Monthly newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
9th CONSULTA: 21 March - 15 April 2011
Colombia: Fr. Nascimbene Francesco
London Province: Fr. De Marchi Benito
Mozambique: Fr. Antonini Francesco
North American Prov.: Fr. Zanotto Luigi
Chad: Fr. Katsan Fodagni Kokouvi Fidèle
Uganda: Fr. Maku Joseph
For a complete list: See Insert
Assistant novice master in Santarém (P): Fr. Víctor Manuel Tavares Dias
For the work on the Rule of Life (cf. AC 31.1 ff.; 12.3; 142.1)
After a long time, we were able to appoint the committee that will work on the Rule of Life, as requested by the Chapter, to provide tools to help us to observe our Rules as a useful and necessary means for our commitment as religious and missionaries. The members of this committee are: Fr. Venanzio Milani (coordinator), Fr. Manuel João Pereira Correia, Fr. Carmelo Casile and Fr. Danilo Castello.
For the elaboration of the material on the Ratio Missionis
For the committee that will work on the material of the Ratio Missionis, we have asked Fr. Mariano Tibaldo (coordinator) together with Fr. Jorge García Castillo, Fr. John Baptist Opargiw and Fr. Massimo Robol to begin the work of synthesis and reflection that will help us to recover all the work done by the base in recent years.
During the time of this Consulta we have received from the provinces and delegations a number of six-year Plans that were looked at by the councillors and by the general secretaries who sent us their comments. It seems important to note that, overall, the Plans were drawn up taking into account what was said in the Chapter and also reflect the effort of discernment done in the provinces and delegations to arrive at a programme for the coming years.
One thing that does not seem clear is the issue of re-qualification of our commitments and the necessary reflection on the balance between personnel, number of communities, priority commitments and commitments which we are surely called to give up. Some Plans do not seem to take into account the situation we are experiencing today as Institute; the planning seems to respond to an idea of an expanding mission which surely does not correspond to the present situation.
We have positively appreciated the efforts that some provinces and delegations have made to encourage, in their planning, the work of mission and vocation promotion and their reflection to meet the new missionary challenges in the contexts we work. From a reading of the Plans it seems to emerge the conviction that today we are called to move from a broad idea of the mission, where there is room for all possible activities, to the specific that we are called to implement in a not too distant future.
We hope that these Six-year Plans will help us to boldly live in history this moment of the mission and of the Institute.
Provincial and Delegation Directories
We have also received a number of Directories from the provinces and delegations that have been reviewed in the light of the documents of the last General Chapter. We have decided that the Directories will be studied during the Consulta of June, to give time to all the provinces and delegations to send us their text. We encourage provincials and delegates to send it to us within the month of May, in order to facilitate the work of reading it for approval.
Ongoing Formation in Rome
In these days, the participants of the Renewal Course that takes place in Rome have completed their Roman period and, after the spiritual exercises, went to Limone for a weeklong meeting in our Comboni places. Afterwards they will leave for Egypt and the Holy Land. The environment of the course and the participants’ attitude show that everything is going well.
A short document
The members responsible for ongoing formation in Rome have prepared a short document with guidelines or norms for the reception of the confreres who come to Rome for a period of reflection or for personal accompaniment and who are not part of the communities who are in Rome for courses or studies.
The General Council has received and approved this document as a necessary tool to facilitate the accompaniment and the unambiguous approach to the confreres who will be invited to make use of the help provided by the community of the Centre for Ongoing Formation. This document will be sent to the provincials and delegates so that it may be made known to the people concerned in due course.
Meeting with the General Council of the Comboni Sisters
On March 28 the two General Councils of the Comboni Missionaries and Comboni Sisters, met in the house of the Comboni Sisters for the first of the two annual meetings. During this meeting we shared some issues of common interest, such as cooperation between the two Institutes, the commitments we both have in the radio project in Sudan and the desire to enrich the spiritual journey of our two Institutes. There was also a time of sharing about the progress we have made as Councils since our call to this service in our Institutes. In a fraternal environment we celebrated the Eucharist and afterwards we were invited to lunch with the community of Via Tito Livio.
A year on spirituality
After sending a letter on spirituality to the provinces and delegations, we have received a few comments which make us think that the confreres are working on it and that there is no lack of initiatives. In the Familia Comboniana of April there was an insert carrying a reflection by Fr. John Ikundu. In the coming months we will deal with other aspects of our missionary and Comboni spirituality. We ask the provinces and delegations to create spaces for reflection and prayer to help us deepen our spirituality.
Meeting of Provincials and Delegates
During this Consulta we have been presented with the evaluation of the meeting of the provincials and delegates that took place in Rome from February 20 to March 12. In the opinion of the participants, the meeting was considered rather positive and a necessary know-how and introduction of the provincials to their service. Perhaps we must review the duration of the meeting, because it seems that two weeks may be sufficient. The General Council again thanks all participants for their willingness and commitment shown during the meeting. We think that it has been an important time of sharing among us and an opportunity to improve the present situation of our Institute.
We wish all the provincials, delegates, councillors and all the members of your provinces and delegations a Happy Easter. May the Risen Lord accompany us and enlighten our path and our missionary efforts, so that we may always become witnesses of his life and love for the benefit of all our brothers and sisters.
Journeys/Visits of the members of the General Council
Fr. Enrique Sanchez G.
28 April – 15 May: visit to Asia with Bro. Daniele.
9 – 15 July: in Palencia, Spain, for the meeting with the Formators.
24 July – 1 August in Jerusalem: meeting of the Comboni Bishops.
3 – 25 September: visit to South Africa.
4 – 21 November: visit to Centrafrique and spiritual exercises.
23 – 25 November: meeting of the Superior Generals in Rome.
Fr. Alberto Pelucchi
In May visit to the DSP and attend the provincial assembly 22-26 May.
30 May – 3 June: in London for the meeting of the provincials of Europe.
Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse G.
18 – 25 May: in Gulu (U) for the celebrations of the Centenary and a visit to Lomin (SS).
10 – 30 July: in Palencia, Spain, for the meeting with the Formators.
3 – 25 September: visit to South Africa and spiritual exercises, with the Superior General.
Fr. Antonio Villarino R.
29 April – 22 May: visit to Brazil NE.
26 – 29 May: in Ellwangen for the meeting of the European Mass Media.
In August: visit to the NAP.
Bro. Daniele G. Giusti
28 April – 15 May: visit to Asia, with the Superior General.
4 – 5 July: in Granada for the meeting of the Brothers of Spain.
24 – 26 July: in Palencia for the meeting of the Formators.
15 – 21 August: Latin American Assembly of treasurers in Bogotá.
4 – 11 September: Lomé, assembly of the French-speaking treasurers
1 – 20 November: visit to Chad.
21 – 27 November: assembly of English-speaking treasurers in Cairo.
The General Secretary: notification
Non-European confreres who have received a Residence Permit should bear in mind that they must surrender this document to the authorities when they are leaving Europe. Anyone who did not do so and who still has it with him should bring it with him the next time he comes to Europe; otherwise he may be denied a new Permit.
Re-launching the Work of the Ratio Missionis
The superior general, Fr. Enrique Sanchez González, and his Council have nominated a commission to re-launch the work of the Ratio Missionis. Its members are: Fr. Mariano Tibaldo, general secretary for Evangelization; Fr. John Baptist K. Opargiw, general secretary for Basic Formation; Fr. Jorge Garcia Castillo, general secretary for Mission Promotion and Fr. Massimo Robol who was until recently Provincial Superior of the Comboni Missionaries in Mozambique.
During the March-April, 2011, Consulta, the Superior General and his Council nominated a commission of four confreres to continue the work of the Ratio Missionis which had reached the second phase (seeing, discerning). The work of the Ratio had been suspended to allow time to prepare and carry out the XVII General Chapter of 2009.
In the letter of nomination and convocation of the commission, the members are asked to lay out a plan of work according to the recommendations of the last Chapter in order to enable the Comboni Missionaries to profit by the experience of the first two phases. The ultimate aim of the Ratio is that it may be an instrument of growth to respond in fidelity to the charism to the missionary commitment of the Comboni Missionaries.
The first meeting of the commission took place on 14 April, at the Rome Generalate. It served to form a vision of the immense work hitherto carried out that will be the launch pad of the third phase which will make some concrete proposals for the Comboni mission in this historical period of change being undergone by the world, and with it the Church and the Institute.
Fr. Schmidt Gregor Bog-Dong Bamberg (D) 26.03.2011
Holy Redeemer Guild
May 01 – 07 ET 08 – 15 ER 16 – 31 IT
June 01 – 15 KE 16 – 30 KH
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.
June – That we may learn from the Heart of Jesus the unconditional gift of himself to the Father, the universality of his love for the world and his involvement in the suffering and poverty of humankind. Let us pray.
A time of joy
Our confrere, Gregor Bog-Dong Schmidt, was ordained priest on Saturday, 26 March, 2011. The liturgy of ordination took place at St. Hedwig’s Cathedral right in the centre of the huge city of Berlin, where Gregor comes from. A good number of our confreres were present as well as many other people who filled the spacious cathedral.
The liturgy of the Eucharist and the ordination was led by Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, our neighbour in that city. In his homily, Archbishop Schick elaborated particularly the three evangelical vows and their meaning today. In fact, going along the streets of Berlin – a city of four million inhabitants – one could easily realize another approach to life and faith in a city where Christians are a minority.
Among the faithful, a number of colourful and traditional dresses could not be overlooked. The ladies wearing this special garment indicated that they hailed from Korea! In fact the mother of Gregor, Mrs. Paula Heaok Schwiermann, is a member of the Korean community living in Berlin. Three of her sisters had come all the way from there to celebrate this great event.
The following day, Gregor celebrated the Eucharist in Kreuzberg, a parish church dedicated to our Lady. Kreuzberg is a huge and very poor quarter of Berlin. The homily was delivered by Fr. Christian Herwaz, a Jesuit priest who has lived for many years with the poorest. Accordingly, he talked about being a missionary of the poor today.
New Mission opened among the Gumuz
On 15 March, 2011, the anniversary of the birth of St. Daniel Comboni, the new mission and parish of Gublak was officially opened. It is our second mission among the Gumuz. About ten years ago, after much discernment, the Province of Ethiopia took up the challenge to open a mission of first evangelization, even though this meant reducing the already insufficient personnel of the Vicariate of Hawassa. The people chosen were of the Gumuz at Metekel, to the north of the Blue Nile, a place with a hot climate near the Sudanese border.
The Gumuz are one of the most marginalised peoples of Ethiopia as regards economic and social development. They follow traditional religions for the most part. The first mission was at Gilgel Beles, opened in 2003, with plans in mind to open a second in support of the first which was somewhat cut off from other Comboni communities. Now this dream has become a reality. It is located some 50 Km. from Gilgel Beles in the direction of Sudan. The parish has been dedicated to the Martyrs of Paimol, Daudi and Gildo. These two catechists, who gave their lives in fidelity to the commitment to proclaiming the Word of God, will doubtless be an example and inspiration for this Church made up mostly of young people who, though only catechumens or just recently baptized, are often required to do the work of catechists.
The community is made up of one priest, Fr. Juan González Nunez, one Brother, Luis Humberto González Jimenez, and one Ethiopian scholastic who is doing his missionary experience, Kifle Kintamo.
The Spirituality of the Sacred Heart in St. Daniele Comboni
In the context of the Comboni Year now in course at Limone sul Garda, and following the celebrations of the anniversary of Comboni’s birth, we are organising at Limone a week on the spirituality of the Sacred Heart in the life of Comboni. We are still in the preparatory phase. However, I can assure you of certain matters which may be of use to you in case you wish to make a reservation. Places for those celebrating their fifty years of priesthood are already booked but they are not many, so there is room for more.
Date: from 27 to 30 June.
Speakers: it is expected that Don Mario Trebeschi, among other speakers, will make a significant contribution speaking of the influence of the devotion of St. Daniel Comboni to the Sacred Heart on the clergy of the last century, especially that of Brescia.
Missionary Pastoral Work in Italy
Comboni parish priests and rectors of churches in Italy met in Pesaro from 21 to 23 March, 2011. The meeting was organised by the provincial secretariat for evangelization and mission promotion on the theme: “Promoting a missionary pastoral approach in this country”.
The meeting devoted a good deal of time to allowing those present to get to know each other and to share experiences, to the various initiatives carried out and the opportunities that these commitments offer us to continue being missionary there where the Lord calls us.
The difficulties and challenges of the present day reality and that of our communities not always being prepared and open to accepting a stimulating presence in this country were underlined.
Starting points for reflection and ongoing formation were presented by Fr. Rinaldo Ronzani, Fr. Danilo Castello, Fr. Giuseppe Cavallini and Rev. Sergio Merlini, a Fidei Donum priest.
In the final part of the meeting, the participants re-proposed the need to bee missionary also in Italy with more attention paid to making our parishes and Churches into centres of Comboni missionary spirituality.
Gathering of ACSE
On Sunday 27 March 2011, the Comboni Association for the Assistance of Migrants and Refugees (ACSE in Italian), based in Rome, Italy, held a day of celebration at the Generalate of the Comboni Missionaries.
The president of ACSE, Fr. Venanzio Milani, opened the gathering with words of thanks for the hospitality and by describing the program and the objectives of the day. Words of welcome were offered by the superior general, Fr. Enrique Sanchez González, who referred to the current situations of violence and war and to the heavy migrations of our days from North Africa and in other parts of the world.
The history and the activities of ACSE, from the beginning down to the present day, were presented by Gianfranco Caporossi who referred to Fr. Renato Bresciani, the founder and director of the association for many years and who, “after having spent 10 years in the Sudan and after having experienced in person persecution and expulsion, discovered in Italy, in Rome, new forms of poverty.” Thus, in 1969 ACSE was born. The operational structure of ACSE is subdivided in many services that are closely interconnected: Secretarial service, first contact and consultation; legal help; family care; health and dental clinic; basic food and clothing needs; Italian and English language classes; university formation for international students; computer courses; editing of the “Tam Tam” publication and many other social and pastoral activities. The pastoral service takes into account the various cultures and religious practices of the migrants and is mostly in the hands of the director of the ACSE centre, Fr. Claudio Crimi.
After the presentation of Fr. Antonio Villarino Rodriguez, assistant general, who spoke on San Daniel Comboni as a man and prophet of liberation, there followed the celebration of the Eucharist in the Congolese rite, and a dinner in fraternal communion. In the afternoon, Corradino Mineo, director of RAINEWS 24, spoke on “Information North-South of the world and Africa today,” where the flow of communication and information in the global world is dominated by ideological, political and economic powers.
The day of conviviality of the ACSE ended with the witness of some of the migrants and the final greetings of Fr. Claudio Crimi and the Comboni Sister Dariamaria Gabardi.
European Comboni group for Immigrants (GCEI, in Italian)
The Comboni Missionaries of Europe working in the pastoral assistance of immigrants met for the first time in Rome from 31 March to 3 April. The purpose of the meeting, organised by the secretariat for evangelization of the Italian province, was to know about and discuss pastoral experiences carried out and to adopt a common approach.
The first day began with the description of various experiences from: Italy (5 representatives), Spain (4 representatives), Portugal and the DSP. The London Province representative could not attend but sent a report of its activities. The general coordinator of JPIC, Fr. Arlindo Ferreira Pinto and the general secretary for evangelization, Fr. Mariano Tibaldo, also attended. There were interventions by the general assistant in charge of JPIC, Fr. Antonio Villarino Rodríguez, and the General Secretary for mission promotion, Fr. Jorge García Castillo.
On the second day, the voice of the local Church was heard with the address given by the Director of the Office for the Pastoral Care of Immigrants in Italy and of the refugees of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Fr. Gianromano Gnesotto. The participants also came to know more about the serious problem of human trafficking ands sexual exploitation, thanks to Sister Eugenia Bonetti, a Consolata Missionary.
The last part of the encounter was dedicated to reflection on the most important topical and urgent aspects which emerged in order to define the general basis for a European Comboni style of service towards immigrants within our charism.
All the European provinces are implementing this priority of the mission of our Institute in this continent, orienting themselves towards a service to immigrants in an environment where there are high levels of immigration. Some provinces are financially committed in projects of assistance towards immigrants by meeting the annual expenses.
The groups prepared a communiqué on the serious situation which wa created at Lampedusa with the arrival en masse of immigrants from North Afrrica. It expressed solidarity and closeness towards the “generosity of the people of Lampedusa and the commitment of the local Church of Agrigento” and appealed to “the sensitivity of the Italian people, the civil authorities and the Church in Italy so that they may agree to welcome these brothers and sisters of ours”.
Celebration at Msamba, Lilongwe
On Sunday, 3 April, we celebrated with joy the return to the sacraments of a large group of families: 52 couples in all. After the usual procedure of preparation and catechesis through the small Christian communities , the “spouses” had a week of intense spiritual preparation during which various speakers from the movement for Catholic families conducted conferences alternatively. Since not all the spouses were Catholic, the theme of spiritual retreat was based upon the concept of the family in the project of God.
On the preceding Friday, we celebrated the rite of reconciliation, adapting it to the circumstances: discovering the personal encounter with God in the sacrament of confession as a sign of the mutual reconciliation between husband and wife who asked pardon of each other for having lived in concubinage for such a long time and thus making the reception of Holy Communion impossible. There followed the symbolic washing of hands as a preparation for receiving Holy Communion, the spiritual food, relating this to the custom of washing hands before taking material food.
On Sunday, the Catholic spouses renewed their Baptismal promises and re-lit the Baptismal candle (extinguished by their concubinage). There followed the blessing of Baptismal water and the sprinkling of the entire assembly as a sign of reconciliation with the entire Christian community to the accompaniment of hymns of joy. Once the Mass was over the rite of marriage was celebrated with the exchange of rings and the final blessing which ended with the words “what God has joined together let no man put asunder”.
Finally there were the mandatory speeches, great ululations and souvenir photographs. Not to be ignored, naturally, was that a number of women being married had two of their daughters holding their bridal dress. The next phase to be held in May will be for them when they will be baptized. This will be another great celebration with more than 100 children to be christened.
Such is missionary life! (P. Silvestro Zanardi)
On April 9, the Commission of Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) of the Portuguese Religious Institutes gathered in Fatima to reflect on the mechanics and on the implications of the current crisis and in order to take a stand on the grave situation of the country. To help in the reflection, Dr. Manuela Silva, an economist, explained the causes that brought about the collapse of the world’s financial system and the debt of the countries of the European zone, particularly Portugal, Greece and Ireland.
In this context, the Religious are challenged to be prophets of hope, who can perceive in such a crisis a new opportunity for a different implementation of the financial, social and ethical systems.
The proposal for an alternative economy, defined as a social economy, which is absent in the micro-economy and in the depletion of natural resources (the sea, fishing fleet, culture, tourism and new technologies) begins to make sense. For Religious, “profit, as the primary value, is transformed into the golden calf which alienates and turns the world into a jungle. Attempts to a social economy based on solidarity, which fosters neighbourly relations and an effective participation by all, herald a new direction.”
At the end of the meeting, a statement was approved which concretizes the feelings and reveals the course of action for religious committed to Justice and Peace, at a time when Portuguese society is immersed in a serious and worrisome economic, social and political crisis. “On the way to a solution to the crisis there are parameters that seem to us to be absolutely indispensable: a simpler life style, less dependence from publicity pressures aimed at consumerism, a more just organization, more conscious of the individual citizen,” reads the statement.
According to the religious, this panorama involves everyone, but in particular: “The State, with transparency in its projects, truth in its options and evaluations of results; the family, which must be respected and valued, knowing that many unbalances have been caused by having subordinated it to other values; the school, which cannot be limited to information, but must educate to civic responsibility; public administration, which must be at the service of the citizen; a judicial system which, going beyond formalism, recovers its dignity and promotes a better wellbeing by dispensing true justice; civil society, which, when respected, is better motivated to fulfil its duties and not to seek alternative systems of economy and social participation.”
Meeting of local superiors on leadership
The province organized a workshop on leadership at the Comboni Study House, Pretoria, from the 21 to 24 of March. The workshop was addressed to the local superiors and the members of the provincial council. It was conducted by Sister Jean Evans of the Sisters of Mercy. The fourteen participants explored issues related with leadership in general, within the Comboni communities and in pastoral work.
The starting point was a reflection on the main signs of the times present in our society in order to identify the kind of leadership that is needed today. Some of these signs are a deep longing for spirituality, communion and meaning; crisis of individualism; globalization from below; change of the worldview. Starting from different definitions of leadership, Sr. Jean made us aware of the variety of ways in exercising it. Essential attitudes and behaviours in this ministry are the capacity of listening without judging or blaming, being able to empower people exercising team work, being attentive to the feelings of those we want to help, sharing the burden. It is mainly important to have in mind that leadership more than doing is a question of being.
During the last day of the workshop we had the possibility of sharing about the situation in our communities. These were days of communion, sharing the way we exercise leadership in daily life and helping each other in better exercising our ministry. We acknowledged that we need to be concrete in our decisions, to have a certain discipline of life, to be accountable and committed in our daily life and to make regular evaluation of our journey if we want to bring to fruition initiatives of ongoing formation.
The province of South Sudan held its annual assembly in Juba from the evening of March 31 to April 7, 2011. Twenty eight confreres studied and programmed together another year of activities under the theme “Sudan will never be the same again”, with the help of John Ashworth, an adviser to the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The Provincial of the Comboni Sisters, Giovanna Sguazza, shared with the assembly the guidelines from their Chapter Acts.
Each community and office holder presented their report, including the former provincial, Fr. Luciano Perina, who sent his reflections. The Provincial Directory and the Six-Year Plan were finalized and the participants welcomed the plan to merge provinces.
Nine bishops and some officials taking part in the extraordinary Bishops’ Plenary Assembly came to our house for supper during our assembly. Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro of Juba praised us for merging with the local Church and thus overcoming the past attitude of creating a “Comboni kingdom”.
Four confreres take their vows
Auxiliary Bishop of Juba, Mgr. Santo Loku Pio, presided at the concluding Eucharist in which four confreres made their vows. Phillip Andruga made his final vows just before his ordination to the diaconate which will be in Yei on May 15. Philip did his theology in Brazil and the first year of mission service in Old Fangak mission. Now he is in Lomin mission till his ordination to the priesthood in December.
Three other confreres, Bro. Andrés Gaspar Abarca and scholastics Jacek Pomykacz Andrzej and Yakob Solomon Shole, renewed their consecration for one year. Andres, a nurse from Mexico, works in Mapuordit Hospital. He will make his perpetual profession early next year. Jacek, from Poland, and Yakob, from Ethiopia, arrived in South Sudan for their mission service. Jacek will work in Mapuordit while Jacob will be part of Leer community.
Invitation to the community to be calm but vigilant
The Catholic Bishops of Sudan issued a communiqué at the end of their extraordinary plenary assembly urging the community to remain calm but vigilant ahead of Independence Day. Eleven bishops and top church officials together with the Apostolic Nuncio discussed the current reality in the country and the challenges the independence of South Sudan poses to the Church and other very pressing issues like the status of the bishops’ conference after independence.
The bishops called for patience, understanding and restraint as the dramatic change takes place. They urged all parties, all forces and all citizens to embrace a culture of peace and to reject violence, calling them to turn away from division, incitement, hate speech, rumours and accusations and to resolve disputes through dialogue in a spirit of unity.
Their extraordinary plenary assembly took place in Juba from April 1 to 7, 2011. The bishops decided to have two secretariats: one in Juba (the main office) and one in Khartoum. They are still discussing whether to have one or two Bishops’ Conferences.
Let us pray for our beloved dead
THE FATHER: Haile Minuta, of the Sc. Desalegn Haile Minuta (ET).
THE MOTHER: Araceli, of Fr. Ampelio González Aragón (†); Maria, of Fr. Giorgio Stefani (†); Vincenzina, of Bro. Sergio Matarese (CA); Mariana Rosa, of Bro. Óscar José Araújo Gomes da Cunha (T); Maria Teresa, of Fr. Germano Joaquim dos Santos Serra (P); Brigida, of Fr: J. Jesus Aranda Nava (M).
THE BROTHER: Domenico, of Fr. Carlo Negri (I).
THE SISTERS: Kathleen, of Fr. John Martin Troy (LP); Carmela, of Fr. Renato Rosanelli (MO), Virginia, of Bro. Ernesto Andrea Cagna (MZ).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Mercedes Tonoli; Sr. M. Giuliana Rivetti; Sr. M. Fabiana Santori.