Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
The Post-Chapter Commission
The Post-Chapter Commission, elected by the XVII General Chapter, and with the following confreres as members: Fr. Venanzio Milani, Fr. Stefano Giudici and Fr. Giuseppe Cavallini as coordinator, met in Rome from 16 to 19 November, 2009, to prepare the text of the Chapter Acts.
They have been entrusted by the Chapter to: 1. Take the text which was approved in the final reading by the Chapter, study it and work out its logical order and aspects deriving from the content; 2. Produce the text in Italian, making sure it is flowing, readable and grammatically correct, always bearing in mind what was approved by the Chapter.
Once the work is finished, the basic text in Italian will be given to the translators who will produce it in the official languages of the Institute. Then the Chapter Acts of the XVII General Chapter will be printed and sent to all the members of the Institute.
Sincere thanks to the confreres who have agreed to carry out this delicate and important service.
Fr. Giuseppe Sandri is nominated bishop
The L’Osservatore Romano of 7 November, 2009, states: “Fr. Giuseppe Sandri has been appointed bishop of Witbank, South Africa. He was born on 26 August, 1946, at Faedo, in the diocese of Trent. He took his first vows with the Comboni Missionaries on 15 August, 1968, and made his perpetual profession on 15 August, 1971.
He completed his novitiate and theological studies at Cincinnati in the United States where he was awarded an MA in theology. He was ordained priest on 27 May, 1972.
After his ordination he was sent to South Africa where he occupied the following posts in Witbank Diocese: Curate and then priest in charge of Waterval-Bushbuckridge, helping briefly out in the parishes of Lukau and Acornhoek, director of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre in Maria Trost at Lydenburg and priest in charge of Acornhoek parish. He was then the provincial superior of the Comboni Missionaries in South Africa for two terms, then Secretary General in Rome. He was again provincial superior of the Institute in South Africa since 2008”.
Bro. Aboudou Ablam Albert Ange (T) Cacaveli (T) 21.11.2009
Fr. Bwanali Moses Francis (MZ) Blantyre (MW) 07.11.2009
Fr. Kasitomu James Milward (MZ) Blantyre (MW) 07.11.2009
Ordinations to the Priesthood
Fr. Oviedo Casillas Gerardo Álvaro (PE) Arequipa (PE) 21.11.2009
Holy Redeemer Guild
December 01 – 15 U 15 – 31 CN
January 01 – 07 A 08 – 15 C 16 – 31 BNE
December – For our family members, benefactors and friends who support us in our mission: that the Lord may bless their faith and love towards our vocation. Let us pray.
January - That St. Daniel Comboni may guide the General Administration and all the Comboni Missionaries to welcome and carry out the commitments mandated by the General Chapter as a grace towards a new missionary era. Lord hear us.
Fr. Antonio La Salandra has published his memoirs in Italian regarding his mission in West Nile (Uganda): “Ho amato I Logbara – Lettere alle mie amate missioni”. MGF Publications, 2009.
Copies are available from the author at the community of Troia, Italy.
Parish of Christ the King
From 10 to 13 November, 2009, in the cathedral of St. Peter Claver,
a great diocesan assembly was held which brought together priests, men and women religious, committed lay-people and all the Christians of good-will of the diocese of Bangassou. The theme reflected upon was that of the African Synod: how to implement it in our pastoral work? The Comboni Missionary Fr. Isaac Chabu Chanda emphasised in his address the key words of the Synod. He asked the Church in Central Africa to get up and walk, as the bishops insisted. Other speakers dwelt on the serious situation of insecurity and violence in which these peoples find themselves and which robs them even of their will to live.
On 22 November the patron feast of the parish of Christ the King at Tokoyo was celebrated where the Comboni Missionaries Fr. Pedro Jimmy Indacochea Quimis and Fr. Isaac Chanda are based. A week of prayer was organised for the occasion on behalf of the population which suffers the violence of the Ugandan rebels. The two days, 20 and 21 November, were devoted to the sacrament of reconciliation and on the following day a march was held to demonstrate support for the population of this Eastern part of the country. About 700 people took part, mostly Catholics but some Moslems and Protestant also took part to show the unity of the people following a diversity of religions, but children of one Father whose sole objective is peace. The Mass procession began with the march. Afterwards there was dancing and a game of football. The evening ended with a film on St. Francis of Assisi.
Meeting for young confreres
From 17 to 19 November, 2009, in Bangui, at the Mgr. Coucherousset Centre, a meeting for young Comboni Missionaries in Central Africa was held on the theme: “Revive the gift of God in yourself”. Three speakers explained to the young Comboni Missionaries the beauty and the demands of the alliance we have with the people who welcome us. Mgr. Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Apostolic Administrator of Bangui, analysed the present situation of the country and of the Church. The provincial superior, Fr. Giovanni Zaffanelli, gave a broad outline of the XVII General Chapter and its main themes seen as priorities for the entire Institute. Lastly, Fr. Jesús Ruiz Molina, by means of a personal revision of one’s own life, helped the confreres to face up to the mission in its three phases: surprise, crisis and concrete alliance. The latter must be renewed each day in a triple fidelity to God, to the people and to the time we live in.
Spiritual exercises at Limone
Here we provide additional information on the two courses of spiritual exercises to be held, for Comboni Missionaries only (male and female), at Limone in 2010.
Sr. Paola Glira (email@example.com)
Fr. Danilo Castello (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Celebrations in honour of St. Daniel Comboni (Verona)
On the evening of 31 August, as the popular novena to the Madonna del Popolo began in Verona Cathedral, Fr. Romeo Ballan, superior of the Mother House, presented the figure of St. Daniel Comboni, model of love and devotion to Our Lady, as it emerges from various features of his missionary life.
After the feast of St. Daniel Comboni had been celebrated at the Mother House on 10 October, the public feast of the holy Founder took place. This year it was celebrated on Sunday, 11 October, in the parish church of San Giorgio in Braida, with a solemn Eucharist presided over by Mgr. Edward Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of Tombura-Yambio, in South Sudan. The entire celebration had strong missionary (Month of October), Comboni (the feast of the Saint) and African (Second Africa Synod in Rome) connotations. After the Mass, which was fully attended like a major feast, a plaque was unveiled in memory of the special closeness which existed between the parish community of San Giorgio and Comboni, who celebrated his first Mass as bishop there on 15 August, 1877.
On the evening of Tuesday, 13 October, the parish priest, Don Piergiorgio Rizzini, also dedicated a musical concert to Comboni.
Celebrations in honour of Mgr. Antonio Roveggio (Verona)
On the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Servant of God, Mgr. Antonio Roveggio (1858-1902), the Comboni Missionaries decided to keep the memory of this little-known missionary who had such an important role to play, as is evidenced by historical research carried out on the documents which shed light on him. Mgr. Roveggio was the first on the list of those who made their religious profession in the Sons of the Sacred Heart on 28 October, 1887.
For the anniversary, various celebrations were organised. During the commemorations at Cologna Veneta and Verona, the speakers were: Fr. Arnaldo Baritussio, Fr. Joaquim Valente da Cruz, Sr Maria Vidale, Director of the Studium ‘Madri Nigrizia’, Mgr. Daniel Adwok, Auxiliary Bishop of Khartoum.
A new book and a good twenty-five-minute CD entitled The Cost of the Return, the addresses by the experts, the printed and other material were important and well-appreciated instruments for spreading the knowledge of the missionary life and reputation for holiness of this Servant of God.
- On 7 November, at the Comboni house in Verona, a Mass was celebrated with the local bishop Mgr. Giuseppe Zenti presiding, which commemorated the Servant of God.
- On the evening of Sunday, 8 December, at the Duomo of Cologna Veneta, the Eucharist was celebrated with the bishop of Vicenza, Mgr. Cesare Nosiglia, presiding.
- On Sunday, 15 November, the celebrations were brought to their close at the parish of St. Sebastian.
Other events in Verona
The life of the Mother House was also enlivened by other events. On Sunday, 8 November, the house was overflowing with people celebrating the feast of relatives of Veronese confreres. An exposition of the theological and literary works of eighty-nine-year-old Veronese Fr Pietro Chiocchetta, expert and university professor, was organised for the occasion.
On 13 November, there was the inauguration of an artistic exposition in the African Museum and the opening of the 29th African Film Festival. On the afternoon of 14 November, the Comboni Family was again in festive mode for the ordination to the priesthood of the then deacon Lorenzo Baccin (37), a Comboni from Padua, who is now due to leave for Africa where he will carry out his missionary work in predominantly Moslem lands.
Events such as these assure us that the Comboni roots are still alive and well.
Post-Synod for Africa: the ‘Observer’ continues its journey
The African Synod’s ‘Observer’, organised by the CIMI and the UCSI, with the sponsorship of Misna, Fesmi and many other organisations, has again taken up its work of the Post-Synod, starting with a conference in Rome on 17 November in the press room of Italian Catholic Action.
First the initiative itself was assessed and proposals were made to continue the work of listening to the African continent and promoting in Italy and Europe a culture of communion and reciprocity with Africa and all the countries of the South of the world.
With these proposals, the participants expressed the desire that a means be established to coordinate information and initiatives. The coordination committee was formed by some members present at the meeting: Fr. Fernando Zolli (Cimi), Vania De Luca (Ucsi Lazio), Giulio Carminati (Acse), Giampiero Forcesi and Giampaolo Petrucci (Adista), but is open to all who have taken to heart the problems of Justice, Peace and Reconciliation.
Some of the proposals were: that Misna promote in Rome, in January, 2010, a conference based on the final statement and 57 propositions of the Synod Fathers; that it is necessary to hold a meeting with the Synod Secretariat to facilitate matters so that the work may be done together more, in openness to the Africa situation, with special attention to the consequences for the European continent as regards some vital aspects, in order to build up together a world which is just, in solidarity and reconciled; that it is necessary to gather the material prepared before, during and after the Synod, with a view to publishing it; that the involvement of the mass media is urgently required to educate towards a global vision, avoiding all forms of exclusively internal guidelines and studying the modalities to increasingly involve ecclesial communities as well as sensitive sectors and segments of civil society.
World Mission Sunday Report
This year World Mission Sunday was held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on 18 October, 2009. We organized the celebration with the assistance of the Comboni Brothers Centre and New People Media Centre. The Director of the Pontifical Missionary Society was the main celebrant. A good number of the Friends of the Kenyan Missionaries participated.
This year we managed to raise Kshs. 541,000 (€ 5.400) despite the economic hardships facing the country. We are very grateful to Divine Province and to all those who supported us throughout the year, especially the Friends of Kenyan Missionaries. After the Homily at the 11.30 Mass, the money was distributed to the respective Institutes.
We then invited the Friends of Kenyan Missionaries to share in a reflection on the missionary work of the Church and to share lunch with us at the Comboni Brothers Centre. The majority of them were from Nairobi, others from Nyahururu, Thika, Voi, Machakos, Ngong and Nakuru. Many expressed the desire to continue to help the Kenyan Missionaries and to meet once a year.
Sudan: in view of the elections
The long-awaited process of the general elections began in Sudan with the registration of voters. During the month of November, the population is invited to register so as to be able to vote in April of next year, 2010. People will vote for the president, the members of parliament and for the governors. The elections are an important part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in Nairobi in 2005 by the Sudan People Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) led by John Garang and the National Congress Party (CNP) of Omar Bashir.
The hope of John Garang was that the elections would mark a decisive step in the construction of that New Sudan for which he took up arms in 1983. With the passage of time, this dream seems more and more to be just that, a dream. The 2005 agreement fixed a period of six years to create the conditions for the formation of the New Sudan. Five years later, it is clear that much of the provisions have been abandoned or implemented in a distorted way. One fundamental point of the agreement was the national census. The census took place in 2008 amid widespread disagreement. It was immediately clear that the published results did not correspond to the reality of the country but had been tampered with for political reasons. The population of the South was given as 20% of the total instead of at least 33%. This obviously has a great bearing on the rest of the process. An example of this is the sharing of natural resources and the allocation of seats in parliament. The SPLA rejected the results of the census but preferred not to break off contacts with the NCP in the hope of salvaging the rest of the agreement, especially the elections and the referendum.
And now the time has come for the elections. The closer they get, the greater the fear that the elections will go the way of the census and become an instrument of the NCP to gain an advantage.
The elections should have taken place in July, 2009. After several postponements, they were set for April, 2010. The process of registration began on 1 November and continues amid great difficulties and tensions. It was noted that there was no timely mass information on the modalities and requirements for registration. While it seems the NCP is prepared and organised within itself, the state machinery is at its service and there is no shortage of means to create pressures. According to the press, many people from the South living in the North are prevented from registering because they have no identity documents or domiciles. The Khartoum press also says that the registration process in the South is difficult due to poor communications, the shortage of materials and insecurity in many areas. At times, even the registration forms were not available. From many quarters people are asking that the registration time be extended.
In Juba, the Anglican and Catholic Archbishops were among the first to register. They publicised this gesture in the hope that it might encourage the people but they have no illusions. The situation in the country is still tense. Cardinal Zubeir issued a declaration to the Fides Agency in mid-November, 2009, saying: “The Church will carry on its work of evangelisation, Christian witness and human promotion. As to the rest, it is difficult to foresee”. He was referring to the elections and to the referendum. Mgr, Mazzolari, Bishop of Rumbek, published a long statement at the beginning of November in which he reveals his concerns. The statement ends, however, with a word of hope based especially on the fact that the people of Sudan have shown they have extraordinary human resources, deeply rooted in their culture.
Two priestly ordinations
November 7, 2009, was a special day for our province of Malawi-Zambia and for the local Church. On that day, Deacon James Milward Kasitomu and Deacon Moses Francis Bwanali were ordained priests at Mthawira’ parish church by Mgr. Tarcisius Ziyaye, Archbishop of Blantyre. Many Christians from Mthawira and Lisungwi parishes took part in the joyful celebration, together with many Comboni Missionaries working in the province of Malawi-Zambia and a number of diocesan priests and religious women. All our postulants were also present together with their formators and some members of the staff from the ICS of Balaka.
The celebration was prepared to perfection by the parish liturgy committee in coordination with Fr. Mennas Mukaka who served as link person between our Comboni province, Mthawira parish and the archdiocese of Blantyre. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration many relatives and friends had the opportunity to greet the newly ordained priests and offer them gifts. On behalf of the Comboni Missionaries, Fr. Dário Balula Chaves, the provincial superior, thanked the archbishop of Blantyre, the parish priest Fr. Lawrence Simbota, all the Christians and the various parish groups for their participation and wonderful collaboration.
Fr. Dário stressed that the ordination of two new priests was a blessing of God for the Church in general and for Mthawira parish in particular. The new priests are a sign that the Church in Malawi has grown and is giving good fruits. They will go and carry out their missionary work in the name of the Church of Malawi, wherever they may be sent.
It is good to remember that Mthawira Parish was founded by the late Fr. Giuseppe Buffoni in 1981, run by the Comboni Missionaries for some years, and later handed over to the diocese.
After the Mass, food was served and we continued sharing the joy of such a blessed day. On Sunday, 8 November, Fr. James Kasitomu celebrated his first Mass at a large church of Mthawira Parish while Fr. Moses Bwanali celebrated at Lisungwi Parish in Zalewa.
Both new priests are from Malawi. Fr. James Kasitomu completed theology studies in Lima, Peru, and did missionary service in Lusaka, Zambia. He has been assigned to BNE. Fr. Moses Bwanali completed theology studies in Nairobi, Kenya, and did missionary service in Lisungwi Parish, Malawi. He has been assigned to Ethiopia. We shall accompany them with our prayers.
Comboni Missionary Congress for those in Formation
From 13 to 16 November, 2009, the Missionary Congress for those in Formation was held at Sahuayo, Mich. Our students from the four formation communities (San Francisco del Rincón, Gto. Cuernavaca, Mor. Xochimilco, México, D.F. and Sahuayo, Mich.). We also had the participation of the Comboni Sisters postulants, some young people in the vocational process, male and female formators and vocations promoters making a total of about eighty people.
During the three days of the Congress, we reflected and shared ideas on the theme the requirements of mission today. We lived and prayed together in an atmosphere of serenity and great participation. The Congress was characterised by joy, enthusiasm and especially fraternal communion. Reflection was carried out using material prepared by a Comboni missionary, based on the words of Matthew 10:5. “These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them as follows: ‘Do not turn your steps to pagan territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town”. The material was very well prepared and succeeded in placing the young people in a real situation which poses many challenges. At the end, each house of formation committed itself to continue to work making good use of the fruits of the Congress. Fr. Rubén Padilla Rocha was the main celebrant at the final Eucharist. After the celebration, there was the ceremony of presenting the candle to the community of San Francisco del Rincón, which will host the next Congress in two years time.
Special liturgy to celebrate the NAP’s 70th anniversary
On November 15, the Comboni Missionaries celebrated the NAP’s 70th anniversary with a special liturgy and reception at St. Peter in Chains’ Cathedral in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio, where they arrived in 1939 and have had a presence ever since. Comboni priests as well as visiting diocesan clergy filled the sanctuary as Fr. Louis Gasparini, provincial superior of the Nap, celebrated the Mass.
Those celebrating with the Combonis were many and varied, from Mr. Jack McWilliams, who was baptized by Fr. Dominic Ferrara in those first days to the newly formed Comboni Missionary Associates. The Comboni Lay Missionaries in formation, friends, benefactors, and supporters filled the pews to participate in the liturgy. The singing, music and dance during the mass and reception were representative of the African, African American, and Latin American cultures.
Fr. Louis stressed the threefold purpose for the Combonis coming to the United States: to minister to the descendents of the people Comboni loved and died for in Africa, people who came to this country, not by choice, but as slaves; to offer young people a challenging option for their life’s journey, that of being missionaries, announcing the good news and making common cause with the poorest and most abandoned; to widen the horizons of Catholics in North America and invite them to answer generously the call to mission by reaching out beyond their local Church to support and sponsor projects among poor developing countries.
He also pointed out how faithful the Combonis have been to these commitments through the years and in every place they have ministered, despite extreme hardships at times.
The NAP published a special issue magazine which tells the story of the province and highlights the hard work of the Comboni Family: priests, sisters, and lay missionaries, as well as the countless volunteers who have been so faithful through the years. Each province has received – or will receive – a copy.
Ordination to the priesthood
On 21 and 22 November we celebrated the ordination and first Mass of Fr. Gerardo Álvaro Oviedo Casillas, a Comboni Missionary from Peru. The ordination was celebrated by Mgr. Jaime Rodríguez Salazar, bishop of Huánuco, who with great joy and availability went to the white city of Arequipa, 1000 Km south of Lima, the Peruvian capital.
The ceremony took place in the beautiful church of Christ the King in Pampas de Polanco, in the Comboni parish of Independencia, the home parish of Gerardo. The ordination coincided with the feast of the community which expressed in this way its gratitude to God for the gift of a missionary vocation to one of its members.
The function was well prepared with beautiful hymns and a lively and fraternal atmosphere. Mgr. Jaime exhorted the newly-ordained priest to be always faithful, after the example of our Founder, St. Daniel Comboni. His parents were given the task of clothing him with the sacred vestments as a sign of their donation of their own son to the mission. Fr Gerardo has been assigned to the delegation of Asia where he will carry out his first ad gentes mission.
On the following day, the young missionary, serenely and joyfully led his first Mass at the parish church of the Good Shepherd where a Comboni community resides. Some missionaries representing the various communities of the province were also present there as well as some scholastics and many people from the local parish community. The homily was preached by Fr. Rogelio Bustos Juárez, provincial superior, who urged Fr. Gerardo to keep ever present in his life the dimension of martyrdom, following the example of the many men and women who bore witness of their faith in Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, by shedding their blood in different parts of the world.
Best wishes to our new priest!
News from Poland
The Comboni presence in Poland is enjoying a positive moment which we wish to share with you.
On Saturday, 24 October, we celebrated the priestly ordination of Deacon Adam Witold Szpara in the Comboni chapel of the Warsaw community.
Adam was ordained by Mgr. Stanisław Wielgus, formerly his professor of philosophy.
The ceremony was intimate and like that of a family with the participation of Adam’s family, the Comboni family in Poland, the Innsbruck scholastics, a group representing the major seminary of our diocese of Warsaw-Praska, where Adam studied theology for two years, and a number of people who frequent our chapel for Sunday Mass.
After the Mass we continued the celebrations with a family-style meal.
On Sunday, 25 October, the newly-ordained priest celebrated his first Mass. This event was attended by a more numerous congregation whom we afterwards invited to the refreshment prepared by our friends.
Fr. Adam Szpara will leave on 22 November for Taiwan where he will commence his studies of the Chinese language.
Sharing our Mission
The year 2009 has been one in which the Polish Comboni family, albeit in a small way, gave its own contribution to the mission which it represents.
Fr. Adam Szpara is leaving for Asia and China; Fr. Rafał Leszczyński left in October for Ecuador; Fr. Tomasz Marek will leave early in January for Brazil. We also have five scholastics doing their missionary service: Maciej Tomasz Miąsik in Perù, Krzysztof Adam Zebik in Kenya, Paweł Roman Opioła in Zambia, Andrzej Jan Filip, will go to Portugal after Christmas to study the language before going to Mozambique. Sebastian Jerzy Chmiel began his missionary service in Poland in July. The Comboni community in Poland is starting to attract notice.
Cooperation among the Churches
New forms of cooperation between the Church in Portugal and the more recently founded churches have been suggested by the missionary animators of the Ad Gentes Institutes who gathered for their annual assembly from 17 to 20 November in Oporto.
It was said that cooperation between the “elder” Churches and the “younger” ones must be established on the personal level, that is, laity, religious men and women and priests, and not so much on the level of economics.
During the assembly, the need to change the traditional concept which sees the Churches of Europe as those who send and the younger Churches as those who receive was noted. Today, a model of reciprocal cooperation in which all the Churches have something to give and something to receive, is needed. In this way, the missionaries have a very important role to play as they become part of the local Church, cooperating in evangelisation and, at the same time, sharing the particular experiences of the younger Churches where the values of the Word of God, sharing and community life are lived, values which are diminishing in the Churches of the old continent.
The 45 participants committed themselves to give their contribution to the activities of “Mission 2010”, a pastoral initiative which will take place next year in the diocese of Oporto.
Let us pray for our beloved dead
THE BROTHERS: Adolfo, of Fr. Senén Gándara Mandianes (CN); Antonio, of Fr. Primo Silvestri (BS); Carlo, of Fr. Romualdo Anselmi (MO).
THE SISTERS: Zita, of Fr. Albin Grunser (PE); Emelina (and Gerardo Olivares, a nephew) of Fr. José Luís López Marín (M); Angelina, of Fr. Giovanni Meloni (I).
Fr. Abramo Treccani: born on 15 May, 1914, was ordained in 1938. He worked in Ethiopia where he was made a prisoner of war. He then returned to Italy and later was appointed to Comboni College, Asmara. He entered the Carthusians and, in 1962, took solemn vows in the Chartreuse of Farneta (Lucca). He died there on 20 November, 2009. RIP.