Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
10th CONSULTA - 6-20 June and 6-8 July 2011
General observations on the six-year plans
During this consultation we have read and reflected on the six-year plans of the provinces and delegations. We are grateful for your effort, especially in formulating programs in accordance with the guidelines of the General Chapter and the planning done by the General Direction.
As general remarks, we can say that in some cases there are no clear indications as to when and how to achieve what you have planned. It seems to us that it was not kept in mind the urgent need for an assessment of commitments, in view of taking an appropriate decision about the possibilities at our disposal to keep or not to keep some of them. The discernment about the need to reorganise our commitments does not stand out as a clear concern in the plan, even though in some provinces and delegations steps have been taken in this direction.
We hope that these plans will help all of us to become more involved in the missionary service we are presently called to do, but at the same time we hope that the plans may facilitate the discernment we deem necessary to meet the challenges of mission at present and the new situations of the Institute.
Independence of South Sudan
Next 9th of July is the date officially set for the birth of Southern Sudan as a new nation. We wish to be united with all our Comboni brothers and sisters, the local Church and all who live and work in this country in thanking the Lord for this important event in the history of South Sudan, after many years of war and suffering. We hope that this will truly be the beginning of a new history marked by peace, brotherhood, freedom, justice and progress. We also thank the Lord for the witness of love and missionary passion of all the sons and daughters of Comboni that have accompanied this people up to this day of joy and ask for the grace to carry on with passion our experience of loyalty to the missionary vocation in this land so loved by our founder.
Raga and Wau
In the context of the new situation of independence of South Sudan, the provincials of the two Comboni provinces in Sudan met with the members of the communities of Raga and Wau to decide on the future of these two communities which, although geographically located in the South, have so far been part of the province of the North (Khartoum). After joint discernment and in agreement with the General Council, it was decided that these two communities will juridically belong to the province of Southern Sudan as from 1 July, 2011.
Situation in Eritrea
During the last few weeks, in the Eritrean delegation two novices made their first vows and other scholastics have renewed theirs, continuing their education regardless of the uncertainty caused by the possibility of being suddenly called up for military service.
Let us always accompany with our prayers all the confreres who continue their missionary service at this particular time in Eritrea and pray to the Lord for these people who give us a beautiful witness of fidelity and perseverance in their time of difficulty and suffering.
Meetings during the next months
We are preparing to hold various important meetings at the level of the Institute and continents. There will be first of all a meeting of formators in Palencia (Spain) and then the continental meetings of the bursars and of people responsible for ongoing formation. We wish all participants a fruitful work and encourage them to seek with enthusiasm whatever will help us to better serve the mission.
The gift of vocations
During the months of May and June, 33 new confreres have made their first profession in the Institute. We recognise this new presence in our missionary family as a great gift of the Lord. We wish to welcome these young confreres by inviting them to join the Institute with the willingness to offer their life with great availability and without making calculations, so that we may experience together the beauty of the Comboni missionary vocation.
We continue, nevertheless, to be worried by the complexity of finding personnel to adequately respond to the persistent requests by some provinces that have a significant number of candidates.
Feast of the Sacred Heart
We wish all the confreres a beautiful feast of the Sacred Heart and ask the Lord for the grace to continue to live our mission with great passion and great openness to the newness of God in our lives. We hope that this feast will be for all a deep time of prayer and an opportunity to renew our commitment towards the neediest of our time.
Commission for the Rule of Life
The Commission for the Rule of Life (RL) – nominated by the General Council during the Consulta of March 2011 – met for the first time in the morning of May 26 at the Generalate in Rome, all its members being present: Fr. Venanzio Milani (coordinator), Fr. Carmelo Casile, Fr. Danilo Castello and Fr. Manuel Joao Pereira Correia.
First of all, the Commission reviewed the task assigned to it: “A qualified reflection on the RL in order to familiarize us with it as an instrument of growth, in faithfulness to the Comboni Charism” (CA 2009, 31.4).
Secondly, they viewed the current situation highlighting what follows:
A realization: There is a widespread “disaffection” with regard to the RL, seen as “just another document,” little known and undervalued. To face this “major obstacle” will be essential in order to “foster a better familiarity with the RL” (CA 31).
A conviction: On the other hand, those who know our RL show appreciation and esteem for this document. It is a “hidden treasure” that we have not been able to exploit, so someone said that “we do not deserve the RL that we have.” The Chapter has become aware of this fact and has asked the Institute to “recover the RL” (AC 31).
A priority: in approaching the RL it seems important to underline its dimension as an “instrument of” charismatic “growth” (CA 31), based on its connection with “life” and with the Gospel, rather than of “norm” based on the “rule.”
Thirdly, the Commission prepared some working proposals to be presented to the General Council. In particular, the idea of entrusting to a group of confreres a “transversal re-reading of the RL” starting from three points of view: charismatic identity, spirituality and mission (the three chapter documents that were the backbone of the reflection on the Ratio Missionis).
It is to be hoped that this initiative may contribute to reawaken in our confreres a new interest in the RL, as proposed by the Chapter.
Coordinator of Comboni Lay Missionaries
Comboni Lay Missionaries of Europe
The European Commission of the Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM) met in Limone, Italy, from April 30 through May 1. Following that and in the same place, the Central Commission of the CLM took advantage of the occasion to hold its yearly meeting.
With regard to planning, there will be two meetings in the coming year. The first will be the yearly meeting of the European Commission of the CLM which will take place at the Comboni house of Coimbra, Portugal, on April 28 (arrival) - May 1 (departure) 2012. The second will be the European Meeting of the CLM, which will have as a theme “Following in the footsteps of Comboni” and will be held in Verona on August 2 (arrival) – 8 (departure), 2012. The reason for choosing this venue has been the desire to visit and remember the most important places of the origin of both Comboni and the Comboni Missionaries. For this reason, one of the days will be given to a visit to the place and the house where St. Daniel Comboni was born. It is our wish that for the lay people this will be a good opportunity to live together and to deepen their personal Comboni missionary vocation by listening to the words of Comboni himself.
Meeting of the Central Commission of the CLM
The current members of the Central Commission of the CLM – Alberto de la Portila, from Spain, Fr. Günther Hofmann, Germany, and Fr. Arlindo Pinto, Curia in Rome – met in Limone, Italy on May 2-4, 2011. It seems better to give the dates of the two meetings that have been planned.
It has been decided to hold the first meeting of the coordinators of CLM of the provinces of French-speaking and English-speaking Africa in Layibi (Gulu, Uganda) on December 10 (arrival) – 16 (departure), 2011. The second meeting will be the 5th general Assembly of the CLM and will be held in the Comboni community of Maia (Porto, Portugal) on December 2 (arrival) – 9 (departure), 2012.
We hope that these two meetings will be fundamental in the consolidation of the CLM movement in the four continents where the Comboni Missionaries operate. Many are the challenges today that face lay vocations in general in the Catholic Church and, therefore, also the Comboni Lay Missionary vocation. These meetings, therefore, can become special times of sharing of intercultural, international and intercontinental experiences, and also venues where to deepen basic themes, such as, for example, the identity, the spirituality, the organization and the mission of the CLM.
Missay Soku Jérôme Nerio (RDC) Kisangani (RDC) 29.05.2011
Opioła Paweł Roman (PL) Słopnice (PL) 04.06.2011
Holy Redeemer Guild
July 01 – 07 LP 08 – 15 CO 16 – 31 MZ
August 01 – 15 M 16 – 31 MO
September 01 – 15 NAP 16 – 30 PE
July – That during our meetings at various levels, the liturgical celebrations, discernment, open and free sharing, fraternal listening and openness to the common good may be seen as necessary conditions for producing lasting fruit. Let us pray.
August – that the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son, may guide and direct all young people preparing for missionary and religious life, so that, together with their formators, they may hear his friendly voice and follow it,. Let us pray.
September – That all the members of the Institute may participate actively in the implementation of the decisions of the Chapter, seeing in this project the will of God who has spoken to us through the last General Chapter. Let us pray.
Fr. Pietro Gianmaria Piu: “¡Queremos ver a Jesús!” – Catecumenado, camino de la misión” (“We wish to see Jesús!”); 120 pp. Published by the ‘Centro di Animazione Missionaria Casa Comboni’, Guatemala City, June 2011. A practical guide to holding the catechumenate in parishes and communities in sixteen catechetical lessons.
Lorenzo Fazzini: “Un Vangelo per l’Africa – Cesare Mazzolari, vescovo di una Chiesa crocifissa” (A Gospel for Africa - Cesare Mazzolari, bishop of a crucified Church). Lindau Editions, Turin. Pp. 143. It speaks of Mgr. Cesare Mazzolari, for thirty years a missionary in Sudan and, for the past thirteen years, bishop of Rumbek, in a country about to become the 54th African state, and of his love for this nation in the dramatic years of war and during recent developments, full of hope in a future yet to be built.
Sixtieth anniversary of priestly ordination
On 19 May, we celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of Fr. Alberto Villotti, at Medalla Milagrosa Parish, in the Cuba Barrio, in San Jose, Costa Rica. Fr. Alberto presided at the Eucharist and spoke of his vocational and missionary life during the ‘first’ sixty years of ordination. Among those present were many parishioners, the confreres of the three communities of the city and the delegate superior who was visiting the community. After Mass, refreshments were served with Fr. Alberto doing the honours of cutting the cake.
Fr. Alberto is now 83 and not in very good health. He helps the parish by saying Mass and hearing confessions. He loves working in the garden, which helps him to remain active.
Handing over the parish of Cuscatancingo
The Comboni Missionaries first came to Cuscatancingo, El Salvador, on the first of January, 1994, at the invitation of Archbishop Rivera y Damas, who wished to entrust to them one of the new parishes he had recently established. There was no one there to receive them and there were no speeches of welcome. Instead, on 12 June last, the parish church of the Immaculate Conception, which had been led for the last fifteen years by Fr. Giacomo Piccinelli, was filled to overflowing. It fell to the parish priest, Fr. Orlando Borghi, to hand it over to the diocese and to the new diocesan parish priest.
Parish dedicated to St Daniel Comboni
On Sunday, 19 June, our El Salvador community took on a new pastoral commitment, a parish to be dedicated to St. Daniel Comboni, at the request of the Archbishop himself, Mgr. José Luis Escobar. The parish formerly was part of the Franciscan parish of San Bartolo, in Ilopango commune. The new parish cares for 42.000 people, most of whom are in dire economic straits. There are three zones with 70 small Christian communities. The infrastructure consists entirely of a small chapel dedicated to the Holy Family and two pieces of land with spaces to celebrate Sunday Mass. The Comboni community is living for the moment in a rented house.
Anniversary of the Foundation of the Comboni Institute
“As we remember the anniversary of the foundation of our Institute, it comes natural to me to thank the Lord for these 144 years of Comboni missionary history and for the life and work of all our confreres who, by their consecration and passion for mission, have written this history.
Looking backward, we realize that at the origin there is a history with very humble, but at the same time very surprising roots to give to the Lord the opportunity to show his greatness through the lives of the 3911 Comboni missionaries who, through their consecration, have given life to the mission of Central Africa and to many other missions that, following our charism, are realities that speak of the urgency of the proclamation of the Gospel to our brothers and sisters.
When Comboni was rejoicing for the birth of the Institutes for Africa, he was practically alone and in his hand he only had a document of foundation, a mission as large as a continent, a passion and love for the Africans as great as his own heart, a faith in the Lord greater than all imaginable obstacles and a plan that made him dream of an Africa already Christian.
We are an Institute that has lived through moments of great trials and of deprivation in all aspects: poverty of means, of structures, of personnel. It seems that the word sufficiency is not part of our vocabulary. At the same time, we have many examples of confreres who show us great riches that cannot be measured or numbered by our standards: human, Christian richness; richness of faith, of love for one’s vocation, of dedication and spirit of sacrifice, of martyrdom and of Comboni pride, in the positive sense of the word.
Reality, inside and outside the Institute, has certainly changed with the passing of time, but in a way what is essential has not changed. The Lord wishes to continue using our little cenacle of apostles in order to be present in the history of humankind.
In conclusion, I think that this feast challenges us to think of the future of our Institute. We live in a difficult time, especially if we consider all the situations we must face: but we move forward in the certainty that the Lord will not deprive us of his Spirit. We are carrying on a mission which has always been greatly dynamic. Consequently, today we celebrate not only an event of the past, but also the challenge that propels us towards the future and compels us to give a new look to this Institute. We are called to continue to be the work of God taking shape through the humility and the poverty that we carry within ourselves.” (Rome: 1 June 2011 - From the homily of Fr. Enrique Sán-chez González, superior general)
Ninetieth birthday of Bro. Libero Ribelli
On the occasion of the ninety years of life of Bro. Libero Ribelli - sixty-three years of them lived as a missionary - a meaningful Eucharistic celebration was held at the chapel of the Generalate in Rome on 2 June.
Since 1993, Bro. Libero has served at the General Curia where he has become well known, and, we might say, an institutonal part of the area including the chapel and the sacristy.
It seems that the word “pension” is not part of his vocabulary. Despite his aches and pains, we hope he will always cultivate the spirit which brought him out alive from the “sack of the Don” in Russia, during the war.
Conference of Major Religious Superiors (CMRS)
While gathered for their assembly on 26 May, the Major Superiors of Ethiopia elected as president of the CMRS, for the next two years, Fr. Julio Ocaña Iglesias, the Comboni provincial superior.
We offer our congratulations to Fr. Julio and wish him a fruitful service in his position as president of the CMRS, that he may bring to it something of the missionary and Comboni spirit.
The Comboni Missionaries are grateful for the confidence and appreciation shown by the various Institutes to the Comboni family. As a matter of fact, a previous president of the CMRS, from 2005 to 2009, was a Comboni priest and the executive secretary from 2004 to 2007 was the Comboni Sister Mariolina Cattaneo (newly elected Provincial of the Comboni Sisters in Ethiopia). Besides these, several Comboni Fathers and Sisters are serving on different committees and in posts of the CMRS and the local Church, as they have done in the past.
Assembly of Comboni Lay Missionaries
The national assembly of the Italian Comboni Lay Missionaries took place at our house in Florence from May 27-29. It was attended by about 60 lay people coming from a dozen groups ranging from Sicily to Lombardy. Six Comboni Missionaries and two Comboni Missionary Sisters also attended. At the end of the Assembly, Fr. Venanzio Milani highlighted some points expressing the wish that the lay people may live in a continued dynamic process towards their identity, based on the spirituality of “standing up” according to the life experience and the spirit of Comboni.
The theme of the assembly was: “Together at the loom of life.” The presenters were: Fr. Domenico Guarino (identity), Prof. Carmelo Dotolo (analysis and planning), and Prof. Giuliana Martirani (methodology from commitment to pledge). During the Sunday Eucharistic celebration, presided over by Fr. Claudio Longhi, the mission mandate was conferred on two lay couples: one returning to Brazil, the other leaving for Uganda.
Limone Exhibition of works by Young Artists of Verona
The works of Young Artists who took part in the competition organised by the Verona Mother House, will be displayed in our Limone house during the summer. There are 25 works of painting, sculpture and drawing on the theme: "Africa e Daniele Comboni - Un'appassionante avventura" (Africa and Daniel Comboni – A Passionate Adventure). The works, already displayed in Verona in recent months, are exhibited in the conference room situated at the exit of the “multimedia tour” in Limone. A part of the exhibition catalogue and other explanatory material will be available to visitors, in German as well.
The Significance of a visit to the “Casa Natale” of Comboni
The Bishop of Brescia, Mgr. Luciano Monari, in August of last year was in the hermitage of Montecastello, not far from Limone, where he was preaching a course of spiritual exercises to a group of priests from various dioceses. I phoned him and, seeing how close he was, suggested he visit the home where Daniel Comboni was born, as he had never done so until then. I went to pick him up by car.
During the journey we spoke of the cycle of his three pastoral letters he had just completed. I dared to add a comment of my own: Very nice, Your Lord, but the cycle is incomplete, one is missing. He immediately replied: You are right; I need to add a letter on the missionary dimension of the Christian community. After the visit to the “Casa Natale”, the chapel and the multimedia tour, I remembered to ask the bishop to write a note in the pilgrims’ book. This is what he wrote: “I am struck by Comboni’s insistence on the role of the laity and of women in his plan for the regeneration of Africa. This is what our Church needs today: here a true ‘regeneration’ of the Christian communities is to be found. May the Lord give us a bountiful share of the Spirit of Comboni and the hope and courage we need”. (P. Danilo Castello).
Fr. Paweł Opioła Roman’s priestly ordination
For some years now, we have been gathering the Polish fruits of the good work of the recent past done by the Comboni Missionaries who preceded us. There were two ordinations to the priesthood in 2010 and the same number this year.
The first to be ordained to the priesthood this year was Paweł Opioła Roman, a native of the diocese of Tarnovia, a city located about eighty kilometres from Krakow. Paweł, who spent all his years of formation and studies in Europe, was allowed to do his missionary service in Africa in the province of Malawi-Zambia. Enriched and confirmed by this experience, he returned to Poland to prepare for his ordination.
The celebration took place on Saturday, 4 June, in his home parish of Słopnice. The Bishop of Tarnovia, the Right Rev. Wiktor Skworc, presided at the ordination and underlined the significance of a missionary vocation for the local parish community and for the diocese.
Present at the ordination and the first Mass were two Comboni missionaries from Malawi-Zambia, Fr. Enrico Colleoni and Fr. Giambattista Moroni.
Twenty years in Poland
In a few months, Fr. Manolo Torres would have completed twenty years of presence and work in Poland. Before returning to the Congo, he was asked to write a broad outline of the history of our Comboni presence in this country and of the first Polish Comboni Missionaries. We may say that Fr. Manolo is the historical memory of the Comboni missionaries in Poland. He came to Poland in January 1992 and, from 1994 onwards, he led the Comboni group in Poland as the representative of the Vicar General. Many, many thanks to him for the work done. Continuity and his ability to create good relations with the ecclesiastical authorities, the clergy and the people, made it possible for the Comboni Missionaries to become known and appreciated in almost all the dioceses of Poland.
4th National Meeting of the CMP
The 4th national meeting of the Cenacles of Missionary Prayer (CMP) took place at Famalicão last 10th of June. It was attended by about 120 people, representing over 30 groups from the dioceses of Braga, Porto, Aveiro and Coimbra.
The theme of this 4th Meeting was “Meeting with God, meeting with humankind.” The morning reflection was based on three main points: called, loved and sent, to stress that we are all loved and called by God to evangelize in different contexts. The morning ended with the Eucharist presided over by Fr. Silvério Malta.
Before the final prayer and blessing, led by Fr. Alberto Silva, Fr. Carlos Nunes gave his missionary witness speaking of the pastoral activities he had in Malawi and Zambia, from where he has recently returned.
Next year the CMP will celebrate their 25th anniversary. To celebrate this anniversary there are several initiatives in the making, among them the 5th National Meeting which, as it was announced, will take place on May 1, 2012.
The CMP are small groups of neighbours who gather regularly to support, through prayer, the missionary activity of the Church. Generally, they are founded and moderated by co-operators with ties to the Comboni Missionaries or Sisters.
Priestly ordination in Acornhoek
The priestly ordination of Antony Abednego Mkhari took place on Saturday, 4 June, in the parish of Acornhoek, South Africa. Mgr. Joseph Sandri of Witbank diocese was the ordaining bishop. The celebration was joyful and well attended by many Comboni and other priests, sisters, friends and faithful of the parish.
On Sunday, 5 June, the newly ordained priest celebrated the first Mass in his home village, in an out-station of the parish, about 30 km. from Acornhoek. The celebration was very well prepared by the local Christian community. Mgr. Sandri, the provincial of South Africa Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins, the provincial of Malawi/Zambia Fr. Dário Balula Chaves, other priests and many friends also took part in the Mass. It was a beautiful open air celebration. On both occasions, after the celebration, there were dances and songs by various youth groups and food prepared for all the participants.
Fr. Antony did his mission experience in Zambia and has been assigned to the Malawi-Zambia province.
Clouds of war again over Abyei and the Nuba Mountains
On 21 May, 2011, after two days of heavy bombing of at least five villages, the Sudan Army occupied Abyei. President Omar Bashir unilaterally dismissed the government of the region. It is estimated that around 100.000 people, mostly Dinka Ngok, have been forced to flee.
The Khartoum government has declared that, from 1 June, any SPLA soldiers found in the northern zone must hand over their arms or they will be attacked. The territory in question includes some disputed areas subject to special agreements, such as Abyei, the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile State. There are contingents of SPLA “northerners” who have fought alongside the South for decades and who still demand, if not independence, then the possibility of a political situation granting them a degree of autonomy from the central government, which has been sharply criticised for its discriminatory policies.
In May, 2011, elections in the Nuba Mountains saw the candidate of the ruling Harun party emerge victorious. The SPLM objected, contesting the veracity of the results while the international observers of the “Carter Centre” gave their approval. The result of the elections and the attempt by the government to disarm the SPLA in the region provoked strong military action. On 5 June, 2011, the SPLA occupied a large part of the Nuba Mountains territory while the Sudan army began heavy bombing without regard for civilian casualties. SPLA sympathisers were hunted from house to house, arrested and summarily executed. Churches, too, were looted and destroyed, pastoral workers suffered violent attacks and a pastor of the Episcopalian Church was killed. After a week of conflict, an estimated 60,000 people fled either to the mountains or towards El Obeid. Any attempt to provide help to the population was blocked by the government of the North. The airport of Kadugli was closed. The runway at Kauda (an important staging post for agencies bringing humanitarian aid) was bombed. The UN showed itself totally unable to protect the population with people being arrested even within their UN bases. The people have lost confidence in this international contingent. Journalists are forbidden to approach the area, the national press in censored. At the same time, official government sources have announced that they are taking steps necessary to put down a mutiny supposedly led by the representative of the SPLM, Al Hilu Aziz, who – according to the same sources – will be soon arrested and executed.
Various voices have been raised to draw the attention of the international community and ask for an immediate halt to hostilities so as to bring in aid for the people. Among these are the head of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the catholic bishops Mgr. Macram Max Gassis and Mgr. Michael Didi Adgum Mangoria, and the Archbishop of the Episcopalian Church of Sudan, Rev. Daniel Deng Bul.
At the vigil of independence, tension mounts along the entire border between North and South, where both armies have deployed heavy arms and many contingents of soldiers. Hundreds of thousands of Southerners are still in the North, unable to reach the South through lack of means of transport or due to communications being cut off. (Fr. Angelo Giorgetti)
As the Day of Independence of the Republic of South Sudan approaches, we missionaries working among the Nuer people on the Western side of the Nile River, wish to express our joy for this historical moment in the life of the entire Southern Sudan region and of its many peoples, as well as our hope for lasting peace in this ‘one nation from every tribe, tongue and people’. At the same time we wish to express our deep concern about recent events that have occurred across South Sudan, particularly in and around Leer County in Unity State, where we carry out our missionary activities.
First of all, we are deeply concerned about the fact that armed conflicts have arisen across the region of South Sudan after a peaceful Referendum. Also, the military seizure of Abyei in the Northern border of South Sudan has increased tensions and the prospectus of more violence. In Unity State itself, where we live and work, fighting between militia forces and SPLA (Sudan’s People Liberation Army) are often reported to take place with many civilian casualties. The most affected area lies in the Northern region of Unity State. However, these conflicts seem to be spreading widely. We do not want more lives to be lost, properties to be damaged and people to be displaced because of these rebels attacks and clashes. We want to live in peace and safety.
Secondly, we are also concerned about a blockade along the border between North and South Sudan which is causing a shortage of goods and making life very hard for our people. Because of this economic blockade no Lorries with commodities are allowed to cross the border and we are now facing a food and fuel shortage.
Thirdly, we want to express our dissatisfaction for the long delay regarding the ‘school feeding program’ in Leer. The children of our parish’s kindergarten school and also children from other schools have been attending classes the whole morning without any school meal. At the same time we are indignant about the humanitarian food that has been seen on sale at the local markets, when such food was supposed to be distributed freely to the most vulnerable and needy people. It is extremely urgent to supply the schools in our area with food and to stop the humanitarian food trade.
Fourthly, we believe that the local, national and international media could do a lot more to spread a message of hope and to promote peace among peoples.
Finally, we want to reiterate our trust in all people of good will who tirelessly offer support to improve the lives of our people and to promote peace and social justice, especially amongst the peoples of South Sudan. We also recommit ourselves as missionaries to the ministry of justice, peace and reconciliation together with other forces of the Church and society of Leer and by extension of the country at large. (Leer, 1st June 2011 – Excerpts from the Open Letter by Comboni Missionaries and Comboni Sisters)
Golden Jubilee of the Diocese of Sarh
This year, 2011, the Church, the family of God, celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the coming of the Gospel to this city: fifty years of evangelisation and thirty-four of Comboni presence in the country.
It was the Comboni missionary Fr. Luigi Gusmeroli who, in 1975, was the first to go to Tchad and begin talks with Mgr. Henri Veniat, Bishop of Sarh, in view of a Comboni commitment in that area. Two years later, in 1977, our confreres took official charge of the parish of Moïssala. Today they work in four dioceses. While we are thanking God, it is also necessary to recognise that, after many years of Comboni evangelisation, the country is still an area of first evangelisation. Out of a population of 11,513,600, only 1,114,746 are Catholics, around 10%, while priests number 262 of whom 103 are missionaries.
Consecration of the Church of Dono-manga
Since they arrived at Dono-manga, in the diocese of Lai, on 23 April, 2003, the Comboni Missionaries have been writing a new page in the history of the mission and the life of the parish.
On 4 June, 2011, the parish church dedicated to St. Michael was consecrated. In a fraternal climate, the local Christians, the religious men and women and the civil authorities joyfully celebrated the feast. The celebration was presided over by Mgr. Miguel Angel Sebastián Martínez, a Comboni missionary, Bishop of the diocese of Laï, and concelebrated by twelve priests, five of whom were Comboni missionaries. The liturgy, accompanied by beautiful hymns, was carried out with great solemnity. In his homily, Mgr. Miguel Angel Sebastián emphasised the importance the Word of God must have in pastoral ministry.
He did not fail to thank all the benefactors who, through Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla, the provincial, and Fr. Stefano Melzani, contributed so generously to the building of the new church. Heartfelt thanks go to Fr. Stefano, the former parish priest who spared no effort to mobilise both the local Christians and the benefactors to carry out the project. The Eucharist was followed by a dinner prepared in the traditional way.
Silver Jubilee of the Parish of Begou
The parish of St. Kizito of Begou, in the care of the Comboni Missionaries since its foundation in 1986, 25 years ago, also celebrated its jubilee from 29 May to 5 June. The opening of the Jubilee was marked by the presence of the first Christians of the parish who, during the meeting on Monday, spoke of the history of the parish and their own journey to Christianity. A debate followed in which many young people and adults participated with lively interest. Tuesday was dedicated to the liturgical preparation of Sunday, 5 June, the concluding day of the Jubilee. On Wednesday morning there was the so-called “return to the fold”, a ceremony during which those who had cut themselves off from the sacraments for various reasons, were readmitted to Eucharistic communion. This was made possible by the indulgence granted by the Pope, at the request of the local ordinary, which gave permission to resolve certain cases during the Jubilee year. In the evening there was a penitential celebration for those preparing to receive the sacrament of Confirmation. On Thursday morning, the entire parish joyfully took part in a pilgrimage which took them through the neighbourhood to the cathedral where Eucharistic adoration was held. On Friday evening, the patron saint, St. Kizito, was celebrated. On Saturday morning, the Bishop of Sarh conducted a brief catechesis for those to be confirmed– something he does regularly and which is very much appreciated.
On Saturday evening, all took active part in an evening of entertainment consisting of songs, traditional dances, recitations, poetry and games. The parish Jubilee was concluded on Sunday when 54 people received Confirmation by the imposition of hands by the local Bishop and the Bishop of Laï. In his homily, Mgr. Miguel Angel Sebastián appealed to the Christians to show greater courage and optimism and not to allow themselves to be stopped by difficulties in their struggle against evil.
THE FATHERS: Pedro, of Fr. João Batista Ribeiro (BNE); Salvador, of Fr. Gustavo Covarrubias Rodríguez (BNE).
THE MOTHERS: Angeles, of the Sc. Albarina Moises Rellon (A); Barbara, of Bro. Josef Unterpertinger (DSP); Tereza, of Fr. Carlos Bascarán Collantes (BNE).
THE BROTHERS: Pedro, of Bro. Andrés Gaspar Abarca (SS); Giuseppe, of Fr. Antonio Zagotto (BS).
THE SISTERS: Giuseppina, of Fr. Giovanni Battelli (I); Adriana, of Fr. Franco Sesenna (BNE).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTER: Sr. M. Teresa Rossi.