Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
Superior General’s agenda
From 7 to 22 January 2009 the Superior General, Fr. Teresino Serra, was in Central Africa, where he preached the spiritual exercises and participated in the annual assembly. With this journey, he has visited all the circumscriptions at least once.
Every year the Superior General has also visited the Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation in South Africa or in Mexico. Thus, from 31 January to 10 February, Fr. Teresino will again be in South Africa to visit the group of the CYOF 2008-2009.
The African Synod
The Superior General has turned down his invitation to the African Synod which will take place in Rome, because such an event will be celebrated at the same time as our General Chapter. Fr. Teresino has submitted the name of other confreres, hoping that at least one of them may be invited to the Synod as a representative of our Institute.
General Secretariat for Missionary Animation
The closeness of the Chapter is already a kairos. It is a time of grace which the Lord of history grants us so that we can face the present and the future in the spirit of Jesus and that of our Founder. It is an opportunity for renewal in order to better serve the mission and the poor for whom we make an evangelical and preferential option.
A few weeks after my coming to the General Secretariat for Mission Promotion (MP), I took part in the provincials’ meeting in Rome in March 2008. It was a providential opportunity to exchange ideas with them, to offer proposals and to become acquainted with their expectations.
Immediately afterwards, in April, the Continental Assembly for Mass Media was held in Cracow. This was my first contact with the vast and varied world of the media of the Comboni Missionaries in Europe.
A few months later (in August) I attended the Third American Missionary Congress in Quito, after which the Comboni Missionaries, the Comboni Sisters and Comboni Seculars met at the Carcelén Centre to reflect on mission promotion and to interpret the Congress in the light of Aparecida and of our charism. We also reflected and exchanged experiences on our work of MP in the continent.
In addition, throughout the year I carefully read the minutes of the provincial council and delegation meetings. I was very happy to see the many initiatives in the field of MP: web sites, publications, the use of the Internet, and editorial, radio and television production. All of this aims at raising awareness in the Church and people of good will to help them to be open to the needs of the poor.
As I began my service in the Institute, I had read a document on MP offered by the Discalced Carmelites at their MP assembly, which stated that the missionary animator is not simply a “collector of funds”. I agree with this statement because it is our duty as animators to create an in-depth communion inside and outside the Institute, the Church and society, in order to reawaken the passion for mission and collaboration with it and to globalise solidarity.
Our Rule of Life (RL 74) states: In order that his missionary promotion activity be effective, the missionary pledges himself to renew and strengthen his consecration”.
This means that it is only in as much as we give room to the Spirit and base our MP on sound spirituality that we may again be meaningful to the People of God and society and attract new Comboni vocations to the service of the mission and of the Kingdom. (Fr. Jorge Oscar García Castillo)
The texts of the liturgy and of the Comboni spirituality
New approved edition
We present here all the Comboni liturgical texts, which the Church is offering us, and those of our spiritual tradition, which the Institute has handed down to us. These texts are part of the Liturgical Year and mark the chronological order (daily, monthly or yearly) of our personal and community life as Comboni Missionaries: It is our Particular Calendar and meaningful anniversaries.
Let us list these texts here:
1. The Comboni Family in Prayer (unabridged version)
2. The Booklet of the Proper of Masses
3. The Rite of Religious Profession
In a schematic way we list the content of each of these three texts.
• The Comboni Family in Prayer consists of two parts:
The first part is of a liturgical nature with the Proper of the Comboni Missionaries (Masses and Divine Office) and the liturgies for the Dead;
The second part is of a traditional nature (renewal of vows for devotion, missionary mandate, patrons of circumscriptions and meaningful anniversaries, various prayers, prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph, Eucharistic Benediction, Way of the Cross, discernment, Lectio with St. Daniel Comboni and two attachments on the Sacred Heart and St. Joseph).
• The Booklet of the Proper of Masses includes, besides the Masses of our Particular Calendar, also the Votive Mass of St. Daniel Comboni.
• The Rite of Religious Profession begins with a charismatic and theological introduction and includes the Rite of Initiation to religious life, First profession, Final profession, Renewal of vows and the 25th and 50th anniversary of religious life.
So far, the Proper (Masses and Divine Office) for the original Latin version and for the Italian, English, French and Portuguese translations (Portugal and Brazil have slightly different titles) were approved. Of the Italian version, all the three texts in the unabridged version were published: The Comboni Family in Prayer, the Proper of Masses, the Rite of Religious Profession. Of the Portuguese version, the Booklet of the Masses (Portugal: Missal Próprio and Brazil: Próprio) was published. We are now preparing the Booklet of Masses in English and French. We are busy with the translation in Spanish of the Proper (Masses and Divine Office) for approval.
As for the Rite of Religious Profession, up to now only the Italian version was approved. We have also submitted the French version to the competent Vatican Commission.
These texts, which enliven our missionary spirituality and lead towards a greater cultural expression, have been inserted into our Comboni website to enable everyone to have access to them. In our Comboni website (www.comboni.org) the texts are inserted as “allegati” in their unabridged and downloadable pdf format (see: Missionari Comboniani> Spiritualità> Liturgia e Tradizione spirituale).
Later we shall add inputs for reflection with regard to liturgical themes and spirituality and, when necessary and always as attachments, we shall add the errata corrige to point out the most obvious mistakes and their respective correction. (Fr. Arnaldo Baritussio)
European Committee for Theological Reflection
The Group met in the community of Bressanone from 2 to 5 January 2009. The following people were present: Fr. Alberto Pelucchi, the provincial in charge, Fr. Benito De Marchi (LP), Prof. Carmelo Dotolo (invited), Fr. Manuel Augusto Lopes Ferreira (P), Fr. Franz Weber (DSP), Fr. Alex Zanotelli (I) and Fr. Fernando Zolli (I).
The meeting had two main aims. The first was to evaluate the Limone Symposium (July 2008), emphasise its consequences for the European provinces and make proposals as to the organisation of the next Symposium; the second was to reflect upon the immediate preparation for the XVII General Chapter of the Institute and the participation of our European provinces.
In this regard, having studied the material provided by the General Administration, the thematic commissions and the Precapitular Commission, taking into account the orientations of the European provinces and in view of the Continental Precapitular Assembly (14-24 April 2009, in Pesaro), the Committee for Theological reflection believes that it is necessary to analyse the situation more deeply, to clarify the parameters of mission today and define its spirituality more precisely. For these reasons, it appeared fitting to prepare a few outlines for study purpose and to discuss the essential themes that came to light during the journey of preparation for the General Chapter.
These are the themes: 1. the charism and the Comboni mission; 2. The newness of the Christian mission (vocabulary and praxis); 3. The mission in a global context: 4. The Institutes and the local Churches; 5. Which spirituality?
The outlines will be ready in early April 2009.
Holy Redeemer Guild
February 01 – 15 BS 16 – 28 CA
March 01 – 07 DCA 08 – 15 EG 16 – 31 EC
February - That the passionate love of Saint Daniel Comboni for the poorest and most abandoned may help us to discover in them the face of God, to embrace their sufferings and to live with Gospel realism our vow of poverty. Let us pray.
March - That, through the intercession of St. Joseph, the Lord of life may continue to raise men and women willing to give themselves to Christ and to the mission ad gentes. Let us pray.
Massacre Perpetrated by the LRA at Faradje
The territory of Faradje is situated in the district of Upper-Uele in the Eastern Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Missionary sources provided reports of the massacre. At 17.30, local time, some men sneaked into the territorial capital of Faradje on the Ndobani-Faradje road. Nobody noticed them as some of the adults and children gathered after Mass near the central market where a concert of religious music was scheduled to take place. Others were celebrating at home. We went to the appointed place and there we saw the criminals, three hundred metres away, running towards the Kurukwata river, on the road towards Dungu. We then had to turn back to warn everyone we could, including those at the market for the concert.
How shall we describe those armed men of the LRA? They are a group of armed Ugandan rebels. After carrying out many massacres in the western parts of Uganda, in Sudan and in the north-east of the DRC, the group fled into Garamba Park in the Congo.
The results of the slaughter on 25 December 2008 at Faradje is as follows: 160 deaths, more than 50 people seriously injured, more than 150 people kidnapped and 1,500 homes burned down and 10,000 people left homeless, according to estimates made on 27 December 2008.
Limitation in the use of cars due to shortage of fuel
Alter a month of suspense and uncertainty, the government informed all religious groups of a new decree. The verbal communiqué, announced on 29 December 2008 through the government department of Religious Affairs, stated: “The fact is that there is shortage of fuel. Even government vehicles are reduced to a minimum. The government, therefore, allows nationwide 63 cars for the Catholic Church, 20 for the Protestants, 9 for Islam and 22 for the Orthodox Church. All Religious Institutes (more than 27) are allowed 1 or 2 cars each. If unauthorized cars are found on the roads, these will be impounded and nationalised. Car owners of authorised vehicles will be informed in due time how many litres of fuel will be allocated monthly and from which gas station.”
The Comboni Missionaries have been allowed the use of 2 cars out of the nine they own. The two cars authorised are those used by the Delegation community in Asmara. Remote mission stations and their chapels, like Fode, Tokomia, Delle, Haykota, Alebu, etc, may not use their cars any more. In some missions, like Fode and its chapels, there is no public transport, as there are no decent roads.
Obviously it is a terrible situation. The Catholic Church, which runs several social, health, educational and religious services, has practically been told to stop everything.
Meanwhile, lack of food, transport, security, freedom and of many essential commodities are getting worse. Health organisations also report that adult and infant malnutrition is getting severe.
New Charter for MA/EV, Communication and the Synod for Africa
The representatives of the communities in Italy involved in MA/EV, while gathered in Pesaro for their Annual Assembly (12-15 January, 2009), broadly agreed on the text of the new Charter for MA/EV. The Charter will be presented to the Provincial Council for approval. In this regard, Fr. Pelucchi congratulated the participants and stressed that this new Charter constitutes the reference and re-launching points for the sector which, together with Vocations Ministry, is the priority of the Comboni Missionaries in Italy.
The Charter, in fact, seeks to direct the missionaries involved in this sector to respond more effectively and incisively to the challenges of the rapidly changing Italian and European situation to meet the expectations of the poor and the local Churches, taking their inspiration from theological parameters in the context of the global mission.
The Assembly also underlined the importance of communication in the work of animation and evangelization and noted how the language and techniques of communication must be suited to our times.
Finally, the Assembly planned to commit itself to collaborate with other missionary forces and organizations as well as movements in civil society, involving all the communities of the province in promoting the initiatives before, during and after the Synod for Africa that will take place in Rome in October, 2009.
Among the initiatives to be promoted are: creating an office in Rome to persuade the media to deal with Africa and the urgent need to promote justice, peace and reconciliation in the continent; promoting events in various regions of Italy, inviting the delegates of the Synod to round-table conferences, involving the Diocesan Missionary Centres and immigrant Africans, so numerous on Italian soil. The Verona Multimedia centre and the MA/EV Secretariat will coordinate the initiatives.
“Be Messengers of Peace”
In November, 2008, the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) held their thirty-third annual plenary conference. For many years the conference had to be held abroad (Uganda, Kenya, Italy) as the bishops whose dioceses came under the SPLA could not come to Khartoum while bishops operating in areas under the Khartoum government, would have had trouble on their return if they had gone to SPLA-controlled areas. For these reasons they always met at a neutral venue. The peace accord signed in Kenya in 2005 between the government and the SPLA has removed this difficulty. This was the third year they met in Sudan and the first time the bishops met in a city of the South, Yambio. This is a positive sign.
The conference lasted for ten days, from 5 to 15 November, 2008. Afterwards, the bishops published a pastoral letter entitled “Be Messengers of Peace”. In mid-January it was distributed in Khartoum to members of the public in English and Arabic.
Four years on from the peace accord, the bishops, together with those in charge of the various sectors of the SCBC, were free to reflect on the situation of the country, especially in the South. They acknowledge the great strides made: arms are silent; there is freedom of movement and more security. However – the bishops continue – one cannot say that all is well and they are aware of the unease among the population. While admitting that, in a way, this was inevitable, given the unrealistic expectations, nevertheless they believe more could have been done.
The bishops point the finger especially at the politicians, both North and South, who do not take the good of the people sufficiently to heart. They criticise the situations which have not helped to create a positive social and family environment. They invite the faithful in general to do their part as well, exhorting them to be vigilant, to become aware of what is happening around them and in society, to participate more in the defence of the human dignity and in building up a more just society. Referring to the words of Pope John Paul II, the bishops make a unified appeal that the “culture of death” may be replaced by a “culture of life”.
The appeal is directed to all believers. A special appeal is made to priests, religious and catechists to work to make the teaching of the Church and that of the bishops reach the whole of society. They ask the international community to accompany the transformation process of the country with an active presence, especially in view of the general elections due to be held in 2009 and the referendum of 2011, by which the South will make its historic choice to remain united to the North or to separate from it.
From our point of view, as evangelizers, the letter of the bishops urges us to concern ourselves, in our pastoral work, with the formation of consciences, a formation which becomes practical involvement in the environment where each person is called to live.
The bishops mentioned the theme of private property, the ownership of land, a theme which, is becoming a controversial topic in Sudan as it has already done in Kenya, and is frequently the cause of conflict and violence between the various ethnic groups.
The peace accord signed four years ago, on 9 January, 2005, between the SPLA and the government of Khartoum, gave rise to great hopes, mostly too high. Situations change more slowly than ideas. Difficulties must not cause us to lose heart and give up; rather they must induce us to begin again and redouble our efforts. Caritas Christi urget nos.
Code of Conduct and preparation for the General Chapter
The local superiors of the ten Comboni communities of the province of Malawi/Zambia met at the provincial house in Lilongwe, Malawi, from 5 to 9 January 2009, for a session of study and reflection on the Code of Conduct and to launch the provincial phase of preparation for the next General Chapter. This meeting came as a continuation of the reflection on the Code of Conduct started at community level during the official visit of the provincial superior to each community in October and November 2008.
The speakers at this session of ongoing formation were Fr. Dario Chaves, Fr. Piet Van Hulten, representative of the Missionaries of Africa in Malawi, and Fr. Vincenzo Percassi. Fr. Dario made a general presentation of the document, its purpose, structure and contents. Fr. Piet shared about his vast experience in dealing with some situations in his Missionary Society and as a consulter in the diocese of Mzuzu in the north of Malawi. Fr. Vincenzo led the participants in a reflection on ministerial authority as a “service”, especially to those who are “vulnerable”. All the inputs were well appreciated.
The sharing that followed in groups and at interpersonal level was very enriching and helped the participants not only to get a deeper understanding of the document but also to feel encouraged in the exercise of the service of authority. A draft paper on “Norms of the competence of the Province to be inserted in the Provincial Directory” was prepared and reflected upon. This paper will serve as the starting point for further reflection in the communities, before being approved in our next Provincial Assembly.
During the meeting, copies of the thematic documents to be used in preparation for the General Chapter were distributed to the participants. After a short explanation of the documents, the participants decided on how to go through them individually and in communities. There will also be a reflection made at the three Zone meetings (Chipata, Lusaka and Lunzu), which will take place during the month of March.
March for Peace
The city of Maia, in the district of Oporto, northern Portugal, was the venue, on 30 December last, of the march called “The Wave of Peace”. Its purpose was to draw to the attention of the public the conflicts taking place throughout the world and the lack of respect for human rights.
Carrying olive branches, crowds of young people and adults took part in the march for peace through the streets of Maia. At one of the stopping points, Mgr. Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, Bishop Emeritus of Dili, Timor East and Nobel prize-winner for Peace in 1996, shared the testimony of his struggle for peace.
During the march, an appeal was launched to participate in a project to provide a well in Ethiopia, a country stricken by drought.
The march for peace was part of the programme for introducing the New Year entitled: “XL Vigil”, organised by the Comboni Missionary Youth Vocations Centre which gathered 70 young people for a three-day meeting at their house in Maia.
The choir “Izwi Lethemba” (Voice of Hope) in Barcelona
From 27th November until 16th December 2008, the Choir Izwi Lethemba (Voice of Hope), from the new Parish of Saint Daniel Comboni in Mahube Valley, Mamelodi (South Africa), has visited Barcelona and bordering towns, where they performed eleven concerts, participated in eight celebrations of the Eucharist and three programmes of the Catalan television channel TV3. The people were impressed by the high quality of the performances and the multicultural attire of the choristers.
The main purpose of the trip was to join in initiatives of mission promotion with Christian communities overseas and raise funds for the building of new structures in the parish.
The Choir has 38 members of whom 29 have travelled together with the parish priest, Fr. Jaime Calvera Pi to Barcelona. There, in addition to the scheduled concerts and Eucharistic celebrations, they were received by the cardinal of Barcelona, Mgr. Lluis Martínez Sistach. They also spent a day visiting the Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat, the patroness of Catalonia.
This trip of three weeks was made possible through the close cooperation of the Comboni Missionary group in Barcelona. Members of other Christian communities of Barcelona and benefactors joined in welcoming them and in committing themselves to give their own contributions toward building the parish structures as well as supporting different parish social projects that are emerging in Mahube Valley, at the outskirts of Mamelodi.
The Choir Izwi Lethemba has recorded a CD with a wide repertoire of traditional and religious songs. They want to remain a “voice of hope” in the socially unstable environment of the new Parish of Saint Daniel Comboni.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Bro. Amorino De Gaspari (19.12.1920 – 13.12.2008)
Fr. Orlando Pigarella (04.01.1924 – 31.12.2008)
Fr. Lorenzo Tiepolo (10.02.1924 – 02.01.2009)
Let u spray for our deceased confreres
THE FATHER: Francisco, of Sc. Everaldo de Souza Alves (BS).
THE MOTHER: Sabina, of Fr. Robert Sottara (DSP).
THE BROTHER: Mario, of Fr. Pietro Zambruni (Rebbio); Francesco Antonio, of Fr. Salvatore Calvia (Milano).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Erminia Salvi, Sr. Teresa Celeste Magatelli, Sr. M. Rita Borghi, Sr. M. Franceschina Aquilino.