Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus



Beginning on 1 January, 2011:

Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla Provincial Superior of Chad

Fr. Raffaello Savoia Delegate for Colombia

Fr. Mariano Tibaldo General Secretary for Evangelization

Fr. Arlindo Ferreira Pinto Person in charge of the CLM, Institute-level Coordinator of the JPIC sector and of our website

Fr. Manuel Alves Pinheiro de Carvalho Formator and Superior of the Scholasticate of Lima

Perpetual Professions

Sc. Ivardi Ganapini Filippo (I)        Moissala (TC)             20.01.2011

Ordinations to the Priesthood

Fr. Cortés Barbosa Fernando (M) Cabo S. Lucas, BCS, M  08.01.2011

Holy Redeemer guild

February              01 – 15 BS           16 – 28 CA

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

Prayer Intentions

February – That our sick and elderly Confreres, Sisters and Seculars may feel appreciated in their fragility and discover the importance and efficacy of prayer and suffering to the proclamation of the message of Christ. Let us pray.

March – That the example and intercession of Saint Joseph, who placed his life and talents at the service of the Redeemer and of the Mother of God, may lead many young people to decide to serve the Lord in the Missionary Church as Comboni Brothers. Let us pray.


Jubilee of Independence

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) - the official name of our great Country (not to be confused with the other Congo across the river with its capital at Brazzaville) – celebrates fifty years of independence this year.

In 1960 it began its journey towards political, administrative and economic autonomy with a long and dramatic process. Some may remember the bloody Simba revolution with its many victims among the local population and foreign missionaries and the deplorable massacre of the Italian pilots at Kindu.

On June 30, last, the anniversary of the passing of power into the hands of the Congolese, Kinshasa welcomed scores of European and African heads of state with euphoria and President Joseph Kabila seems to have succeeded in giving the impression that Congo is on the right path. However, the real situation is more complex than that.

Experts who have analysed the results of the past fifty years may be divided into two groups. There are the pessimists who would have preferred a public admission of failure: “One does not celebrate failure or political and social meltdown”.

Then there are the optimists who had their way and celebrated the event stating that fifty years is too short a period to evaluate the development of a nation and that it was necessary to highlight the progress achieved and decide upon the goals to be reached in the coming years.


Divine Providence Hospital: New Maternity Department

On Thursday, 30 December, 2010, the new maternity department was opened. It has eighteen modern beds donated by the directors of the famous Mangiagalli Clinic of Milan. Present at the opening were: Mgr. Eugenio Arellano Fernández, Vicar Apostolic of Esmeraldas, Mayor Gustavo Samaniego, Dr. Maria Ferrari and Dr. Irene Spreafico of the gynaecology department, some doctor friends who work at Mangiagalli Clinic who came especially for the occasion, many hospital workers, Comboni Missionaries and Comboni Sisters as well as some Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

The hospital was built in the fifties by Fr. Lino Campesan with the help of the late Mgr. Angelo Barbisotti, administered for many years by the Comboni Missionary Sisters and is now run by the Sisters of Charity. It is the only qualified hospital in the entire area of northern Esmeraldas with a catchment population of 70,000 people. It has sixty beds for admissions. Thanks to the great work of Dr. Irene Spreafico, a laywoman with a remarkable Comboni spirit, who has worked in the training of nurses and in medical and gynaecological assistance in the maternity department, there has been a notable reduction both in infant and maternal mortality at the hospital. In 1998, there were 260 deaths among the babies born there as well as 10 maternal deaths due to sepsis, pre-eclampsia and haemorrhage; in 2010, during which there were 1246 births, there was only one maternal death in childbirth and twelve infant deaths due to various illnesses.

This is indeed a great achievement and it was spoken of in the speeches made by the authorities from the department of health of the Ministry of Public health during the course of the blessing and inauguration. The work of the Comboni Missionaries is forging ahead in the field of public health, education and evangelisation with the proclamation of Gospel values.

Both the Provincial and the Bishop thanked Dr. Irene, the volunteer doctors who serve for some months of the year and the international administration of the Mangiagalli Clinic of Milan which will continue with the building and enlargement of the new obstetrics centre with its three delivery rooms, one of which is “intercultural” in which the indigenous women (Epera, Awas and Chachi) may give birth following their own traditions, without any danger. The project also includes the construction of a house to receive poor women with difficult pregnancies coming from rural areas and from the villages along the river banks of northern Esmeraldas.

Meeting Families and Relatives of Ecuadorian Missionaries

Just before Christmas, following the custom, as a sign of friendship and brotherhood, the province gathered the families and friends of our missionaries who work in the ‘missio ad gentes’ for a Eucharistic celebration and to share experiences. This year, despite the severe winter and difficulties in travelling, fifteen people took part.

Fr. José Barranco Ramírez presented his missionary work in the field of TV and spoke of his journey in August and September to visit Kenya and Sudan to gather material for a documentary on the life of Fr. Alberto Ferri who died a year ago.

In the coming years, in order to avoid difficulties in travelling, the Guayaquil community will be asked to organise the meeting for those who live in the city or nearby.

The Province, as a fraternal sign, sent a Christmas gift to each of the Ecuadorian missionaries who at this moment are working in Africa and to the scholastics in Brasil.


Assembly on Missionary Animation and Evangelisation

From 10 to 13 January, 2011, about forty confreres gathered, as it’s now the custom, at Pesaro, for the Assembly for Missionary Animation and Evangelisation (MA/EV) of the Italian Province. The theme this year was: AM/EV in society, in the local Church and the youth missionary pastoral care.

There were three important parts to the Assembly: mutual listening to the reports of what those who work in MA/EV are achieving in the territory of the peninsula; listening to and encountering other voices and experiences by other missionary forces; yearly planning.

Listening to each other showed us how much work and generosity there is, despite the shortage of personnel and advancing age.

Fr. Piero Masolo, a young PIME missionary and member of the coordination centre towards a world-view education, of Milan, assisted us to understand the challenge of working in a youth-dominated planet. This is a challenge which commits us to the use of new language, new approaches and new ways of being present, whether in the schools or the parishes or youth groups.

Don Antonio Sciortino, director of the magazine “Famiglia Cristiana”, began by giving us a wide view of the social and ecclesial situation in Italy and told us bluntly that it is up to us missionaries to help the Church to proclaim the Gospel with a more accentuated prophetic spirit. As missionaries, in fact, we still enjoy credibility on the part of the ecclesial communities, the movements and the organisations within civil society; this must move us to be more daring and to align ourselves always on the side of the weakest, especially of the immigrants (a challenge and a resource for western countries), of the youth who live in precarious conditions and the families which, half way through the month, find it difficult to put food on the table. Unfortunately, even in Italy the gap between rich and poor is widening (10% of the population own 50% of goods) with the workers and manual labourers who grow poorer by the day.

Finally, the Assembly chose the priority areas in which to work at local and zone level, pinpointing particular aspects according to the context in which one lives and works; among other things, the zones chose the urgent need to become part of the local Church, immigration and the pastoral of New Styles of Life as a sign of solidarity with the poor in Italy and in the south of the world.

These priorities will be monitored and evaluated periodically in the various zones of the province by means of informal meetings.


Partnership New People-TV2000

New People Media Centre has signed an agreement with TV2000, the television network of the Italian Episcopal Conference, to collaborate in “Mentre”, a daily program which features testimonies by missionaries and volunteers working in different parts of the world. The program seeks to show not only what those persons are doing but also what drives them to commit themselves to such a service.

Since 22 November, New People links, via satellite, three times a week with “Mentre” to present experiences of mission and cooperation from Kenya and other African countries, told live by their protagonists. The testimonies of the missionaries and volunteers are accompanied by images of their activities filmed by NPMC. “Mentre” can be watched on weekdays on Internet,, from 17 to 18 hours (Nairobi time), or 15 to 16 hours (Rome time).

Reflection Group on Islam

“Personal law in Islam and its implications to dialogue” was the topic of the seminar of the “Reflection Group on Islam”, held in Nairobi from 15 to 20 of November. It was organised by Dar Comboni – Cairo, the Comboni Centre for Arabic and Islamic Studies. The representatives of the Comboni Provinces of Africa contributed with papers detailing the situation between Christians and Muslims in their country, specifying the way the Islamic personal law is interpreted and applied, and outlining the pastoral implications for the marriages between a Muslim and a Christian and for the relationships between the faithful of the two religions.

A Web Page is under construction to offer the material produced in and for the seminar and to open a discussion forum among all who are interested.


The Referendum

As was established in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, the eagerly-awaited Referendum which give the citizens of South Sudan the possibility to choose their own future in a united Sudan or an independent South Sudan, took place from 9 to 15 January, 2010.

Contrary to what was feared, all went very well, with such efficiency and good order that there can be no doubt as to the validity of the plebiscite, thanks also to a remarkable mobilisation both on the part of the government of the South and that of the international community. Results from the various centres have begun to come in but the final results will not be known until mid-February. However, there is no doubt whatever regarding the outcome. A high percentage of voters turned out, well above the required 60%. In the South, it would seem that more than 95% voted in favour of separation.

The Church in the North is facing difficult times. The number of faithful has gone down drastically as can be seen from the number of children still at the schools for refugees and the number of people present at liturgical celebrations. The Sudan Council of Churches organised three days of reflection on the situation and suggested some important policies to follow. On its part, the Diocese of Khartoum, led by His Eminence Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, is organising fortnightly conferences for all the clergy, to follow the development of the situation and to enjoy moments of solidarity and mutual support in these tense times during which the priests are witnessing the departure of so many of their faithful.


Provincial Assembly

From 10 to 15 January, 2011, the provincial Assembly took place for planning and in view of the Six-year Plan. Among those present were 34 Comboni Missionaries, Sr. Laura Malnati, Provincial Superior of the Comboni Missionary Sisters and the CLM Lourdes Vieira. The meeting took place at Marera (diocese of Chimoio), a very suitable location.

The theme chosen for the Assembly was: “The Pastoral Work of the Comboni Missionaries in Mozambique”, placed in context by the contributions of Fr. Romão (diocesan) and Jesus (Missionaries of Africa) who presented the situation of the local Church in recent times and the presence of consecrated persons in Mozambique.

There followed all the reports of the last six years and those of the secretariats. This panorama helped us to take on the work of preparing the Six-year Plan 2011-2016: “From the Plan of Comboni to the Plan of the Comboni Missionaries in Mozambique”.

The meeting ended with a Mass during which two important moments were emphasised: the official confirmation of the new provincial Fr. José Luis Rodríguez López, and thanksgiving for the much appreciated presence of Fr. Massimo Robol (the outgoing provincial) and that of Fr. Davide De Guidi.

Vocations Promotion and Basic Formation

The Secretariat for Vocations Promotion and Basic Formation has prepared Educational Charters for each stage of formation, aiming to take account of the experiences of recent years, former Charters and, naturally, the documents of the Institute.

One of the weak points of Formation is evidently the all too frequent change of formators and their too personal influence. The Charters should guarantee, even where there are changes of personnel, the continuity and clarity of the Comboni formative proposal.

Another weak point (which might even seem positive) is the fact that those in formation were allowed to lead the programme somewhat... meaning that they decided the rhythm of the formation process. These Charters wish to underline the formative proposal of the Institute: a clear and demanding proposal which the person in formation must not challenge but accept. It was noted, however, that the number of candidates is increasing each year.


Handing over the Parish of Cerro de Pasco

On 26 December, 2010, the Feast of the Holy Family, we gathered at the church of San Juan Pampa, at Cerro de Pasco, to celebrate the conclusion of our presence there. Mgr. Richard Alarcón Urrutia, Bishop of Tarma, accompanied by ten or so concelebrants, presented the new parish priest: Don Marlon Antonio Rivera Espinoza, a diocesan priest.

He thanked God for the gift of the Comboni Missionaries who accompanied this community right from its beginnings and who, faithful to the charism of the Founder, knew that the time had come to hand it over to their successors. He also mentioned that the diocese itself has Comboni roots and invited it to remember its missionary origins. The parish family should take its inspiration from the Holy Family of Nazareth and always keep alive the memory of the missionaries who worked in that mission.

Immediately afterwards, Fr. Giampietro Pellegrini, the last Comboni parish priest, read the diocesan Decree handing over the parish and nominating the new parish priest for a term of six years. There followed speeches by the President of the Parish Council, the Mayor of Yanachancha and the new parish priest who pointed out that we are a pilgrim Church “which lives the past with gratitude, the present with courage and strength and the future with joy and hope”. In conclusion, Fr. Rogelio Bustos Juárez thanked the local Church which made us welcome for all these years, in the person of its Bishop, adding that we leave happy with the service we carried out, knowing that we leave a Christian community capable of continuing their journey by using its own resources.

After the celebration, a small tree was planted in the garden next to the church as a sign of the community which must always reach out to the heavens and offer its own fruits and shade to those who need them.


Handing over of the parish of Glen Cowie to the diocese

On the 2nd of January, 2010, the Comboni Missionaries handed over to the diocese the parish of Glen Cowie, which they have been serving since it was first started in 1929. Mgr. Joe Sandri of the Diocese of Witbank presided the handing over, with the Eucharistic celebration that in South Africa coincided with the Solemnity of the Epiphany. Fr. David Wanyama Akim, zone superior of the Apostles of Jesus, and Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins, the provincial of the MCCJ, concelebrated in a church full of parishioners. Fr. Jérôme Anakese, the last Comboni priest in charge of Glen Cowie, passed this responsibility to Fr. Canute Shirima, the new priest in charge of the parish. A second priest of the Apostles of Jesus and a member of the newly established community were also present at the celebration. The Apostles of Jesus were welcomed with songs and shouts of joy by the parishioners. One of their Brothers is expected later in January to join them.

Although we Comboni Missionaries are sad to leave the parish, we feel that this is the right choice. We have done an excellent work of evangelization in the whole area, creating vibrant Christian communities all around. We have three Comboni Missionary priests originating from this area and one postulant.

Worthy of mention during the past years is the work of the Comboni Brothers in the mission. They put up a big infrastructure: the beautiful and big church, the residence of the missionaries, a school and a boarding centre, the hospital, the mill, the carpentry, the mechanic workshop and a big farm. All these in the old days made the mission economically self-sufficient. Lately, both for lack of personnel, especially of Brothers, and for the growth of the local community, these infrastructures and commitments were gradually handed over to different entities.

Mgr. Sandri, in his homily, showed his gratitude for the great work done by the Comboni Missionaries in transforming the mission into a centre of integral growth and development. He stressed the fact that when a parish grows and reaches a certain maturity, the missionaries are called to move to another place. The Bishop welcomed the Apostles of Jesus and wished them a fruitful apostolate. He invited the Christians to become more and more self-sufficient also by generously supporting their new priests.

Let us pray for our beloved dead

THE FATHERS: Giacomo, of Fr. Aurelio Balzarolo (CA); Dogumsa’a, of the Sc. Apélété Agnata Salomon Badatana (T).

THE MOTHERS: Malvina, of Fr. Giovanni Munari (I); Angela, of Fr. Rocco Bettoli (A).

THE BROTHERS: Angelo, of Fr. Antonio Ino (P); Christopher, of Fr. Fred Ahiro (KE).

THE SISTERS: Angelina, of Fr. Fernando Colombo (SS); Joaquina, of Bro. Silvério Maria dos Santos (MO).

THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Maria Maesani, Sr. M. Candida Alba, Sr. Lucilliana Bonadiman; Sr. Maurilla Rossini.


Fr. Domenico Valmaggia: Incardinated in the diocese of Como in 1975.