so much in order to help everyone and for the publication in our society of the real problems of Africa”, as stated by Guillem Caballé, the presenter.
“Today we wish to recognise the enormous work done in Africa by the Comboni Missionaries, often in extreme conditions. They feel the need to spread the love they have for Africa throughout the whole of Western society and for this reason the Institute publishes Mundo Negro magazine which amplifies the silenced news and testimonies seldom heard”, Caballé added.
The award was received by Fr. Ismael Piñón López, director of the magazine, by the editor-in-chief Luis Esteban Larra, and the director of Digital Mundo Negro, Fr. Roberto Misas Ríos.
“Mundo Negro wishes to be, above all, the voice of Africa in Spain, and I wish to invite not only the “Cadena 100”, but everyone to discover the great riches which Africa possesses: Salif Keita, Cesaria Évora, Youssou Ndour – seeing this is a music station – but also artists, writers and politicians. There are great riches in Africa”, said Fr. Ismaele. “Mundo Negro wishes to be the voice of this humanity which our own country of Spain and Europe itself are yet to discover”.
Verona: changes at the top in the CAA
On 15 May, 2008, Fr. Francesco Lenzi completed eight years as director of the Centre for Elderly and Sick Confreres (CAA) at the Mother House and is now preparing to return to Brazil. The day was celebrated in three phases in which the personnel of the Centre, a large number of friends, doctors and other medical workers of the hospitals of Verona took part: the Eucharistic celebration and a fraternal agape as a token of gratitude for the good work done by Fr. Lenzi and collaborators in serving our resident and visiting missionaries.
The third phase of the evening was the introduction of the new staff of the CAA with Fr. Roberto Ardini as director and Fr. Claudio Bozza in charge of external services assisted by Bro. Fulvio Lorenzini and Fr. Mario Fugazza, as well as other lay collaborators. Mention was also made of Bro. Antonio Coto and Bro. Simone Della Monica who left the Centre some months ago. Our thanks and good wishes for a fruitful mission to Fr. Lenzi and best wishes also to all the staff of the Centre.
Verona: Jubilee celebrations
On 23 May, 2008, occurred the fiftieth anniversary of the death of our dearly remembered Fr. Francesco Saverio Magagnotto, who died in Verona on 11 March, 1958. The commemoration was the initiative of his family and the parish of Costalunga in the province of Verona and the dioceses of Vicenza.
By means of some personal photo albums, the figure of our missionary was re-created. He was born in 1885 and worked mostly in Sudan during the first decades of the last century. He wrote an interesting book entitled “From the River of the Gazelles”, containing anthropological notes on the Giur people.
Through their interventions, Fr. Romeo Ballan and Fr. Elio Boscaini, from the Mother House, explained the place of this missionary personality in the Comboni and African context of yesterday and today. The participation of the parishioners was noteworthy both in quantity and quality.
On 12 June, in the mountain parish of Breonio (Western Lessinia), there was the historical commemoration of Don Alessandro Dal Bosco (1830-1868), a Veronese priest of the Pious Society of Don Nicola Mazza, who was a member of the 1857 missionary expedition to the Sudan together with Daniel Comboni and four other companions. The commemoration, which occurred 150 years since the expedition and 140 years after his death, was sponsored by his native parish of Breonio. The speakers included don Francesco Massagrande, a Mazza priest, and the Comboni priests Fr. Boscaini and Fr. Ballan, to illustrate the two missionary periods of don Dal Bosco: first and foremost as a missionary in Sudan and subsequently as the first formator of the Institute which Daniel Comboni founded in Verona in 1867.
Limone: priestly Jubilee
Thirty five Comboni missionaries were ordained in 1958. Of these, seventeen gathered in Limone from 2 to 6 June, 2008, to celebrate their golden jubilees as priests: Frs. Pierluigi Cadé, Aldo Chisté, Angelo Compri, Nazareno Contran, Cesarino Donati, Alois Eder, Costante Ferranti, Serafino Di Sanzo, Antonio Ferrari, Giuseppe Forlani, Antonio Franzini, Ismaele Matterazzo, Riccardo Novati, Umberto Parizzi, Pietro Ravasio, Rogério Artur de Sousa and Giuseppe Zoppetti. It was a celebration which turned out to be full of emotion, memories and new resolutions.
Fr. Danilo Castello, superior of the Limone community, welcomed us and underlined the biblical importance of “remembering”: God invites us to keep our memories fixed on the fact that He is “faithful”, rather than the inevitable failures or things which did not go well in our lives.
In the first place we thanked God that our class “stood firm” to a man. This gift we must certainly attribute to the intercession of the Virgin Mary. After our ordination, with special permission, unusual in those times, we all went together on pilgrimage to Lourdes before we left for our various destinations.
Some topics we spoke about: half our class worked in Africa and half in America, except for a few who went to Asia. We spoke of the many Christian communities, large and small, we helped to found or to grow; hundreds of thousands of kilometres travelled; the dangers we met (wars, especially in Mozambique, Sudan and Uganda); the projects we built, especially schools and churches. A few examples: the St. Theresa centre for the handicapped founded by Fr. Confalonieri; a Marian Shrine in Lower California by Fr. Cadè; 11 centres for the poor opened by Fr. Di Sanzo (Italy, Perù, India); the Comboni Centre in Sogakope (Ghana) with its technical schools, dispensaries, and printing press etc. founded by Fr. Novati and beautifully illustrated in a book just published (Ghana, a Mission on the River); the interprovincial missionary awareness project in Kinshasa (Afriquespoir), etc.
On 4 June we moved to Bressanone. It was a completely “Comboni” day due to the most cordial welcome we received from our confreres and to our visit to the monastery of Novacella, where that great friend of Comboni, Canon Mitterrutzner, lived.
The Eucharist on the final day was led by Fr. Andrea Polati who was celebrating his sixtieth anniversary and did not fail to mention that this year is the 150th anniversary of the Lourdes apparitions.
It took just one incident to light the fuse. The result was that the 50,000 people were left homeless as their shanty town was burned to the ground.
On 13 May, 2008, a soldier of the “Ikhwana al Sum” militia, which supports the Sudanese armed forces (SAF), killed an SPLA policeman and wounded another. The police reacted and killed one of the militia. This all happened at Dokora, a village about four miles from Abyei. The fuse was lit and the fire spread out of control. At first, the SAF and their Misseriya and Arab militias opened fire on the Darfur and Dinka traders at the market. The SPLA returned the fire. People fled in all directions. The following day witnessed a real battle. In the early afternoon shooting began again at the market. By 3.30 pm it had become a head-on clash with the SPLA on one side and the SAF and militias on the other. For two hours the bitter fighting continued. The SAF and their allies got the upper hand and forced the SPLA to leave the city. The UNMIS contingent preferred to stay within their camp and did not get involved.
Abyei had about 50,000 inhabitants. It was just a large village with huts of mud and straw. It took very little to destroy it once at had been set alight. In a short time, district after district was turned to ashes. Fortunately, civilian casualties were low and most people managed to flee with the help of the SPLA and the UNMIS, at whose camps many people sought refuge at first. Others fled to the twenty or so villages surrounding Abyei.
The SAF took control of the burned out city and took whatever they could find. It came to light that the militias surrounded the mission compound and looted it completely, taking away all they could with a lorry. Then they burned three buildings leaving only the brick buildings intact. At the time this happened, the two priests living at Abyei were at El Obeid for their annual retreat and a pastoral meeting. The deacon Zachariah was at Abyei and witnessed what happened. He then fled, walking for hours before getting a lift to Bentiu and from there to El Obeid. The last Comboni Missionaries to live at Abyei were Fr. Silvano Gottardi, Fr. Luciano Perina and Bro. Agostino Cerri. Since their time, the mission was served by local diocesan priests of the diocese El Obeid.
In recent weeks, the NCP and SPLA have tried to defuse the situation and create a climate of security which may help the population to return.
Mission appeals season
The summer mission appeals season is in full swing, and we are honoured to welcome Comboni Missionary priests from Africa and Latin America. In addition, at the CMC in Cincinnati, the annual Archdiocesan mandated mission appeals preparation workshop, Mission Cooperation Plan, just took place. This well planned, 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.
Summer mission education event
Two of the priests who have come for mission appeals, Frs. Richard Kyangaaga and Achilles Kiwanuka, will speak at our summer mission event title Refugee Trail: Darfur to Cairo. They will give people a firsthand account of what refugee life is like for so many of the unheard victims of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and help them understand why people have to leave their home, land and country, and often their families. This mission education event will take place in three Comboni Mission Centers: La Grange Park, IL on June 24, Cincinnati, OH on July 1, and Covina, CA on July 8.
50th anniversary celebration
Father Angelo Biancalana, fifty years a priest, celebrated this milestone anniversary with a Mass and reception in Chicago. A large number of friends and supporters from the past and present joined Fr. Angelo as he gave thanks to God for allowing him these many years of service as a Comboni Missionary. During his time of ministry to the Native Americans in California, Father Angelo left a good impression; so good that he was offered a place of burial among them.
Annual meeting of senior confreres
From 3 to 6 June, 2008, the senior confreres of South Sudan met at Rumbek for their annual meeting. Fr. Salvatore Serrao, SJ led the encounter on the theme: “How to grow old gracefully”.
There were only ten participants since quite a few had found it impossible to break their engagements. The meeting was more of a fraternal conversation on that which we are at our age and on the progress we have made as persons who are religious and Comboni missionaries. The three days were filled with beautiful moments during which each one felt anew the importance of setting aside one’s work in order to recognise the fact that, even if our youth leaves us, the Lord never does.
During the liturgical celebrations we remembered two confreres who are no longer with us: Fr. Raymond Pax, who died just a few months ago and Fr. Antonio La Braca who is on a sabbatical.
The final day was taken up with an outing together. We went to visit a confrere who lives alone at Barghel, 40km from Rumbek where he is building a technical school. The friendship and joy of being together which we experienced during the outing seemed just as important as the first days of the meeting.
It was something special to remember and integrate the past while looking to the future together.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Fr. Thomas Ibrahim Riad (30.04.1933 – 17.05.2008)
Fr. Carlo Pasquali (25.01.1925 – 18.05.2008)
Fr. Luigi Denicolò (16.12.1925 – 23.05.2008)
Bro. Fernando Acedo García (11.03.1942 – 26.06.2008)
His eulogy will appear in the next issue.
Let us pray for our beloved dead
THE FATHER: Voltaire, of the novice Moises Albarina (A).
THE MOTHER: Annunciata, of Fr. Sandro Cadei (T).
THE BROTHERS: Dick, of Fr. Janito Joseph Aldrin Palacios (RSA); Karl, of Bro. Adolf Seibold (DSP); Marino, of Fr. Vittore Gilardi (I); Vittorio, of Bro. Giovanni Cattaneo (I).
THE SISTERS: Angela, of Fr. Luigi Penzo (KH); Bertilla, of Fr. Natale Basso (EC); Adele, of Frs. Farronato Elio (CN) e Lorenzo (CN).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Regina Micael, Sr. Luigia Maria Salvi, Sr. M. Attilia Dall’Armi, Sr. Angeliana Posenato, Sr. Pia Michelina Briani.
THE SECULAR COMBONI MISSIONARY: Teresina Acquistapace.