Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
16th CONSULTA: 4-29 June 2012
1. Towards the Intercapitular
We are already at the vigil of the Intercapitular Assembly and we are continuing to prepare ourselves for this important moment in the life of the Institute. During the past weeks we received some reports from the provinces and delegations while the continents held some meetings for provincials and delegates to reflect together and prepare the continental reports. Speaking as General Council, we hope that the Assembly may be a time of profound sharing that will help us to better understand the situation of the mission, of the world and of our Institute in order to continue courageously our service using the resources available to us to the best advantage. The Rule of Life reminds us that the aim of the Intercapitular is “to verify the implementation of the decisions of the Chapter and to study new ways to continue their realisation” (RL 144).
We invite all the members of the Institute to accompany with their prayers this important moment in our life as an Institute so that the Spirit of the Lord may accompany the work and discernment that will be carried out to find a response to the challenges of mission today where we are present.
2. First Centenary in North Uganda and South Sudan
Next December, the celebrations marking the arrival of the first Comboni Missionaries and the beginnings of the Church in northern Uganda, will be concluded. Two celebrations have already taken place in recent years in the Archdiocese of Gulu and the Diocese of Nebbi.
At the same time, the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio, in South Sudan, will commemorate the arrival of the first missionaries and will celebrate the first centenary of the local Church to the birth of which so many Comboni missionaries contributed with their work and enthusiasm.
We congratulate Mgr. Sabino Ocan and Mgr. Edward Hiiboro and the Christian communities which today live the joy of the Gospel, sharing it with their brothers and sisters in these countries. We wish these Churches many blessings and the strength to continue the work begun one hundred years ago with the enthusiasm and trust of the first missionaries.
We also remember and thank all the Combonis who worked in these lands and those who continue to do so with fidelity, passion and great love for the people. May the Lord bless and multiply the seed sown in these lands.
3. Visits to the Provinces and Delegations
During April and May we continued to visit the provinces and delegations and we hope to conclude the first visits to all jurisdictions before the Intercapitular. Up to now, the General Assistants have visited almost all the provinces and delegations while the General Superior managed to visit one third of the provinces. We wish to carry out all these visits since we believe that they are very important in coming to know and share the journey we are making and we have seen that they become important times of animation and communion with the whole Institute.
We wish to take this opportunity to thank all the provincials and confreres who accompanied us and facilitated the work during the visits. We must say that all the visits were very beautiful moments of communion and enabled us to discover the beauty of the mission lived in simplicity and the daily routine of so many commitments, great and small, that we carry on as an Institute. Many heartfelt thanks for your welcome.
4. Meeting of the General Councils MCCJ-SMC
During this Consulta we had a day-long meeting with the General Council of the Comboni Missionary Sisters to share our work experiences, to find areas of collaboration and also to spend some time together in prayer.
The meeting was quite informal and, as on other occasions, allowed us to share some ideas regarding our experience at the service of the animation and coordination entrusted to us. Among the points discussed, we saw the possibility of preparing together some initiatives to celebrate, in 2014, a year centred upon the Plan of St. Daniel Comboni.
During the meeting, we decided to send out a joint letter to our provinces of South Sudan to mark the anniversary of independence and to continue to pray for the gift of peace.
5. The first Comboni year of OGF in Rome
During the days spent in Consulta, we received the team in charge of the Centre for Ongoing Formation in Rome. Among other things, they presented an evaluation of the Comboni Year celebrated for the first time in Rome. Generally speaking, the evaluation is positive and it seems that the participants were happy with the experience. Having the course based in Rome has many advantages which were emphasised in the evaluation but also has some disadvantages not found in other places. The team expressed its overall approval.
We wish all the participants a successful continuation of the work begun in Rome and we hope that the journey accomplished in these recent months may be enrichment for the missionary service they are called to take up again. We believe that the time spent in Rome will greatly help the participants to continue to give their very best to the mission.
We thank the coordinating team and we acknowledge all the good they are doing to help our confreres to live as well as possible their missionary and Comboni consecration and vocation.
1. Kinshasa (DCR)
The new formators for the Kinshasa scholasticate were appointed during this Consulta. Fr. Anakese Jérôme will be first formator and superior while Fr. Sindjalim Essognimam Elias will be second formator and will place at the disposal of ongoing formation and accompaniment the abilities he has developed at the school of psychology of the Gregorian University.
We thank Fr. Kamanga Mutombo Stéphane for his work during these past years in the field of formation, first in the novitiate of Kimwenza and then in the scholasticate of Kintambo.
2. Namugongo Novitiate (UG)
We thank Fr. Antonio Guarino for his contribution as socius to the Father Master in Namugongo. During the June Consulta Fr. Kiwanuka Achilles Kasozi was appointed the new socius and will begin his work as soon as he has finished the year of preparation he is doing here in Rome.
7. Renewal Course in Rome
The Renewal Course will begin in January, 2013. We invite all those interested to send in their names to those responsible for the course as soon as possible, so that they can send out the relevant information. The Course will last until May with the option of visiting the Comboni places and the Holy Land.
8. Rome Course for new formators cancelled
The General Council has cancelled for this year the Comboni Course for Formators originally scheduled for 15 October to 15 December, 2012. Only three confreres had enrolled for the Course. Dialogue is being carried on with the three confreres and their provincials with a view to enrolling them in the Course for Formators to be run by the Salesians from 18 February to 31 May, 2013.
Rio de Janeiro 20-25 June 2012
In view of the Comboni Forum on the Integrity of Creation (CFIC), the preparatory committee of the CFIC has sent a questionnaire to all those responsible for the Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation sector (JPIC) in the Comboni circumscriptions with a triple objective: to come to know in concrete terms the activities and projects that are being carried out or have been planned in the area of the Integrity of Creation (IC) at Institute level; to plan the work of the CFIC according to our situation; to facilitate the planning of future activities together.
Fr. Arlindo Ferreira Pinto made a summary of the replies (sent in by 21 circumscriptions out of 29) and sent it to the people concerned. The Superior General, Fr. Enrique Sánchez G., then sent a letter to all those taking part in the Forum.
The Comboni Family, gathered together on the occasion of the Forum Rio+20, reiterated that not only peace, reconciliation and social and environmental justice make up an essential dimension of mission but that ecology, too, must also be included in our apostolic activity.
(cf. “To heal a wounded world”, produced by the Jesuits). The triumph of Life over the dark powers of Death depends in part on our response. We are invited to commit ourselves in the provinces and continents where we are working. More especially, it is up to us missionaries to provide the Biblical, theological and moral foundation for the preservation of life and the prophetic condemnation of unbridled consumption of all that exists.
Vatican appointment for Fr. Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot
The Holy Father has appointed Rev. Fr. Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot MCCJ, head of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, to the post of Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Fr. Miguel Ángel exercised his missionary ministry in Egypt and Sudan up to 2002. He obtained a licentiate in Arabic studies (PISAI, Rome, 1982) and a doctorate in dogmatic theology (Granada University, 2000). Since 1989 he has been professor of Islamology, first in Khartoum, then in Cairo and finally at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies where he has hitherto also been Principal.
Fr. Tium Debesai Zewold (ET) two years ago got his BA with magna cum laude at the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS) with the thesis “Educative Communication in family life according to Thomas Gordon”. In June 2012 he got his Licentiate with summa cum laude with the thesis on “Homosexuality and Vocational discernment to Priestly and Religious life. Possible psychological contribution”. During the past three years he has followed the full summer courses at “Rulla School for Formation” run by the Gregorian Pontifical University (UPG). Congratulations!
Sc. Ketemepi Komivi Dodzi B.(T)
Sc. Labite Komi Maté (Anicet) (T)
Sc. Metin Sèdoté Alex C. (T-B)
Bro. Bauce Simone (I)
Fr. Dalle Carbonare Diego (I)
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 the Great Continental Mission, which is being carried out by the Churches in America, may also be a stimulus for us who are baptised so that we may be open to a mission beyond our own boundaries. Let us pray.
August – That the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelisation, due to be held in October, may involve us, as Comboni Family, to work for this option of the Church of which we are part. Let us pray.
September – That the Comboni Missionaries’ Intercapitular Assembly may strengthen in us the passion for the mission and commitment in mission promotion and help us to find new ways of accomplishing our mission. Let us pray.
Sixty years in Brazil
Exactly sixty years ago, the first Comboni Missionaries arrived in the city of Balsas, to the south of Maranhao. On 12 June, 1952, the vigil of the feast of the patron saint of the city, Saint Anthony, the first missionaries, sons of St. Daniel Comboni, were welcomed with fireworks, acclamations and cries of enthusiasm. Their arrival on that day was a happy coincidence as if to symbolise the consecration of a marriage pact with that ecclesial community and later with the whole Church and people of Brazil.
Today, profoundly immersed in the culture of the provisional, the temporary and the transitory, the Combonis persist in confirming their faithfulness and their willingness to love, to take responsibility for and care for the many men and women who saw in these missionaries an instrument of the compassion and love of God the Father.
Despite the usual personal and institutional weaknesses, this “diamond wedding anniversary” signifies, for the Combonis, the renewal of their availability to serve, as always, “the poorest and most forgotten of this world”. This is not a time for self-praise or boasting but a time for authentic manifestations of thanksgiving that rise from the depths of the heart for those who served as missionaries in this land.
Thanksgiving to all the Combonis living and working and for those “risen” in the Father who, by their sacrifices, self-denial and their spirit of adaptation, succeeded in living with, animating and collaborating with ecclesial communities, families and human groups, defending and promoting the fullness of rights and of life.
Thanksgiving to the many men and women of this land of north-eastern Brazil who welcomed, protected and loved more than three hundred Combonis who passed through this place during the past sixty years. These are people endowed with such humanity as to have been, for the missionaries, really and truly, their parents, their brothers and sisters; people who knew how to understand and reveal – without judging or condemning – their way of life that was not always in harmony with the local way of life and culture.
Thanksgiving to all the families who, with a true spirit of generosity and solidarity, not only upheld the choices and options of the Combonis but gave their goods, their time and their prayers to support and sustain a mission much greater than the missionaries themselves.
Thanksgiving, ultimately, to the God of life because, if the Combonis managed to sow a little seed during the past sixty years, it was by the power of the Spirit that caused it to germinate, to grow and to yield fruits of brotherhood, renewed hope and the will to be transformed.
(Provincial Council of Brasil Nordeste)
Under the protection of the Sacred Heart
On Friday, 15 June, we celebrated the feast of the Sacred heart of Jesus. It is a long-standing tradition here in Kinshasa. All the confreres gather for the occasion at the parish of Notre Dame du Bon Secours in Bibwa. The scholastics from Kintambo, the postulants from Kimwenza, the preparatory students, the Comboni Sisters and their postulants also came. Fr. Stéphane Kamanga presented a reflection on the place of the Sacred Heart in the life of St. Daniel Comboni.
During the Mass we prayed for all the confreres working in the various sectors of the Province. We remembered in a special way our sick confreres. The celebrant was assisted by Deacon Jean-Marie Munketalingi who is at present in Kinshasa to prepare himself for ordination to the priesthood planned for 22 July, 2012, at Idiofa, his native city.
After the Mass we went in procession to the Pre-postulancy where the person responsible, Fr. Jacques Monsengo, explained the purpose of the pre-postulancy and the reasons why it was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Fr. Stéphane then proceeded to bless the building.
Diamond anniversary of priesthood
The sixtieth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood of Fr. Luigi Zanini has been celebrated at Esmeraldas with many of the faithful taking part. Also this year, Fr. Luigi is celebrating his fifty-two years of missionary presence in Esmeraldas where he worked in the parishes of Limones, La Catedral, San Lorenzo and La Merced where, on 7 June, there was a beautiful feast in the presence of all the Comboni communities of Borbón, San Lorenzo, La Merced and El Carmen and also of Mgr. Eugenio Arellano Fernández, Vicar Apostolic of Esmeraldas. Fr. Luigi was afforded an opportunity to tell the story of his missionary life. At the end of the day, in front of the packed cathedral, Mgr. Arellano presided over the celebration of the Eucharist and spoke of the great work carried out by Fr. Luigi and of his constant presence in the north of Esmeraldas. Fr. Luigi is still working hard in Pampón, a difficult area of conflict dominated by gangs who call him “Dry Bones” since he never carries anything they might steal from him.
Exhibition of Marian Coptic Art
As the Coptic Church in Egypt was waiting for the result of the elections of the new Patriarch and the nation was getting ready to choose a new President, the waves of demonstrators gave way to free expression of disappointment in Tahreer Square, a few hundred meters away from Cordi Jesu.
It is in this context of political self-expression that another form of manifestation took place next door to the crowds of discontent. The 1st June, 2012, an Art Exhibition was opened with significant participation.
Fr. Giovanni Esti coordinator and mastermind of the event reports: “More than 30 selected professional artists exhibited their works according to their creative interpretation of Coptic Art, both in the traditional and the innovative fashion. The topic of the exhibition intended to evoke the features of the Egyptian experience of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The aim of the topic was to present a Marian symbol that inspires women and challenges male stereotypes. The experience of Mary in Egypt has blended her soul to that of the Egyptian women. She is one of them and becomes a journey to follow now as then. She continues to reconcile faith with life.”
We “Combonis of 1962” at Limone fifty years on
In 1962, we were 46, all of us young, mostly Italians but with a good few from Germany (then a separate Institute), Portugal, Mexico, The United Kingdom, Ireland and South Sudan, all of us ordained priest for the mission in the footsteps of St. Daniel Comboni.
In 2012, we gathered at Limone to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of our priesthood. We were together from 13 to 15 June, having visited Verona and Brixen/Bressanone where we met our German-speaking confreres who, like ourselves, were celebrating the occasion. We were only eight in Limone but we represented all the continents where we work at the service of the Gospel.
We prayed and made a pilgrimage to the house where the Founder was born. We devoted much time to sharing our visions, experiences and hopes that sustained and guided us during the past fifty years of missionary life in such different places with such a variety of problems, often contrasting and very difficult. We also spoke of the future, in a spirit of openness to new ways of actualising the charism of Comboni and giving value to the spirituality of our holy Founder. We are grateful to Fr. Danilo Castello (still suffering with his unsteady legs supported by two stout sticks) for the points of reflection he gave us. The feast of the Sacred Heart was the obvious way to conclude our meeting.
Before returning to our work we took stock: of the original group, 12 are already “with God” and now intercede for us. We remembered especially Fr. Barnaba Deng who was killed as he went to celebrate Mass in a parish near Wau in 1965, and of Mgr. Cesare Mazzolari, Bishop of Rumbek, who was called by the Lord while celebrating Mass in his cathedral last year. Eleven chose other ways of serving the Lord with four opting for incardination. Others occupy positions in society and are still joined to us in friendship. We are now 23 “with various shades of grey hair – those who have any – wobbly legs, rather uncertain eyesight, quite a bit of medicine in our bags but all of us with hearts as big and beating as fervently as ever, with more faith now that we have grown with the journeying Church, our minds full with the faces of our beloved brothers and sisters and the joy of looking back over the road travelled and ahead to what is still left”, as our Limone confreres wrote for the reproduction of the photos prepared by Fr. Lorenzo Gaiga for Nigrizia in 1962.
O Sunday, 3 June, in the crowded cathedral of Padua, Mgr. Antonio Mattiazzo conferred the sacrament of Holy Orders on Diego Dalle Carbonare and eight other candidates of the diocese of Padua. Diego only recently returned from Egypt where he studied Arabic in view of his appointment to the Province of Khartoum. There were numerous Combonis present from different communities of Italy as well as the Delegate of Egypt; some missionaries who are studying at Rome EUR, family members, friends and parishioners of Diego’s parish of Cogollo del Cengio (VI), where, on Sunday, 10 June, Fr. Diego celebrated his first solemn Mass. The newly ordained priest will leave for Egypt to continue his study of Arabic around mid-August.
On Sunday, 24 June, at the parish of Castello di Arzignano (Vicenza), Bro. Simone Bauce consecrated himself to God for life. A number of confreres were present at this event so meaningful not only for Combonis but also for Bro. Simone’s parish. In his homily, the Provincial of Italy, Fr. Corrado Masini, emphasised the meaning today of consecration for life to the mission, connecting it to the celebration of the solemnity of the birth of St. John the Baptist. Bro. Bauce recently worked in Ecuador at the Afro Cultural Centre where he will return after his holidays in Italy.
Khartoum Archdiocese and the Year of Faith
Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako convoked the religious and priests of the Archdiocese of Khartoum, for a workshop lasting from 5 to 7 June, in preparation for the Year of Faith.
Over the three mornings spent in reflection, the apostolic letter Porta Fidei was read and commented on. The reflection also covered the situations that obstruct the faith on a personal level, within the Church and in society. In conclusion, a series of initiatives to live the Year in depth was proposed.
The workshop initiative was welcomed with interest by the pastoral agents of the Archdiocese who feel especially challenged, in these historical times of great difficulty for the life of the Church in Sudan, to accept with faith the drastic changes that are taking place.
It is extremely necessary and urgent to see the situation with the eyes of faith in order to face with serenity the radical transformations that are reducing the Church to a tiny minority, a little flock with a meaningful mission and role in the complexity of the new situation of Sudan.
Meeting on Comboni Spirituality
The theme was “Like Comboni, we are all called to holiness”, when, in mid-June, a meeting on Comboni spirituality was held at Maia seminary, attended by more than a score of participants. Sanctity is a journey accessible to all and not only to consecrated persons, priests and bishops. This was the guiding light of all the activities of the meeting. Fr. José Julio Martins Marques, a Comboni missionary, explained the theme of holiness in the Bible, in the documents of the Church and in St. Daniel Comboni. “It was the mission – he emphasised – that made Comboni holy: missionary life is a journey of holiness”.
Afterwards an open discussion was held during which the participants – representatives of the Comboni Institutes and a lay person in charge of the association of former Comboni students – shared some interesting and anecdotal aspects of their vocational journeys with special emphasis by all on the positive impact of St. Daniel Comboni on their lives.
During the meeting, there was also a talk on the figure of Sister Giuseppa Scandola, whose cause of beatification is under way. She worked for 26 years in Sudan where she died in 1903. We know that Sr. Giuseppina offered her life in exchange for that of a young, seriously ill, missionary priest. The priest recovered and Sr. Giuseppa died.
The closing Mass was presided over by the provincial, Fr. Alberto de Oliveira Silva, who, in his homily affirmed that holiness is not so much a state of perfection as “a journey towards configuration to Jesus Christ”.
The meeting on Comboni spirituality is an annual initiative by the Comboni Family for lay people who share the charism of Comboni and wish to develop their Comboni missionary spirituality.
Feast of the Sacred Heart with perpetual vows and ordinations
On 15 June, 2012, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart, the provincial house of Cacaveli (Lomé) set to work so that all – the postulants, the newly professed, male and female Comboni Missionaries – could have a day of thanksgiving and renewal in contemplation of the pierced Heart of Christ the Good Shepherd. The day began with Lauds led by the scholastics in missionary service. Fr. Pepe Girau then presented a reflection based upon the Letter of the General Council on the Word of God in our missionary being and acting.
It was also an opportunity to present the five newly-professed of the province: Isaac Gbegnon and Gratien Gbego from Benin; Aimé Hakpa, Christ Roi Tomety and Michel Esseh from Togo. They will be assigned to the scholasticates of Nairobi, Cape Coast, Kinshasa and Pietermaritzburg.
During the Eucharist presided over by the Provincial, three scholastics, surrounded by parents, relatives and friends, made their perpetual profession: Anicet Labite and Boris Ketemepi from Togo and Alex Canisius Metin from Benin. The celebration thus became a powerful moment of missionary commitment for all those present. In contemplating the Heart of Jesus, as St. Daniel Comboni wrote in his Rules (1871), they will be happy to offer themselves and to give their lives for the Mission.
It was also an opportunity to say goodbye to Fr. José Francisco de Matos Dias who was returning to Portugal after fifteen years in Togo. For ten years he formed a good number of postulants. among whom were the three who had just made their perpetual profession. Heartfelt thanks to Fr. Francisco for his missionary zeal and commitment.
On Saturday, 16 June, the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in the parish church of Our Lady, mother of the Redeemer of Adidogome, Anicet, Boris and Canisius were ordained to the diaconate by Mgr. Denis Amuzu-Dzakpah, Archbishop of Lomé. The presence of the three parish delegations of the three new deacons with their parish priests created a deep climate of ecclesial communion: these young men belong to local Churches which will, in the near future, send them out into the world to proclaim the Good News.
THE FATHER: Bartolomeo, of Fr. Andrew J. Bwalya (RSA).
THE MOTHER: Antonia, of Bro. Pasqualino Artuso (†).
THE SISTER: Sabina, of Fr. Mödi Abel Nyörkö (NAP).