Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus


Chapter Preparation

With the Assembly of the America – Asian group which took place at Quito during the latter half of May, the cycle of Continental Assemblies in preparation for the XVII General Chapter was concluded. It was the first time in the history of the Comboni Institute that the Delegates met in continental sittings. The purpose of these assemblies was to familiarise the delegates with each other and the complex mechanisms which govern the Chapter event.
During the assemblies, the provincial reports were presented and the continental reports to be presented to the Chapter were formulated. The continental groups were also asked to express their views on how such important questions such as Government and Formation should be dealt with at the Chapter.
It is now up to the Pre-Chapter Commission to gather all the material provided by the assemblies and arrange the far-from-easy work of the Chapter.

First Professions
Alpheus Manqoba Ngcobo (RSA) Lusaka (MZ) 03.05.2009
Biratu Chali Tolessa (ETH) Lusaka (MZ) 03.05.2009
Brighton Multiply Zimba (Z) Lusaka (MZ) 03.05.2009
Daniel Chisha (Z) Lusaka (MZ) 03.05.2009
Desalegn Haile Minuta (ETH) Lusaka (MZ) 03.05.2009
Lwanga Cornelio Gilingere (SD) Lusaka (MZ) 03.05.2009
Oscar Eugene Odur (UG) Lusaka (MZ) 03.05.2009
Paul Eugene Chintu (Z) Lusaka (MZ) 03.05.2009
Ronnie Sebopela Kgomotso (RSA) Lusaka (MZ) 03.05.2009
Stephen Mabvuto Nzovu (Z) Lusaka (MZ) 03.05.2009
René Orlando Vera (EC) Sahuayo (M) 16.05.2009
Willy Abraham Montalvo (PE) Sahuayo (M) 16.05.2009
José Alberto Mora (CR) Sahuayo (M) 16.05.2009
Adanle Léopold (TGB) Cotonou (T) 16.05.2009
Adom Michel (TGB) Cotonou (T) 16.05.2009
Apedjinou Laurent (TGB) Cotonou (T) 16.05.2009
Bitia Jean-Paul (RDC) Cotonou (T) 16.05.2009
Kpata Gessland (RCA) Cotonou (T) 16.05.2009
Majambo Placide (RDC) Cotonou (T) 16.05.2009
Milungo Pascal (RDC) Cotonou (T) 16.05.2009
Mughendi Anatole (RDC) Cotonou (T) 16.05.2009
Ngbouando Parfait (RCA) Cotonou (T) 16.05.2009
Padji Gaétan (RCA) Cotonou (T) 16.05.2009
Sohouenou Raoul (TGB) Cotonou (T) 16.05.2009

Perpetual professions
Sc. Gerardo Alvaro Oviedo Casillas (PE) Lima (PE) 18.04.2009
Sc. Luís Alfredo Pulido Alvarado (CO) Cali (CO) 15.03.2009

Holy Redeemer Guild
June 01 – 15 KE 16 – 30 KH
July 01 – 07 LP 08 – 15 CO 16 – 31 MZ

Prayer Intentions
- For the poorest and most abandoned human groups and for all the victims of violence and injustice: that they may find support in the heart of Christ the Good Shepherd and in our solidarity and brotherhood. Let us pray.
July - For the people who are obliged to migrate: that in society and in the heart of each person there may arouse feelings of solidarity, respect and acceptance. Let us pray.

Fr. Vittorio Moretto
, Más que una apuesta. La dicha de un intercambio desigual, Ed. El Arca, Città del Messico, 2009, pp. 288.
This book is something of a spiritual testimony by the author. He transmits to the reader, simply and practically, the confidence to meet Christ in the situations of life. It will be a very useful tool for those who seek a sound and convincing reply to their existential doubts and those who feel the foundation of their faith crumble beneath them (an Italian edition is also expected).


Perpetual vows and ordination to the diaconate

On 15 March, 2009, the anniversary of the birth of St Daniel Comboni, Luís Alfredo Pulido Alvarado took his perpetual vows in the chapel of the Mother of the Good Shepherd at Charco Azul (Cali), and, on 19 April, was ordained deacon in the church of San Fernando Rey (Bogotà). The celebration was presided over by Mgr. José Roberto Ospina Leongómez, Auxiliary Bishop of Bogotà, and enlivened by the African – Colombian group Palenque. Both celebrations were very beautiful and appreciated by all.

Bro. Simone Bauce: degree in Social Work
Bro. Simone Bauce defended his degree thesis in Social Work at the La Salle University of Bogotà. He was awarded his degree on 24 April last by the Rector of the University. His family came from Italy for the occasion and attended the ceremony together with the Comboni community. We wish to thank Bro. Simone for his commitment and service to our delegation and offer him our best wishes for his new missionary commitment in Ecuador.

Tumaco: the violence continues
La Tumaco region, located in the south of Colombia near the Pacific Ocean and where five Comboni Missionaries live at the moment, continues to be plagued by ceaseless violence. Murders of young people are commonplace and the reason is not always known. Tumaco marks the confluence of various armed groups of drug dealers, guerrillas and paramilitaries. The constant presence of the armed forces seems to have little effect in calming the violence. Our confreres try to live alongside the people, sowing the humble seeds of respect for life and for the dignity of the human person.


Latest news from the Congo

Since Saturday, 23 May, in the district to the north of Bamokandi parish, we have again witnessed the terror which the LRA sows among the people. Entire families have sought refuge in the city of Dungu and only the arrival of a dozen or so Monuc vehicles from Evasa prevented them from entering the city centre. During the night they preferred to hide in the forest, out of fear for the LRA rebels who do not hesitate to lock people in their houses and burn them alive, killing those who try to escape with hatches and machetes. Later, some people returned to their homes to take stock of the situation.
The rebels had sacked the villages and made off with everything they could carry, especially food and livestock, burning houses and scattering the maize flour and clothes distributed by Caritas just a few days previously. The market area and the mission too were deserted forcing the missionaries to “fast” as well. Many people come to us looking for something to eat and a place to stay, especially those with young families and babies. The FARDC, as everybody knows, intervened when it was already too late, only beginning to hunt the rebels on Sunday afternoon, a full day after their appearance.
The LRA took some prisoners and brutally murdered several people. There is panic and hunger everywhere, especially among the displaced from Nagonyo, Toto, Nangwende, Lyao and Nambisido.


National African - Ecuadorian youth pastoral meeting

The “National African - Ecuadorian youth pastoral meeting” was held at Guayaquil from 27 to 29 March, 2009. In the final document the youth note that solidarity is disappearing even among families.
Despite the new Constitutions, they said, many of them are victims of discrimination in the workplace. As a result, they strive to spread the spirit of solidarity by means of work itself and development programmes. They also mention in the document some initiatives being taken to put it into practice, such as assisting homeless young people and visiting the sick. There are also information seminars being held on various themes such as: ethnical education, the Bible, human and collective rights of the African – Ecuadorian population, micro projects, community banks and drama.

Provincial assembly
During Easter Week, an extraordinary meeting on economy was held at the provincial house. Among other things, it aimed at producing a report for the General Chapter.
All the members of the province took part under the leadership of Fr. Luigi Codianni, provincial of BNE, and Bro. Marco Binaghi, Chapter Delegate elect of the Brothers of South America. The main topic discussed was the role of economy in our RL, with a view to a deeper practice of the sharing of goods which friends and benefactors donate to us to carry out our mission and build up the Kingdom of God. We undertook to create, before the end of July, 2009, a Common Fund and establish other provincial funds as signs of fraternity and solidarity among communities such as a travel fund, a health fund and pension fund for our workers and employees.

Presidential elections
The people of Ecuador were called to the polls on 26 April to elect a new government, having approved the new Constitutions last year. There were many changes involved, such as allowing foreigners, prisoners, members of the army and the police to vote. We Comboni “foreigners” were also allowed to vote. As foreseen, the elections were won by the ruling party, “Alianza País”, which re-elected Rafael Correa as president with 51% of the votes.

Meeting with friends and benefactors
On Sunday 3 May, 2009, at the “St Daniel Comboni” house for missionary animation at Careen, Quito, the annual meeting with friends and benefactors of the Institute was held. Together with 80 visitors, some of whom came from Ibarra, we held a day of reflection and missionary motivation. The postulants, led by Bro. Godfrey-Abel Dimanche, provided the opening prayers and the missionary theme. Fr. Giovanni Battista Bressani, who recently arrived in the province after many years of service in the house of Arco (Trento), shared his vocational testimony and his many years of missionary work in the missions of Lower California and Esmeraldas. The postulants exhibited some posters designed by them and we concluded with Holy Mass at which Fr. Provincial was the main celebrant. On that day dedicated to the Good Shepherd and priestly vocations, we asked the Lord to grant perseverance to our young candidates. After a fraternal meal, the participants parted expressing their wish to meet again next year around the same time.

Encyclopaedia of African – Ecuadorian knowledge
On the occasion of the XXII African – Ecuadorian pastoral meeting, (National EPA), held at Santo Domingo de Los Tachilas from 14 to 17 May, 2009, at the “Santa Rosa” pastoral and formation centre, the Encyclopaedia of Ecuadorian knowledge was officially launched for the benefit of the groups of African origin of the various dioceses and parishes. The work was produced by the African pastoral team of the CCE with the help of Fr. Martín José Balda Echarri, Comboni Missionary and Pastoral Vicar of the Vicariate of Esmeraldas, and that of Professor Juan García, an Ecuadorian anthropologist. It was suggested and financed by the Quito Afro Centre, by Mgr. Eugenio Arellano Fernández, Vicar Apostolic of Esmeraldas, the heads of Afro pastoral of Ecuador and those of other institutions. The Encyclopaedia will be a very useful instrument both for students and teachers in schools and the Afro pastoral groups, in that it deals with the important aspects of ethnical education and the protection of the culture of people of African origin.


Golden Jubilee of the Inter-Heparchical Seminary of Asmara

The Inter-Eparchical Seminary of Asmara was built by the Sacred Congregation for Oriental Churches and inaugurated in 1959 by Cardinal Eugenio Tisserant. The work of construction had been entrusted to the Comboni Missionaries: Fr. Armido Gasparini, later bishop of Awasa, Bro. Pietro Laffranchi, engineer and architect, Bro. Virgilio Bortolo Sirena, as carpenter and joiner and Bro. Ildebrando Capuzzo who was in charge of decorating and accountancy. Two Comboni Sisters, Sr. Marusa and Sr. Rosaria Pezzi, painted the frescos of the church. The seminary belonged to the Eparchy of Asmara with the Comboni Missionaries heading and administrating it. They also helped in teaching up to June, 1966, when the Eparchy of Asmara took responsibility for the seminary. The Comboni Sisters continued to cooperate in teaching and catering as well as seeing to the laundry and the infirmary up to 2004.
The celebration was organised by those running the seminary who requested the collaboration of both religious and faithful in presenting the history and development of the seminary from its origins to the present day. The feast was held on 2 May, 2009, with a large number of Comboni Fathers, Sisters and Brothers in attendance.
During the previous twelve months, conferences were held at Asmara, Keren and Saganeiti, on the history of the seminary and on themes pertaining to the life of the seminary and the priesthood. A triduum was held in the seminary church attended mostly by seminarians, religious, novices, postulants and aspirants of all the Institutes. On the afternoon of 1 May, prayers were held in the Ghe’z rite, (Waziema) with songs and liturgical dances, drums and cymbals etc. There was also external preparation in the form of painting, arrangements and pictures, the meaning of which was explained by people appointed to receive the visitors and describe to them the beginnings and the life of the seminary.
On the day of the festival itself, the cantors, priests and seminarians began the prayers with chanting and dancing (Mahliet) at 2am and all who came joined in with them as they arrived. This went on until 6am when the Eucharistic celebration began. The Mass was sung in the Ghe’z rite and was concelebrated by the three bishops of the Eparchies of Asmara, Keren and Barentu, in the presence of representatives of all the religious male and female Institutes and diocesan clergy. The Mass ended at 8.30am and this was followed, as usual on such occasions, by breakfast for all.
At 9am everyone went to the main hall of the seminary where Mgr. Menghesteab Tesfamariam mccj, the present bishop of Asmara, led the prayers, the expressions of gratitude and the speeches. A sixty-page booklet containing the history of the seminary from the time of St. Giustino de Jacobis to the present day was distributed. At the centre of the booklet is the photo of all the twelve deacons ordained this year (the largest group to date). It also contains the pictures of all the priests ordained in the past fifty years, the builders, directors and teachers of the seminary, etc. The booklet is well produced and has many photographs, especially in the part dedicated to the work of the Comboni Fathers, Brothers and Sisters.
Notable among the many speakers was Fr. Solomon Mesghenna who spoke about his life as a seminarian in 1959, narrating many interesting facts about that time. Four Kunama seminarians performed a traditional dance which was very much appreciated.


Brothers’ meeting

From 30 April to 3 May, in view of the up-coming General Chapter, the annual meeting of the Brothers of the Italian province took place at Pesaro on the theme “The mission of the Comboni Missionary Brothers in Italy and in Europe”. The evening of 30 April was dedicated to welcoming and the presentation of the meeting. This was organised by Bro. Giovanni Grazian, provincial counsellor and Chapter delegate.
The work of 1 May was guided by Fr. Fernando Zolli, provincial secretary for missionary animation and evangelisation. He spoke of the mission in Europe starting from the Ratio Missionis.
On the following day Bro. Umberto Martinuzzo, Assistant General, spoke on the role of the Missionary Brother in the ambit of the mission in Europe, highlighting the dimension of fraternity which the Brother must concretise in the various fields of activity (pastoral, vocations ministry, missionary animation, immigration, justice and peace etc.) The provincial, Fr. Alberto Pelucchi, also spoke of fraternity in his address on the final morning (3 May), underlining the importance of the witness of community life in the mission in general and in the process of the new evangelisation which Europe needs.
About a score of Brothers attended the meeting, some of whom were from other provinces. It is to be hoped not only that this custom of an annual meeting should continue but also that it may be increasingly enriched by the presence of Brothers from other continents.


Census: controversial results

In mid May, 2009, a year after the event, the official results of the national census taken in April 2008 have been finally published. Right from the start, the census was the cause of disagreement between the two signatories of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the National Congress Party (NCP) of Bashir and the SPLA. Both parties agreed in principle but not on how the census should be conducted. For example, the SPLA wanted the papers to show both tribe and religion but the NCP opposed this. The SPLA wanted to postpone the date of the census to avoid coinciding with the rainy season where entire regions of the South are under water but the NCP refused. On the vigil of the census the SPLA was about to boycott it but changed its mind to avoid placing the CPA peace process in danger.
The results of the census appear worse than foreseen. Some data are truly absurd, especially regarding the population of the South who did not hesitate to express their disappointment. Anyone familiar with Sudan will easily understand.
According to the figures published, Southern people resident in Khartoum would be 240,000, while many NGO’s speak of two million; those living in North Sudan would be 500,000, while the figure of three million is often used. Juba, always considered to have more than a million inhabitants, is said by these figures to have only 300,000.
According to these official figures, the entire population of Sudan is 39.1 million and that of the South is 8.6 million or 22% of the total population, whereas people in the South consider themselves to be not less than 33% of the total population.
It is not just a question of numbers. The consequences are serious in the field of power. Deputies from the South would be just 60 instead of the present number of 171. There would be only 10 Southern representatives in parliament instead of 150, as at present. Constituencies will be far fewer than at present and many ethnic groups will not be represented either in the government or in parliament.
Salva Kiir, president of South Sudan, was one of those who did not accept the results of the census. However, in order to avoid conflict with the NCP, risking another war and the loss of all that has been achieved by the South so far and after so much effort, it was simply stated that the South will not accept any division of resources based on the data of the census. Luka Biong, a minister of the Southern government proposed instead to use the 1993 census in defining constituencies.
As a consequence, this latest census, which ought to have presented up-to-date and reliable figures in view of the elections and the referendum, not only have resolved nothing but have actually become a cause of discontent.


Perpetual vows and ordination to diaconate

During Easter time we enjoyed some special joyful events, all very important for our province and the Institute.
On Sunday, 19 April, 2009, we celebrated the perpetual vows of the scholastics James Milward Kasitomu and Moses Francis Bwanali. James did his scholasticate in Lima, Peru, and Moses studied in that of Nairobi, Kenya. They are both from Malawi and are at present doing their missionary service in this province. James took his perpetual vows at Lilanda Parish, Lusaka (Zambia), where Fr. Enrico Colleoni, vice-provincial, received his vows. Moses took his perpetual vows at Lisungwi Parish, in Zalewa (Malawi), where the celebration was presided over by the provincial superior, Fr. Dário Balula Chaves.
On 26 April, both James and Moses were ordained to the diaconate by Mgr. Tarcisius Ziyaye, Archbishop of Blantyre, Malawi. The celebration took place in the open air at Lirangwe parish. Many Comboni and diocesan priests concelebrated the Eucharist. The Comboni Brothers from Lunzu and the postulants from Balaka also took part, together with many Christians from the parishes of Lirangwe, Lisungwi and Mthawira. This wonderful event filled everyone with joy and turned out to be a special occasion for mission and vocation promotion.
On 3 May, in Mtendere parish, Lusaka, ten Comboni novices took their first vows: four are from Zambia, two from Ethiopia, two from South Africa, one from Khartoum (Sudan) and one from Uganda. The Eucharist was presided over by Fr. Dário, and the vows were received by the respective provincial superiors from each of those provinces who were present for the celebration.


Human influenza in Mexico

As you probably know already, the government was about to declare a state of emergency on account of the flu epidemic (AH1N1) which struck the country. The flu was first known as swine flu and later as human flu. When the country was on high alert, precautionary measures were enforced which also affected some of our provincial activities. The continental assemble, for example, had to postponed and transferred to Quito, Ecuador.
At present, things are much more peaceful and daily life is returning to normal. Taking stock, we are aware that, in spite of there being scores of victims, the already-weakened economy was hardest hit.

First professions at Sahuayo, Mich.
Our continental novitiate has offered its first fruits to the Church and our missionary Institute. In fact, we have had the first professions of the novices René Orlando Vera (Ecuador), Willy Abraham Montalvo (Perù) and José Alberto Mora (Costa Rica).
The ceremony was presided over by the provincial and the Mass was concelebrated by numerous Comboni Missionaries.
Among those present were three Comboni Brothers and some Lay Comboni Missionaries, as well as a great crowd of friends and benefactors who assisted at this very important moment for our missionary family.
This was the first time for us to celebrate religious professions in a parish of Sahuayo, whose patron is the missionary San Felipe de Jesús. After the Mass, refreshments were served in the context of the missionary feast which was enlivened by traditional tlahualiles (local dancers) and the music of the mariachis (travelling band).


Ordination to the diaconate

On Saturday, 25 April, the liturgical feast of St. Mark, apostle and evangelist, Gerardo Álvaro Oviedo Casillas was ordained deacon in the cathedral of Huánuco.
Gerardo was born on 28 December, 1975, at Arequipa and joined the Comboni seminary after qualifying in information technology. He made his first religious profession at Huánuco in 2003 and studied theology at San Paolo, Brazil, completing his studies in 2007. In line with the latest directives of the Institute, he spent 15 months at the Miraflores Centre for Mission Promotion, doing what is now called “missionary service”, required before taking final vows and holy orders.
The bishop of Huánuco, Mgr. Jaime Rodríguez Salazar, mccj, conferred the order of the diaconate on three young men and then ordained two deacons to the priesthood. After his ordination at Arequipa next November, Gerardo will go to the delegation of Asia to which he has been assigned.


Renewal of vows

The last school days in the life of the Scholasticate were quite busy. The studies and the preparation for the renewal of the vows kept us occupied. On the 25th of April, we prepared ourselves for the renewal of the vows with a recollection day. On the 27th, the Sc. Casimiro Lokwang Koryang from Uganda renewed his vows in the presence of the confreres of his community who took the opportunity to pray for him and for faithfulness to his commitment.
Some days later, on the first of May, the other 11 scholastics also renewed their vows in a very simple and meditative celebration. The provincial superior, Fr. Giuseppe (Joe) Sandri, presided over the celebration. Also present were Bro. Erich Stöferle, from the community of the provincialate, and some other friends who came to share in the joy of this day.

The tragic death of the sister of Sc. Samuel Phiri Chiyeke
On Saturday, the 25th of April, we received the sad news of the death of Rozalia Phiri, a younger sister of our Sc. Samuel Phiri Chiyeke from Zambia. She was among the three people who were killed in an accident while travelling by taxi. She was 17 years of age and the fourth of Samuel’s siblings to die.

International Development Award
Fr. Jaime Calvera Pi was awarded the prize for international cooperation in human development 2009 by the “Consell Comarcal del Vallés Oriental, CCVOR” (Region Council of Vallés Oriental) in Barcelona. The award was granted in acknowledgement of the work for social and human development done by the Choir Izwi Lethemba (Voice of Hope) among the local population and for the promotion of cultural values.
The award ceremony was held at a public event in the municipality of Vilanova del Vallés (Barcelona) on 29 April. The award was collected by Fr. Jaime’s brother, Fr. Antonio, and consists of a grant of €11.000, 00. The Region Council of Vallés Oriental wants to contribute to the building of some classrooms for the purpose of promoting culture and of advising and assisting AIDS patients in the Mamelodi area, near Pretoria.


Missionary ambushed in South Sudan

Along the Rumbek-Yirol road, in Lakes State, on Tuesday, while travelling by motorbike, Fr. Titus Henry Makokha, a 33 year old Comboni Missionary from Kenya, reported how he was ambushed by three armed young men from the Dinka Agaar community.
He had arrived in Rumbek on a flight from Juba and was motorcycling along the all-weather road to his mission in Yirol, some 100 miles away. The journey should have taken about four hours. The gangsters stopped Fr. Mokokha at gunpoint and took him into the bush nearby, stripping him of all his belongings. The missionary described how he was made to kneel down as if for execution. However, the robbers went back to the road and escaped with the motorbike and the goods they stole, leaving him on foot in the middle of nowhere.
A young girl, however, had spot and recognised the bandits who had run away and ran to alert the authorities. Then three women came with the paramount chief’s son to the assistance of Fr. Makokha and led him to the village. After a four-hour search, the authorities managed to recover the motorbike but not the helmet, the money, the cellular or other belongings.
This was Fr. Makokha’s second close encounter with bandits that roam about more or less freely in Lakes State.


Fr. Konrad Lukas Lipp
(21.10.1934 – 23.04.2009)
Fr. Herbert Oberhofer (21.03.1935 - 26.04.2009)
Bro. Lino Cremona (28.06.1912 - 26.04.2009)
Fr. Vittorio Trabucchi (25.09.1931 - 28.04.2009)
Fr. Emilio Ragonio (18.06.1929 - 14.05.2009)

Fr. Giuseppe-Zeno Picotti (27.08.1926 - 21.05.2009)
His obituary will appear in the next issue of Familia Comboniana.

Let us pray for our beloved dead
: Francesco, of Fr. Alessandro Garbagnati (BS); Stephen, of Fr. John Shikolio Webootsa (KE); Joaquim, of Bro. Fr. António Carvalho Leal (P).
THE MOTHERS: Christine, of Fr. Gnaha Cossi Bonaventure Henry (MZ); Mary, of Fr. John Peter Alenyo (U); Angelina, of Fr. Rafael Alamán Martínez (E).
THE BROTHER: Hans, of Fr. Jakob Wellenzohn (PE).
THE SISTERS: Arduina, of Fr. Emilio Ragonio (†); Esther, of the Sc. Teddy Keyali (KE).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Annamaria Mascaretti, Sr. Anna Paola Lenna, Sr. Rosa Lisa Vantini.
Familia Comboniana n. 665