Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus


Communities closed

The GC has decided to close the following Comboni communities:

Rungu - Paroisse (CN): as from 23 June, 2009.

Namokora - Parish (U): as from 1 August, 2009.

Fode - Parish (ER): as from 13 December, 2009.

Nova Venécia - Paróquia (BS): as from 21 February, 2010.

Itupiranga - Paróquia (BNE): as from Easter, 2010.

Ordinations to the priesthood

Fr. Pacheco Z. Mario Alberto        S. Francisco Uruapan (M)    05.12.2009

Fr. Pulido Alvarado Luis Alfredo    Genezano (CO)                  06.12.2009

Fr. Galicia Sandoval Francisco      San Luis Potosí (M)             19.12.2009

Fr. Everaldo de Souza Alves         Minas Gerais (BS)              19.12.2009

Holy Redeemer Guild

February              01 – 15 BS           16 – 28 CA

March                  01 – 07 DCA       08 – 15 EG          16 – 31 EC

Prayer Intentions

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.

March - That the Comboni Missionary Brothers, through the example and intercession of St. Joseph, may be daring witnesses of holiness and fraternity in carrying out their ministries for the growth of the Kingdom. Lord hear us.


Fr. Reinhold Baumann, mccj:Geschichte der Deutschsprachigen Comboni-Missionare” (The History of the German Speaking Comboni Missionaries), published in December 2009, 447 pages. The book narrates the history of the DSP from the erection of the Central African Vicariate in 1847 to 1923 (first part), from 1923 to the reunion of the two Institutes in 1979 (second part) and from 1979 to our present time (third part).

Also the English abridged translation, already published in Archivio Comboniano (87, 88, 89), will soon be edited in book form.

Fr. Antonio Furioli: His article, “Daniel Comboni is available on the website, in French, Italian, Spanish and German. The night of the apostle”, is already published in English in the double number 90-91 of Archivio Comboniano.


Award in memory of Fr. Alberto Ferri

On the occasion of the Christmas concert organised in Bergamo cathedral by the Missionary Centre, the John XXIII Award was presented in memory of Fr. Alberto Ferri, a Comboni Missionary who died on 16 October, 2009. The award was received by the president of the Missionary Group of Cologno al Serio, the birthplace of Fr. Alberto, for the following reason: “Starting long ago in 1963, Fr. Alberto ceaselessly fought for the rights of the local population and, in 46 years of missionary life, he founded six parishes in two dioceses, Esmeraldas and Manabí, along the Ecuadorian coast. He built schools, churches and chapels, and helped to set up cooperatives for fishermen and carpenters as well as technical workshops so that the people of the place could learn to provide for their own needs. In Portoviejo diocese, in the parish of La Catorce – El Paraíso, he founded a cooperative credit fund, to facilitate the sowing of crops with a quick turnover. He died of an incurable disease but had always desired to return to his people to continue his work of preaching the gospel of Jesus by the proclamation of the word and by works of charity”.

The Comboni Province of Ecuador wishes to thank his mother, now more than a hundred years old, and all his family for their assistance during Fr. Alberto’s illness, a time he himself chose to spend with his family. At the request of the Archbishop and clergy of Portoviejo, Fr. Alberto’s remains were returned to the first church he built at Honorato Vazquez where they were interred in the central nave.

The Comboni Missionaries in Ecuador and the tragedy of Haiti

For a number of years now, Fr. José Barranco Ramírez has been presenting weekly missionary promotion programmes on the national Catholic radio and some TV stations in Ecuador, all of which are very much appreciated by the public who follow them with interest.

A few months ago, Fr. José went to Haiti to prepare a series of missionary programmes, conducting interviews and filming numerous people from several continents involved in evangelization and human development.

Haiti is the poorest country in the entire American continent. Forgotten by the nations of the northern hemisphere, it exists in a situation of extreme poverty and isolation. Fr. José emphasised the work of some Missionary Institutes deeply involved in the social, educational and religious fields, especially the Salesians.

He is now taken up with the tragedy of the earthquake in Haiti and his broadcasts have touched the hearts of the people. On 16 January, just a few days after the tragedy which struck this poor country, 150 Haitians gathered for a Eucharistic celebration, at our provincial house in Quito, to remember the victims and to offer assistance to those immigrants now suffering because of their relatives back home.

Many TV stations, including CNN, broadcast Fr. Jose’s message of hope and solidarity to which there has been a widespread and generous response.

We wish to point out that “Vida Misionera” makes documentaries which might also be useful in other provinces of the Institute.


Handing over of Fode Mission

In accordance with the General Council’s decision, on the 13th of December 2009 Fode Mission was handed over to the Eparchy of Barentu. The bishop, Mgr. Tomas Osman, could not be present for the event and sent his vicar general Abba Andemariam Tesfamicael to preside at the Eucharistic celebration. Present at the ceremony were Fr. Sebhatleab Ayele Tesemma, delegate of Eritrea, Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel, the Comboni Sisters from Tokombia, the parish council and the Christian community of Fode central chapel. The Christians thanked the Comboni priests Fr. Mussie Abraham Keflezghi, Fr. Merke Zemicael Tesfazion and the other eleven confreres who served in Fode parish, mentioning in particular the late Fr. José Luis Lizalde Zueco. They expressed their appreciation for the missionaries’ dedication and consistent pastoral method.

Sanctions imposed on Eritrea

On the 23rd of December 2009 the UN Security Council imposed tough sanctions on Eritrea with 13 votes out of 15. Libya voted against while China abstained. The draft was tabled by Uganda. But it had the previous backing of the IGAD countries and the African Union

The reasons are its military, logistic and financial support to the Al Shabab Muslim fundamentalist fighters in Somalia, who have been the main agent of destabilization for a considerable number of years. Another reason is the Eritrean refusal to withdraw from the land it occupied in Djibouti during the clashes in June 2008, when they had a small-scale border conflict. The UN had given both countries five weeks to return to the status quo ante. While Djibouti complied with the demand, Eritrea is allegedly still occupying the Ras Dumera region.

Types of sanctions: a) Arms embargo to and from Eritrea, b) Travel ban and restrictions on government and military leaders, c) Freezing the accounts of government and military leaders abroad. Some call them “smart sanctions” because they target specific people and not the whole population. Foodstuffs, medicines and other business firms are allowed to function, as long as they do not have affiliations with the leadership.

The reaction of the Eritrean Government is that the sanctions are illegal, unfounded and shameful. The government is demanding proofs. Furthermore, it accused the US Department, Uganda and Ethiopia of masterminding the sanctions.

There are mixed feelings among the people. Those supporting the government disagree with the sanctions. The majority however, believe that the situation of the country has finally received international attention.


Vivat International Workshop in Nairobi

The representatives of the eight Missionary Institutes that constitute Vivat International, working in East Africa, Egypt and Middle East, gathered in Nairobi from 11th to 15th January, for a workshop on how to explain the nature and purpose of VIVAT and find ways of cooperation among workers in the mission field and the central executive team based in New York and Geneva.

The participants, divided in groups, prepared a short report on the situation and the specific challenges they face in each country in which they minister. In the Assembly, a short list of pressing problems and the relative attempts to respond to them was highlighted. The sombre vision that came out of the reports was followed by a lecture on the “spirituality of Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC)” as outlined in the encyclical “Caritas in Veritate”, and by an excursus on the tasks and challenges of the JPIC coordination ministry of Vivat International. Much stress was put on the importance of networking and collaboration among its members. VIVAT was born as an answer to such a need.

Vivat International, as explained in its Charter, is a faith-based Non-Governmental organisation (NGO), founded jointly by the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) and the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS), and later joined by six other Missionary Institutes, among them the MCCJ and the CMS.

The name VIVAT is derived from the Latin verb “vivere”, meaning “to live”, and expresses the deep longing for all to exist: “May he/she/it live; may all persons live; may all creation live”. VIVAT’s goals are to engage in advocacy and lobbying on issues of Human Rights, Justice and Peace, at the United Nations, to promote networking and awareness rising among the VIVAT members, to glean the grassroots experiences and insights from its members and bring these to the attention of others, particularly the United Nations, to provide liaison for networking and collaboration with other agencies and NGOs. The strength and power of VIVAT – it was stressed in the workshop – lies in the members at the grassroots level, whose pressure has the power to influence the decision making process at Institutes level and even at the UNO level. “We are all part of the solution to the problems around us”.

The workshop closed with some recommendations, calling: 1) to identify the pressing JPIC issues in the respective areas of work and to forward them to the local JPIC contact person; 2) to request that the leaders of the member Institutes in East Africa, Egypt and Middle East region take active initiatives to ensure collaboration with VIVAT, and to forward the same issues to JPIC coordinators at the level of the Institute; 3) to maintain regular contact with VIVAT team by submitting reports on JPIC activities and disseminating information to members; 4) to establish a local forum to work hand in hand with VIVAT.

The workshop had a follow-up with an open day (Saturday, January 16th) addressed to the young members in formation of the Institutes adhering to VIVAT, present in Nairobi, introducing them to the history, functioning and challenges of VIVAT at the search of possible solutions to problems related to the topics of JPIC in the countries where we serve as missionaries.


Meeting of Comboni Bishops

From 7 to 14 January, 2010, ten Comboni bishops gathered in Khartoum: Mgr. Paolino Lukudu, Archbishop of Juba, Sudan; Mgr. Antonio Menegazzo, Apostolic Administrator of El Obeid, Sudan; Mgr. Cesare Mazzolari, Bishop of Rumbek, Sudan; Mgr. Lorenzo Ceresoli, Vicar Apostolic Emeritus of Awasa, Ethiopia; Mgr. Giovanni Migliorati, Vicar Apostolic of Awasa, Ethiopia; Mgr. Sebastián Martínez Miguel Angel, Bishop of Laï, Chad; Mgr. Michele Russo, Bishop of Doba, Chad; Mgr. Jaime Rodríguez Salazar, Bishop of Huanuco, Peru; Mgr. Giuseppe Franzelli, Bishop of Lira, Uganda; Mgr. Camillo Ballin, Vicar Apostolic of Kuwait. Mgr. Vittorino Girardi also planned to attend but had to withdraw at the last moment. The meeting was coordinated by Mgr. Camillo Ballin. Fr. Arnaldo Baritussio took part on behalf of the General Council.

The meeting consisted of four separate parts.

a) Sharing between the bishops: each one outlined his own diocese and the country where he works. The sharing was very meaningful and very much appreciated, so much so that some wanted it to be given more time.

b) Reflection on four specific themes. 1. The Second Synod of Bishops for Africa. The theme was introduced by Mgr. Giuseppe Franzelli who had taken part in the Synod and come away with a very good impression of it. He emphasised that, if what emerged during the Synod is taken seriously at the level of the local Church, it ought to bear abundant fruit. 2. The XVII General Chapter. The theme was introduced by Fr. Angelo Giorgetti and Fr. Salvatore Pacifico, both delegates of Sudan to the Chapter. Mgr. Ballin, representative of the Comboni bishops at the Chapter also spoke. 3. The conference of Aparecida and Comla. The theme was presented by Mgr. Rodríguez Salazar, the only bishop present from South America, who described in a most interesting way, not only the conference of Aparecida but also the situation of the Church in Latin America. During the sharing that followed, much was said of the ad gentes mission of the Church to the Churches of that continent. 4. Updating on the norms to be applied to cases of priests in irregular situations. There was also an aggiornamento on the work of the Postulator and, in particular, the cause of Mgr. Roveggio. The speaker was Fr. Baritussio, who will be staying in Khartoum until 5 February to work on that cause of Mgr. Roveggio.

c) Contact with the situation of the local Church. It was this third part that characterised the meeting. The arrival of the bishops coincided with the end of the meeting of the Council of priests of the Archdiocese of Khartoum and the annual meeting by the Cardinal with ecclesiastical personnel. Thus, the bishops had the opportunity of meeting not only the Cardinal but also the priests, religious men and women and lay people working in various diocesan offices.

On Sunday morning, they divided to visit various Christian communities in Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman for the celebration of the Eucharist. They afterwards visited the national seminary and the secretariat of the bishops’ conference, as well as a most cordial visit to the Nuncio.

d) Contact with the Comboni reality. The bishops visited the various Comboni communities as well as important places and relevant historical sites. The visit to the room where St. Daniel Comboni died on 10 October, 1881, was especially moving as were the visits to the cemetery of St. Francis where many confreres and Sisters are buried, and the area of Omdurman where the Christians lived during the Mahdia and the starting point from where they left to take up again the work of the mission. Another important event was the meeting with the entire Comboni family present in Khartoum. Around sixty participants, including bishops, priests, Brothers and Sisters, met for a moment of prayer and sharing. The evening was concluded with a fraternal supper.

Conclusion: The meeting was a moment of grace both for the bishops and for the province. We are grateful to God and to the bishops and Fr. Baritussio. Comboni must have rejoiced. The bishops felt at home. They appreciated very much the brotherly and warm welcome and repeatedly emphasised the significance of meeting at the most important Comboni sites. They expressed the wish that the General Administrations of both the Comboni Missionaries and the Comboni Sisters, as well as all 19 Comboni bishops, be present on the next occasion. They decided to meet again next year in Jerusalem. The coordinator will again be Mgr. Ballin.


Against human trafficking

In the context of World Immigrants and Refugees Day, the 10th Meeting of Socio-Pastoral Agents of Migration was held at Fatima. “The role of religious agents in the prevention, accompaniment and struggle against human trafficking”, was the theme of the conference which was held from 15 to 17 January, 2010, with around 100 participants, mostly from the dioceses of Portugal.

Speaking at the meeting, the President of the Confederation of Religious Institutes in Portugal, Fr. Manuel Barbosa, strongly emphasised the need to “go beyond the concern for these problems” but “to deal with them!”. He suggested to work in conjunction with the structures of the local diocesan Church through the diocesan secretariats whose activities are linked to the social promotion not only of the people but also of the parish structures which are better aware of the concrete situations.


Episcopal ordination of Mgr. Giuseppe Filippi

The morning of 19th December 2009 saw Mgr. Giuseppe Filippi, the second Bishop of Kotido Diocese, being consecrated bishop. It was a celebration that was well attended by a huge crowd of Christians from the various parishes that make up the diocese and of Christians from the neighbouring Moroto diocese.

The diocese of Trent in Italy (the home diocese of Mgr. Filippi) was represented by Fr. Lamberto Agostini, Fr. Ruggero Zuccali, three other diocesan priests and friends and members of his own family: Ms Giuliana Filippi, his sister, Claudia Failo, his niece, Mr. Italo Poli, his brother-in-law.

The ordination was witnessed by almost all the members of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, led by the principal ordaining bishop, Mgr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, archbishop of Kampala (who, incidentally, was a classmate of Bishop Filippi during his theological studies at Ggaba National Major Seminary) assisted by Mgr. Denis Kiwanuka Lote, archbishop of Tororo, and Mgr. Giuseppe Franzelli, bishop of Lira. There were also over one hundred priests and many religious men and women. The celebration was characterised by a festive spirit, filled with joy and excitement. For us, Comboni Missionaries, and especially for Mgr. Filippi, it was a manifestation of the people’s love for the missionaries and of their willingness to cooperate with whoever is a messenger of the Good News. The apostolic Nuncio, His Excellency Paul Tschang In-Nam thanked the Comboni Institute for letting go of Mgr. Filippi and allowing him to become the shepherd of the people of Kotido. He extended the same sense of gratitude to the General Council.

The diocese of Kotido is a young diocese. It was erected in 1991 and previously administered by Fr. Bernard C. Phelan, a Mill Hill Missionary. It numbers 21 diocesan priests, sixteen of whom are working in the diocese. Besides them, there are 9 religious priests involved in the diocese: five Comboni Missionary and four Mill Hill Missionaries.

To Mgr. Filippi, congratulations and the support of our prayers!

Let us pray for our beloved dead

THE FATHER: José, of Fr. Ignacio López Toro (M).

THE MOTHERS: Adelaide, of Fr. Emilio Prevedello (I); Maria, of Mgr. Franco Masserdotti (†).

THE BROTHERS: Engracio, of Fr. Juan de Dios Martínez González (M); James, of Fr. Samuel Mbambi Muanda (CN); Mario, of Fr. Luigi Crotti (I).

THE SISTER: Gisela, of Fr. Hubert Unterberger (DSP).

THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. M. Valentina Borgato, Sr. Agnese Canale, Sr. M. Michelina Bertuzzi, Sr. M. Bona Pezzotti, Sr. Rita Lucia Guarda, Sr. M. Camilla Bertocchi.