Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
Consulta of March-April
The Superior General and his Council are gathered in Rome in Consulta from 21 March to 15 April.
The General Council has appointed as Vice-Provincials:
Fr. Benito De Marchi - London Province.
Fr. Katsan Fodagni Kokouvi (Fidèle) - Chad.
Fr. Francesco Antonini - Mozambique.
Fr. Luigi Zanotto - NAP.
Fr. Joseph Maku - Uganda
Still to come: Colombia.
Meeting of provincials and delegates in Rome
The General Administration of the Comboni Missionaries and the provincial and delegation superiors met in Rome from 20 February to 13 March. The first two days were devoted to reflection upon the exercise of authority as a service to the mission. Speaking on the theme, Fr. Enrique Sánchez González, superior general, outlined the following values: authenticity, coherence, listening, compassion, mercy and truth. Fr. David Glenday emphasised that authority in the Institute is exercised in the context of two fundamental relationships: that with Jesus, the source of all authority in the Christian community, and that with St. Daniel Comboni.
On 6 March, the participants went on pilgrimage to Assisi, the homeland of St. Francis, the saint who challenged society and the Church of his time.
During the second week, the recent events in North Africa and the Nile region were remembered and relived through the testimony of Fr. Paul Annis, delegate of Egypt, and that of the provincial of Khartoum, Fr. Angelo Giorgetti, and the provincial of South Sudan, Fr. Daniele Moschetti, who spoke of the sufferings, joys and hopes of these peoples who have just begun to celebrate their liberty.
Another important moment of the encounter was the intervention of Dr. Fiorella Capasso, a woman consultant in socio-psychology, according to whom the Comboni Missionaries must “take up the challenge of the language of our time and be more open to what is new in order to understand the changes spoken of in the latest documents of the Institute".
The General Secretaries of the Institute presented to the provincials their reports on the activities they had undertaken and those foreseen for the next triennium. These were privileged occasions which defined the type of institutional communication which must be in place between the GA, the general secretaries and provincials and delegates.
During the third and final week, efforts were made to increase among the participants better acquaintance of one other, involvement in formation, reflection and the sharing of experiences in guiding the Institute. Fr. Arnaldo Baritussio and Fr. Danilo Cimitan emphasised the key points of the Code of Conduct, now in force in the Institute, in the light of recent Church documents.
Fr. Sylvester Hategek’Imana, provincial of Uganda, Fr. Alcides Costa, provincial of Brasil South and Fr. Josef Altenburger, provincial of Germany, presented the situation of their respective continents, underlining the ongoing drop in numbers of both communities and missionaries, the difficulty in finding qualified and available personnel to carry on the internal activities of the provinces and the ageing of the confreres.
Fr. Angelo Giorgetti, Fr. Daniele Moschetti and Fr. Paul Annis also spoke of the World Social Forum and the Comboni Social Forum which were held at Dakar from 3 to 12 February, 2011, encounters considered crucial in order to become aware of the social problems of the world of today and, at the same time, to evangelise and carry out mission promotion in a multicultural and interreligious society.
Fr. Raffaello Savoia, delegate of Columbia, presented the pastoral activity of the Comboni Missionaries among people of African descent and the contribution of the magazine “Iglesia Sin Fronteiras” in promoting the rights of the African-American peoples in Columbia and Ecuador. The relevance of the theme is associated with the fact that the United Nations has proclaimed 2011 as the International Year of People of African Descent.
The vicar general, Fr. Alberto Pelucchi, using statistics on the number of communities and confreres from the year 200 until today, presented a comparative reflection on commitments and missionary personnel in the Institute. Between 2000 and 2011, the number of members diminished by 154. Of the present members, 526 are over 70 and 252 are between 61 and 70. In the view of Fr. Pelucchi, these facts must certainly condition the government of the Institute in planning and mobilising personnel.
Bro. Daniele Giusti, general assistant, spoke of some reorganisation processes being carried out in other religious Institutes which have experienced similar situations to that of the Comboni Missionaries.
On Ash Wednesday the participants spent the day in reflection and prayer to commence the Lenten journey. The preacher, Fr. Manuel João Correia, invited the participants to live the time of Lent as a time “for offering the Word of God a fixed abode; for purifying the temple of the heart; for recognising and welcoming the Lord; for speaking with him face to face; for allowing oneself to be disturbed, keeping the door of the heart always open; for becoming aware of deceitful and erroneous paths and moving towards the beauty of the Paschal Light”.
Holy redeemer Guild
April 01 – 15 DSP 16 – 30 E
May 01 – 07 ET 08 – 15 ER 16 – 31 IT
April – That Lent may help us to examine closely our relationships with Our Lord and with others, to obtain from the Risen One renewed vocational and missionary zeal. Let us pray.
May – That Mary may become the model of our lives, since she is the ever-available servant of the Lord, the Virgin who brings Christ to the world. Let us pray.
Fr. Rinaldo Ronzani has taught liturgy and sacramental theology at Tangaza College in Nairobi, for some years, as well as being the coordinator of the Liturgical Project for Paulines Publications in Africa. This new work has borne fruit in the form of nine books he has published in English. Here are four of them.
- Christian Healing, The Anointing of the Sick. Paulines Publications, 2007, 144 pp.
- Conversion and Reconciliation, The Rite of Penance. Paulines Publications, 2007, 205 pp.
- Christian Initiation, Baptism and Confirmation, Paulines Publications, 2007, 191 pp.
- Apostolic Ministry, The Sacrament of Holy Orders. Paulines Publications, 2010, 216 pp.
BRASIL DO SUL
Priestly and missionary feast
On 18 March, 2011, at the chapel of the Sanctuary of “Santa Cruz da Reconciliacao”, we celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving for the fiftieth year of priesthood of Fr. Bartolomeo Lino Cordero, Fr. Luigi Falone, Fr. Vincenzo Santangelo and Fr. Primo Silvestri. The celebration was enlivened by hymns and the testimonies of the four priests, all of whom are working in São Paolo, and was attended by scholastics and confreres, several members of nearby religious Institutes and friends.
The testimony of the four Comboni priests provided an important occasion for mission promotion to make known, as well as their own personal histories, what they have done for the Church in Brazil and especially for the parishes where they served, despite the early difficulties they faced in their apostolate.
Our four Comboni celebrants spent most of their missionary service in Brazil, apart from some periods of rotation. Fr. Luigi came to Brazil in 1962, Fr. Primo in 1963, Fr. Vincenzo in 1966 and Fr. Bartolomeo in 1968. They worked as parish priests, missionary animators, formators and vocations promoters. We thank the Lord for the witness of their faithfulness to the missionary vocation, to the service of the poorest and most abandoned and their dedication to the people of Brazil.
The Vicariate of Kuwait becomes the Vicariate of Northern Arabia
As already announced in all the parishes of the Persian Gulf, with effect from 31 May, 2011, the Apostolic Vicariate of Kuwait will no longer be confined to Kuwait, as hitherto, but will now include Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It will be called the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia. It will be seven times the area of Italy. Kuwait numbers around 350.000 faithful while Qatar must have even more. There are fewer in Bahrain, while Saudi Arabia counts 1,400,000. However, all non-Islamic worship is severely forbidden under pain of immediate imprisonment, as actually happened some months ago. In spite of this, the bishop carries out his pastoral visit every year. The Holy See wished to even out the area of both vicariates: that of Kuwait was very small while the other was extremely large and had a large number of faithful. The purpose was to ensure more uniform pastoral care in the whole of the Persian Gulf and, above all, that there should be the possibility of personnel exchange within and between the two vicariates. Comboni, we may now say, has reached the heart of Islam. I would never have thought that I might become Bishop of Mecca and Medina.
The other vicariate will include the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Oman and will be called the Apostolic Vicariate of Saudi Arabia. Both vicariates have been placed under the protection of Our Lady of Arabia who was chosen as patroness of the Vicariate in 1957. On 16 January, 2011, in Kuwait, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, proclaimed her Patroness of both vicariates and so of the whole of the Gulf. Liturgical texts on the theme of Mary of the Missions in the Gulf were approved by the Congregation and used by the Cardinal during the celebration with the degree of a solemnity. (Mgr. Camillo Ballin)
Celebrations in Verona for the 180th ‘birthday’ of Comboni
During the week following 13 March, various celebrations took place in Verona to mark the 180th anniversary of the birthday of Anthony Daniel Comboni (15 March, 1831) and the 130th of his death (1881), in the context also of the 50th anniversary of the independence of many African countries and the birth of the new state of South Sudan.
On Sunday, 13 March, at the Mother House the community and a good number of relatives celebrated a Mass in memory of Comboni’s parents (his father Luigi and his mother Caterina-Domenica Pace) and the departed parents and relatives of the missionaries of the Comboni Family.
On Monday, 14 March, in the Auditorium della Gran Guardia (Piazza Bra), an African and Comboni evening was held entitled: “C’è del nuovo in Africa - Il Continente, Comboni e noi” (There is something new in Africa – the Continent, Comboni and ourselves). The three main relaters were: Professor Gianpaolo Romanato (historical profile), our superior general, Fr. Enrique Sánchez González (testimony on the charism) and the Ugandan Rose Busingye (an African experience). The event was promoted and carried out by the “Rivela” association, together with ‘Communion and Liberation’, with the collaboration of the Comboni Missionaries and the Mazza Institute. More than 500 people attended the celebration.
On Tuesday 15 March, a plaque was unveiled in Via Seminario 12, adjacent to the Diocesan Seminary, on the wall of the building bought by Comboni and which was the second seat of the Institute of Missioni Africane from 1871 to 1892, the year in which the Institute was transferred to the present Mother House. In that building the Institute became a Religious Institute (1885); it was there that the first Sons of the sacred Heart did their novitiate and took their first vows (1887) and it was from there that the first Comboni Missionaries left for Africa.
Among those present at the inauguration of the plaque were our Fr. General, the Superior general of the Mazza Institute, the Rector of the diocesan seminary and various Comboni Priests, Brothers and Sisters.
On 17 March, at the diocesan church-museum of St. Fermo, the exhibition of the work (paintings, sculptures and graphics) of young artists from all over Italy and two from abroad, who took part in the competition “Africa e Daniele Comboni - Appassionante avventura” (Africa and Daniel Comboni – an inspiring adventure), was inaugurated. The exhibition will be open until 3 April. Thanks to the help given by sponsors, a catalogue was printed and prizes were provided for the best works. Details of the winners will also be published by Nigrizia, PM, ComboniFem and Afriradio magazines. This will add to the Comboni collection of pictures.
On 19 March at Palace of Reason in Piazza dei Signori, the exhibition entitled “Cento cuori per amare l’Africa – L’avventura missionaria di San Daniele Comboni” (A hundred hearts to love Africa – the missionary adventure of St. Daniel Comboni) was inaugurated. It was organised by the “Rivela” association with our cooperation. It had already been successfully shown at the Rimini Meeting in August, 2010. Next to the exhibition the essays of the schoolchildren who took part in the competition “Alla scoperta dell’Africa sulle tracce di Daniele Comboni” (Discovering Africa in the footsteps of Daniel Comboni) were displayed.
On the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, the Fabriano-Fedrigoni Group and the University of Trent produced a copybook dedicated to Daniel Comboni since he was voted one of the 150 most loved Italians on the website: www.150italiani.it. The copybook was delivered to the Mother House on the evening of March 17.
These are just small events but they help to bring St. Daniel Comboni into the heart of the country, the Church and the African mission.
Robbery at the Provincial House
At around 8.00 pm on the night of Saturday, 12 March, 2011, a group of men armed with machine guns and pistols stormed the premises of the Comboni Missionaries on Ngong Road. For almost half an hour they held four elderly priests they found there at gunpoint. At the gate, the leader of the gang had introduced himself as a GSU officer attending prayers at the Camp where Fr. Romeo De Berti (the local and provincial treasurer) goes every Sunday to pray, showing the watchman a fake identity card. After ransacking the room of Fr. Romeo, they asked for the room of Fr. Renato Kizito Sesana.
When informed that Fr. Kizito was absent, they forced the door to his room open and ransacked it. They took a laptop computer and a sum of money that was meant to provide scholarships to needy secondary school students. Fortunately, only the rooms of the treasurer and that of Fr. Kizito were raided, leaving the more than twelve other rooms untouched.
Handover of the Parish of St Teresa of the Child Jesus
On 27 February, the parish of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus in Maxanga was handed over to the diocese. Fr. Francisco de Assis Colombi was appointed to represent Fr. José Luis Rodríguez, the provincial who was then in Rome with his fellow provincials for a meeting with the General Administration.
The Eucharistic celebration was held at Cindawe, in the open air, and began at 9.20. Everything was well organised. There was a large number of children from the school and members of the parish community in attendance. The Archbishop of Beira, Mgr. Jaime Pedro Goncalves, in telling the story of the parish from the time of the arrival of the first Franciscans, gave thanks for the handing over of the parish and for the work the Comboni Missionaries over many years.
The liturgy was enlivened by the beautiful hymns of the choir. The act of consignment was read at the offertory and immediately signed by those present and the parish coordinators. A message of thanks by the Comboni Province was also read out. The ceremony was concluded with the messages of the parish representatives and those of the school. Dinner was served at 13.30, followed in the afternoon by songs, recitals and other activities.
Comboni Vocations Year
The Portuguese Province has launched a Comboni Year of vocations starting on 15 March of this year, the anniversary of the birth of St. Daniel Comboni. It will conclude on 15 March, 2012.
With the theme “Come, See and Live” and the motto “many are waiting for you”, this year is dedicated to vocations ministry in all its dimensions: prayer, activities, dynamics, strategies and content. It is hoped that this initiative will allow the life, spirituality and work of the Comboni Missionaries to gain new strength from the ministry of animation and vocations promotion.
On 13 March, the Comboni community of Famalicão opened the Vocations Year with a gathering of 200 children. The programme began in the morning with a documentary film on St. Daniel Comboni and a period with Scripture-based hymns, sung by Claudine Pinheiro, a young Christian. To deepen the theme of vocations, three seminars for adults and adolescents were held at the same time with the sharing of vocation testimonies and mission experiences. The day ended with a Eucharistic celebration at which Mgr. Antonio Couto, Auxiliary Bishop of Braga, presided.
Catholic Church celebrates 80 years in Juba
On the Feast of St. Joseph, the Catholic Church celebrated 80 years of its presence in Juba. It was thanks to Fr. Joseph Zambonardi’s tenacity that we were able to cross the White Nile and establish a foothold in Juba, the present capital of South Sudan.
Under the British dispensation, the Catholic missionaries were allowed to operate only on the east bank of the river Nile, while the Anglicans only on the west bank. By the 1920’s, the Comboni Missiona-ries had managed to built a huge mission in Rejaf, some ten miles south of Juba, still on the east bank. They dreamed, however, of having a procure in Juba to supply the various missions they were running in the region. At the insistence of Fr. Zambonardi, the British administration finally gave us the permission to open a community in Juba, in front of Juba Teaching Hospital. The new community was officially inaugurated on March 19, 1931. The chapel for the community and for Catholic patients at the hospital, dedicated to St. Joseph, came later. When the missionaries were expelled from Sudan in 1964, the Juba procure became St. Joseph’s parish and the curia of the archdiocese of Juba.
St. Joseph’s original large chapel, meanwhile, has become too small for the faithful who attend Sunday Mass in Bari, English and Arabic. The parish is building a new edifice planned to accommodate fifteen hundred people. Fr. Abil Nairki Mödi, St. Joseph’s current parish-priest, presented Fr. Zambonardi as a model of commitment to be followed by the Christian community in order to make our presence felt in these complicated times of transition in South Sudan.
Two Comboni communities in the midst of violence
The confreres living in the communities of Old Fangak (diocese of Malakal in Jonglei State) and Mapuordit (diocese of Rumbek in Lakes State) had first hand experience of a new wave of violence that is affecting South Sudan after the January Referendum. In one month, more than 500 people were killed in tribal and militia clashes in four States of South Sudan.
The community of Old Fangak experienced the spillover of George Athor’s attack to Fangak that killed more than 200 people and the ensuing army reprisals.
Mapuordit found itself in the centre of the latest clashes between Dinka Atuot and Jur communities in mid-March. It killed over 30 people and displaced 20,000. Many people took refuge in the mission and hospital compounds.
Although the confreres did not suffer violence, the clashes represented moments of great tension and anxiety they shared with the people they live with.
Let us pray for our beloved dead
THE FATHER: Sante, of Fr. Giovanni Munari (I).
THE BROTHER: Elio, of Fr. Dário Balula Chaves (MZ); Guglielmo, of Fr. Fernando Colombo (SS).
THE SISTERS: Silvia, of Bro. Ciriaco Gusmeroli (U); Marianna, of Fr. Alois Eder (C); Maria Victoria, of Fr. Anton Maier (†).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. M. Beatrice Frerini; Sr. Francesca Luisa Confalonieri.