Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus

GENERAL ADMINISTRATION

Second Consulta – 4-11 December 2009

General Notes

Chapter Acts 2009

The post-capitular Commission has concluded its work of revision and has passed the final text on to the translators. We expect the translations in 5 languages to be ready by the middle of December. These will be then given to a graphics expert for the layout and printing. We hope that the computerised edition will be available to all by the end of January 2010. The Chapter Acts will have an introductory letter of presentation prepared by the GC and a reference index to make consultation easier. The GC will also send a copy of the DVD on the XVII General Chapter prepared by the team of Nigritia in Verona.

Areas of responsibility of the General Assistants

The members of the GC have taken up the following areas of responsibility and work:

Fr. Odelir José Magri: Vicar General; delegate of the Superior General for the Curia District (Paris, Poland and Rome); responsible for Ongoing Formation, confreres in special situations and provinces and delegations of Latin America.

Fr. Pelucchi Alberto: General Assistant; responsible for Mission Promotion and the Comboni Lay Missionaries, Evangelisation, Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation, the provinces and delegations of Europe, Asia, North American Province and Eritrea.

Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie: General Assistant; responsible for Basic Formation and the English speaking provinces and delegations of English speaking Africa and Mozambique (except for Eritrea, since he is not allowed, as an Ethiopian, to visit the country).

Bro. Giusti Daniele Giovanni: General Assistant; responsible for Brothers, General Finance, Elderly and Sick confreres and the French speaking provinces of Africa.

Appointment of superiors of circumscriptions

Due to the election by the Chapter of the new general assistants and the nomination by the Vatican of two new Comboni bishops, some circumscriptions were left with no major superior. The GC has asked the vice-provincials/vice-delegates of those circumscriptions to make themselves available to guide their circumscription for the year 2010 and to prepare for the election of the new council of the circumscription that will take place next year.

The GC, then, appoints as major superiors from 01.01.2010:

- Uganda (U): Fr. Sylvester Hategek’Imana

- Italy (I): Fr. Corrado Masini

- Ethiopia (ET): Fr. González Núñez Juan Antonio

- Central America (DCA): Fr. Leandro Araya Leonardo

- South Africa (RSA): Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins

To have the quorum in the circumscription councils, as these are in the last year of their mandate, without resorting to new elections, the provincial/delegation councils may co-opt a member of the circumscription to make up the quorum.

Appointment of formators

The GC appoints from 01.01.2010:

- Fr. Román Medina José Luis superior and first formator of Pietermaritzburg scholasticate (RSA)

- Fr. Burgers Jude Eugene second formator of Pietermaritzburg scholasticate (RSA)

- Fr. Mussie Abraham Keflezghi second formator of Asmara scholasticate (ER)

Novitiates

A-French speaking Africa

The provincials of French speaking Africa have asked to open a second Novitiate, since in Cotonou there are now too many novices and also to implement the experience of English speaking Africa, where the new group of novices alternates between the two venues in such a way that each group can complete the two years novitiate in the same house and without additions to the community.

After dialoguing with the probable formators who will be appointed in the next Consulta, the GC has decided to open a Novitiate house in Sarh (TC) from 01.07.2010.

The venue of the Novitiate in Kinshasa-Kimwenza (CN) is not suppressed, but suspended.

B-Asia

Due to the circumstances, the GC has decided that the novice candidates for the new year will be sent to Sahuayo (Mexico).

Renewal Course and Comboni Year

The current group of CYOF in Mexico will complete its course in May 2010. It has already been announced that in 2010 the Renewal Course in Rome will not take place. Having taken into consideration the various possible alternatives on the future of the Ongoing Formation activities, the GC has decided to gather the whole Ongoing Formation team in Rome from the second half of 2010, in the area formerly occupied by the scholasticate: this area will become the new venue for the activities of Ongoing Formation. Starting from January 2011, the team will organise alternatively the Renewal Course (January-May 2011) and the Comboni Year (September 2011-May 2012).

Confirmation of financial and technical councillors

The GC renews the members of the following bodies at general level:

1. General Council for Finance

a) Continental representatives: as representative of America/Asia the GC confirms for three more years Fr. Martínez Vargas Jorge and as representative of French speaking Africa confirms Fr. Dasilva Fernández Gonzalo Antonio until his rotation.

b) technical committee: The GC confirms for three more years Fr. Locatelli Mario and Fr. Manuel Ferreira Horta.

2. General Treasury Council

The GC confirms as members Bro. João da Silva Ferreira and Bro. Lagattolla Giuseppe. It also appoints as a new member Bro. Dal Santo Tarcisio.

Agenda of the General Council

Fr. Sánchez González Enrique: will be in Mexico from 11 January 2010 until the middle of February. During this time he will officially visit the community of the Comboni Year.

Fr. Odelir José Magri: will be on holiday at home with his family in Brazil from 12 December 2009 to 17 January 2010. He will then pay a visit to Central Africa from 20 January to 5 February 2010 to take part in the assembly.

Fr. Pelucchi Alberto: after a short leave of absence from 19 December to 6 January, he will be residing in Rome.

Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie: from 1 to 21 January 2010 will be in Ethiopia for his documents; from 21 January to 3 February he will take part in the meeting of the provincials/delegates of English speaking Africa and Mozambique in Pretoria (South Africa) and will attend the ordination as bishop of Mgr. Giuseppe Sandri; from 15 to 22 February he will visit the delegation of Egypt.

Bro. Giusti Daniele Giovanni: will be in Kotido (Uganda) from 15 to 21 December to represent the GC for the ordination as bishop of Mgr. Giuseppe Filippi; from 23 to 31 December he will be at home with his family; from 20 January to 4 March he will be in Colombia to study Spanish and for a short visit to the group of Brothers at Guayaquil (EC).

Ordinations to the priesthood

Fr. Baccin Lorenzo (I)                       Verona (I)                 14.11.2009
Fr. Bachulu Diangolo Olivier (CN)       Isiro (CN)                 30.11.2009

Holy Redeemer Guild

January           01 – 07 A               08 – 15 C               16 – 31 BNE

February          01 – 15 BS            16 – 28 CA

Prayer intentions

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.

February - That we may make common cause with those who live as immigrants with the passion and daring of St. Daniel Comboni who urges us to promote hospitality, dialogue and respect in today’s world. Lord, hear us.

ASIA

Friends of the mission fiesta

Each year, on the first Sunday of December, in the grounds of our Roosevelt Avenue community, we come together with the friends and benefactors of the Comboni Missionaries for the Friends of the Missions Fiesta. This year the occasion was blessed by beautiful weather, allowing the program to go into operation in a successful way, without the worries of some of the previous years, when sudden storms upset the preparations. It was also the first time that we used our new, very elegant multi-purpose hall.

The early afternoon of Sunday, 6 December, saw a steady flow of friends of every age and social condition crowding at the registration table. The program began with a word of welcome by Fr. Rocco Bettoli, the acting superior, followed by the missionary witness of our two Filipino confreres: Fr. Marnecio Cuarteros Coralde, soon to depart for his new assignment in Brazil, and Fr. Romulo Panis Vela, who had just come back to the Philippines after 8 years of missionary service in El Salvador. Then the more than 500 participants were ready for the solemn Mass. The main celebrant was Fr. Miguel Angel Llamazares González, the delegate superior, who spoke about the theme of the Fiesta: “We are a family in mission with Saint Daniel Comboni”. The Mass was very lively with liturgical dances, special symbolic gifts and a powerful choir. After the Mass, several different groups: university students, elderly ladies, and especially our postulants, gave a colourful presentation of songs and dances, topped by the Christmas carols performed by all the Comboni Missionaries. In the meantime, a plain supper was served to everybody.

The Fiesta ended with the missionary commission to witness the Gospel of Jesus in Filipino society. The atmosphere of cordiality cemented once again the friendship and collaboration of so many friends who have been assisting our communities with their generous help and also gave the Comboni Missionaries the chance of expressing their gratitude in the festive surroundings of the coming Christmas celebrations.

DSP

Seminar on “Democracy and Nation Building”

From 25 to 28 November 2009 in our house at Josefstal the regional seminar on “Democracy and Nation Building” took place. The participants were mainly scholarship-holders from Africa. The main speaker was the Ethiopian prince Dr. Asfa-Wossen Asserate who is residing in Frankfurt/Main. A considerable number of participants were from his country, but there were also very interested and committed scholarship-holders from various other African countries. The course on “Democracy and Nation Building” is mainly followed by students from Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana and Cameroon.

There were speakers from other countries as well, however the input of the Ethiopian prince helped very much to arrive at a mental change, as he appealed to the responsibility of the participants as future leaders of the Continent. At the end, not only the participants were impressed but Dr. Asfa-Wossen as well. After the interesting discussion-time with them, he said: “Now I am holding higher hopes concerning our Continent.”

Opening the season for “Adveniat”

The nationwide opening of “Adveniat”, one of the catholic “works”, was held in Bamberg on the first Sunday of Advent 2009. The official ceremony took place in the cathedral, just next door to our house. During the afternoon there was a full program focussing on the meaning of Adveniat. We Comboni Missionaries participated in the programme as well, presenting to the interested people questions about “soya beans”, i.e. the importance of soya farming for the environment and for the people who have been forced out of big farms. Soya cultivation in Brazil is definitely touching on matters of justice and peace and integrity of creation.

ECUADOR

National Day for the African Ecuadorian People

On Sunday, 4 October 2009, various organisations, Afro and others, met in Quito to celebrate the National Day for the African Ecuadorian People.

Eloy Alfaro square, in the south of the city, was festively adorned and filled with a thousand brilliant colours, posters and the sound of drums. The day began with a march to recall the role of the African Ecuadorian people in the effort for independence in the context of the bicentenary of the Ecuadorian nation and the commemoration of the XII anniversary of the legal establishment of the National Afro Day on 2 October, 1997.

 The Mass was presided over by Mgr. René Coba Galarza, Auxiliary Bishop and Pastoral Vicar, accompanied by some Comboni priests, among whom were Fr. Antonio D’Agostino, the priest responsible for Afro Pastoral in Quito and Fr. Caicedo Minda Rodolfo Fabián, a descendant of Afros of the valley of Chota.

In his homily, Mgr. Coba appealed to the unity of the people that they might continue to discover their social and political roles without ever losing sight of their African spirit of brotherhood. He concluded by congratulating those involved in the Afro pastoral, led for many years by the Comboni Missionaries, pioneers in this field of evangelisation, who have always sought to strengthen the values present among those of African descent.

As regards the bicentenary, the Quito African Cultural Centre, led by Bro. Abel Godfroy Dimanche, organised a display and some meetings on this national event in which the African Ecuadorian people participated to a high degree.

First bishop of African Descent

On Saturday, 29 November, 2009, Fr. Guido Iván Mina Chalá from Ibarra diocese (Imbabura) was consecrated the new Auxiliary Bishop of Guayaquil. Mgr. Guido Ivan is the first priest of African descent to be appointed bishop in Ecuador.

The Mass of consecration was enlivened by the Afro missionaries and the Afro group from the Cultural Centre of Guayaquil. Most of the bishops of Ecuador and a large group of Afro people from Chota Valley, the original home of Mgr. Guido, took part. On the following day, Mgr. Guido administered the sacrament of confirmation at our parish of Our Lady of Good Health, on the outskirts of Guayaquil.

San Lorenzo: training electricians

Eighty-year-old Bro. Silvestro Fadda continues to train young men and adults to become expert electricians at our parish of The Martyr San Lorenzo, in the north of Esmeraldas. He conducted a six-month course for more than thirty students, most of whom work with the African palm-oil companies. After the hard day’s work, they attended Bro. Silvestro’s lessons from five in the afternoon to nine pm.

Twenty-seven of them completed the course on domestic electrical installation approved by SECAP, the government department for working apprenticeships. At the closure of the XVI course on 26 November, numerous educational authorities from the national government and the city of Esmeraldas were present to congratulate Bro. Silvestro for his great disinterested and gratuitous work.

Meeting with relatives

As usual, on Saturday, 12 December, the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of America, we celebrated Christmas at the provincial house with the relatives of our Ecuadorian confreres. We were glad to hear the account of the beautiful missionary experience of Fr. Félix Cabascango, of the province of Chad, who was on holiday. He spoke to us of the situation in Chad and the work of evangelisation being carried out by the Comboni Missionaries in that country.

Those present enjoyed very much a video shown on the life of Fr. Alberto Ferri who died recently. The video was produced by Fr. José Barranco Ramírez and was broadcast by some TV stations in Ecuador. Afterwards, Mass was celebrated in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

October: the month of the African

During the month of October, many demonstrations were carried out in the various cities of Ecuador to highlight the multicultural dimension of the country. The Afro movement and the Afro pastoral took part in these cultural manifestations aimed at preserving African-ness.

There are 120 million people of African descent in America; in Ecuador they represent 10% of the population and belong to the group which is feeling more than most the effects of the economic crisis. For this reason, the Comboni province in Ecuador – in collaboration with others – is preparing a continental meeting to exchange experiences and motivations and reach some common criteria and directions in which to work at the continental level.

The meeting entitled Comboni Missionaries and the Option for the African American People, will take place at Guayaquil from 1 to 6 March, 2010, keeping in mind what Comboni affirmed: “Never forget that Comboni cannot live except for Africa and for whatever has to do with Africa” (S 1185).

At the end of such meeting, on 6 March, there will be the inauguration of the building of the new Cultural Centre, which is at the service of the formation of lay people involved in the kind of evangelisation that respects the spirituality and cultural of the Afro population.

KHARTOUM

Juba Declaration: a challenge

On 7 December, 2009, the opposition organised a demonstration in front of the national parliament to gain approval for some important laws regarding the political elections (January 2010) and national security and freedom of information.

The demonstration of Monday, 7 December, was the last act in a process which was begun last September when 28 parties met in Juba, an initiative of the SPLM, to agree on a common platform in view of the elections scheduled for April, 2010. The conclusions of the meeting were formalised on 14 October, at Khartoum, in a document called “The Juba Declaration” (JD).

Among the signatories were Pagan Amun and Riak Machar of the SPLM, Sadiq Al Mahdi of the Umma party, Hassan Turabi of the Popular Congress Party and other well-known figures. These had given the parliament time up to 30 November. They had also considered boycotting the lections and there was talk of the possibility of choosing a single candidate to oppose Bashir.

Not seeing any way forward, the parties to the Juba Declaration organised a demonstration which was meant to be peaceful. Sadiq Al Mahdi even appointed himself promoter of a forum, in which all the parties would have been present, to agree on a code of conduct in the context of the elections and had spoken of this with Bashir himself.

National Congress Party “Loses Face”

The National Congress Party (NCP), fearing that the demonstration might spark off a process threatening the party in power, declared it illegal. The police therefore arrested about thirty demonstrators, among them Pagan Amun, Secretary General of the SPLM, and Yassir Arman, head of the parliamentary SPLM. Khartoum Monitor, an important English language newspaper wrote: “The NCP fails the test of democracy”.

However, there was some movement. A few days later, the NCP and the SPLM reached an agreement on the referendum (if the turnout was not less than 60%, then a majority of 51% would be sufficient for separation) and they agreed to approve the other laws in the near future. The parliamentarians of the SPLM, who had boycotted the works of the parliament, now took their places. But nobody is under any illusions.

According to many analysts, the NCP acted out of political expediency: the lections serve to legitimise the government and protect Bashir from the threat of arrest by the International Criminal Court. However, substantially things are as they were. In fact, on 17 December, the NCP proposed the outline of law on security which would permit the security forces to arrest, search and detain persons at will for up to nine months without trial “for reasons of security”. The SPLM showed its opposition to this but the NCP declared it would have the law approved, even against the wishes of the SPLM. On that same day, a well-placed presidential counsellor declared that the government would not allow any public demonstrations for the same reason.

Appeal by the Churches

In this context we wish to record the important stand taken by relevant church organisations of all denominations.

On 11 December, the conference of the churches of all Africa launched an appeal on the need to carry out the CPA if peace is to be safeguarded in Sudan. “As the Churches of Africa, we believe that this is a unique moment, a kairos, for action. We acknowledge that the responsibility for implementing the CPA falls on the NCP and the SPLM, but all friends of Sudan must play their part in this moment so crucial not only for the Sudan but also the entire region”.

A week later, on 18 December, the episcopal conference of the Catholic Church issued a statement at the end of its annual meeting which this year took place at Torit. The political situation – they wrote – has reached a crucial and decisive point, while important parts of the CPA have still to be implemented. However, the memory of two wars, which together caused four million deaths, does not allow us to risk another conflict. War is evil. But it is a real danger. The bishops remember, among other things, the ethnic violence which exploded in 2008-2009, and the attacks of the Lord’s Resistance Army. They ask that the central government and the government of the South do more and they appeal to civil society, the international community and the religious leaders to see to it that their support and their contribution is not lacking.

NAP

Comboni Lay Missionaries

On December 13, 2009, the Comboni Lay Missionaries held a Commissioning Mass and reception for Andrea and Spencer McSorley and Maggie and Mark Banga, two couples who have just completed a 14-week formation program in the Hyde Park Comboni community in Chicago. These two couples have been commissioned to a three-year missionary service. Fr. Louis Gasparini presided, and the Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Mario Malacrida, Fr. David William Bohnsack, Fr. Peter Premarini and Fr. Paul Joseph Ewers.

As part of the formation program, the two couples shared in the faith life of the Comboni community, attended various workshops and presentations relevant to serving abroad, served at weekly pastoral placements, and delved deeply into the charism and spirituality of St. Daniel Comboni.

Cincinnati’s Nativity Display has special opening

The Comboni Missionaries’ annual Nativity Display has a long history in Cincinnati. It opened in 1947 and has been a tradition for the surrounding community for 62 consecutive years. People come to enjoy the room-sized Bethlehem scene with its moving figures, narrative, music and special lighting. While the number of visitors, coming for the first time or returning year after year, is always impressive, those at the Comboni Mission Center are always looking for ways to bring in even more guests to visit not only the display but also the museum and to share stories with the priests who welcome them.

This year, the number of first-time guests has been impressive. Something new this year – and very well received – was a special two-hour opening with choir, musicians, and activities for children. A room filled with handmade Nativity sets – also new this year - was a big attraction. The sets were collected from places around the world where the Comboni Missionaries work.

Fr. Archie Fornasari retires from CTU

The Catholic Theological Union (CTU), the largest Roman Catholic School of Theology and Ministry in the United States began as a major collaborative effort by three religious Institutes that came together to share space, libraries, staff, and finances. This unique experience, put into motion just after the close of the Second Vatican Council, was a huge success. It gave seminarians the opportunity to learn in an environment of diversity and ecumenism. Today, men and women, both religious and lay, study together as they prepare for a life of ministry.

Students have come from all over the world, Comboni Scholastics being among them in impressive numbers. And there to welcome them, encourage them, and teach them was Fr. Archie Fornasari. For 32 years he offered his teaching gifts and committed service to the CTU. This year, however, Fr. Archie retired from his position as faculty member. He has left good memories with all who knew him. As the President and Dean of Studies, at a special CTU retirement celebration Fr. Archie has been recognized as an “outstanding professor, contributor in forming the charter of the institute with missionary trust and global vision for justice in the business and political world and in the Church.”

Let us pray for our beloved dead

THE MOTHER: Iris, of Fr. Giorgio Poletti (I).

THE BROTHERS: Vittorio, of Bro. Giovanni Girelli (ET); Edouard, of Bro. Pascal Abotsi Koffi Afunonemu (ET); Thomas, of Fr. Patrick Michael (M-Z) and Fr. Denis Francis Wilkinson (NAP); Giovanni Battista, of Bro. Giuseppe Manara (KH).

THE SISTER: Lucia, of P. Luigi Penzo (I).

THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. M. Valentina Borgato, Sr. Agnese Canale.

THE SECULAR COMBONI MISSIONARIES: Maria Joaquina Martins de Sousa, Giuseppina Altadonna.