Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
Happy New Year!
Consulta of 15 October – 15 November 2008
The GC has outlined a detailed journey of preparation for the General Chapter up to 6 September 2009, the day of its opening. The goal is indicated by the theme of the Chapter itself: “From Comboni’s plan to the Comboni Missionaries’ plan: re-qualification of our mission, formation and government”. The content (documents) for this journey will soon reach the provinces and delegations.
Delegates to the General Chapter
- The General Council congratulates those elected, certain of everyone’s commitment for the good of the Institute and of the mission.
- Scholastics and Brothers of Temporary Vows for the Chapter: the observers to the next Chapter will be four. Each Scholasticate and CIF is invited to suggest a name of someone from their own community. The GC will choose from the names suggested.
In another step towards the Chapter, the Preparatory Commission met in Rome from 3 to 7 November. Their task was:
1. To evaluate and reflect on the documents prepared by the thematic commissions.
2. To prepare an introductory document to briefly explain the process of the theme of the XVII General Chapter. This text will serve as a means of information, formation and inspiration for individual confreres and communities during the stage of the work to be done at provincial level.
The GC expresses its thanks to the members of this Commission for the commitment shown in accomplishing their task.
The GC has appointed the members of the Precapitular Commission:
Fr. Cerezo Ruiz Daniel, Fr. Filippi Giuseppe, Bro. Giusti Daniele Giovanni, Fr. Lurati Claudio, Fr. Mumbere Musanga Joseph, Fr. Sánchez González Enrique, Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie, Fr. Villarino Rodríguez Antonio.
The commission will hold its first meeting in Rome from 3 to 10 January 2009.
From January to September 2009, the commission will have to:
1. Draft the Instrumentum Laboris starting from the basic texts, contributions from the preparatory commission, reports and suggestions from provinces and individual confreres (provincial preparatory stage) and contributions from the Continental Assemblies.
2. To endorse the contents and the methods of the Continental Assemblies.
3. To organise and assist the running of the Continental Assemblies and gather the contributions that will be useful to the Instrumentum Laboris.
4. To organise the immediate preparation of the General Chapter and to direct the beginning of the works.
Works in the house
Also in preparation for the General Chapter, we are completing the renovation of the rooms and Chapter hall at the Curia house. A general revision of the structure will make the running of the Chapter easier.
- Fr. Opargiw John Baptist Keraryo has been appointed General Secretary for Formation as from 1 July 2009. Fr. Opargiw will continue as novice master in the Novitiate of Lusaka until the novices’ profession. While we send him our best wishes, we wholeheartedly thank Fr. Girolamo Miante for his precious help and generous collaboration during the past 8 years. The GC appreciates his availability and untiring work.
- Fr. Villaseñor Gálvez José de Jesús has been appointed superior and first formator of the scholasticate of Casavatore (Naples) as from 15 November 2008.
- The ongoing formation course for promoters and formators of Europe: It took place at Pesaro from 22 June to 5 July. Twenty-four Confreres from the provinces of Europe and Mozambique took part in it. The course was very much appreciated. We thus come to the end of the first Ongoing Formation cycle proposed by the Chapter 2003. All together 80 confreres took part in these courses.
- Eritrea: The small community of scholastics and Brother, with Fr. Estifanos Helafu Weldeghiorghis as formator, is at its beginning. The scholastics who begin their theology are three. A fourth one, who has already completed his theology, is committed especially in pastoral experience. A brother lives with the three scholastics and attends a course in religious sciences. We thank all the confreres of the Delegation for remaining faithful to their commitments in spite of the difficulty in exercising their ministry.
- Community of Priests/Brothers Students: They are eight confreres who continue or begin their studies in view of a specialisation: one for the formators course, one in spirituality, two in psychology, two in philosophy, one in social sciences and one in science of education.
- Inserted scholasticates: The GC, in dialogue with the province of Togo-Ghana-Benin, has taken the first steps towards the opening of an inserted scholasticate in Ghana.
- Community of insertion: The GC has taken the decision to begin a community of insertion (a small group of scholastics inserted into a pastoral and mission situation) in the Comboni community of Contagem (South Brazil), to start with a group of newly professed in 2009.
- Statistics: The confreres with temporary vows are 188, 158 scholastics and 30 Brothers: 125 from Africa, 38 from America, 21 from Europe and 4 from the Philippines.
General Assembly of provincial and delegation treasurers and procurators
The Assembly was a positive experience of sharing and reflecting on the financial workings in our Institute. Relevant points were the reflection on the Ratio Missionis, a comparative study monitored by experts on ethical procedures in investments, discussion on the updating of the General Directory for Finances and the application of the Code of Conduct with regard to financial matters.
A new feeling is emerging in the community and provincial handling of projects: these are taken up by the whole group, while their administration is entrusted to one confrere. We have also prayed to and thanked God for the generosity of benefactors who support our mission.
Agenda of the General Council
- Fr. Teresino Serra: from 3 to 18 December visits the province of Chad.
- Fr. Baldan Fabio Carlo: from 23 November to 23 December visits the province of South Africa.
- Fr. Odelir José Magri: from 17 November to 28 December, together with Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel, visits the province of Brazil South.
- Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel: from 17 November to 28 December, together with Fr. Odelir José Magri, visits the province of Brazil South. From 8 January to 11 February 2009, together with Bro. Umberto Martinuzzo, visits the province of Mexico.
- Bro. Martinuzzo Umberto: from 25 to 30 November has a meeting in Rome; from 14 to 17 December has a meeting in Bressanone; from 8 January to 7 February 2009, together with Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel, visits the province of Mexico.
MEMBERS OF THE XVII GENERAL CHAPTER
1. EX OFFICIO MEMBERS
Members of the General Council
1. Fr. Teresino Serra, Superior General
2. Fr. Fabio Carlo Baldan, Vicar General
3. Fr. José Magri Odelir, Assistant General
4. Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos W., Assistant General
5. Bro. Umberto Martinuzzo, Assistant General
1. Fr. Alberto de Oliveira Silva (P)
2. Fr. Alcides Costa (BS)
3. Fr. Josef Altenburger (DSP)
4. Fr. Rogelio Bustos Juárez (PE)
5. Fr. Daniel Cerezo Ruiz (E)
6. Fr. Luigi Fernando Codianni (BNE)
7. Fr. Dário Balula Chaves (MZ)
8. Fr. Paul Neri Augustine Felix (LP)
9. Fr. Giuseppe Filippi (U)
10. Fr. Luigi Gasparini (NAP)
11. Fr. Rafael González Ponce (M)
12. Fr. Manuel João Pereira Correia (T)
13. Fr. Miguel Navarrete Arceo (TC)
14. Fr. Salvatore Pacifico (KH)
15. Fr. Alberto Pelucchi (I)
16. Fr. Luciano Perina (SS)
17. Fr. Massimo Robol (MO)
18. Fr. Giuseppe Sandri (RSA)
19. Fr. Eliseo Tacchella (CN)
20. Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie (ET)
21. Fr. Mariano Tibaldo (KE)
22. Fr. Giovanni Zaffanelli (CA)
23. Fr. Claudio Zendron (EC)
Total Ex Officio Members: 28
2. PRIEST CHAPTER DELEGATES
1. Albino Adot Oryem (SS)
2. Giorgio Aldegheri (CA)
3. John Peter Alenyo (U)
4. Luis Alberto Barrera Pacheco (PE)
5. Erasmo Norberto Bautista Lucas (M)
6. David Bohnsack (NAP)
7. Claudio Bombieri (BNE)
8. Jesto Michael Bwalya (MZ)
9. Giuseppe Cavallini (I)
10. John Robert Anthony Clark (LP)
11. Herbert Gimpl (DSP)
12. Angelo Giorgetti (KH)
13. Fernando González Galarza (M)
14. Sylvester Hategek’Imana (U)
15. John Ikundu (KE)
16. Ivo Martins do Vale (P)
17. Leandro Araya Leonardo (DCA)
18. Claudio Lurati (C)
19. Manuel Lopes Ribeiro (MO)
20. José Gabriel Martínez Torres (TC)
21. Corrado Masini (I)
22. Venanzio Milani (I)
23. Vincent Mkhabela Masoja (RSA)
24. Joseph Mumbere Musanga (CN)
25. Julio Ocaña Iglesias (ET)
26. Ismael Piñón López (E)
27. Sebhatleab Ayele (ER)
28. Sánchez González Enrique (DCA)
29. Cosmo Vittorio Spadavecchia (EG)
30. Pedro Secondino Tacuri Samaniego (EC)
31. John Kofi Tasiame (T)
32. Manuel Ramón Torres Gómez (PO)
33. Bervian Vanderlei (BS)
34. Victor Manuel Tavares Dias (A)
35. Rodríguez Antonio Villarino (CO)
Total Priest Delegates: 35
2. BROTHER CHAPTER DELEGATES
1. Binaghi Marco (BNE-BS-EC-PE-CO)
2. Jonas Dzinekou Yawovi (MZ-MO-RSA)
3. Johann Eigner (DSP-LP)
4. Daniele Giovanni Giusti (KE-U)
5. Giovanni Grazian (I)
6. Alberto Lamana Cónsola (EG-ER-ET-KH-SS)
7. Genesio Maroso (CA-CN-T-TC)
8. Roberto Misas Ríos (C/PO-E-P)
9. José Martín Velázquez Blancas (A-DCA-M-NAP)
Total Brother Delegates: 9
TOTAL CHAPTER MEMBERS: 72
LETTER TO ALL DELEGATES
My Dear Chapter delegates,
I extend to you the sincerest best wishes of the General Council and all the Institute
You have been chosen by the confidence of the confreres but most of all by the will of God. Your appointment must, therefore, be transformed into a gift and diaconia to God, the mission and the Institute.
We continue our journey towards the 2009 Special Ordinary General Chapter with two questions in our hearts: What does God want from our Institute? And, what is God’s dream for our Institute? We prepare ourselves for this event of missionary grace by:
- The spirit of service: It will be a time of hard work but, as Comboni says, to work, labour and sweat in the name of Christ becomes an easy task (cf. W 297).
- Prayer: The Chapter is a Pentecostal experience and we prepare for this Pentecost by personal and community prayer. In a spirit of prayer, all the delegates together, like the first Christian community, ask that God “help his servants to proclaim his message with all boldness” (cf. Acts 4, 29). Certainly, the General Chapter is a time of mission and evangelisation.
- Communion with the Institute: Each delegate represents the Institute and all the Comboni family. Even if everyone comes to the Chapter bearing the problematic and justifiable interests of his province, nevertheless each Delegate has at heart the good of the entire Institute. The Delegate must, therefore, distance himself from parochialism or useless factions. He must, instead, prepare himself, form himself and inform himself, since he desires a future of grace for all the Institute (cf. RL 151).
May St Daniel Comboni inspire us all.
The First Sunday of Advent 2008
Fr. Teresino Serra mccj
Holy redeemer Guild
December 01 – 15 U 15 – 31 CN
January 01 – 07 A 08 – 15 C 16 – 31 BNE
December - For our parents and families who accompany us in our vocation and mission: that Christ the Emmanuel may grant them abundant blessings. Let us pray.
January - That the rulers of nations and worldwide humanitarian organizations dedicate themselves to prevent wars and the traffic of weapons and, together, we may commit ourselves to promote peace with justice. Let us pray.
Two awards for World Mission magazine
World Mission magazine has been granted two prizes by the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) on 29 October. Our magazine was distinguished as the Best Local Community/Parish Newspaper, repeating last year's feat, and it won for the Best Special Feature – a prose authored by Fr. José António Mendes Rebelo and Fr. David da Costa Domingues, titled A Farm of Hope and published in its issue of April-May 2008. It was a reportage made in Masbate Island, on a farm belonging to the Fazenda da Esperança chain, where, through work, community life and prayer, Filipino youth are being rescued from drugs, alcohol and other self-destructive addictions.
The awards ceremony of the prestigious Church-run competition, held at the GSIS Theatre in Pasay City, Metro Manila, was presided by His Excellency Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop of Manila, and had as guest speaker Chief Justice Reynato Puno.
This year's competition, in its 30th edition, drew a total of 516 entries in 42 categories for print, radio, television, advertising, music, cinema and Internet sites.
World Mission feels honoured by the trophies and hopes they will contribute to increase its readership and visibility as an effective instrument of mission awareness. The print run has been around 9.500 copies, after experiencing a decrease that started with the food and energy crisis and continues now with the current financial instability.
We dedicate the awards to all our friends – volunteers, collaborators, workers, benefactors and subscribers – who made it possible and have been of support and encouragement.
Situation of the country
The socio-political situation of the country has greatly worsened in recent months. The war in North Kivu and the atrocities committed by the LRA in the Eastern region have created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis: thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes and live as refugees in their own country.
As regards the situation in North Kivu, especially in the outskirts of Goma where media coverage is greater, we know roughly what is happening. But we ask ourselves who stands to benefit by this new war as it seems to be prolonged by the complicity of some authorities.
The situation in the Dungu-Duru region receives less publicity. The main building of our mission was burnt to the ground as well as over 200 houses belonging to the people. Our confreres were forced to leave; over 100 children and young people living in the villages of Duru e Kiliwa were kidnapped, among them the younger twelve-year-old brother of the Brother Postulant Michel Mitambwako. In recent weeks the LRA rebels have not ceased their regular attacks on the Dungu-Faraje road, spreading panic and despair among the inhabitants as they assault kidnap or kill travellers (9 Kadawile were killed including the uncle of the postulant Olivier Abuze, who was on his way to Dungu by motorcycle).
Before these attacks, several reports of the situation were made to international NGO’s, to MONUC and to government authorities but no action was taken.
The general situation of the country, following the hopes raised by the elections, is at a complete standstill. The prime minister Antoine Gizenga resigned and Adolphe Muzito was appointed to the post. The latter formed a government, giving the impression that its members were appointed more out of respect for international accords than to try and resolve effectively and with competence the challenges of government and the social problems of the population.
The five promised building programmes are only to be seen in the publicity announcements made by the media. For example, the most urgent problem is that of the schools. The teachers are not paid well enough by the government while both the government and the Church ended the practice of payment by the parents. However, they still continue doing so since the teachers demand payment not from the government but from the parents.
As regards the situation of the Church, our bishops are meeting together in the assembly of the permanent council of CENCO and have just published a message on the prevailing situation in the east, entitled “ The DRC mourns for its children and will not be consoled”. The bishops speak of a silent genocide, the greed for the natural resources of the DRC and a hidden “Balkan” agenda.
Another Jubilee: 20 Years of "Harambee" at Mellatz
There is a group called "Harambee" attached to our house at Mellatz. In fact, "Harambee" is, first of all, a word of the Kiswahili language in Eastern Africa. It means to achieve a goal while joining forces.
The "Harambee" group has been in existence for 20 years. It has committed itself to supporting people and projects mainly in Africa, but in Latin America as well, thus enabling them to develop their own capacity for self help.
For the occasion of the group's 20th birthday, on 26 October, World Mission Sunday in Germany, its members prepared displays presenting some of the supported partners in far away Africa and Latin America. One project was a nursery school for children of poor families in Arequipa (Peru). Another one was a craft training school at Carapira in Mozambique. In Kalongo (Uganda) AIDS orphans can be offered a new home, education and protection. Since its foundation "Harambee" has supported 20 projects run mainly by Comboni Missionaries. In the course of these 20 years, more than 84.000 Euro were handed over for these projects. This money comes mainly from a “One-World-Shop”, where fair trade goods are sold. The shop is attached to “Harambee” as well as to our house at Mellatz. Some money has also come in as donations.
Another task of "Harambee", it should not be forgotten, is its commitment in mission promotion in the surrounding areas of Mellatz, where it tries to create awareness towards the poor of the world and it passes on issues of justice and peace and integrity of creation to other groups of the area.
Closing of the parish community of La 14 – El Paraíso
On 9 November, on the occasion of the celebration of the IV anniversary of the church of Our Lady of Peace, the Comboni Missionaries handed over to Mgr. Lorenzo Voltolini Esti, Archbishop of Portoviejo, the parish of La 14 – El Paraíso (Manabí) for which they were responsible since 1976.
In 1997 the zone called “Manga del Cura” became an ecclesiastical parish comprising 50 small villages and a population of 54,000 people. It was Fr. Alberto Ferri who undertook the work of evangelisation, creating the necessary structures to enable the parish to be placed in the hands of the local clergy.
Mgr. Voltolini spoke of the intense evangelising and missionary work of the Comboni Missionaries in his archdiocese and added that. because of the strong missionary impetus received during all these years, together with a very fruitful missionary methodology, the archdiocese is now preparing a missionary team, composed of priests and lay people, so that in 2009, the thirtieth anniversary of the arrival of Mgr. Voltolini in Ecuador, on Pentecost Sunday, as a Fidei Donum missionary from the diocese of Brescia, this team may be sent ad gentes to a poor and needy church of the American continent.
Mgr. Voltolini also underlined the urgent need to “give from our poverty” as was said at Puebla, even if the indigenous clergy are still less than half the total of the archdiocese. The work of forming the Christian communities, following the example of St Paul, has always been a commitment of he Comboni Missionaries in Manabí – the bishop said – and he invited other parishes of the archdiocese to follow the example of the communities of Carmen and La 14. At the solemn celebration of Mass which was preceded by a triduum preached by Fr. Claudio Zendron, provincial superior, more than 800 people from all the villages of the parish, were present.
Fr. Claudio was presented with a beautiful olive branch made of silver, a sign of the peace and reconciliation constantly sought by the Comboni community during these years, while faced with the grave problems territorial and political division in Manga del Cura.
Two recently ordained priests will take over the parish in February, 2009. A Spanish priest, Fr. Ramón Peris Iplá, of the diocese of Valencia, who recently came to the Archdiocese, was introduced to the community. He will, in the meantime, liaise between the Comboni Missionaries and the diocesan clergy.
Ongoing Formation Meetings
Two meetings for ongoing formation were held at the provincial house during the month of October. The participants were divided according to their age.
During these meetings an effort was made, starting from the new constitution of Ecuador approved by a large majority on 27 September of this year, 2008, to become aware of future challenges, especially the privatisation of schools, health, the protection of life, nature and freedom of religion as well as the laws on work which concern our communities.
A lawyer, Walter Bonilla, of the Commission for Human Rights, assisted us in our reflections, evidencing the positive and negative aspects of the new constitution regarding the Church in Ecuador and society at large. There were reflections on the Ratio Missionis, guided by the provincial, and the Code of Conduct, assisted by Fr. Pedro Secundino Tacuri Samaniego. There was also a day trip, for the younger confreres, to Mindo to view the tropical forests and, for those of fifty years or over, a visit to the house of the “Santa Marianita de Jesús” in the convent of Carmen Alto, in the centre of Quito.
Reopening of the Quito African American Cultural Centre
On 20 November, the Quito African American Cultural Centre, located in our postulancy, was reopened. The ceremony was simple and marked the end of two years of renovation work and the reordering of all the material. The Centre, opened 27 years ago by Fr. Raffello Savoia, has more than 1500 DVD’s, 1000 CD’s and 6,100 books on Afro culture and spirituality.
Fr. Marillo Spagnolo, as he ended his service to the Ecuadorian Bishops’ Conference as the person in charge of African American pastoral and director of the Centre, underlined the great work done by the Comboni Missionaries to help those of African origin to become aware of their dignity. Addressing the provincial and Bro. Godfrey-Abel Dimanche, the new director of the Cultural and Spirituality Centre expressed the wish that the African American people would frequent the structures of the Centre, use all the catalogued material and offer themselves to serve as pastoral agents of their own people in the outskirts of Quito and other cities of the country. “The Centre is not only cultural but also a centre of spirituality where the Gospel of Jesus is the source of life for all African Americans”, said Bro. Godfrey-Abel in his presentation.
Among those present was Alessandra Ocles (African American), the only African American elected by the governing party “Alianza País” at their recent constituent assembly. She emphasised that she received her formation in this house, the African American Cultural Centre, with the help of the Comboni Missionaries, the only people who are concerned with the future of the African Americans. “It is always a joy to come home”, said Alessandra as she began her sharing with other African Americans as the ceremony drew to an end. More than 50 people, among whom were pastoral agents, lawyers, teachers and university lecturers, members of African American organisations and leaders and catechists of the parishes of Quito, joyfully took part in this event.
Conclusion of the course for missionary formation
On Sunday, 23 November, 2008, the intensive three-month course on Redemptoris Missio was concluded with a Eucharistic celebration and a time of sharing, at the provincial house. The course was given by Fr. Natale Basso, editor of Sin Fronteras distribution manager of our magazines Aguiluchos e Iglesia Sin Fronteras. Twenty five lay and religious pastoral agents from the various parishes of Quito, completed the course. They each received a diploma and some books on missionary formation so that they may begin to be protagonists of the start of the “Great Continental Mission” opened with CAM 3, in August 2008 at Quito, by the American bishops.
It is a challenge to our province to collaborate with the agenda of the various local Churches in this event and to seek to introduce the ad gentes element which remained in the margins even of the latest American Missions Congress. The Carmelite bishop, Mgr. Gonzalo López Marañón, in a recent intervention at the CER, insisted in stressing that, if the Church in Ecuador does not commit itself as soon as possible to the ad gentes mission, it will become a minority church, insignificant in the continent and in the world.
Verona: display of books written by Fr. Lorenzo Gaiga
On 9 November, 2008, the Mother House in Verona played host to almost 200 relatives of our Veronese Comboni Missionaries at their annual gathering. The Superior General, Fr. Teresino Serra, both during his conference and the Eucharist, presented the historical moment now being lived by the Institute in the various missionary situations and in view of the upcoming General Chapter.
A display of Fr. Lorenzo Gaiga’s books was organised for the occasion, a year after his death which took place at Verona on 13 November 2007.
The complete collection of his biographical books on the lives of missionaries numbers 102. To these we must add another 110 biographies of deceased confreres that were published in the official Bollettino of the Institute. Besides all these we must consider his articles published in Piccolo Missionario of which he was editor for 16 years, as well as what he wrote as director of Amici dei lebbrosi, with its bulletin.
Poor health prevented Fr. Lorenzo from going to the missions outside Italy but neither his heart nor his imagination were in any way restricted. His was a missionary life spent mostly in committing the mission to writing using eye-witness accounts. He well deserves the name of “The Comboni Scribe”.
Among the many memorabilia there are biographies dedicated to the Comboni Martyrs and the lives of the Servants of God Antonio Roveggio, Bernardo Sartori and Giuseppe Ambrosoli. Some of his books were also translated into other languages.
It is to be hoped that the man who wrote so much about others should now find one to write about him, with the help of his many autobiographical notes. In the near future the complete collection will be placed on display also at Vestenanova (Verona), where he was born. It will then be given a place in the library of the Mother House.
Darfur: a chance for peace at last?
“A chance for Peace” was the title of the article Alfred Taban, editor-in-chief of Khartoum Monitor, published on Friday, 14 November, 2008. He referred to the decision of the president Bashir to declare an unconditional ceasefire in Darfur, accompanied by other measures which may be conducive to peace. The announcement came at the conclusion of a conference called “Sudanese Peace Initiative (SPI) which was organized in Khartoum and Kenana from the 7th to the 12th of November 2008.
Actually the President only expressed what the members of the Sudanese Peace Initiative (SPI) had recommended in order to create an environment conducive to peace talks. The idea of organizing a SPI to solve the Darfur conflict was announced on July 13th, on the eve of the day in which the International Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo sought an arrest warrant for Sudanese president on ten accounts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. It was organized in a hurry and took place at the moment when another initiative, called al-Qatari initiative, was taking shape. Surprisingly, their recommendations were found to coincide with the demands of the Darfur movements.
The president committed himself to disarming the infamous Janjaweed militias, to paying compensation and reparations for the Darfur is who have lost their properties and lives, to building schools and health centres. A stronger role in the cessation of hostilities and the protection of the peace process would be given to the United Nations African Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). Three points, recommended by SPI, were not taken into consideration by the president: The request for a vice president for Darfur, as it was done for South Sudan in Naivasha (2005); the unification of the three States into one; the release of all political prisoners. All the same, the political commentators and the major political parties on the scene saw it as a positive step taken by the president, hoping that what had been left out would become part of the deal later on. As Al Sadiq Al Mahdi put it, the SPI has to allow for more additions. The SPI was one of the steps in the peace process, not the final one. The Darfur movements were urged by all sides to join in. To facilitate this, SPLA and others insisted on the necessity of releasing the detainees, even those of Justice and Equity Movement involved in the attack on Khartoum on 10 May 2008.
Is peace at hand? As expected, the rebels are rather sceptical. A ceasefire was signed in 2004 in N’djamena, a monitoring system was set up in the same year, and yet little or nothing has materialised. Peace talks were held again in Ambuja in 2006, but only one faction of the rebels, the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Minni Minnawi, accepted the results, and as a consequence part of the members abandoned the Movement. Besides, two years later Minnawi himself was so frustrated that he left Khartoum and threatened to rejoin those in the battlefield.
The sufferings of the people continued unabated. While the president was delivering his speech, more people were abandoning their villages and flocking into refugees camps. UNAMID Peacekeepers were ambushed near Geneina in West Darfur.
Regardless of all this, the Darfur movements were encouraged to give the offer of peace a chance, before rejecting it out of hand. Events will show if the offer was genuine. What people want is peace. Through the Sudan Peace Initiative the Government has made a move. The al-Qatar Initiative could well be the place where the details are worked out and some positive conclusions reached. This, indeed, is our hope and prayer.
Lay Office Staff Assembly
The NAP employs an impressive number of lay persons to fill positions in Comboni Mission Offices around the province. This allows for a high level of trust and collaboration among the priests and the lay staff. On October 26-28, staff members from various offices came together in Cincinnati for an assembly that proved to be very valuable for all involved. A total of 23 staff participated. Several others wanted to come but could not because of health issues or other commitments that could not be ignored.
Five Comboni priests were present during all three days: Fr. Louis Gasparini, Fr. Peter Ciuciulla, and Fr. Mario Ongaro, Fr. David Bohnsack and Fr. Denis Wilkinson - a clear message to staff that this was considered an important gathering. They were not just passive observers, but rather took an active role and made themselves easily available for discussion and dialogue.
The assembly opened with a Mass in celebration of the feast day of St. Daniel Comboni. The main topics on the assembly agenda were: The role of lay employees as the priests get older and fewer; Fr. Louie’s vision for the province; Sharing experience of mission; How local communities are mission territory; Leveraging technology; Charism of St. Daniel Comboni; Collaboration with an emphasis on how to share resources and personal gifts/talents.
During Fr. Louie’s presentation on his vision for the province, he said, “We are not 30 Comboni priests but, with you, 60 Comboni Missionaries working together for a common purpose.” Someone else was heard to say, “We’re a bigger family than I thought!”
The assembly was well planned, and everyone involved took an active part in discussions, so there was never a lull in the action. However, there was time set aside for social interaction so that people could get to know each other. Distance between locations makes it difficult to communicate other than by phone and email. Chicago, for example, is 2000 miles from Los Angeles. It was good to have a chance to see people face to face.
When asked what the employees would like to see happen that would help them to be more effective in their ministries, one thing that repeatedly came up was the request for a deeper understanding of St. Daniel Comboni and his charism.
Meeting for Confreres of the 46 - 65 age-group
Most of our provinces hold meetings for missionaries under 40 or over 65 but there is a large middle-aged group for whom nothing is organised. This was the reason why the Ongoing Formation Commission suggested an encounter in which confreres could reflect upon the challenges they face in these years. A group of ten Comboni Missionaries gathered at the provincial house on 13 and 14 November, to take part in a seminar chaired by Fr. Kevin Flaherty, a Jesuit with vast experience in the field of formation and spiritual accompaniment for religious. The two days were spent sharing experiences, fears, joys and hopes for the future.
How do we wish to spend our remaining years? What purpose do wish to give to them? These were some of the questions which guided the meeting. It was like a canticle of thanksgiving for our missionary vocation. One person commented that the meeting helped him to understand others better and to return to his daily tasks with renewed enthusiasm.
Fortieth anniversary of religious profession
Forty years ago, Bro. Ivan Bernardi, the present provincial bursar made his first profession in the Comboni Institute.
In the presence of a substantial number of Comboni fathers, Sisters and Brothers as well as Lay Friends, a special Mass was celebrated in the chapel of the provincial house on 22 November, 2008, to praise and thank God for this anniversary.
The Eucharist was presided by Fr. Rogelio Bustos Juárez, provincial superior, who thanked God for the vocation of this missionary Brother of our Comboni family and invited Bro. Ivan to remain assiduous in prayer, joyful in his service and generous in his dedication to the mission.
The celebration was concluded by the moving words of Bro. Ivan, in the form of a psalm, and, after the Mass, by a short play put on by his friends.
Assembly of missionary animators
From 11 to 14 November, 2008,, the annual assembly for Ad Gentes Missionary Animators” ((AGMA) was held at Fatima on the theme of “Missionary Animation in Portugal after the Missionary Congress”. Around forty delegates from twenty missionary Institutes attended.
Among the important interventions was that of D. António Couto, President of the Episcopal Commission for the Missions, who presented evangelisation as the top priority of the Church. On his part, Fr. Virgílio Nascimento, Rector of the Sanctuary of Fatima, spoke of Our Lady as the Star of Evangelisation, stressing that the Sanctuary of Fatima is a space open to evangelisation and the mission of the Church must pass through there.
Fr. Manuel Durães, Director of the Pontifical Mission Works, gave a very positive account of the Missionary Congress and declared his willingness to continue to all the missionary animation taking place in Portugal.
The Evangelisation and Culture Foundation (ECF), the Mission Press and the Portuguese radio station “Africa- Europe Faith and Justice Network” (AEFJN), reported on the initiatives in which they are involved in the missions and development environment.
The assembly was marked by celebrations and moments of sharing about the activities being carried out throughout the country. It was a moment of review and planning.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Fr. Luigi Bano (16.01.1933 – 27.08.2008
Fr. Alberto Marra (19.04.1930 - 03.10.2008)
Bro. Ulderico Menini (13.05.1922 – 26.10.2008)
Bro. Tarcisio Calligaro (12.04.1929 – 05.11.2008)
Let us pray for our beloved dead
THE MOTHERS: Rosa Herlinda, of Fr. Ibercio Rojas Zevallos (PE); Maria, of Fr. Juan Sánchez Arenas (E); Bianca, of Fr. Massimo Cremaschi (I).
THE SISTERS: José Ngereane, of Fr. Faustin Ngere Mboka (EG); Giuseppina, of Fr. Mansueto Zorzato (ET).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. M. Filomena Scano, Sr. Dorina Gelmetti.
Gino Filippini: A lay missionary who died of cancer in Brescia on 28 November 2008. He worked Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and, for the past ten years, with the Comboni community in Korogocho (Kenya).