Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
Questionnaire regarding languages and studies
The General Secretariat wishes to thank sincerely those confreres who replied to the questionnaire (sent out last October) regarding the languages spoken and academic qualifications. The Secretariat received 384 replies regarding languages and 358 regarding qualifications. Less than 25% of the 1640 confreres of the Institute responded. Nevertheless, their replies will serve as a reference point for the work of the General Council.
The General Secretariat also wishes to remind those who have not yet sent in their replies that they are still in time to do so.
Secretariat of Mission Promotion and Evangelisation
More than forty Comboni Missionaries and some invited guests and experts have carried out the European Assembly for Mission Promotion and Evangelisation, at Pesaro (Italy), from 7 to 16 February, 2012. The event was suggested by the XVII General Chapter, 2009, (priority No. 14) and promoted by the Provincials of Europe and the Delegate of Poland.
The object of the Assembly was to establish a common policy for the missionary project and the Comboni presence in Europe. It comprised two main sections: the first involved listening, reflection and sharing of prospects, at the provincial and inter-provincial levels, regarding some aspects of Promotion and Evangelisation on the Continent. The second involved setting out concrete projects for the Comboni presence in Europe.
Fr. Fernando Zolli, one of the coordinators of the Assembly, presented the journey already accomplished by the continent with reference to the Pre-capitular Assembly of 2009, the Chapter Acts and the various meetings of provincials and some sectors such as those of the media, the workers, immigrants and Lay Comboni Missionaries etc., emphasising that the Assembly was not the starting point.
Fr. Alberto Maggi, a Bible scholar, with reference to the fourth Gospel of St Mark, emphasised how every missionary should take his inspiration from the Word of God and to keep it at the centre in order to direct and realise today the commitment of all the faithful to the Kingdom and the service of the poor.
Santo Vicari, a European Commission expert, brought into focus the cynicism of the law of the market which promotes the unrestrained enrichment of the few, dominates finance, politics, peaceful coexistence and solidarity among peoples while undermining the future, especially of the next generations of young people.
Seàn-Patrick Lovett, Director of Vatican Radio, assisted the Assembly to better understand the modalities of communication and to lay the foundations of good communication in a rapidly changing Europe. Fr. Giulio Albanese, on his part, presented the communication challenges faced by the Comboni Missionaries in endeavouring to create a more effective presence in the field of communication.
Finally, Holy Family Brother Enzo Biemmi explained the need for the “first” and “second” proclamation of the Gospel in the Continent, in communion with the Churches of Europe, often entrenched in obsolete traditions and parameters that no longer motivate living choices or the daily lives of the people; this is especially true in the case of a society that organises itself without reference to God, indifferent to the values of the Kingdom and that no longer knows the message of the Gospel.
This listening section was concluded by Fr. Enrique Sánchez González, General Superior, who spoke from Rome thorough a video link; among other things, he stated that it is now time for the Combonis in Europe to break new ground, to avoid using methods and ideas used elsewhere and incapable of responding to this reality; to accept, with seriousness and creativity, as men of God, the invitation of the Church to a new Evangelisation, not to be understood either as a crusade or re-conquest.
During the second part of the Assembly, the participants, firstly in province-based and then in theme-based groups, began the work of formulating concrete and common projects for the Combonis in Europe; three of these were singled out: a European centre of communications, probably in London; to pursue the commitment among immigrants at local level but with an increasingly European outlook, with the possibility of an exchange of personnel also from other continents; a place of spirituality and reflection upon the mission at Limone.
These projects will be defined in detail in the coming months during the meetings already planned to be held before the Intercapitular Assembly (September 2012).
Bro. Gaspar Abarca Andrés (SS-M) Chilpancingo (Méx) 28.01.2012
Fr. Lokwang Koryang Casimiro (U) Kotido (UG) 04.02.2012
Holy Redeemer Guild
March 01 – 07 DCA 08 – 15 EG 16 – 31 EC
April 01 – 15 DSP 16 – 30 E
March – That the conversion to which we are called during Lent may bear fruit in sharing and in the change of our life-style in order to bring us closer to our most needy brothers and sisters in all the countries in which we are present and make us grow in inner freedom. Let us pray.
April – That with generosity and in communion with the Church, we may continue the mission of announcing to the world the Gospel of life entrusted by the Risen One to his disciples. Let us pray.
BRASIL DO SUL
Sixty years of Comboni Presence – a brief history
The Province of Brasile Sud celebrates this year sixty years of Comboni Missionary presence in Brazil. The first Comboni in Brazil was Fr. Rino Carlesi who arrived there in 1951. He came from Portugal to meet the Portuguese community in Rio de Janeiro, collect funds for the construction of the seminary of Viseu and, at the same time, to speak to the Apostolic Nuncio about the possibility of a future Comboni presence in Brazil.
The Nuncio immediately offered us a mission in the south of Maranhão, in North-East Brazil, and a supporting community in the outskirts of the city of Vitória, in the State of Espírito Santo. The first group of missionaries reached Balsas, Maranhão, on 12 June, 1952.
During the seventies, in response to the changes taking place in Brazil (internal migration, the situation of African Americans and the indigenous populations, the growth of shanty towns around the large cities and the problems of land), the Combonis sought to participate in a positive manner in the process of ecclesial renewal.
This journey brought us the grace of the martyrdom of Fr. Ezechiele Ramin, murdered on 24 July, 1985, at Cacoal, Rondonia, the consecration of five Comboni bishops: Giuseppe Dalvit, Rino Carlesi, Gianfranco Masserdotti (all deceased), Aldo Gerna (emeritus) and Odelir José Magri, present Bishop of Sobral, and the first officially recognised miracle attributed to St. Daniel Comboni for the cause of his beatification.
Since 2007, following the orientations given by the provincials of the continent, we chose four priorities for our missionary work: African Americans, the indigenous people, the peripheries of the cities, mission promotion and vocations promotion, with the principles of justice and peace as the crossbeam of all this.
The celebration of sixty years of presence moves us to thank the Lord for all the beautiful things he has given us. We want to celebrate these blessings at the National Aparecida Sanctuary on 1 July, 2012, together with all the Combonis who have gone before us, those who have worked in Brazil, the Comboni Family in Brazil, our benefactors and friends and Bishop Odelir José Magri.
Year for Vocations
We believe that the witness of our many missionaries is the heritage that we have as Comboni Missionaries, a witness that also serves the Church of Brazil. By proposing a Year for Vocations from January 2012, to 15 March, 2013, we mean to say that we have a proposal to make to the young Brazilians of today, a mission that opens the horizons towards sharing the love of the Father with the poorest and most abandoned.
The Year for Vocations was initiated at the provincial meeting at the end of January with the spiritual exercises and a fine opening celebration in which we kept the memory of the past, presented the communities of the Province and assumed the commitment to make of this year a time of grace for all.
Course and Assembly of Formation
Sixteen formators and vocations promoters from the NAP, Mexico, Central America, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia gathered in Bogotá (Colombia) for an ongoing formation course (9-20 February, 2012). This was followed by the Continental Assembly which provided indications for those who work in this field of such vital importance to the Comboni Missionaries.
The meeting, which was organised by Fr. John Baptist Keraryo Opargiw, General Secretary of Formation, was intended to offer the participants some of the basic elements of formation, as well as to evaluate and give continuity to the progress made so far, especially to the elaboration of a Continental Letter on the Vocations Ministry and on the basic formation required of those young people who intend to become Comboni Missionaries.
Marcos Raul Mejia, a Colombian researcher and academic involved with the young people of poorer city quarters, also addressed the Assembly. It was precisely while they were reflecting upon the youth of today that the participants, under the guidance of Fr. Siro Stocchetti of the Central team for Ongoing Formation, sought to identify those elements which would facilitate their more effective involvement.
A Missionary Province
The Comboni Province of the Congo has been missionary for some time now. At present, there are 16 confreres of the Province carrying out their ministry in other provinces: 12 in Africa, two in America, one in Italy and one in Asia. Fr. Yves Mambueni Makiadi was assigned to the Delegation of Asia immediately after his ordination in 2008. He is at present on holiday in Kinshasa, after his first mission period. When he left the Congo, Fr. Yves went first to the Philippines to study English and then to Hong Cong to study Chinese. Two years later he went to Macau and the Comboni-run Parish of St. Joseph the Worker. When Chinese Catholics see Fr. Yves, they become aware of the universality of the Church and the relevance today of the Comboni missionary vocation.
Assembly of Institutes of religious Life
From 24 January to 2 February, 2012, the Major Superiors of Institutes of Religious Life or their delegates gathered in Kinshasa for a special Assembly. The Association of Major Superiors (ASUMA) was founded in 1960 and the Union of Major Superiors (USUMA) was founded in 1961. The first unified meeting took place in 1962. It was necessary, therefore, to give importance to these fifty years of cooperation marked by heroic witness: 219 people gave their lives to remain faithful to their religious profession. Among these were two bishops, blessed Clementine Anuarite and four of our confreres: Fr. Lorenzo Piazza, Fr. Evaristo Migotti, Fr. Antonio Zuccali and Fr. Remo Armani.
The Assembly of the religious of ASUMA and USUMA ended on 2 February, 2012, the Day of Consecrated Life, with a Eucharistic celebration at the Cathedral of Kinshasa with His Eminence Cardinal Lorent Monsengwo who, taking the opportunity offered by the occasion, presented the two auxiliary bishops appointed by Pope Benedict XVI on that very day. Sadly, the day was also marked by the killing of Sister Liliane Mapalay, at Kananga, in the central zone of the DR Congo. Sister Liliane was in charge of the finances of the middle school “Janua Coeli”, in the parish of Saint Clément.
While religious life flourishes in DR Congo, it is continuously being called to give heroic evangelical witness, even to point of death. At present there are 160 Institutes and Associations of Apostolic Life with a total of 7,000 religious Sisters. As regards the men religious, including the Comboni Missionaries, there are 81 Institutes and Associations of Apostolic Life with a total of 3,600 members.
Comboni Sunday in Kinshasa
On Sunday, February 12, 2012, all the Lay Comboni Missionaries of Kinshasa, the parents of the Comboni Missionaries (Libota lya Comboni, whose leader is called Anicet Pay-pay) and a fair number of Comboni Sisters, gathered at Kingabwa at the Provincial House to take stock of the activities of the past year and propose initiatives for the future. This meeting is held at least once a year. The participants – around a hundred – listened first of all to the words of introduction spoken by Fr. Eliseo Tacchella, Provincial Superior, and of the Comboni Sister Dina Ramos. Then the report from the meeting of Layibi (Uganda), where those in charge of Comboni Lay Missionaries of the Provinces of Africa met to reflect on the activities they are called to carry out in collaboration with missionary men and women, was presented. The Congo was represented at Layibi by Fr. Enrique Bayo Mata, Provincial Secretary of Mission Promotion and Dieudonné Likambo, National Director.
After the speeches, Mass was celebrated with Fr. Provincial presiding. Prayers were said for the Congo which is going through difficult times and especially for Jean Claude Mukeba, kidnapped by armed men on 20 December, 2011 after which nothing was heard of him. The meeting was concluded with a meal provided through the contributions of all.
Kinshasa: March of the Christians
The sixteenth of February is an important date for the Catholic Church: it is the day when the victims assassinated by the Mobutu regime in 1962, are remembered. It was a Sunday and the Christians had organised a peaceful march which should have started at the various Catholic Churches to meet at the Church of St. Joseph at Matonge. They wanted to protest against the suspension of the Sovereign National Conference which wanted to prepare the country for democratic life.
On the evening of 15 February, 2012, the Governor of Kinshasa declared that the march had not been authorised. The following morning, the police intervened in various parishes to prevent the march taking place. They arrested three priests, two Sisters and several of the laity. There was violent repression which was denounced by the opposition through its spokesman Jean-Claude Mvuemba. The European Union condemned the incidents which took place during the march and expressed its own disappointment at the prohibition of the march which was due to be carried out peacefully.
Feast of the Presentation and Day for Consecrated Life
On 2 February, 2012, the three communities of the Generalate in Rome – the Curia, the Student Confreres and the members of the Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation –, the Sisters community and some lay friends celebrated the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the Day for Consecrated Life.
It was a day of thanksgiving to the Lord for the religious and missionary vocation and of prayer for all the men and women called by God to be signs in the Church and in the world of the radical “sequela Christi”, to be faithful witnesses to the Gospel, to proclaim the values of the Kingdom and to be prophets of the new and heavenly city.
During Lauds, referring to the letter to the Hebrews, it was emphasised that Jesus came to free those who were subject to the slavery of sin and that, as a consequence of this, the religious are called to carry on this mission of liberation, in particular the Comboni Missionaries, after the example of St. Daniel Comboni.
Fr. Enrique Sánchez González, Superior General, presided at the evening Mass which began with the blessing of the candles and the procession to the altar. During his homily, Fr. Enrique shared a reflection on consecrated life and religious and missionary life, bringing into focus and developing four elements of the Gospel of St. Luke for that day on the Presentation of the Lord in the temple: the gesture of Mary and Joseph in offering their son; the great and single desire of Simeon to see Jesus before dying; the presence of Anna in the temple, serving God night and day and the Light – Christ – who reveals himself to the peoples.
Fr. General concluded his homily referring to the many confreres whom he met during his recent visits to the Comboni Provinces. “I had the grace to meet many confreres who are true signs and witnesses as called and consecrated people, who live in difficult situations of violence and danger. And I found them in peace. I saw many men and women missionaries whose only desire is to offer their lives to serve God and his people. These are Comboni Missionaries who are illuminated by that same light and that same Spirit which enabled Simeon to see salvation”, Fr. Enrique said.
Visit of Fr. Antonio Villarino to the Province
From 21 January to 21 February, Fr. Antonio Villarino Rodríguez, Assistant General, made an official visit to Province of Ecuador. Soon after his arrival, he participated in two meetings: one with the bursars and a second with the community superiors. The Assistant general explained the four great themes regarding the Institute: vocation, formation and vocations promotion; mission; institutional organisation and spirituality.
Another important moment was his meeting with the Comboni confreres involved in pastoral ministry to the people of African descent. The diocese is organising a meeting on Afro Pastoral (Encuentro de Pastoral Afro) for the whole of the American continent to be held at Guayaquil (Ecuador), under the direction of Fr. José Joaquim Luis Pedro.
The following stage of the visit consisted in visits to the two communities of Guayaquil: that of the Centro Afroecuadoriano (entrusted particularly to a team of Brothers and which is responsible for the parishes of Malvinas), and the community in the outskirts of Guadalupe.
Fr. Villarino then went to visit the communities of El Carmen (Manabi), a vast parish with numerous Christians and much pastoral work.
There are two members in the community of elderly confreres: Fr. Efren Angelini, (92), and Fr. Luis Zanini, (86). He also went to Honorato Vasquez (Manabi) with Fr. Claudio Zendron, Fr. Zanini and Fr. Giorgio Dorin, to pray at the tomb of Fr. Alberto Ferri who died on 16 October, 2009. The visit concluded with a meeting with Mgr. Lorenzo Voltolini, Bishop of Porto Viejo and a visit to Esmeraldas, the cradle of the Comboni presence in Ecuador.
Fr. Giulio Albanese appointed to post
Fr. Giulio Albanese, as well as continuing his work as Director of the Magazines of the Pontifical Missionary Works, was appointed on 23 January, last, by the Episcopal Conference of Italy (CEI) a member of the charitable works of the CEI on behalf of the countries of the Third World. Those wishing to know the procedure for presenting a project to be sponsored by the CEI, bearing in mind the local requirements for the approval of such projects by members of our Institute, may approach Fr. Giulio directly by email:
Thanksgiving for the freeing of two priests
His Eminence Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako has presided at a special Eucharistic celebration to thank God for the freeing of two priests of Khartoum Archdiocese, held prisoner for two weeks in the border area between North and South Sudan by armed militias of the South.
The two priests were violently kidnapped from their house at Rabak (White Nile State), in the pastoral region of Kosti, during the night of 16 January, last. The house was stripped of everything of value, including two Land Cruiser cars belonging to the parish.
The Vice-Provincial of the Comboni Province of Khartoum, Fr. Dominic Eibu, had suffered the same fate a few days before Christmas and had been kept prisoner for three days. During the present time, anyone from the South, living in the North, is a potential target for armed groups which operate with complete impunity. This is creating tension and fear among the Southerners still living in the North.
Cardinal Zubeir thanked God for having protected the two kidnapped priests and the Christian community for their ceaseless prayers. He spoke openly of the refusal of the Church to pay the ransom demanded by the kidnappers in the hope that this will break the chain of kidnappings which has become an easy means of enrichment. He also invited the faithful to pray for those who commit such acts as he prayed that they might be forgiven since “they do not know what they are doing”. He also sent out a reminder to pray for those still being held prisoner and to do everything possible to put a stop to this inhuman trafficking.
One of the freed priests expressed his thanks for the great solidarity he experienced and pointed out that their presence in detention made Christ present there somehow and encouraged their fellow prisoners. In conclusion, he emphasised the need for reconciliation between the various tribes of South Sudan.
On Saturday, 28 January, 2012, Bro. Andrés Gaspar Abarca took final vows at the parish of San Matteo Apostolo, at Chilpancingo in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. At ten in the morning, the parents, brothers and sisters and numerous relatives of Bro. Andres, a group of friends and benefactors of the Comboni community of Cuernavaca and fourteen Combonis from various communities of the Province, gathered at the church. The postulants were also present, together with the students of the preparatory course. The latter were also in charge of serving at the altar and the singing during the Mass. The celebration was prepared during the previous days with special help from Fr. Juan Apolinar Palomar Alcántar, and Fr. José Rodrigo Arizaga Catarino.
Fr. Miguel Navarrete Arceo, the provincial bursar, presided at the Eucharist. When Mass was over, all present were invited to share in a simple meal at the parish. We wish to thank Bro. Rosario Lannetti for his presence as representative of the Province of South Sudan. We sincerely thank God for the warm and brotherly welcome afforded us by the parish community, beginning with the Parish priest himself, Don Bernardo Sánchez Cruz, who, at the end of the ceremony, expressed his joy for the event and wished the Comboni Missionaries an abundance of blessings in their missionary work.
The Provincial Council met from 15 to 18 February, 2012, to reflect upon the life of the Province which is coming to grips with a shortage of personnel for some commitments, due in part to the advanced age of some confreres who are limited in what they can now do.
We continue to live the year 2012 as the year of the historical memorial of the Comboni Missionaries in Mozambique. Therefore we plan to publish a book on the history of the Combonis in this Province, from its commencement to the present day. The book written by Fr. Arnaldo Baritussio has already been translated into Portuguese and may constitute the foundation on which to base the new, shorter work.
The 2012 school year began with a number of young people desirous of pursuing the Comboni missionary life. Twelve aspirants entered the Pre-postulancy of Nampula, and will spend a year in discernment as to whether they will choose to enter the Postulancy.
The Matola Postulancy (Maputo) began with 24 postulants in three years. Twenty are aspiring to the priesthood and four to the brotherhood. Unfortunately, they have had to make do with the old quarters since the new building is not yet complete.
Four Postulants are waiting to go to the novitiate in August, after they have completed their pastoral experience in the Comboni-run parishes of Alua e Carapira.
Missionary experience of the scholastics
We thank the province of South Africa for having sent us the scholastics Nickel Mabuluki Bakwa (CN) and Ronnie Sebopela Kgomotso (RSA) to have their pastoral experience in the parish of St. Francisco Xavier in Benfica, Maputo. Sharing the faith enriches both themselves and the people of the Comboni-run parish.
The Comboni Missionaries' website – a new look!
The NAP would like to thank the confreres who helped us renew our public face with their pictures and video footage. It is thanks to your active collaboration that our webpage is now fully operative and enhanced.
We would like to continue having your reciprocal support in the future. If you would like to send your missionary pictures, please do so to our webmaster, Fr. José Alberto Pimentel Guzmán, at email@example.com Together we will continue to show our growing Comboni audience the importance and value of our Comboni charism. If you have not had the chance to look at our website, please do so at http://www.combonimissionaries.org/ You may also update your links and encourage your contacts on Facebook and emails to visit our website. Finally, your opinion matters to us, so let us know the ways we might improve our website.
Lay and Volunteer Missionaries in formation
The second session of the Annual Plan of Formation for the Volunteer Missionaries Network took place at the house of the Comboni Missionaries in Coimbra on 14 and 15 January. Fifty four volunteers took place in it. They are connected with organisations belonging to the Volunteer Missionaries Network of the Faith and Cooperation Foundation – Lay Comboni Missionaries (LCM) - who are preparing to leave for the mission. The two days of formation had as their theme “Volunteers and Projects of Cooperation for Development”, a theme which aroused the interest of the participants who showed a good spirit of participation and sharing.
The formators responsible for the formative units of the Saturday were Coelho La Salete, of the Office for Studies for Education and Development of the Upper School of Education of the Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, and Miguel Filipe Silva, of the centre for African Studies of the University of Oporto.
After a fraternal meal, the new contacts made during the course of the day were enriched by the testimony of Susana Vilas Boas, a Lay Comboni Missionary who has spent five years in the Central African Republic and shared her experience with those present.
Sunday 15 was devoted to the theme of “The Role of the Christian Volunteer in Development” in a session directed by Ana Leite, Paula Meireles and Isménia Silva, members of Laity for Development. Through the dynamics and work of the groups, the challenges of cooperation and development with particular emphasis on the Christian perspective in volunteer missions, were studied and the fundamental concepts of the Social Doctrine of the Church were explained. To bring things to a grand closure, the Eucharist was celebrated with Comboni Fr. Paulo Emanuel Loureiro da Silva presiding, after which came lunch and departure.
Ongoing Formation for superiors
In the context of the Comboni Year for Vocations and the pastoral programme for this year on the theme: “Comboni Community: Vocations Ministry”, the meeting of Superiors and Vice-superiors of the various communities and Sector Secretaries with the Provincial Council took place at Maia (24-25 January). The first day was dedicated to ongoing formation and the second to reflection and debate on the various urgent themes of the life of the Portuguese Province.
Commissioning of confreres
During their priestly ordination on 17 December, 2011, Fr. Jacques Amlon, Fr. Maurice Fessou, Fr. Augustin Soedjede and Fr. Bernard Domara with joy and thanksgiving celebrated the Eucharist in their native parishes surrounded by relatives and friends.
Later, on 19 February, 2012, they again met for the main Sunday Mass at the provincial House at Cacaveli to celebrate with the confreres of the community and with friends. It was a day on which to thank God for the gift of the priesthood; it was also the day on which they received the cross of their missionary commissioning.
With simple gestures and words and the prayers of the community, Fr. Provincial presented the cross to the four confreres leaving for the mission, together with a staff and a pair of sandals, following the words of Jesus to his disciples (Mk 6, 8-9).
The faithful present had the opportunity to appreciate the credible witness of four young men, priests and missionaries, about to depart and to live their faith and their vocation in other countries of Africa. Fr. Jacques will go to Egypt to study Arabic; Fr. Maurice will go to Central Africa and Fr. Augustin to the Congo. Fr. Bernard will stay in the province to collaborate in evangelisation with other confreres of the Togo-Ghana-Benin Province.
THE FATHER: Debesai Zewoldi, of Fr. Tium Debesay Zewoldi (C).
THE MOTHER: Giuseppina, of Fr. Bruno Bordonali (I).
THE BROTHERS: Luis, of Fr. Juan Antonio González Núñez (ET); Sandro, of Fr. Carlo Giana (†); Arturo, of Fr. Andrea (I) and of Fr. Tarcisio (U) Pazzaglia.
THE SISTERS: Irma Estela, of Fr. Ramón A. Orendáin Camacho (T); Mary, of Fr. Denis (NAP) and Fr. Patrick (MZ) Wilkinson; Serafina, of Fr. Pietro Rossi (†); Cesarina, of Fr. Carlo Negri (I).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Anna Guzzo; Sr. M. Adele Vassena; Sr. M. Stella Mauri; Sr. Pier Bernarda Giacopelli; Sr. Antonietta Ghilardi; Sr. Ida Maria Tomasi; Sr. Eusebia Piretti.
THE SECULAR COMBONI MISSIONARIES: Lucia Ventola, of the Altamura (Bari) unit.