Thursday March 10th 2011
The General Administration of the Comboni Missionaries met with the Superiors of Circumscriptions in Rome from February 20th until today, March 10th 2011. The aim of the Meeting, which will conclude this evening, was to promote among the participants mutual understanding and formation, reflection and the sharing of respective experiences in guiding the Institute.
The third and final week of the Meeting began with presentations by Fathers Arnaldo Baritussio
and Danilo Cimitan upon the key points of the present ‘Code of Conduct’, and the need to up-date certain provisions in the light of recent Church documents. The Superiors had an exchange of ideas and opinions as to the most profitable use of the ‘Code of Conduct’ and how to proceed in cases which require recourse to Canon Law.
Fathers Sylvester Hategek’Imana (Uganda), Alcides Costa (Brasil South) and Josef Altenburger (German-Speaking Province) presented the actual situation and the ‘Six-Year Plans’ of their respective Provinces. Among the themes underlined were: the progressive decline in the numbers of Communities and Missionaries; the difficulty in finding suitably prepared personnel who are then willing to carry out the ‘internal’ activities in the life of the Province; and the ageing of Confrérès.
Fathers Angelo Giorgetti (Khartoum), Daniele Moschetti (South Sudan) and Paul Annis (Egypt), who had participated at the recent ‘World Social Forum’ and ‘Comboni Theological Forum’ at Dakar, February 3rd - 12th last, recounted their experiences and shared some of the reflections made during the days of the event. “For me, it was a very moving experience to be ‘evangelized’ and take stock of the social problems of the world of today, and at the same time to evangelize and undertake Missionary Animation in a multi-cultural and inter-religious environment” affirmed Father Paul.
On Monday evening, Fr. Raffaello Savoia presented the pastoral work undertaken by the Comboni Missionaries among Latin Americans of African descent, and the contribution of the ‘Iglesia Sin Fronteiras’ Magazine in promoting the rights of the Afro-American peoples of Colombia
and Ecuador. The relevance of the theme was underlined by the fact that the United Nations has proclaimed 2011 as the ‘International Year of the Peoples of African Descent’. In view of this celebration, Fr. Savoia offered participants an opportunity to see the film “I pacificatori del Pacifico”, on the plight of the displaced black and indigenous peoples, who now find themselves amassed around the port city of Buenaventura, on the Pacific Coast of Colombia: a place of violence, terror and the wholesale violation of human rights.
The Vicar-General, Father Alberto Pelucchi, presented Members with a series of statistics with regard to the number of Communities and Confrérès in the Institute from 2000 until 2011, by way of initiating a reflection upon our many commitments and the personnel readily available to meet such commitments. From 2000 until 2011, the Comboni Missionaries have decreased by some 154 Members, and of the present number of 1,470 Confrérès, 526 are more than seventy years of age, and 252 are more than sixty-one years old. According to Fr. Pelucchi, “this reality will undoubtedly condition governance in the Institute with regard to the programming and movement of personnel”.
Br. Daniele Giusti, in turn, offered Members an insight into the re-organization of the structures of government undertaken by other religious Congregations who are experiencing similar difficulties to that of our Institute.
Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, the Superiors of the Comboni Missionaries began the Lenten journey that leads to the joyful mystery of Easter by spending the day in quiet prayer and reflection.
Fr. Manuel João Correia, the retreat-giver, invited the Superiors to live the Season of Lent as a time “to offer a privileged place in our lives to the Word of God and to purify the temple of the heart, so as to recognise and welcome the Lord and speak with Him face to face, so as to allow ourselves be discomforted by Him, so as to always keep the door to our heart open to Him, that we make be truly aware of the pitfalls that await us along the way and to journey on towards the brightness of the Light of Easter”. “I invite you - said the Missionary - to live the Season of Lent, as a journey «from the ashes on one’s head on Ash Wednesday to the water on one’s feet on Holy Thursday» (Tonino Bello), to make a journey, that is, from the head to the feet, in humility, service and love”.