Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
15th CONSULTA – 5-29 March, 2012
The General Council has made the following appointments:
- Fr. Vittorio Moretto as associate father Master of the Sahuayo Novitiate (México).
- Fr. Dario Bossi as vice- provincial of Brazil NE until 31 December, 2013.
The next Intercapitular Assembly (Rome 2-22 September, 2012) will be one of the most important moments of our journey of service towards the mission and an opportunity to see how far we have come in the implementation of the General Chapter. The commission in charge of preparing the Intercapitular Assembly has designed a programme which involves a fortnight of work, reflection and sharing among the General Council, the provincials and the heads of Secretariats and some general office-holders. We wish to entrust this moment to Saint Daniel Comboni that he may accompany us and enlighten us as we continue his missionary work. We invite all the members of the Institute to accompany the Assembly with their prayers and also with any suggestions or reflections that might be of help to discernment.
This year is the 60th anniversary of the presence of the Comboni Missionaries in Brazil and also sees the close of the historical Comboni “Memorial” in Mozambique. Celebrations are already under way and our confreres are making this event into an occasion of thanksgiving for the missionary work carried out and, at the same time, a moment of mission promotion.
We wish all our confreres a happy continuation in the service to the mission and people entrusted to them. We hope that these celebrations may be a moment of great encouragement to all Comboni Missionaries and a time for re-awakening the missionary spirit in the Churches of Mozambique and Brazil. We congratulate the confreres of both these Provinces.
4. Towards the Synod
The Synod of bishops will take place in Rome in October on the theme of “The New Evangelisation”. For us missionaries, this Synod will be an important time for reflecting upon and taking up the challenges which the new evangelisation presents to the mission. As missionaries in a world undergoing great changes, we are asked to discover new forms and styles of presenting the Gospel to the people of our day. It may, therefore, be for us an occasion to deepen reflection at provincial and continental levels as we seek new ways of expressing the riches of our Comboni charism.
5. Newly Professed and Finalists
During this Consulta we received from the Novice masters the reports concerning the novices who, in May, will make their first profession as Comboni Missionaries. We gratefully accept the gift of 30 confreres who, after their first vows, will continue their preparation in the Scholasticates and CIF (International Centres for Brothers). In the year 2012, twenty-one Finalists will undertake missionary service; about a dozen will be ordained as Comboni priests and two Brothers will make their final professions. Lastly, one religious priest will move from his Institute to ours. We thank the Lord for the gift of vocations and we pray for our perseverance and fidelity to the gift we have received.
6. Renewal Course 2013
Next January, the new Renewal Course will commence, organised by the Ongoing Formation Team in Rome. Those interested are invited to begin discussions with their provincials and contact those responsible for the Course. As in former years, the Course will be held at the Centre for Ongoing Formation in Rome and will also include a period to be spent visiting Comboni sites in Italy and in Egypt and a visit to the Holy Land.
7. Course for Confreres over seventy years of age
In view of the demands made upon those participating in the renewal Course – duration, content and travelling – those in charge of Ongoing Formation are thinking of organising a Course, perhaps of shorter duration, for confreres over seventy. During the coming months we shall try to provide the necessary information if there are confreres who wish to have a time for renewal and reflection upon their long missionary life.
8. Fourth year of Scholasticate
During this Consulta we discussed the question of a fourth year of scholasticate for those confreres preparing for the priesthood. The question was discussed at Palencia last July and concerns only those scholasticates where it is possible to finish the first theology cycle in three years. According to our Ratio Fundamentalis for formation, the scholasticate foresees a minimum of four years of preparation for priestly ministry. The General Council is still of the view that we ought to respect the four-year minimum rule and asks the formators to follow a suitable programme which will enable our confreres to live the fourth year as an opportunity to form a synthesis of the formative journey that may help them to better live their missionary service before being ordained to the priesthood. The fourth year, as a rule, does not include the commencement of specialisations.
9. Visits and Journeys of the GC
Fr. Enrique Sánchez G.
9 April-1 May: visit to Spain
Fr. Alberto Pelucchi
10-13 April: Limone (GERT workshop)
28 April: Limone – Meeting with Novices/Postulants of Europe
2-26 May: visit to Ethiopia with Fr. Tesfaye
26-30 May: Kenya
Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse G.
2-31 May: visit to Ethiopia with Fr. Pelucchi
5-27 August: visit to Mozambique with Bro. Daniele
Fr. Antonio Villarino R.
10 April-10 May: visit to Mexico with Bro. Daniele
15-25 May: São Paulo – Continental Assembly for Provincials
Bro. Daniele G. Giusti
10 April-10 May: visit to Mexico with Fr. Villarino
5-27 August: visit to Mozambique with Fr. Tesfaye
New layout of the Comboni Sisters’ website
“Since the world of today runs on the web, we missionaries also want to take this road to spread the Word”. Five years ago, on the anniversary of the birth of Saint Daniel Comboni (15-03-2007), with these same words, we Comboni Missionary Sisters began to share the Good News in a new way.
We have opened the website www.comboniane.org which publishes in various languages (Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese) the various events in the lives of the people among whom we are present in the universal Church and throughout the world.
Today, 15 March, 2012, we once again celebrate the gift of the life of St. Daniel Comboni and mark the occasion by updating the graphics of the website and adding new areas and menus to the existing windows.
Statistics of the living and deceased: a comparison
In reply to a question put by a confrere, we checked to see whether the Comboni Fathers, Brothers and Sisters who now belong to the Province of Paradise outnumber those still working on earth. Truth to tell, we were afraid this was already the case and not a few were willing to propose a toast for the occasion.
The statistics tell us that the living are still ahead by 109 members and so the dead have not yet overtaken us numerically. However, with both male and female ‘departures’ at around sixty a year, those in paradise will probably move into the top spot in either 2012 or 2013.
On 10 March, 2012, these were the figures:
The chart shows that the deceased Sisters have already overtaken those living while the living Comboni Fathers, Brothers and Seculars are still the majority.
If, however, the 17 deceased MCCJ novices are added to the number as well as the 41 Sister postulants/novices included in our In Pace Christi booklet, the total of deceased reaches 3,074, thus reducing the difference to 51 instead of 109.
Holy Redeemer Guild
April 01 – 15 DSP 16 – 30 E
May 01 – 07 ET 08 – 15 ER 16 – 31 IT
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.
May – That like Mary in her visit to Elizabeth, we may travel the roads of the world eager to communicate Christ, the Word made flesh for the salvation of all humankind. Let us pray.
The book “One Church from every Tribe, Tongue and People” has already hit the market. It records all addresses by historians, church personnel and politicians of the past and present of the Catholic Church in the two Sudans. The Symposium that took place in Juba, South Sudan, last October, was a historic event that celebrated the role of the Church in the Independence of South Sudan. The book is published by Paulines Publications Africa.
Fr. Giovanni Maria Piu: Espiritualidad Misionera. 20 fundamental themes of missionary spirituality, expertly presented by Fr. Piu, based upon almost sixty years of priestly and missionary experience. It is published by Centro di Animazione Missionaria “Casa Comboni”, Guatemala, February 2012, pp. 122.
Fr. Giovanni Maria Piu and Fr. Mario Balbiani: El Discipulado en San Marcos - Cristología. This is a course of Christian initiation based upon the Gospel of St. Mark, intended for catechumens. Publishers: Centro di Animazione Missionaria “Casa Comboni”, Guatemala, February 2012, pp. 126.
Fr. Gabriel Estrada Santoyo: Risas en la sacristía. Religious humour showing how people live and view religion in a spirit of good humour. It contains more than 100 jokes about the “Ecclesiastical Hierarchy”. It is funny but also respectful and is Fr. Gabriel’s way of celebrating his 25 years of priesthood. Publishers: Centro di Animazione Missionaria “Casa Comboni”, Guatemala, December 2011, pp. 182.
TV Documentary: Mongoumba, frontier mission
The work of Fr. Jesús Ruiz Molina and the Portuguese lay missionaries Elia and Marcia in the parish of Mongoumba, in the Central African Republic, was the subject of the documentary “Mongoumba, frontier mission”, broadcast on TV2 on Sunday, 25 March. It was repeated on Friday 30 March at 9pm, again on TV2.
The documentary shows how elderly women accused of witchcraft are offered hospitality and protection, the six schools for Aka pygmies, the parish dispensaries associated with public health and the hospital of the city, the absence of means of communication and the remoteness of the place (there is no telephone, radio, roads or electricity…), the refugee camp at Batalimo, the integral assistance of the Aka pygmies, the centre for rehabilitation of polio sufferers, the impressive work to put an end to infant malnutrition and, above all, the radical commitment lived by religious and lay Combonis alongside a suffering and ill-treated people. All of this in thirty minutes.
Two more programmes are planned. The first will be: "M’baiki: education towards dignity”, due to be broadcast in June. On 28 March there will be an interview with Mgr. Juan José Aguirre.
The Kinshasa press mentions Afriquespoir
Afriquespoir has published issue number 58. Since its inception in 1998, it is issued four times a year as well as a supplement to promote subscriptions. Fr. Neno Contran, who was the first editor, is still at his post and works as if he were forty years younger. Afriquespoir is also a publishing house. It publishes small, inexpensive, easy-to-read books. Circulation is taken care of by the Comboni Sisters, our students and lay Combonis.
The editorial reality of Afriquespoir is starting to widen and the press sometimes speaks of it in Kinshasa. Le Potentiel, the most important daily of Kinshasa, presented six pocket booklets by Fr. Tonino Falaguasta Nyabenda. These booklets – and there are more in the pipeline – aim at the presentation of witnesses who show us how to live the Gospel of Christ today.
On 25 February, again in the same paper, another book by Afriquespoir was defined as an editorial phenomenon for the Congo. Le Monde dans ma poche was published for the first time in 2005 and so far 150,000 copies have been printed!
On 10 March, 2012, it happened again. The same paper presented La roue, a book by Fr. Neno Contran and a Congolese colleague Patrick Monzemu. In 112 pages it summarises the life and message of the most outstanding Africans of the past fifty years: a long-awaited history of Africa based upon the major leaders of the African continent.
Congoskill: a missionary school in Kinshasa
Congoskill School began to function on 16 May, 2003. The initiative came from Fr. Eliseo Tacchella who, with the help of his brother Tito, wanted to lend a hand to the masses of young unemployed in Kinshasa. Congoskill, provides professional training in information technology, following the programmes of the ECDL Foundation of Dublin (Ireland) through its subsidiary «Skill on line» of Turin whose PDG, Carlo Tommasi, is a friend of his. Heading the Information Technology in Kinshasa is Clarck Fani. The course awards an internationally recognised certificate. The students are all adults and are asked to give a small contribution.
Congoskill could not close its eyes to the serious problem of the street children of Kinshasa. Consequently, every afternoon there are information technology courses for boys from 14 to 16 years of age, in collaboration with the Salesians and the Guanellians who give them shelter for the night and organise their complementary activities. Congoskill is located within the boundaries of the parish of Saint Raphael.
The Christian communities of the area (CEVB) have asked permission to use the buildings for their pastoral activities on Mondays and Wednesdays, apart from Sundays for Mass. As promoters of these activities, Congoskill is assisted by two Comboni scholastics, Aubert Gamende and Anatole Mughendi who are on the spot every week-end.
Reorganisation of the Curia Library
After many months of preparation to make it possible to carry out the works and six months for the work itself, the reorganisation of the Library of the General Curia in Rome began.
When the house in Via Luigi Lilio was opened in the seventies, the Curia Library was transferred from Verona and entrusted to the care of Fr. Stefano Santandrea, a confrere with much experience and a vast knowledge of the cultures and languages of our missions.
As the Directory of the General Administration says: “The Library of the General Curia has a specific characteristic, namely its “Comboni nature”. It holds the most complete collection possible of historical documents referring to the Founder, the history and activities of the Institute and the mission …”
The recent new regulations issued by the civil authorities regarding buildings open to the public, required that we also conform to them, so as to continue our activity. The General Council approved the project and the work was carried out by a specialised company.
The reorganisation of the library did not simply mean replacing the books and other material that had been removed but a critical revision of the validity of the content of the various sectors of the Library.
The General Administration and the confreres of the various communities as well as researchers from outside may make use of these precious historical documents. We are aware that modern technology opens up wide and new areas of research but the specific collection of material in our Curia Library is a unique source of works that may illustrate both our history and the linguistic and ethnographic research of many of our confreres.
“Above all, it is to be hoped that young people, especially, in the case of this Library and also of other community libraries, may be able to avail of that which our forefathers in the Institute have handed down to us”, said the Librarian, Fr. Pietro Ravasio.
Africae Munus as seen by two Africans
The communities of the Generalate House of the Comboni Missionaries, Rome, gathered on the evening of 8 March to attend the presentation by Fr. John Kwoffie, Vicar General of the Spiritan Missionaries, and Fr. Kouevi Adjétey Louis Mawoulolo, a Togolese Comboni priest on the theme “Future prospects for Africa. How an African religious today reads the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus”.
Texts, especially the more important ones, are the object of different readings and interpretations. This is also the case with Africae Munus, the Apostolic Exhortation of Benedict XVI, and the result of the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that took place in Rome in October, 2009.
Fr. John Kwoffie and Fr. Louis Kouevi carried out a reading of the papal document focussing on the numerous details referring to the larger themes affecting the African situation in various ambits: ecclesial, religious, social, economic and political and the corresponding challenge to evangelisation and the new evangelisation of the Continent.
The numerous values in Africae Munus presented by the two speakers lead one to a very positive view of the document and, in a sense, are in contrast with the critical attitude of other missionaries. According to the speakers, the Church in Africa has much to offer to the increasingly secularised western world, since its feels it is truly missionary, capable, that is, of giving a notable contribution to the mission of the universal Church.
A Prophet of Africa
The Generalate House in Rome was, on 15 March, the venue of a meeting in a packed Chapter Hall of Comboni Priests, Brothers and Sisters, friends, benefactors and admirers of the figure of Saint Daniel Comboni, for the presentation of the book Un profeta dell’Africa, the 5th edition of the life of Daniele Comboni, by Domenico Agasso, Senior, and Domenico Agasso, Junior.
Fr. Venanzio Milani, the moderator of the meeting, explained that the decision to alter the title – A prophet of Africa rather than A Prophet for Africa – was due to the fact that Daniele Comboni so identified with the continent that he felt authorised to speak on its behalf like an African.
Among those present were Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Fr. Enrique Sánchez G., Superior General of the Comboni Missionaries, Sr. Maria Vidale, and an expert in matters pertaining to Comboni and his work, and the co-author of the book, Domenico Agasso Junior.
New Eparchy of Segheneity
The creation of a new Eparchy of Segheneity had been prepared over a period of several years. Segheneity is located 62 km south-east of Asmara and 13 km from Hebo, the Sanctuary of St. Justin de Jacobis, our Father in the faith. The new Eparchy includes Dekemhare, Segheneity, Addi Keih, Senafe, Tsorona and the port of Assab. The eparchical clergy is made up of 30 priests. There are about forty parishes and chapels. Male and female religious are also present (Vincentians, Combonis, Capuchins, Daughters of Charity, Salesians and Pious Women Teachers of the Philippines). The area continues to yield abundant vocational fruits - bishops, priests, religious and lay leaders.
Fr. Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim, first bishop of the new Eparchy, is a priest from the Eparchy of Asmara. Ordained priest in 1996, he studied in Rome for three years, where he was awarded a licentiate in moral theology. Up to two years ago he was parish priest of Segheneity and dean of the area. For the past two years he was Vicar General and also parish priest of the Cathedral of Asmara. (Abune Menghesteab Tesfamariam, mccj, Eparch of Asmara)
The “Javierada” is a pilgrimage which takes place every year in Spain, in the month of March, during which pilgrims walk to the castle where, in 1506, St. Francis Xavier was born. Children, young people and adults, walk to thank God for this great missionary who never ceased to bring the message of Jesus to all the peoples of the Asian world.
This year, Bro. Alberto Lamana Cónsola and Fr. Juan Antonio Fraile Gómez, together with a group of 400 pilgrims, mostly young people, took part. Having travelled by bus, they covered the remaining 24 Km on foot. Following the example of the Patron of the Missions, there were enriching periods of prayer, celebrations and living together during which the testimonies of the missionaries among them were also heard. Bro. Alberto and Fr. Juan spoke of their experiences in South Sudan and in Congo, respectively.
Spiritual Exercises at Limone
Following the first experience, we have had many requests to again organise courses of spiritual exercises (only for Comboni Sisters, Fathers, Brothers and Seculars) on the theme of “The Spirituality of Comboni”, emphasising the mystical and prophetic dimension of his calling to the Mission summarised in his famous words "Keep your eyes fixed firmly on Jesus Christ, loving him tenderly and seeking to understand ever more the meaning of a God dying on a cross for our salvation ".
The aim is to form an identikit of the spirituality of Comboni which finds, as essential roots in his personality, his total self-giving in interior freedom.
We have organised two courses for this year on these dates:
First Course: From the evening of Monday, 17 September, to mid-day on Saturday 22 September, directed by Fr. G. Taneburgo.
Second Course: From the evening of Monday, 1 October, to mid-day on Saturday, 6 October, directed by Fr. Enrique Sánchez G., Superior General.
Both directors will follow this methodology: brief presentations, leaving ample time for listening not only to the Word but also to the sacredness of the place.
Due to the limited space available, participants will not exceed fifteen to twenty people. Bookings are to be made through the following email: danycastello@ hotmail.com
Inauguration of the Photographic display “Migrant Bodies”
In the splendid renaissance surroundings of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, close to the Duomo of Florence, a large group of people gathered on Tuesday, 20 March, at 16.30, in the Sala Mario Fabiani to assist at the inauguration of the photographic display entitled “Migrant Bodies”.
The display is the creation of the Nigrizia Foundation and aims at conscientising citizens on the theme of immigration as it seeks to emphasise that this phenomenon involves men, women and children, both young and old, each with a personal history, needs, dreams, experiences – often painful and sometimes gratifying. In short, real people and not simply wandering bodies in search of hope and a future. The display is striking and challenges the viewer to renew the human meaning of our existence and that of others, starting, indeed, with the immigrants. It is a drama that may be transformed into riches and blessings for our bored and ancient society.
Comboni Feast in Guadalajara
The fifteenth of March was a missionary feast for the community of Guadalajara and for the whole Province. The day was passed in a deep missionary spirit together with the new Cardinal of Guadalajara, José Francisco Robles, and the provincial, Fr. Erasmo Bautista Lucas.
The Provincial invited the Cardinal to visit the Comboni Oasis which cares for various sick and elderly confreres, on the anniversary of Comboni’s birth, and to bless the chapel – even though it was not yet completed – dedicated to St. Daniel Comboni.
The participation of the people was great and very moving, a sign of the thorough animation carried out by past and present Comboni Missionaries. The Cardinal spoke with simplicity and meaningfully, praising the work of the Comboni Missionaries to whom he is bound by ties of deep friendship. On his part, the Provincial thanked the Cardinal and, in the name of all the confreres, emphasised that their missionary work in the archdiocese would follow the example of the Founder, Daniel Comboni, a man who always tried to enrich the Church with a missionary spirit and concern for the poor.
The Eucharistic celebration concluded with the presentation of the Cross to Fr. Filomeno Ceja, who is leaving for Guatemala, having served for many years at the Oasis as missionary animator and superior. The spontaneous and sincere applause of the people enhanced the gratitude expressed by the Provincial to this confrere, “a tireless preacher of the mission”.
One significant part of the celebration was the visit by the Cardinal to the elderly confreres. These are confreres who, by their lives have written some beautiful pages in the annals of the Province and are worth remembering: Bro. Arsenio Ferrari (91), the only surviving member of the first group of Combonis to arrive in Mexico in 1948; Fr. José Flores (78), the first Mexican Comboni; Bro. Salvador Orozco (83), the oldest of the Mexican Brothers and Fr. Urbano De Cesare (92), the oldest confrere in the Province.
The members of the Province gathered from 16 to 20 January at the provincial House. Participation was good and the atmosphere fraternal. Fr. Javier Uriarte, SJ, assisted prayer and reflection on the theme “the Word of God in our missionary being and acting”. The first part of his intervention was dedicated to “The Heart of Jesus – completely human” and the second dealt with the theme: “from intimacy to fecundity of the mission”. In the afternoon, the provincial Fr. Luis Alberto Barrera Pacheco gave his annual report in which he explained how he understood the social, economic and ecclesial situation of the Church in Peru and Chile, dwelling on the Comboni reality and the progress made by the Province in 2011. The secretariats and committees gave their reports which presented concrete proposals for the guidance of the Province. One part of the reflection dealt with the Common Fund.
Continental Assembly for Formation
Fr. Luis Alberto Barrera Pacheco, the provincial in charge of Continental Basic Formation and Vocation Promotion, and Fr. Pedro Percy Carbonero Mogollón, Provincial Secretary for BF and VP, took part in the Continental Assembly which took place in Bogotà from 9 to 20 February, 2012.
It was an important exercise in ongoing formation and reflection upon the challenges present in continental basic Comboni formation.
Marco Raúl Mejía opened the meeting with a conference on the situation of the youth in Colombia and the way apprenticeship works in a consumer oriented and globalised world. During the following days, Fr. Siro Stocchetti explored some interesting themes useful for working better with the educational model of integration in basic formation, taking particular account of the needs of the mission. In conclusion, on the basis of the reports presented by each circumscription, priorities and proposals emerged which have been included in the final document. The warm welcome afforded by the members of the Delegation of Colombia, and particularly by Fr. Raffaello Savoia and Bro. Marco Binaghi, deserves mention. On the two Sundays we visited the marvels of the country: the Cathedral of Salt, Monserrate and the Museum of Gold. The visits enabled the participants to get to know each other better and to create an atmosphere of friendship.
Conclusion of the Vocations Year
The Comboni Vocations Year promoted by the Portuguese Province that was opened on 15 March, 2011, was closed on 18 March at Viseu, the city that welcomed the first Comboni presence in Portugal.
On Sunday afternoon, in the Pavilhao Multiusos of Viseu, the Comboni Family and friends, about two thousand participants from the city and elsewhere in the country, especially those places where we are present, gathered for the closing ceremony. The Eucharist was presided over by the Bishop of Viseu Diocese, Mgr. Ilídio Pinto Leandro.
First and foremost, Mgr. Ilídio expressed his thanks for the choice of Viseu and congratulated the Comboni Missionaries on celebrating such an important event in deep communion with the local Church. In his homily, he said among other things that in the course of history new events occur from time to time such as: the birth of Daniel Comboni and when there occur ideals and events inspired with enthusiasm and the will to renew and start all over again, as in the experience of the Comboni Vocations Year. Mgr. Ilídio recalled among the people who incarnated “the folly of God” and who are very close to us, we find Daniele Comboni, Teresa di Calcutta, Giovanni Paolo II and Idalina de Aguiar da Beira. The mandate to ‘Go to the missions’, he said, continues to be a cry from the One who sends us but also of the many people who need bread, peace and liberty, a sense of the meaning of life and hope for the future. The missionary life is still a beautiful adventure. The flame lit by St. Daniel Comboni and the fire that burns from it are still meaningful for our time and call for others to join in the adventure.
The last three general Chapters (1997, 2003, and 2009) insisted upon the importance of using the means of communication (magazines, papers, radio, TV, Internet). The 2009 Chapter gave particular attention to information technology, as we read in n. 193 of the Chapter Acts: “Use is to be made of the means of communication in MA, VP and JPIC and to communicate the values of the Kingdom. Each circumscription is to have its own website”.
In line with this decision, the Province of Togo-Ghana-Benin has opened its website: www.mccjtgb.org
The work was carried out by the Ghanaian scholastic John Hammond Sekyiamah, now at Cape Coast (Ghana).
THE FATHERS: Battista, of Fr. Marco Vailati (I); Vicente, of Bro. Carlos Cárdenas García (M).
THE SISTERS: Albina, of Bro. Ottorino Gelmini (I); Angelina, of Fr. Giovanni Battelli (I); Sister Celina (Carmelite), of Fr. Zorzato Mansueto (ET).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Virginia Barbieri; Sr. Teodosia Larghi; Sr. Crescenzia Colombo; Sr. M. Candida Ferrari.