Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
The Comboni Year of Ongoing formation started on September 19 with the three coordinators, 19 participants of 11 nationalities and coming from four continents.
This dimension of inter-cultural exchange is a great gift. Just as much as these months are a gift that the Lord and the Institute offer us. This period is meant as a pause for reflection, after about 10 to 15 years of mission experience, in order to look at our missionary life in the light of the Word of God and through someone who will help us spiritually and psychologically to know ourselves better, and then see where God wants to lead us in this phase of our life.
Let us try to deepen and live with intensity the dimension of personal and community prayer, self-awareness, community life and the Comboni dimension.
The new number of “Archivio Comboniano, 2009-2010, Year XLVII-XLVIII” has just come out. It is the first of two volumes dedicated to the correspondence of the servant of God Bishop Antonio Maria Roveggio.
Having decided to publish the correspondence, with the addition of brief introductions and some critical notes, the work of the curator, Fr. Joaquim José Valente da Cruz, became hard and complex. A lot of research was done in our Historical Archives and in various other Archives, during which thousands of documents were gathered (digitalized and many of them transcribed) that allow us today to contextualize more exactly the activity of Bishop Roveggio and to more clearly understand its importance for the development of the Comboni mission.
In the second part of the volume, we find a study by Fr. Arnaldo Baritussio, postulator general, offering a brief reflection on the merits and the relevance of the cause of Bishop Roveggio and his missionary, human and spiritual depth.
Sch. Jjumba James Patrick (U)
Sch. Pinzón Robayo Jaider Hernán (CO)
Fr. Benavides Orjuela Jorge A.(CO)
Fr. Hounongbe Kossi Alidjinou (T)
Holy Redeemer Guild
October 01 – 15 P 16 – 31 RSA
November 01 – 07 SS 08 – 15 TC 16 – 30 T
October – That, through the intercession of St. Daniel Comboni, there may be an increase, especially in the Comboni Family, in the number and quality of those who receive the call to dedicate themselves entirely to the proclamation of the Gospel. Lord hear us.
November – That the Comboni Missionary Sisters, gathered for their Intercapitular Assembly, may be open to the work of the Spirit and be led towards making ever more radical and authentic ministerial decisions. Lord hear us.
Books and pamphlets published by Fr. Tonino Falaguasta Nyabenda since his tenure at the CAE of Kinshasa (2008):
- Envoyés (2009)
- Isidore Bakanja (2009)
- Le Cardinal Malula (2010); second edition 2013
- Mgr. Christophe Munzihirwa (2010); second edition 2012
- Clémentine Anuarite (2011); second edition 2012; third edition December 2012
- Sauver l’Afrique par l’Afrique (Daniel Comboni): 2011; Italian edition 2012; Swahili edition 2013
- Les héros du Bomokandi (les 4 martyrs comboniens au Congo): being printed.
- Collection “Témoins”: Pierre Ratsimba (2011); Alfred Simon Diban Ki-Zerbo (2011); Sainte Joséphine Bakhita (2011); Martin Luther King (2011); Martin de Porres (2011); Tansi Iwene M. Cyprien (2011); Les Martyrs de Mombasa (2012); Aloys Kamau (2012); Tata Thomas Tshembete (2013).
First assembly of the new province of Brazil
Fr. Antonio Villarino Rodríguez, assistant general, visited Brazil on September 10-30, 2013. One of the main reasons for this visit was the decision to merge the two Comboni provinces of Brazil – Brazil do Sul and Brazil Nordeste – into one province of Brazil. Fr. Villarino attended, representing the General Council, the first assembly of the new circumscription which numbers 75 members. Sixty-three of them attended the assembly which took place in São Paulo on 11-17 of September.
During the assembly the missionaries shared ideas, aspirations and challenges based on the experience of 60 years of presence in the country, the activities and the strategies concerning the various provincial sectors, in particular mission and vocation promotion, evangelization among the Afro and the indigenous population, the pastoral engagements in the urban peripheries and in other movements of the Brazilian Church, plus the promotion of social and environmental justice.
The 80 years of “wise Babaliki”
On Monday, August 26, all the Comboni members of Kinshasa – fathers, brothers, sisters and lay missionaries – gathered around Fr. Neno Contran who turned 80. During the Mass, Fr. Neno underlined the greatness of the gift of life and the wisdom that one should acquire with the passing of time. “I have entered the fourth phase of my life: old age” he said, quoting some authors to support the importance and the role of this phase. We cannot forget the famous proverbs of the “wise Babaliki,” the nickname by which he was known in Togo since the time when, many years ago, the son of a catechist had “muddled” his name.
The Superior General couldn’t miss the occasion to send a message: “I give thanks with you for these 80 years. Psalm 89 says that only the strongest reach them… I ask the Lord that he may give you the strength to continue for the good of the Institute and of mission.” After the Eucharistic celebration, they all gathered for dinner during which – unexpectedly – the provincial, Fr. Eliseo Tacchella, who was in Kisangani for his visit to the oriental province, arrived. Providence allowed him to return from his visit to those communities on time to make the feast more complete. Ad multos annos, Fr. Neno, “wise Babaliki”!
We also took the occasion to bid goodbye to Sr. Joséphine Calle, assigned to Ecuador, and to Fr. Fermo Bernasconi who was leaving for Rome.
Assembly of the European provincials
The provincial superiors of the Comboni European circumscription met on September 11-15 at the provincial house in Nuremberg, Germany. It was the second meeting of 2013.
Two topics received greater attention: the attempt to outline “the future of the Comboni Missionaries in Europe” and a first analysis of the project for the European Media Center.
In the first case, it was the matter of writing down the major points of the journey done as Comboni Missionaries at the European level during the last five years and then highlighting what remains to be done in the immediate future. The text is the basis for the process of handing over to the new provincials of the European circumscriptions at the next meeting in December 2013.
In the second case, the provincials examined the draft of the Mass Media Center project, and then sent it back to the commission in charge of its elaboration together with some observations and proposals.
“Identidad, Cultura y Cimarronaje del pueblo afrodescendiente”
This is the title of the thesis on anthropology which in this month of October Fr. Antonio D’Agostino, pastor of the parish of San José de Las Malvinas, has presented at the Salesian University of Quito. Over the last ten years, Fr. D’Agostino has followed the activities of the Afro-descendant population – in the communities of the neighborhoods of the northern zone of Quito and, lately in the Guasmo South of Guayaquil, parish of San José de Las Malvinas – in their struggle to find space and visibility within the Ecuadorian society.
In his thesis it evidenced how the Afro population, even though the majority of Afro-descendants in Ecuador live in marginalized and poor areas, have succeeded after many years in appreciating their own history and culture based on the memory of many courageous individuals. Today many racist stereotypes have fallen and the Afro-descendants are well represented in the Ecuadorian parliament.
Always under the supervision of Fr. D’Agostino, the Salesian Polytechnic University has published, together with the CCA of Quito and the bookshop Abya Yala, a beautiful book which gathers the work of reflection, memories and methodology of the vocational seminars held in Quito during past years, a work which is very useful in order to continue the work of formation and awareness of Afro children and adolescents in Ecuador.
Spiritual exercises (August 22-29)
The provincial of Spain, Fr. Ramón Aguíluz, inspired the participants to the spiritual exercises, which were held at the Gethsemani retreat house near the shrine of the Madonna of Quinche, patron of Ecuador, with his experience as a missionary in Africa and as an educator. During 7 days of retreat, referring to the fundamental lines of the Chapter Acts of 2009 and underlining the topics of identity, spirituality and mission, he drew attention to the necessity of a constant conversion to the Chapter’s project in order to build significant communities and have an impact on evangelization. The retreat ended with a Eucharistic celebration in the beautiful shrine of the Madonna of Quinche.
Inauguration of the computer center
On September 12, in the presence of Bishop Iván Minda, an Afro-descendant from the diocese of Ibarra, auxiliary of Guayaquil and responsible for the Afro pastoral in the archdiocese, and in the presence of many friends, the computer center of “Marcia Lastra” was inaugurated as a service to the Afro community of Guayaquil. With the precious help of the ONLUS of the Comboni procure of Verona, the CCA was able to buy a series of computers for the formation of young people in the outlying neighborhoods of the parishes of Guayaquil, particularly for the Afro-descendants. The people responsible are Bro. Abel Dimanche and Bro. Jacques Nsele Eluma together with the Afro Fraternity, recognized by the archdiocese as an apostolic group at the service of the evangelization of his human group.
50th anniversary of the Minor Seminary of Decameré
On October 12 the Delegation will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Minor Seminary of Decameré. The celebration will take place in the seminary itself and will be preceded by three days of preparation which will include all the confreres, the Comboni Sisters, the parents of the Comboni Missionaries, other religious and former seminarians.
Besides the spiritual preparation, we are remodeling some areas of the seminary and we are preparing a booklet which will serve both as a souvenir and as a tool of mission promotion.
We cordially invite all of you to join us in prayer and in thanking the Lord for all the blessings and graces he has given us during the 50 years of life of the seminary and for having protected it in difficult times.
A special word of thanks goes to those who started the seminary: Fr. Emilio Ceccarini, Fr Aristide Guerra, Fr. Silvio Angeli, Fr. Bortolo Sirena, Fr. Seyum Cahsay and all the confreres who continued the work of formation after them.
Meeting of the two Iberian provincial councils
On September 17-19, the provincial councils of Portugal and Spain met for the first time in Madrid, aimed at answering the invitation of the 17th General Chapter of 2009 to reflect better and together on our mission in Europe today and to try to live in better communion among our Comboni provinces. This was the third such meeting: the first two had been held in Santarém and in Lisbon, Portugal.
In order to reach these objectives, the two councils reflected on the possibility of forming an Iberian community (with members of both circumscriptions) as a living sign of communion and of Comboni missionary activity. Meanwhile, it was decided to put into action a better cooperation between the secretariats of evangelization and of mission promotion and to unite the two commissions of ongoing formation.
In the spirit of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the canonization of St. Daniel Comboni (October 5, 2003) it was decided to organize a gathering, open to all the members of the two provinces, to reflect on the Rule of Life and to foster mutual understanding. This meeting will take place in Fatima, in June 2014.
Fr. Alex Zanotelli receives an honorary degree
The Rector of the Aldo Moro University of Bari, Corrado Petrocelli, and the Director of the Ionian Department in “Juridical and economic systems of the Mediterranean society: environment and culture”, Antonio Uricchio, have conferred an honorary law degree on Fr. Alessandro Zanotelli. The recognition was motivated by his commitment to “unite social and environmental justice.”
The ceremony took place on September 23, 2013, in the city of Taranto, Italy. The ceremony opened with the ‘tribute’ by Professor Roberto Voza and was followed by the address of Alex Zanotelli on the topic of “let us get busy in favor of life.” Immediately following, the rector read the motivation for the degree and invested the inductee.
Fr. Alex dedicated his degree to the struggle of Taranto, “so that – he said – it may become a city working for peace and poison free. There are no enemies to be fought. There are only people with whom to interact and a system that needs to be changed because it is based almost exclusively on profit.”
Visit of the Superior General to the province
The Superior General, Fr. Enrique Sánchez G., paid an official visit to the confreres and the communities of the province of Khartoum, which took place on September 1-22.
During the first part of his visit, Fr. Enrique was able to get in touch with the reality of Sudan, to visit six of the seven communities existing in the territory, to meet the confreres and see their work. He expressed his positive surprise in finding out that they are all serene and busy with their tasks, close to the people and sharing their life.
During the second part of the visit, the confreres gathered at the provincial house of Khartoum for three days of provincial assembly, followed by five days of retreat preached by the superior general.
Comboni Missionaries of Mozambique and Brazil reflect on JP
On September 4-7 in Nampula, the Comboni Missionaries and the Sisters of Mozambique and Brazil, who are responsible for the sector of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC), held a seminar – open to other institutes and interested lay people – in order to have an exchange of experiences in pastoral work connected to the new forms of slavery.
Fr. Dario Bossi, a Comboni missionary from Brazil, spoke on the conflicts over land and of the social and environmental impact of mining. Comboni Sr. Clara Torres Acevedo, with experience of work in Mozambique and in South Africa, spoke on the topic of human trafficking, especially with regard to women and children.
The conclusion was reached that, in order to be more efficient, the JPIC pastoral must be done through networking, both at the national and at the international level.
A return to our roots after 75 years of presence
On the 4-6 of June, fourteen Comboni missionaries belonging to the province traveled from Palca to Pozuso where, 75 years ago, the presence of Comboni Missionaries had its beginnings. The first Mass there was celebrated by Fr. Luis Alberto Barrera Pacheco, the provincial, in the little church of San José, built by the settlers in 1878. The second day started with a visit to the cemetery and a brief celebration over the tomb of Fr. Alois Ipfelkofer, the first Comboni parish priest of Pozuzo, who died in 1948. In the evening, the provincial presided over the Mass in the church dedicated to the Sacred Heart, which was packed with people. At the end of the Mass, the mayor decorated all the missionaries with the city’s medal.
What came to the surface during these days – both in the homilies and in the speeches of the authorities – was the great joy for this visit by the Comboni Missionaries and the great appreciation earned by generations of missionaries throughout the years. Of all these, Fr. Walter Michaeler, itinerant missionary for 28 years in over 70 villages belonging to the parish, and Fr. Luis Deflorian, who was the parish priest in the 1990s, were present.
On June 7, having returned to Palca, there took place a Mass of thanksgiving in the cathedral of Tarma, presided over by Bishop Richard Daniel Alarcón who, in his homily, recalled all that the diocese, in its 55 years of existence, owes to the Comboni Missionaries and also spoke of the imposing shrine dedicated to Our Lord of Muruhuay, which has become a point of reference for the entire region and beyond. It was built thanks to initiative of the first bishop of Tarma under the direction of Bro. Kuno Stösser.
On Sunday, September 8, the 75th anniversary of the presence of Comboni Missionaries was celebrated also in Lima, Chorrillos, in the parish of ‘Cristo Misionero del Padre’. The solemn ceremony started at 4:00 pm in the presence of invited guests and of many people who know and appreciate the Comboni charism. The main celebrant was Bishop Jaime Rodríguez of Huánuco, assisted by Bishop Adriano Tomasi, auxiliary of Lima, and by Bishop Jorge Carrión of Juliaca, Puno. Most of the former provincials were there, such as Fr. Andreas Thorwarth, Fr. Alois Weiss, Fr. Franco Conrado and Fr. Rogelio Bustos. The atmosphere was solemn and festive, also thanks to the performance, in true Peruvian style, of typical songs and dances.
Comboni Youth Congress (Conjucom)
This year, to remember the 75 years of Comboni presence in Peru, it was decided to organize a Congress for the young people of all the communities where we are present. It was the third Conjucom held in the province and it took place on August 9-11, 2013, in the parish of Cristo Misionero del Padre. The Congress was the result of six months of preparation under the supervision of Fr. Abel Torres, and with the help of Fr. Juan Goicochea and the cooperation of many committed lay people – youth and adults – from the parish.
During the Congress, the over 400 young people in attendance, coming from the coast, the mountain and the forest, participated with enthusiasm, happy with the hospitality they found in local families who shared their homes with them for a few days. At the end of the congress, it was announced that the next Conjucom will be held in 2015 in the parish of the Good Shepherd in Arequipa.
Visit of Fr. Villarino to the province
Fr. Antonio Villarino, assistant general, arrived on an official visit to the province on August 6, 2013. He visited almost all the communities, except Huánuco, Baños and Santiago in Chile. He could not reach Huánuco and Baños because, while he was in Pangoa, in the forest of Junín, the road was blocked by a strike of the coffee growers. Thus he remained in Pangoa. On September 2-8 he preached the retreat for the members of the province. Then on Sunday, September 8, he took part in the solemn Mass celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Comboni Missionaries presence in the province. Fr. Antonio remembered fondly the years he spent in the province as director of CAM. His visit was appreciated by all, also for the opportunity the province had of hearing directly from him what is the thinking of the General Council.
A Congolese Comboni Missionary receives a medal
Fr. Ferdinand Sito Atambise, 39 years old and a Congolese, has recently been awarded a medal from the municipality of El Carmen, Chincha-Peru, as an acknowledgement of his missionary work “which he is carrying out with particular wisdom, looking out for the good of the people and the institutions in his evangelization work”. The Comboni community was established in the parish of Nuestra Señora del Carmen in 2008, but the Comboni missionaries have been working in the area for the past 21 years.
The yearly provincial assembly took place from 6 to 10 September in Viseu, which is the first Comboni house in Portugal. The house has been recently renovated to accommodate sick and elderly confreres.
The meeting which, besides the Comboni Missionaries, also saw the presence of other members of the Comboni family – novices, sisters, secular and lay missionaries and representatives of various lay groups – had as its objective to prepare the missionary pastoral plan for next year, in the context of the 10th anniversary of the canonization of St. Daniel Comboni.
The theme chosen for the assembly and for all of next year’s activities was “With Comboni, on a prophetic mission today”. Fr. Arlindo Pinto, coordinator of Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) in the Institute presented the theme: “Comboni vision and mission in the face of the ancient and the new forms of slavery on the 10th anniversary of the canonization of St. Daniel Comboni”. In his talk, he exhorted the participants to look at Comboni as an example of a missionary who “not only fought in defense of the African slaves and for their liberation from the hands of the salve traders, but who also did all he could for the abolition of those laws and structures that allowed the despicable trafficking of human beings”.
Those responsible for vocation and mission promotion offered some proposals for the pastoral year 2013-2014, among them the organization in each community of a celebration, to be held in October, centered around St. Daniel Comboni.
All of the activities of the province and, in particular, the Comboni pilgrimage to Fatima, due to take place on July 26, 2014, will be centered on this prophetic dimension of Comboni and on his holiness.
Visit of Bro. Giusti to some activities of the province
On August 19, Bro. Daniele Giusti, Assistant general, started his visit to some of the activities of the province to assess their organizational sustainability.
Unfortunately the weather conditions cancelled the flight to the Technical School of Leer so that the meeting with Bro. Nicola Bortoli, director of the school, and Bro. Hans Dieter Ritterbecks, its administrator, took place in the provincial house of Juba. The Technical School of Leer was opened to offer an opportunity of professional formation to the youth, especially the Nuer, in the areas of mechanics and agriculture and, shortly to be added, in secretarial work. The Agricultural curriculum, originating from the school, has been adopted by government authorities as a model of professional formation fully recognized with a diploma.
Bro. Daniel then visited the Mary Immaculate Hospital of Mapuordit. The hospital was started by Bro. Rosario Iannetti for the diocese of Rumbek. He then continued to develop it with the help of many benefactors and donors, starting with temporary structures built initially in an area rather far removed from ways of communication. For this reason, members of the SPLA – who were then fighting against the government of Khartoum – considered it as a refuge for the people running away from violence. Today, the hospital has more than 100 beds and it offers permanent services of doctors and surgeons. For this reason it has been chosen by the government of the Great Lakes State (one of South Sudan’s federal states) as the venue for one of the stages of formation held for the national nursing school, which has its main office in Rumbek, the State’s capital.
The last place visited by Bro. Daniel was the carpentry shop started by Bro. Erich Fischnaller, a Comboni Missionary from Sud Tyrol, in Lomin, in the State of Central Equatoria, bordering with Uganda. The carpentry offers employment to several people and includes also sections for mechanics and brick making, a small oven for the production of bread and a textile department to produce cloth with hand looms.
Assembly of the French-speaking vocation promoters - formators
The Assembly of vocations promoters and educators of the four Circumscriptions of French-speaking Africa took place on September 1-10 in Sarh, Chad. Fifteen confreres including the Secretary General for Formation, Fr. John Baptist Opargiw, attended. The average age of the participants to the sub-continental assembly was slightly over 45 years.
The meeting was a time of sharing and of ongoing formation over three essential aspects of the service of formation: the formation model of integration, the life-personal project and the formation charts. The purpose was to walk together towards a common formation project as suggested by the General Chapter of 2009.
A letter from the Superior General, Fr. Enrique Sánchez González, was read at the beginning of the assembly. His message of thanks, of communion and of exhortation to improve the quality of our service in the sector of formation has helped us to plunge into our work with renewed enthusiasm.
Let us pray for our departed
The Father: José, of Fr. José Barranco Ramírez (EC); Francisco, of Bro. Luciano Francisco Thomas Khware (M-Z/KE).
The Mother: Rosa, of Fr. Leonardo Battaglia (EC); Teodozia Bakanyisa, of Fr. Christopher Besigye (U).
The Comboni Missionary Sisters: Sr. M. Vittoriana Perlini; Sr. María Fructuosa Ortiz Martínez; Sr. Renata M. Sala.