Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
New bishop: Mgr. Giuseppe Filippi
The L’Osservatore Romano of 17 August declared: “The Holy Father has appointed Reverend Father Giuseppe Filippi, hitherto provincial superior of the Comboni Missionaries in Uganda, as bishop of Kotido, Uganda”.
Mgr. Filippi succeeds Mgr. Denis Kiwanuka Lote, who was transferred two years ago to the Archdiocese of Tororo.
We extend our congratulations and good wishes to Mgr. Giuseppe Filippi.
Comboni Missionary Sisters
Sr. Fulgida, the Comboni Sister in charge of the Aggiornamento course at Bethany House, Jerusalem, having heard that the course will not be held this year, including the usual stay of one month in Jerusalem, has sent this message: the Comboni Missionary Sisters will organise a course in 2010 for sisters who have completed from ten to fifteen or twenty years of religious profession. The course will commence on the Friday before Palm Sunday and will end on the Tuesday after Pentecost Sunday.
Sr. Fulgida also tells us that any Comboni Missionary priest or Brother who wishes to take part in the course will be most welcome. The course will require a fair degree of physical fitness and the participants must be in good health, even though they may not necessarily participate in all the activities on the programme.
The invitation, sent to us by the person in charge of ongoing formation, comes from the Mother General, Mother Adele.
For more details use the following e-mail address:
Sc. Pacheco Zamora Mario Alberto (M) Cincinnati (USA) 19.06.2009
Sc. Calderon Vargas Juan Diego (CR) Los Angeles (USA)19.06.2009
Holy Redeemer Guild
September 01 – 15 NAP 16 – 30 PE
October 01 – 15 P 16 – 31 RSA
September - That the General Chapter of the Comboni Missionaries may be a time of hope and grace for the missionary church and an opportune time to renew our consecration to the Mission that God has entrusted to us. Let us pray.
October - For the Churches of Africa: that the celebration of the Second Special Synod may make them ever more joyous and courageous witnesses of reconciliation, justice and peace. Let us pray.
World Mission is mentioned in the Daily Inquirer
The Daily Inquirer had a front-page story by M. Ceres Doyo: “South Korea leases 94,000 hectares in Mindoro.” The article coincided with the July 2009 cover story of World Mission Magazine, entitled “The Global Land Grab”, whose cover blurb said: “Huge amounts of farmland in poor nations are being bought or leased. The Philippines are on the map as a lease hotspot.” The Mindoro story caught many by surprise, government officials above all.
According to World Mission – writes the reporter – European, American and Asian countries and corporations are buying or leasing farmland in poor countries to secure their own food supplies and for the production of bio fuels. One of the prime vulnerable targets is Africa as well as poor regions where communities do not even have legal tenure over land. And there are hardly any protests. The exception is Madagascar, where the announcement of a 99-year contract to lease 1.3 million hectares to South Korea’s Daewoo Corp. triggered the recent revolution.
More than 20 million hectares of farmland in Africa, Latin America and Asia are now held by foreign governments and companies. Rich countries with not enough land could always buy their way into their poor neighbour’s properties.
Questions need to be asked. Are these deals violating people’s existing rights enshrined in our laws and in the Constitution? Are they trampling on the indigenous people’s culture and traditions? And after the lease period is over, and the land has been robbed of its biodiversity and substance because of mono-cropping and GMO-farming, after the once rich and fertile vastness has been laid to waste, what happens?
I hope our politicians will get hold of the latest World Mission issue on the global land grab.
African American Pastoral Assembly
Following the decision made in January this year, the Colombia Delegation focussed on African Colombian Pastoral during the annual assembly for ongoing formation, to enhance its “clear and definitive option for the African American Pastoral”. The reflection was led by Fr Neil and Sr. Ayda Orobio.
Fr Neil, an African Colombian priest of the diocese of Apartadó, chaired our meeting on the first day, August 12, speaking of the situation of the African American people and their spirituality. He reminded us, among other things, that 80% of African Colombians live in extreme poverty with a pro capita income only one third the national level and that around 74% receive less than the minimum legal wage. As regards spirituality, he emphasised the value of emotions, music and daily life. The African American people, who suffered terrible historic injustice and always felt ignored, give great importance to hospitality, closeness and being esteemed and valued. He also showed the pastoral importance of helping to build up a peaceful self-image, aware of their history but without resentment or hatred.
Sr. Ayda, one of the Missionaries of Madre Laura, addressed us on the second day, August 13, underlining the historical importance of the cimarrones (people who escaped from slavery) and of the palenques (places of freedom set up for the blacks during the colonial era). It is to this history of resistance that the hundreds of African Colombian organisations belong, even if it is not easy for them to work together, precisely because of their history of enslavement.
Among these organisations, one that is important is that of the Church, the CEPAC (African Colombian Pastoral Centre), which aims at creating a space where African Colombian pastoral agents may meet. According to its agents, “the African Colombian pastoral is the evangelizing action of the Catholic Church which promotes the integral development of the African Colombian people, so that, on the basis of their cultural identity, they may live out the plan of the Kingdom of God”.
On the other hand, “the African Colombian pastoral, by its evangelizing action, helps to build up a church with a face of its own, in such a way that it includes the African Colombian spirituality, recognises its identity, fosters the unity of its organisations and the improvement of the standard of living of the people, and so it realises and offers to the Universal Church and the Colombian people the characteristics of an African heritage”.
On the third day, 14 August, the Comboni Missionaries made an evaluation of the conferences, applying them to their life and pastoral work. They were struck by the love with which the two speakers talked about the African Colombian people: their passion and their serene and realistic enthusiasm reminded them of Comboni. They became somehow aware that Comboni was inviting them to do something beautiful. Renewing in themselves the love of Comboni for the black peoples, they resolved to adopt an attitude of listening and learning and to promote simple and practical projects, such as a library for African Colombian leaders or seminars for formation in the places where they work.
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From 29 June to 2 July, the fourth Comboni Symposium was held at Limone. The Limone symposiums, sponsored by the Italian Province, supported by the European Group for Theological Reflection (EGTR) and by the European Provinces, continue the work of theological and missionary reflection, revisiting the Comboni charism with a view to contextualising apostolic ministry also in Europe.
In his initial speech, entitled “Making Memorial of the Symposiums”, Fr. Fernando Zolli synthesised the meeting point of the presentations not just of this symposium but also of previous ones: “the mission lived and the mission thought must be dialectically linked; they must also stimulate one another and, if necessary, mutually provoke each other because a mission which emphasises doing may well become generic, monotonous, inefficient and sterile”.
Fr. Benito De Marchi, professor emeritus of the MIL, during the keynote address of the symposium, indicated the “Provocations for the Hermeneutic of the Charism”. Explaining the key to understanding it, he spoke of the unedited part of every charismatic event which, under the pressure “of the historical event, challenges the text of the tradition of the Founder”. It is necessary, therefore, to free the charism in order to regain its energy and the strength to apply it in the today of the mission entrusted to the Comboni Missionaries.
The reading of the signs of the times and the missionary praxis of the historical Jesus, together with the charism of the Founder, were focussed on as parameters for a new paradigm of mission for Europe and for the Institute. These two aspects were addressed by Theo Kneifel who, dealing with “The analysis of the situation”, emphasised the importance of a broad spectrum global vision, and the reading of the times. Sandro Gallazzi, in his presentation “The Word must illuminate and direct missionary responses”, brought out some aspects of the praxis of the historical Jesus and starting points for our missionary praxis today.
The charism in the historical context was dealt with by Fr. Joaquim J. G. Valente da Cruz.
The final day was given over to a workshop and to a sharing on the parameters for a new paradigm of mission. A panel (Fr. Danilo Castello, Fr. Gian Paolo Pezzi Trebeschi and Carmelo Dotolo) concentrated on the charism today, its cultural dimension and the lay perspective.
The common theme and living contact with the well-spring of the Word of God and the evocative aspects of the life of the Founder were taken up by Fr. Fausto Beretta who, in the chapel of the house where Comboni was born, urged the participants (around thirty between delegates to the Chapter from the European provinces, Comboni Missionary Sisters and Secular Missionaries) to accept the invitation of Comboni “to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ and to love Him tenderly”.
Home of the Founder: 150 years since his first return
Two years ago, Verona worthily celebrated the event of the 150th anniversary of the departure of Comboni for Africa together with a group of Mazza missionaries. This year nobody thought of commemorating the return of Comboni, worn out and exhausted, to his beloved “Limone”, from where he had departed just two years before, on an adventure which could have cost him his life.
On Sunday, 26 August, in the chapel of the Comboni Missionaries of Limone, a group of five young people received their “mandate” for a “visit” to three important situations of the mission in Kenya. Mgr. Michele Russo, Bishop of Doba (Chad), presided at the ceremony, assisted by Fr. Giulio Bogna, Dean of the pastoral area of Alto Garda and by Fr. Francesco, curate of Gargnano, organizer of the “Youth Council” of the area.
All the parishes (Gargnano, Tignale, Tremosine and Limone) were represented and the chapel was filled to capacity. The departing young people – three young women and two young men – lit their “lanterns” from the flame of a candle bearing an image of Daniel Comboni and on which were written the words of Comboni: “Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus Christ”. It was a simple gesture but full of meaning. The flame of the mission which Comboni brought back home was not extinguished but continues to be lit in the hearts of others.
From this very spot, then, the house of his father from where he himself left with great trepidation 150 years ago, young people from his home area, led by his example, again take the road of the mission. These were the words of Mgr. Russo in his homily. The ceremony was followed by a press conference directed by Fr. Daniele Moschetti formerly of Korogocho: a first tough encounter with that reality with which the departing youths intend to make close contact.
What took place on Sunday evening was the final phase of a commitment undertaken by the Limone community with the youth of Alto Garda (about thirty), ranging between 18 and 30 years of age. During the year, starting on 25 January, they met every fortnight at Tesol at the lemon grove, to learn from two champions of mission: St Paul and St. Daniel. The themes: reflections on mission as gift, confidence, liberation etc. Alternated with testimonies of missionary experiences to which the Comboni Missionary Sisters contributed greatly through the presence of their Vicar General, Sr. Dorina who was in Uganda during an Ebola outbreak, and Sr. Valeria who works for liberation from modern slavery of which many African girls fall victim in Italy today.
Sunday, June 6 was the last meeting of a long journey of six months but, in fact, nothing was ended; instead, a door was opened since it is really true that “while walking pathways open up”. The journey will be continued in the autumn when, after the tourists have left, we shall enjoy more peace and quiet. These young people will visit Kenya for just three weeks, to observe, to listen and to try to understand. When they come back they will tell their stories to their companions who are developing their passion for the mission, and to their own parish communities which are increasingly involved and surprised by what is happening among their youth.
Introductory course for the newcomers
After a year interruption, the province of Kenya has run a course of introduction for newcomers to the province. The course was held in Nairobi from 3 to 7 August. It was attended by about 30 participants: Comboni Missionaries, Comboni Sisters, lay missionaries, and also personnel from some other Institutes. The purpose of the course was to introduce the newcomers to the current reality of Kenya to prepare them for their missionary ministry, taking into account the history of the country and gaining an understanding of the major forces at play in the world and in the process of globalization.
Professors and researchers from various Universities were invited to give their input on a wide variety of key issues which characterise the Kenyan socio-economic and political landscape, ranging from local peoples and cultures to the dynamics of ethnocentrism, from the tussle of nation building, to the focus on Constitution making and governance, from the land issue – seen by many as the original social sin in the history of the country – to the ties between economics and politics. On the other hand, an introduction to the history and current reality of the province (of both MCCJ and CMS) and a presentation on the situation, roles and challenges of the local Church, helped the participants to a better understanding of the ecclesial context and history in which they are called to minister.
From the course it emerged how complex the reality of Kenya is, to the extent that today's contradictions cannot be solved as a matter of finding the right fix; rather, the future of Kenya and Kenyans requires a process of social reconstruction involving healing, reconciliation, and the imagination to transcend the sticking points which have no apparent or possible solution, but which cannot be denied or ignored. The participants appreciated the importance of understanding the underlying structures and forces that influence the life of the people, so as to avoid both naivety in interpreting reality and negative attitudes, such as becoming self-righteous and judgemental towards others, or giving up hope and failing to acknowledge that actually social change starts within us and with each individual, by recognising our limitations and co-responsibility, but also our own power and strength when linked with those of others.
The discussions held during the course also gave new insights and points of reflection concerning the forthcoming African Synod and the latest social encyclical letter issued by Benedict XVI, Charitas in veritate. All in all, rather than being a scholastic introduction to Kenya, the course turned out to be a successful and precious opportunity for ongoing formation and for nurturing conviviality within the Comboni Family.
Sudan: hard times
During the talks which ended in 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the National Congress Party (NCP), in power in Khartoum, asked for a transition period of ten years. This seemed too long to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). They finally agreed to a period of six years.
The key point of the agreement was the referendum planned for 2011 by which the South should choose whether to remain united to the North or to go its own way. But before the referendum, several important steps, with exact deadlines, were foreseen by the agreement: the demarcation of the North-South boundary, a census, elections and the question of the territory of Abyei.
Six years seemed a long time. However, four have passed and there is still much to be done. The NCP, the party of Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir, who unwillingly accepted the agreement, did everything in its power to make it fail or make it devoid of meaning, just as it did with tens of previous agreements. Tactics used: delays in carrying out commitments undertaken, attempts to divide the SPLM in order to weaken it, exploiting cases of maladministration in the South to show that the South is not capable of governing itself.
One of the commitments undertaken and the only one to have been carried out has been the census (April, 2008). The results were published more than a year later and were immediately seen as unreliable. They were rejected by the South, insisting that, for the elections, it would be better to refer to the data of 1956.
As regards the territory of Abyei, on 22 July 2009 the international court of arbitration defined the zone indicated by this name to an area of about 10,600Km2. It gave rise to controversy concerning the areas excluded to the East and the West, areas rich in petroleum. Khartoum immediately declared that these areas are part of the North (Kordofan), while those of the South declared them part of the South (Upper Nile). The solution of this thorny problem will be the responsibility of the commission which must define where the border between North and South lies. The commission has not yet begun to function.
The elections are another problem. They ought to have been held in July, 2009. They were postponed to January, 2010, then to April, 2010. In August, 2009, the list of electoral districts was published, based on data provided by the census of April 2008 but rejected by the SPLM. According to this list, there would be 450 electoral districts, but only 88 of them in the South. The SPLM did not accept these figures declaring clearly that it would have no part in a programme born of trickery. It also repeated its requests that the 1956 data be used to establish the electoral districts. It is commonly believed that the population of South Sudan makes up a third of the national population and not one fifth, as indicated by the 2008 census.
One point on which the SPLM does not appear willing to yield is that of the referendum. Salva Kiir, president of the semi-autonomous government of the South, publicly declared on 11 August, at Juba, that anyone trying to postpone the referendum to a date later than 9 January 2011 would have to accept the consequences. He even hinted at possible bloodshed, to war, in fact.
Also in the case of the referendum, the North is trying to establish mechanisms to make a separatist victory impossible. Two are already apparent: the first is to demand that separation require a majority of 75% of the votes, whereas the SPLM had proposed 50% plus one; the second is to confine voting only to those citizens actually present in South Sudan at the time of voting, excluding those in the North or abroad.
In this tense situation, the idea is widespread that the South may make a unilateral declaration of independence, without waiting for the referendum. This threat, aired for the first time about a month ago during a session of Juba parliament, was proposed in mid-August by prominent members of the SPLM, even under the form of an ultimatum and as a reaction to the manner in which the National Congress Party of Omar wants to conduct the referendum.
Reference has also been made to the situation of the country by the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) which links eleven ecclesial denominations, including the Catholic Church, during its 17th General Assembly held at Khartoum from 10 to 14 August, 2009. The SCC launched an urgent appeal: “Let all of us unite to save the peace of our people”. Having brought to mind the commitment of the Churches to support the Peace Accord, the SCC expressed its concern at the risks to peace caused by the various ongoing conflicts in the South and in other parts of the country, the arms race and the lack of security. It made a united appeal to the partners of the government, NCP and SPLM, to resolve their differences and to carry out faithfully the elections and the referendum upon which depends the destiny of the country.
Priestly silver jubilee celebration
July 15, 2009, was the anniversary of the priestly silver jubilee of Fr. Carlos Alberto Nunes, who was ordained 25 years ago in his home town of Sabugal, in Portugal, by Mgr. Antonio dos Santos, bishop of Guarda.
In Lusaka, Zambia, where Fr. Carlos Alberto works, the anniversary was celebrated on 18 July, with a joyful Mass held in the open air, attended by over 1000 people, among them a good number of priests, sisters and numerous of children members of the Holy Childhood who were celebrating their 10th anniversary of presence in the Archdiocese of Lusaka. The Archbishop Emeritus of Lusaka, Mgr. Medardo Mazombwe, attended the ceremony. Fr. Bernard Makadani Zulu the National Director of PMS delivered a beautiful homily on the themes of missionary priesthood and the Comboni presence in Zambia and Malawi. The Lilanda parish vocation group presented a symbolic thanksgiving dance on the “Good Shepherd” which was a novelty in the celebration and won the admiration of all present.
The famous Lilanda choirs “Mdzakazi” and the English “Holy Trinity choir” got together to lead with great competence and enthusiasm the whole celebration. After lunch, there was an afternoon of entertainment led by the Holy Childhood and with the special participation of a cross-cultural group from Zambia and Scotland, called “Zamscot”.
The anniversary in his home town of Sabugal in Portugal was celebrated the following day, Sunday 19 July, in his absence, attended by Fr. Carlos Alberto’s mother, brothers and sister, family and friends. During the Mass, concelebrated by the provincial and some priest friends, he was called in Zambia and connected on a mobile phone to say a word of thanks, which he did to the surprise and joy of those present.
The first and last Comboni Missionaries at “San Ignacio”
Fr. Franco Mario Galletto and Bro. Virginio Negrin were the first Combonis to arrive at the Oasis of San Ignacio on 21 September 1949 but the first group of Combonis to officially take charge of the Mission, Fr. Gino Sterza, Fr. Guglielmo Miglioranzi and Bro. Virginio Negrin, arrived on the first of October 1950.
Throughout the Comboni history of this place, many confreres passed through this mission, generously serving the Church and leaving a deep mark on the community.
With the countless and solemn celebrations, processions and, in particular, an atmosphere of cooperation marked by deeply committed moments of apostolate, the confreres who worked here could recount endless anecdotes and experiences of life among the people, too numerous to mention here. They were years during which they sacrificed themselves in forming good catechists, a splendid Catholic Action group, a very active Legion of Mary and a number of “Cursillistas”. The Legion ran a mobile library and took care of the sick, etc. All this happened thanks to Fr. Gino Melato, Fr. Primo Bentivoglio and Fr. Antonio Piacentini.
The mission was handed back to the diocese on 15 August, after almost 59 years of evangelisation. The Combonis who most recently have been in charge of the parish were Fr. Homero Gerardo Ramírez R. (Costa Rica), superior and parish priest, and Fr. James Donald Broussard Francez (USA).
The handover took place in the presence of Fr. Rogelio Arias Zaragoza, parish priest of Guerreo Negro and vicar apostolic of the northern zone. Due to the absence of the bishop, Mgr. Miguel Ángel Alba Díaz, Fr. Rogelio accepted the handover from Fr. Rafael González Ponce, provincial superior of the Comboni Missionaries in Mexico.
Spiritual Exercises and Provincial Assembly
In an atmosphere of silence and recollection, and with the participation of a good number of confreres, we celebrated the Spiritual Exercises at the provincial house of Xochimilco from 27 to 31 July. The preacher was Fr. Laureano Rojo Buxonat who accompanied us in these days of reflection and prayer.
The exercises were followed by the Provincial Assembly from 3 to 6 August. The work began with a video-conference on the city of Guatemala (perhaps the first of its kind in our Institute) through which Fr. Enrique Sánchez González, member of the Chapter Preparatory Committee, informed us of the progress of this preparation and encouraged us to participate in the Chapter through prayers and suggestions.
During the Assembly, we received a visit from the Apostolic Nuncio in Mexico, Mgr. Christophe Pierre, who spoke to us of the present concerns and expectations of the Mexican Church and his pleasant experience of work with the Comboni Missionaries in Uganda where he also worked as Nuncio.
During our meeting we discussed very important themes such as the organisation of the province, personnel, commitments, challenges and expectations. We agreed to be in communion with all the Chapter members through prayer, so that they may discover adequate responses to the expectations of the world of today.
Feast of the Sacred Heart
On 19 June, the feast of the Sacred Heart, the members of the various communities of Lima gathered at the provincial house at Monterrico to celebrate together this feast so dear to our family.
Fr. Gaetano Beltrami guided the reflection, speaking of the relationship that exists between the heart and the spirituality of the cross and inviting all present to keep in mind the conclusion of the year of St. Paul, the up-coming General Chapter and the difficult situation of Peru.
He reminded us that the Comboni missionary must live in communion with the least (Jn. 4, 12); he stated that God has given us a heart capable of loving with the same love of his Son and that, being Combonis, we are brought to the wounded heart of Christ, the Lord.
He also affirmed that the one who loves cannot avoid the cross and suffering. It is the cross which strengthens us and makes us faithful. In a fragmented and divided world, it is the cross which unites us. Being Combonis means aiming at life and communion.
Concluding, he said that the heart may become compassionate only through an authentic experience of prayer and continual dialogue with the source of Love, there where the Comboni missionary remembers the sufferings of the world and presents them to the merciful God.
Those present renewed their vows during the celebration which was followed by a fraternal meal.
Golden jubilee of priesthood of Fr. Jakob Wellenzohn
The solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul is a memorable occasion for many Comboni Missionaries since they were ordained on that day. On this occasion, together with the closure of the Year of St Paul established by the Church, we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the ordination of Fr. Jakob Wellenzohn in the beautiful church of Christ the King of Pampas de Polanco, in Arequipa. Fr. Jakob himself presided at the Eucharist, accompanied by ten Comboni Missionaries in a church thronged by the faithful. The homily was delivered by Fr. Silvester Engl, former provincial of Peru, who had been invited by Fr. Jacob.
Fr. Jaimito, as he is known to many, is a Tyrolese Comboni (Bozen-Brixen) born in 1932 into a poor and numerous family. He took his first vows when he was 23 and was ordained priest in 1959. He spent the first three years of his priesthood in Germany and afterwards was appointed to Peru, where he remained for 47 years.
It seems incredible that such a tiny figure as he, though with a penetrating glance, could have had such a great number of pastoral experiences, some lived out in places above 4,000 metres above sea-level. He worked in many parishes: Llata, Ninacaca, Ambo, Carhuamayo, Urcumayo, Huariaca, Cerro de Pasco and Arequipa, where he is working at present. Despite the fact that he is almost completely deaf, Fr. Jakob continues to bear witness, especially among the sick, that Christ is alive and present to encourage and sustain his Church.
After the celebration there was a brief concert in the hall with numerous artists and moving speeches, to pay homage to a man who heard the call of God and lived his priestly, missionary and Comboni vocation in this part of the world in serenity and devotion.
Once again, on 5 August, as we have been doing for several years, Fr. Mario Mazzoni and a group of enthusiastic women collaborators organised a Missionary Afternoon in the Regina Pacis college of Surco, very close to the provincial house.
More than 500 people actively participated in this event which has as its purpose that of animating our friends in their missionary responsibilities as baptised persons and to support the projects of Peruvian and Chilean missionaries who work outside the province.
A well-known famous Peruvian TV presenter directed the event and presented artistic exhibitions, missionary documentaries, lotteries and other activities. We thank the Lord for the generous cooperation of so many people.
Il CONJUCOM (Comboni Youth Congress)
With the slogan Young people wake up! The mission is waiting for you! the second Comboni Youth Congress was staged from 7 to 9 August in the Collegio Chalet in Chorillos. More than 300 young people accepted the invitation of the Comboni Youth Pastoral and took part in this Congress which was celebrated on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the canonization of St. Daniel Comboni.
Fr. Ibercio Rojas Zevallos and a group of lay coordinators spent months preparing this event with the support of the Comboni Family.
Most of the youths came from parishes run by Comboni missionaries in Peru in which efforts were made to bring out and strengthen a missionary spirituality which would form qualified agents in their own environment.
Missionary testimonies, songs and themes of reflection helped to raise up in the youths the desire for a greater missionary commitment. The atmosphere during the various activities of the Congress was one of communion and was also an occasion to spread the seed of the mission among the youth who participated.
Pilgrimage of the Comboni Family
The national Pilgrimage of the Comboni Family was held at Fatima on 25 July, having as its theme: “St. Paul, Comboni and us: the same passion, the same mission”.
Fr. José Júlio Martins Marques, of the community of Viseu, directed the event and presented some points common to St Paul and Comboni. At 11am we celebrated the Eucharist, an important moment of our meeting, presided over by Fr. David da Costa Domingues, missionary in the Philippines. The homily was given by his brother Fr. Fernando Domingues, Rector of the Urbanian College in Rome. As his starting point he took the words of Jesus: “he chose seventy-two disciples, sending them out in twos”. He encouraged the participants to become aware of their own vocation and mission.
In the afternoon, in the Apparitions’ Chapel, the Rosary was recited and the missionary sending took place. Various missionaries, both men and women, who were returning to the missions or were going there for the first time, were commissioned. Later on, at the Paul VI Centre, the young people who came to Fatima on foot enlivened the sharing, presenting the activities of the Youth Pastoral.
The meeting was concluded with a brief presentation of the missionary priests and Sisters on holiday or who had been appointed to Portugal, and with a thanksgiving prayer.
Comboni Family Day
On the last Sunday of June, the twenty-eight, at the conclusion of the month dedicated to the “Pierced Heart of the Good Shepherd”, the community of the Comboni Study Centre (CSC) invited relatives, friends and benefactors living in the area of Tshwane, Pretoria, for a celebration of togetherness as Comboni’s extended family. Over a hundred people flocked on a sunny winter day to our Centre.
A big tent had been set up on the evening before the feast by youngsters of the St. Daniel Comboni Parish in Mahube Valley, Mamelodi. There the guests were first introduced by Brother Francis Padovan, our Worldwide Mission Promoter, and by Fr. Andrew Bwalya, the latest newcomer to our community, to the missionary calling of the Comboni Missionaries and their presence in the world, particularly in Africa. This was followed by a walk-pilgrimage through an exhibition of the posters on Comboni (produced for the Canonisation) in the inner courtyard of the premises, under the competent guidance of Fr. Jaime Calvera Pi, in charge of the parish of St. Daniel Comboni.
During the celebration of the Eucharist, people were able to sense the universal and multi-cultural dimension of being “church”. The Church Choir of St. Daniel Comboni, Izwi leThemba (“the Voice of Hope”), which had already displayed its artistic talents and skills during their concert tour to Barcelona (Spain), carried us along in the praises of God. Fr. Vincent Mkhabela Masoja, our vocation promoter, presiding over the Eucharist, pointed out that the feast corresponded to the vision of Comboni who wanted to involve men and women, priests and laity, in the great mission of proclaiming the Gospel to the poor and abandoned. For the community it offered the opportunity to thank relatives (the mothers of Fr. Vincent and Fr. Gordon Rees as well as the parents of the scholastic Kgomotso Sebopela had come to join in the celebration), friends and benefactors for their support.
The Eucharist was followed by lunch, a well prepared agape which enhanced the value of sharing and being together. The day was rounded off by a concert with songs and dances performed by Izwi leThemba. It was a memorable day and only positive comments and thanks came back even the days that followed.
For eight months the community of the CSC, made up of fifteen members of the Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation and five members of the local community, originating from twelve different nations, experienced unity in diversity “ad intra”. The feast on the 28 June offered a lively picture of multicultural diversity and togetherness, an exceptional experience of an integrated South Africa, the Rainbow Nation. We may comment on the day in the light of Comboni’s faith-vision of the Heart of the Good Shepherd drawing the scattered children of God together in unity.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Fr. Giuseppe Negri (05.10.1926 – 24.07.2009)
Bro. Jakob Friedl (03.08.1934 – 01.08.2009)
THE FATHER: Vincenzo, of Fr. Gaspare Trasparano Di Vincenzo (I).
THE MOTHERS: Irene, of Fr. Giuseppe Giannini (KE); Amabile, of Fr. Ezechiele Ramin (†).
THE BROTHERS: Gerardo, of Fr. Giovanni Battista Volpato (†); Mario, of Fr. Remo Mariani (BS); Tarcisio, of Bro. Giovanni Bonafini (U).
THE SISTERS: Aurelia, of Fr. Efrem Angelini (EC); Liliana, of Fr. Severino Crescentini (I); Giuliana, of Fr. Marco Passerini (BNE).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. M. Guerina Bonezzi; Sr. M. Carla Colognesi; Sr. M. Donata Agostini; Sr. M. Giacinta Spiller; Sr. Romualda Anselmi.
FOR THE GENERAL CHAPTER
Father, we praise and we bless You
for choosing Daniel Comboni
to be the apostle and witness of your love
for the peoples of Africa.
Bless our desire to carry forward
the mission you first entrusted to him.
Guide our steps,
as we follow our Founder
in sharing the love with which
you call us to be Comboni Missionaries.
Send Your Spirit upon us,
to make us able of taking on
the new challenges of mission
with courage and creativity, so that
your Kingdom may come in the world today.
We ask this through Christ Jesus,
the Good Shepherd. Amen.