Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
Sc. Bahta Uqbaghiorghis (ER)
Bro. Pomykacz Jacek Andrzej (PO)
Holy Redeemer Guild
October 01 – 07 RCA 08 – 15 TCH 16 – 31 RSA
November 01 – 15 SS 16 – 30 T
October – That St. Daniel Comboni may hand on to us his missionary passion, his audacity and tenacity in proclaiming the Gospel, especially where people hunger and thirst for justice, and that he may help us to bear the apostolic fatigue of every day. Lord hear us.
November – That the Saints in Heaven may support us in our missionary service and obtain for all deceased missionaries the fullness of joy in the vision of the Father. Lord hear us.
Fr. Antonio La Salandra, Storia del Seminario della casa dei Comboniani e della parrocchia Mediatrice di Troia, GESP, Troia 2014. What is the point of writing a book, at the cost of much time and effort, to tell the story of people who are no longer with us? This is the question put by the author in the first words of the introduction. And he immediately replies: “It is my aim to remember, that is, to make the past present ... to honour those leaders - humble, weak limited and full of misery and yet enthusiastic and joyful – who wrote the history of the house of Troia,” aware that it is God who is the author of every story. This is why “it is so important to discover that interior life that gave strength to the leaders of the beginnings so as to make the reader marvel at God and his works”.
Fr. Enzo Santangelo, Mulheres missionárias e o poder do testemunho, Alô Mundo, São Paulo, August 2014. This is a book of biographies divided in two parts.. The first part contains brief outlines of women – some famous, others unknown – who dedicated their lives to their neighbours; in the second we find a series of imaginary interviews with great women of the Christian faith such as Edith Stein, Mary Magdalene, Eve and ... Mary of Nazareth – who has the last word – the Mother of God, disciple and missionary of the Kingdom.
By Comboni Missionary men and Women: Servitori del Vangelo. Testimoni sulle orme di San Daniele Comboni in Sudan e Sud Sudan, Dissensi ed., September 2014. This book was written “in honour of the 150th anniversary of the Plan for the Regeneration of Africa”, as the introduction says. “These brief biographies describe the concrete way in which men and women missionaries interpreted, in various times and contexts, the inspirational vision of the Founder. It is an incredible story, drawn at times from within desperate situations, at the limits of human capacity”. The history of the Church in Sudan is here divided into four periods, each of which is presented with an introduction that sums up the historical context and the political and ecclesial situation of Sudan, North and South.
Comboni Course for the Elderly
On Sunday, 7 September, with a concelebration in the Curia Chapel, the Comboni Course for the Elderly was opened. It is a new initiative in ongoing formation, at Institute level, offered to confreres over seventy. There are twenty participants, all from Europe, who spent a good portion of their lives in Africa or America. The youngest is 74 while the eldest is 84.
The purpose of the Course is to make old age a peaceful and fruitful time, to give importance to the present moment, while being aware that our vocation as Comboni missionaries goes on through the experience of limitations which are most evident at this stage of life. The physical, psychological, spiritual and Combonian dimensions will receive special attention since they are not experienced as an obstacle but as a place of encounter with the Lord and the confreres. Sharing the experience of missionary life is a fundamental part in the dynamics of this initiative.
The Course will end on 1 November, the feast of All saints, with a view to returning renewed to the mission. If this first experiment turns out to be positive, the same Course may be run every two years.
Workshop for the 150th Anniversary of the Plan
Thirty five confreres from almost all the circumscriptions of the Institute, together with representatives of the Comboni Missionary Sisters, the Comboni Secular Women and the Comboni Lay Missionaries, gathered in Rome for the week in which there occurred the 150th anniversary of the Plan of St. Daniel Comboni, to study this gift from God and allow themselves to be challenged by it. “What is the Comboni response to the missionary challenges of today?” was the theme of this seminar held at the Generalate from 15 to 19 September.
The group commenced its work on the exact anniversary day of the inspiration of the Plan with a Eucharistic celebration presided over by the Superior General and celebrated over St. Peter’s tomb. The reflection was guided by Combonis and others who helped in these ways:
1) to situate Comboni in his own time and, at the same time, to see him as a prophet who went beyond the ideas of his time because he allowed himself to be guided in faith and charity by the Spirit, by means of deep insertion in situations and places seen as signs of God; 2) to understand the new ecclesial view of mission, especially as it is presented to us by Pope Francis in his writings, specifically in Evangelii Gaudium, and, above all, by his manner of acting; 3) to understand better the situations of us Comboni missionaries today.
The main points which characterised the work in the groups and in the assembly were: the new views of mission, the missionary style demanded by them, ministries and formation and our prophetic service in the local Church. The groups, firstly, and then the assembly, drew up reflections and working proposals on these themes which will be made available to the members of the Comboni Family and will make up a specific contribution to the process of preparation for the next General Chapter.
General Assembly of Provincial Bursars and Procurators
From 24 September to 1 October, the Generalate played host to the General Assembly of Provincial Bursars and Procurators. Forty five confreres with various responsibilities in the field of administration took part.
The Assembly is held every six years, usually the year before the General Chapter and has as one of its main aims to review the Intercapitular journey centred, in this instance, especially on the application of the Total Common Fund and the drafting of proposals in view of the next General Chapter.
The agenda also included the updating of the General Financial Directory which was reviewed and integrated with the new norms of recent years: the handing over of the office, the accounting method and criteria for financial investment.
Economic difficulties being experienced by some circumscriptions gave rise to the need to increase solidarity between the various provinces of the Institute. The Assembly drafted some proposals along these lines.
In conclusion, the Assembly brought out the need to work with an increasing degree of transparency and the need, already expressed by the 2009 Chapter, to make use of external auditors.
Four years have passed since January, 2010, when with Southworld, the first edition of the online magazine of the Comboni provinces of Europe, took its first steps. From its beginnings, it aimed at being an alternative source to the information coming from the well-known media and to be an outlet to the “many voices” from the developing countries. In these four years, Southworld has acquired a space for itself, becoming one of the sites that are points of reference in the panorama of information coming from the South of the world.
In August 2014, the three Christian bodies: the Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), held an ecumenical missionary congress in Berlin regarding a document which they signed in 2011: “Christian Witness in a multi-religious World”. The Comboni Missionaries Bro. Bruno Haspinger and Fr. Gregor Schmidt Bog-Dong were among the participants, as well as Fr. Miguel Ayuso Guixot the official representative of the Vatican in his function as secretary of the Papal Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
It is the first time in history that the three Christian bodies (representing about 90% of World Christianity) have signed a joint statement on mission. Rather than developing a theology of mission – on which it would be difficult to reach a consensus – the document aims to establish ethical standards. The significance lies in the following four areas: Interreligious Dialogue, Ecumenical Relationships, Missiology and Human Rights.
The circumscriptions and Comboni communities are highly encouraged to read this document and to use it as a guide for ecumenical and inter-religious encounters. (For further information:
Anniversary of Comboni’s Plan in Khartoum
The Archdiocese of Khartoum has commenced a month dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Plan for the Regeneration of Africa.
On Friday, 12 September, priests, men and women religious and some leaders representing the various parishes, gathered for a day of reflection and sharing on the Plan of Comboni. More than 100 participants heard the two interventions: the first was on the historical background and the spiritual experience which gave rise to the Plan and its pastoral content; the second was on the relevance and meaning of the Plan for the Church in Sudan today. Group work proved an opportunity for all to share ideas and experiences related to the theme.
On Sunday, 14 September, the Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a Mass was solemnly celebrated in the Cathedral presided over by His Eminence Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako. The celebration marked the official opening of this special period during which the parishes are invited to inspire the faithful to become protagonists in saving Africa with Africa.
Perpetual vows and diaconate
At the end of the month of June 2014, the scholastic Bahta Uqbaghiorghis Medenes concluded his theological studies at Asmara Catholic Theological Institute. After due preparation, on 30 August 2014, Bahta took perpetual vows in the Chapel of the Delegation House, surrounded by confreres, his parents, Comboni Sisters and other friends. The Delegate, Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos, presided over the Eucharist and in his homily he stressed the joy of dedicating one’s life for the love of the mission.
On Sunday, 7 September, 2014, Bahta was ordained deacon by Mgr. Menghesteab Tesfamariam, Eparch of Asmara, in Kidane Mehret Parish in Sembel, on the outskirts of the city, where Bahta did his pastoral work for the last four years. The ceremony was prepared by three days of mission promotion in the same parish, carried out by the Comboni Confreres, Comboni sisters, scholastics and other religious priests and nuns. In his homily, Mgr. Menghesteab expressed his joy at ordaining a second Comboni candidate to the diaconate in that same parish.
Inauguration of the restructured African Museum (AM)
The restructuring derived from the need to improve the former arrangement by paying more attention to African history and culture as well as to Comboni missionary work. Regarding the latter, especially the figure of the Founder, St. Daniel Comboni, an entire section of the informative tour of the AM has been dedicated to it. The new tour aims at being somewhat more media-based than the former one and will include brief videos. There will also be more up-to-date themes such as the African diaspora, post-colonialism, globalisation and the wars which have afflicted (and continue to afflict) large areas of the continent. Another part is dedicated to the beauty of nature. African music, a segment of African culture and history that is constantly present in the various phases of social and individual life, is also represented.
On 10 October there will be the inauguration of the museum at the level of the Comboni family and those who, in various ways, were involved in the work of restructuring.
Tours and workshops on intercultural education
This year, the theme is “The world is in your hands, create our tomorrow”. Twenty tours and workshops are held at the African Museum for students of schools ranging from pre-schools to secondary schools. Last year, almost 5,000 students took part in this activity. The PM team also collaborates. All the Comboni communities in Italy have been sent folders describing the various workshops and the purpose of the initiative.
African Film festival in Verona
The 34th annual African Film festival is planned for 7 to 16 November and will be held in Verona. The theme chosen for it is New Waves. It intends to bring to the cinema screen productions by various directors who find themselves at the crossroads of different styles and various cultures, not only in the artistic sense, in an effort to go beyond the “confines” and the rules of cinematographic language.
It is a broad, cosmic view towards the horizon of a migratory movement that, at times, takes on the appearance of a non-violent struggle for rights, for dignity without borders and against all forms of discrimination.
Cyclone in Lower California
The cyclone, which last week devastated the coast of Lower California, caused serious damage to the coastal area of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo; many power stations were destroyed and, in the neighbouring Comboni parish of Saint John Paul II, the wind destroyed eight of the nine chapels recently built at the cost of extraordinary efforts by the people. Fr. Pedro Ordóñez Espinoza and Fr. Camilo Ortega Martínez are organising the collection for replacing at least the iron sheets of the roofs: Many people have lost their homes built mostly of cardboard, wood and iron sheets. There are food shortages and many cases of robbery from the tents where supplies are stored, resulting in higher prices of foodstuffs. There has been no loss of life.
The annual Assembly of the Province of Portugal was held at Maia from 5 to 10 September on the theme “Make all things missionary”, in the light of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium.
Representatives of the Comboni Sisters were present during the first two days as well as those of the seculars and the laity. They all gathered for the purpose of making a common reflection on the Comboni mission, today, in Portugal, and to plan the new pastoral year.
Reflection on the first day was directed by Fr. Joaquim Valente da Cruz, and centred on the context and experiences that led Comboni 150 years ago to write the Plan, in order to identify orientations for the mission today, following the personal itinerary of Comboni.
On the second day, there were reports and interventions by the various branches of the Comboni Family and by lay people.
On Sunday 7, Fr. Italo Scoccia made his first religious profession during the Eucharistic celebration while Fr. Rogério Artur de Sousa and Bro. António Martins da Costa – the first Portuguese Comboni Missionary – celebrated sixty years of consecrated life. In the afternoon, the reports of the Provincial Secretaries were presented and the Provincial, Fr. José da Silva Vieira, presented his annual report the following day.
On the fourth day, the Provincial Superior of the Spiritan Missionaries in Portugal, Fr. Tony Neves, spoke about his missionary experience so as to assist the participants to identify the essential aspects that must be borne in mind in our missionary activity in today’s society. In the afternoon, the chapter of the Provincial Directory on economy was read, analysed and approved.
The last day was devoted to planning ongoing formation; some ideas were shared, some motions were carried and an evaluation of the Assembly was made. The meeting was closed with a Mass presided over by the Provincial Superior.
First vows of Fr. Italo Scoccia
On Sunday, 7 September 2014, during the Provincial Assembly, Fr. Italo Scoccia, an Italian priest, took his first vows in our Institute. Ordained priest in 1979 by the then Pope John Paul II, Fr. Italo lived for 12 years on the outskirts of Lima, in Peru, as a fidei donum missionary. After a missionary experience in South Sudan and in agreement with Fr. Daniele Moschetti and the provincial superior of Italy, in August 2013 he entered our European novitiate at Santarém, realising his dream of becoming an ad gentes missionary among the poorest, a vocation he had felt since he was a child and which, as he himself said, “he could never forget and which he considers the greatest gift he ever received in his life”.
Pilgrimage to mark 90 years of Comboni Missionary Presence
A vigil of praise and thanksgiving drew parishioners, members of the Comboni Institutes and Comboni Friends together from all the parishes of the Diocese of Witbank and from other dioceses of South Africa in which the Comboni Missionaries are working to mark 90 years of our presence in South Africa and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Comboni’s Plan for the Regeneration of Africa.
The pilgrimage to the Mission of “Maria Trost” or “Mary the Comforter”, thus named by the German Comboni pioneers after the Marian Shrine on the outskirts of Graz (Austria), had a profound symbolic and evocative meaning. This was the first mission established by this small group of Comboni Missionaries who, after having been expelled from the Sudan, arrived on 11 February 1924 in Maputo, then called Lorenzo Marques, in Mozambique, to embark on a new evangelizing mission in a foreign environment and hostile to the Catholic Church. They reached Lydenburg, South Africa where they set up their tent, on 20 March 1924.
The Vigil, which lasted through the whole night, was a moving celebration of unity in the diversity of languages, nationalities and cultures. The large audience of about 3000 pilgrims were introduced to the life of St. Daniel Comboni and his Plan. A climax of the Vigil was the Eucharist presided over by the local Ordinary of Witbank, Bishop Joseph Sandri Mccj.
Fr. Jeremias, the provincial, referring to Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, invited the assembly never to forget the Marian dimension of mission but to see Mary, present at the side of Jesus, as the model of evangelization.
The South Sudan and Congo provinces rejoiced and congratulated scholastic Placide Petit Majambo Lutumba on his solemn profession as a Comboni Missionary and ordination as a deacon with the imposition of hands by the Bishop of the Diocese of Wau, Rudolf Deng Majak. The celebrations took place on 12 July for the perpetual vows received by Fr. Daniele Moschetti, Provincial Superior of South Sudan, and 13 July in Mapuordit mission where deacon Majambo did his one-year missionary service. The Comboni and local Christian communities prepared the celebrations well and made of both events a joyful moment with great participation. Deacon Majambo will go to his home country in Congo to prepare for his priestly ordination.
Justice, Peace and Reconciliation
South Sudan Province has set up a Justice and Peace office and ministry with the appointment of a full time justice and peace animator, Fr. Raimundo Nonato Rocha dos Santos. The aim is to have close collaboration with the Comboni communities of the province and the Religious Superiors’ Association of South Sudan (RSASS), besides the R-JPIC office of the Bishop’s Conference (SCBC/SSS) and the Civil Society in what regards Justice and Peace.
The person in charge will also have to daily update the provincial website: www.combonisouthsudan.org and participate in the Juba UN IDPS camps (for internal displaced persons) where there are almost 40,000 people, the majority being from the Nuer ethnic group.
Saint Paul Major Seminary begins academic year
Some 70 seminarians plus staff and guests took part in the celebration to mark the opening of the academic year at Saint Paul Major Seminary in Juba. Bro. Bernhard Hengel had been working hard to conclude the construction of the residence of the philosophy seminarians and finished the renovation of the old classroom block just in time. Besides him, Fr. Guido Oliana and Fr. Emmanuel Denima are the other two Comboni Missionaries who will contribute to the academic formation of local clergy from all the dioceses of the country. They will teach in the two sections of theology and philosophy. Fr. Emmanuel Denima Darama has been appointed by the bishops to be Prefect of Studies for the Philosophicum.
Death of Bishop Joseph Gasi Abangite
Bishop Joseph Gasi died on Saturday early morning, on 13 September 2014, at his home Diocese of Tombura-Yambio in Western Equatoria State. Bishop Gasi worked tirelessly for God’s people, for education and peace and to establish the secretariat of the Episcopal Conference of Sudan. He was a great national peace promoter. Thousands of people attended his funeral. In his honour, a week of mourning was announced for the entire Western Equatoria State. There were very many moments of prayer, vigil nights and celebrations throughout the week to remember what this humble son of this land had to live through but always as a sign of hope and love of God. At his funeral many Church and government leaders took part. Also our Provincial, Fr. Daniele Moschetti, participated on behalf of the province and the entire Institute to give thanks for the love that the Late Bishop Gasi had for St. Daniel Comboni and for the entire Comboni family.
THE MOTHER: María Isabel, of Fr. José Luís Rodríguez López (MO).
THE BROTHERS: Giuseppe, of Fr. Piero (I) and Fr. Aldo (†) Lampetti; Horácio, of Fr. Feliz da Costa Martins (EGSD).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Teresa Maria Corno; Sr. Pier Augusta Radice.