Monthly Newsletter of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
The New General Council will hold their first Consulta from 9 to 20 November, 2015, after the retreat at Limone directed by Fr. Enrique Sánchez G. The out-going General Council will take part in it for the first few days to carry out the hand-over in all sectors.
1. On 1 October, the basic text of the Chapter Acts, which hinge upon the essential aspects of the chosen themes, was approved by the Chapter.
2. The Post-capitular Commission, chosen by the Chapter on 2 October, has prepared the final text. Work on the layout and printing will follow as soon as possible. Translation into various languages is well under way.
3. The first of January, 2016, is the date chosen for the Chapter decisions to come into force.
Discourse of the Holy Father
The following is the complete discourse of Pope Francis to the Chapter members during the audience granted on 1 October, 2015, in the Clementine Hall.
I cordially greet you, starting with the Superior General. This meeting is taking place in the context of your General Chapter and it gives me the opportunity to express to you and to the entire Institute the Church’s gratitude for your generous service to the Gospel.
Your title is, and you are, Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus. I would like to reflect with you on these words that make up your name and your identity.
Missionaries. You are servants and messengers of the Gospel, especially to those who do not know the Gospel or who have forgotten it. At the origin of your mission is a gift, the free initiative of God’s love which gives you a double calling: to be with him and to go out to preach (cf. Mk 3:14). All this is based on a personal relationship with Christ, rooted in Baptism, and, for some, strengthened by ordination, so that, together with the Apostle Paul, we might say: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). This living with Christ determines our actions and our whole being; and it lives and is nourished especially through prayer, through remaining with the Lord, in adoration, through speaking with him heart to heart.
It is in this space of prayer that one finds the true “treasure” (Lk 12:34) to give to our brothers through proclamation. The missionary makes himself a servant of the God-who-speaks, the God who wants to speak to the men and women of today, as Jesus spoke to those of his time and won the hearts of people who came from every quarter to hear him (cf. Mk 1:45), and were astonished at hearing his teaching (cf. Mk 6:2). This relationship between the mission ad gentes and the Word of God does not fall so much under the category of “doing” as under that of “being”. The mission, in order to be authentic, must refer to and have at its centre Christ’s grace which flows from the Cross: through believing in him one can transmit the Word of God that enlivens, supports and makes a missionary’s commitment flourish. For this reason, dear brothers, we must always nourish ourselves with the Word of God, in order to echo it faithfully; to welcome it with the joy of the Spirit, internalize it and make it become the flesh of our flesh as Mary did (cf. Lk 2:19). In the Word of God there is the wisdom that comes from above, allowing one to find ways of expression, attitudes and tools to face the changing challenges of humanity.
As Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, you contribute to the Church’s mission with joy, bearing witness to the charism of St. Daniel Comboni, which has its key in the merciful love of Christ’s heart for helpless men.
This Heart is the source of mercy that saves and generates hope. Therefore, as men consecrated to God for the mission, you are called to imitate Jesus in his gentleness and mercy, to live your service with a humble heart, by taking care of the most abandoned of our times. Never stop asking the Sacred Heart for the gentleness that, as the daughter of Charity, is patient, bears all things, hopes all things, and endures all things (1 Cor 13:4-7).
This is the gentleness of Jesus’ gaze when he looked at Peter on the night of Holy Thursday (cf. Lk 22:61), or when he invited Thomas, the disbeliever, to place his hand on his pierced Heart (cf. Jn 20:27). It is there, from that Heart, that you will learn the gentleness you need in your apostolic action in order to face even the most difficult and hostile situations.
That Heart that has loved mankind so much impels you to go to the peripheries of society to bear witness to the perseverance of patient and steadfast love. May contemplation of Jesus’ wounded Heart always renew a passion within you for the people of our time, which is expressed with freely given love through commitment to solidarity, especially towards the underprivileged and those who are weakest. This is how you can continue to promote justice and peace, and the respect and dignity of each person.
Dear brothers, I hope that this profound reflection on the themes of the Chapter, to which you are dedicating these days, will illuminate the path of your Institute in the coming years, helping you to discover ever more deeply your great heritage of spirituality and missionary work. In this way, with confidence, may you continue your appreciated collaboration in the Church’s mission. May the example of so many confreres, who offered their lives for the cause of the Gospel, who were ready even to give the supreme witness of their blood, be an incentive and encouragement to you. Indeed, it is known that the history of the Comboni Institute has been marked by an unbroken chain of martyrs, up to our day. They are the fertile seed in the spreading of the Kingdom, and the protectors of your apostolic commitment.
I invoke Mary’s protection upon you, and upon all Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, as she is Mother of the Church and the Mother of missionaries. And before imparting the Blessing, I would like to say something that is not written here, but it is something that I feel: I always, always, have had a great admiration for you, for the work that you do, for the risks that you face.... I have always felt this great admiration. Thank you.
Message of the Chapter Members to the Confreres
The following is the message that the Chapter members addressed to all the confreres before the closure of the XVIII General Chapter.
Peace in Christ our Life!
Finding ourselves by now at the conclusion of the XVIII General Chapter, we strongly feel the need to share with you a message of communion and hope. You have all been very much present in our reflections and decisions; thank you for your prayers and above all, for your witness of service and dedication.
We recognize with heartfelt gratitude the work undertaken in our Provinces and Delegations in preparation for this General Chapter; the proposals, suggestions and reflections have greatly helped in our discernment.
It is difficult to express in words the experience that we have lived during these days together. It has certainly been a celebration of fraternity and of a shared passion for the Mission. We have committed ourselves to searching for the footsteps of Daniel Comboni among the missionary challenges that humanity confronts us with today. All of this under the promptings of the Spirit of the Resurrected One who helps us to overcome fear and discouragement, to herald in a new world of reconciliation, justice and wholeness in peace.
In a particular way the suffering of the peoples with whom we make common cause has accompanied us. We carry in our hearts the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Eritrea, the tragedy of refugees … and in different ways every other country in which we live and work. These tragedies are also ours; love always overcomes evil, as much as it may appear insurmountable at times.
At the conclusion of this Chapter, we wish to assure you that it has been an experience of unity and joy which has even taken ourselves by surprise: we have re-discovered the beauty of our common missionary vocation. Jesus continues to call each one of us to proclaim the Gospel of Mercy to the suffering masses at the margins of human history, among the poorest and not yet evangelized, those discarded by a system of death or simply ignored by indifference.
Today the complex reality of society, the Church and of our Institute in many ways places us in front of our many limitations. More than ever we are invited to a profound conversion, personal, communitarian and institutional, to a transformational encounter with the Good Shepherd, the heart of our Charism, and to a re-qualification of our commitments, to be all the more humble servants of, and collaborators in, the Mission.
The gestures and teaching of Pope Francis, who in a private audience manifested his personal appreciation for all that we do before imparting his Apostolic Blessing, confirm for us the dream of Daniel Comboni.
Finally, together with yourselves, we wish to thank the out-going Superior-General, Fr. Enrique Sánchez, and his Council for their total dedication to the Institute over the last six years: that the certainty of having served God in and through ourselves may fill them with joy in the new missionary challenge which awaits them.
In a similar way, we pledge our friendship, prayer and willing co-operation to Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse, the new Superior-General and to his brother Councillors, who will assist him in guiding the Institute over the coming six years.
When you receive the Capitular Documents and have them in your hands, you will see that they are truly the fruit of your labours: we have merely been instruments in the hands of God, searching to bring about convergence among the ideas, dreams and proposals before us. Now, all together without distinction, we are able to embody them, as Mary our Mother, in missionary attitudes that are full of the joy of the Gospel, a joy that the world of today needs from us as never before. (Rome, 3 October 2015)
Holy Redeemer Guild
November 01 – 15 SS 16 – 30 T
December 01 – 15 PE 16 – 31 U
November – That we may help to increase solidarity in the society in which we live, by means of our sharing of material and spiritual goods. Lord, hear us.
December – That, as they welcome with joy the gift of salvation, the peoples among whom we live may find consolation, justice and peace. Lord, hear us.
Natisunge Cuma Cathu, by Fr. Manuel dos Anjos Martins, Missionários Combonianos, Maputo 2014. As indicated in the subtitle, this book is a collection of riddles, proverbs and short stories of the Nyungwes, which show how this people succeeded in preserving the values of their traditional culture.
Fr. Francesco Chemello Odiongo Gatwic, Un’esperienza missionaria in zona di guerra. The story of the Comboni Missionaries in the “liberated zones “of Sudan (1 luglio 1990 – 31 dicembre 1998), Fondazione Nigrizia Onlus 2015. “This book is the account of an experience – Fr. Venanzio Milani writes in the preface – almost like a diary and full of data, not a flowing, easily read text but worth printing because, as Pope Francis says in his Apostolic Letter for the Year of Consecrated Life, the telling of one’s story is indispensable to keeping alive one’s identity and to reaffirm the unity of the Family and the sense of belonging of its members… it is one way of becoming aware of how the charism is lived”.
CYOF: 17th edition
The 17th edition of the Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation, the third to be held in Rome, has begun. There are twenty participants: six from Africa, six from Latin America, six from Europe and two from the Philippines. For sixteen of them, taking part in the Course involved the study of Italian, organised in the Curia.
In a departure from usual practice, the Course was delayed for some weeks due to the General Chapter. We began with a week spent in sharing our missionary experience. The participants were given an hour for a brief presentation of their lives, with particular attention to years spent in the mission. This brought us closer to each other and nearer in mind and heart to the missionary situations in which the confreres live.
During the second week we had the presentation and organisation of the Course. We were visited by as many as fourteen spiritual and psychological guides who introduced themselves, explaining the sort of help they could offer in their specific fields. This made it possible for the confreres to choose those whom they wished to accompany them for the following six months in order to gain as much as possible from the experience presented by the Course.
After the first two weeks, we began to Course proper with the first theme of the conferences that take up our mornings: the encounter with St. Daniel Comboni. We recommend to his intercession our community and the person of each confrere.
Meeting of Religious Brothers in Rome
“We are all Brothers” was the slogan that gathered us together on the afternoon of Saturday, 24 October, 2015, at the Generalate of the Christian Brothers in Rome. We were 130 religious from 21 male Institutes, including six of the brothers from the Curia accompanied by the General Secretary of the Union of General Superiors, Fr. David Glenday. The initiative came from a group of Brothers who wished to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life, according to the specific tones of consecrated lay vocations, focusing on the dimension of Fraternity which is at once both the origin and the lifestyle of the Brother.
The initiative was attended both by Brothers from Institutes composed mostly of Brothers as well as Brothers from clerical Institutes, dedicated especially to teaching, health and the missions.
As well as Fr Glenday, the Undersecretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Religious Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Fr. Sebastiano Paciolla, also accompanied the encounter. Both Fr. Paciolla and Fr. Glenday warmly greeted and encouraged the participants to take up the commitment to meet to celebrate together and to support one another in the common vocation as Brothers, also bearing in mind how hard it is for this vocation to be recognised and followed by many members of the People of God.
Missionary commitment among migrants and refugees
“VIVAT International”, to which the Comboni Missionaries belong, organised, from 19 to 23 October, its first meeting on Justice and Peace in Madrid, with a view to opening in that country and to foster encounters and the knowledge of its members, apart from identifying problems associated with justice, peace and the integrity of creation in Spanish society.
Forty men and women religious from nine Institutes and of eighteen nationalities participated in the meeting. After five days of meetings, the missionaries agreed to work with migrants and refugees and signed a manifesto containing the words: “We discussed such questions as JPIC (Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation and Solidarity), shared information on particular situations and sought to find out how to enter into the UN processes in order to transform society into a world community which respects human rights and lives fraternally in justice and peace”.
Various events in Verona
On “the first Tuesday of the month” of October, the first event took place with a round table discussion in a packed hall. Fr. Giorgio Aldegheri, Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos and Fr. Daniele Moschetti spoke about the situations of their countries – The Central African Republic, Eritrea and South Sudan. During the next meeting, on 3 November, the film Timbuktu directed by Sissako, will be shown with comments by film critic Tahar Chikaoui.
On 3 October an interesting day-long Symposium was held on the Encyclical Laudato si’, organised by the Nigrizia Foundation Onlus and by the movement for non-violence. As many as six relators took part (Gianni Tamino, Cristina Simonelli, Guidalberto Bormolini, Giannozzo Pucci, Lidia Menapace, Gabriella Falcicchio) commenting on the Encyclical from the ecological, theological and philosophical points of view. Among the Comboni men and women present, Fr. Venanzio Milani, Fr. Kizito Sesana and Sr. Elisa Kidane took part as coordinators and moderators.
On 6 November begins the African Film Festival. Film showings will take place in the city from 6 to 15 and from 16 November to 6 December in the Province. Thirty full-length feature and documentary films will be shown. At last one showing will take place at our house in Castel D’Azzano. During the festival, a display of paintings on the theme of The City of a Thousand Colours will be inaugurated at our African Museum. The painter is Mamadou Ndoye, a Senegalese, who has displayed his work not only in Europe but also in Asia, especially in South Korea where he is considered very important. The display will be open for more than a month.
Summer missionary animation activities with the youth
As the Comboni Family involved in youth pastoral ministry, during the summer period – a very important time for many young people who decide to have a meaningful experience – we offered various activities that involved 25 animators and more than 110 young people and 50 adolescents.
These activities include especially six summer camps for missionary commitment and spirituality in different difficult situations, as well as the acquisition of necessary information and Bible study with particular attention to the poor.
It is also worth mentioning the third edition of the European Nomadic Camp, with 30 youths from Portugal, Spain, the UK and Italy who moved from Verona to Limone, stopping at various meaningful places in our spirituality. We would like this Camp to become a constant expression of the Comboni Family in Europe.
Finally, ten youths took part in two different and extended experiences in Ecuador and Uganda, immersing themselves as much as possible in the missionary life of these realities in which we are present. For the first time, we were able to offer the two different experiences, having seen how the young people need to come into close contact with the mission of which we speak so much to them.
The great commitment of everyone was repaid by enthusiastic participation which, we hope, will not fail to produce fruits of missionary commitment.
Combonis at the world’s biggest sanctuary of O. L. of Guadalupe
On 10 October last, a large number of Comboni Missionaries including priests, Brothers, Sisters, lay people, relatives, friends and benefactors from various parts of Mexico gathered at the Zamora Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mich., to take part in the unveiling and blessing of a sculpture of St. Daniel Comboni.
The bas-relief work in bronze produced by Arturo and Jonathan Guevara, was mounted on the pillar closest to an important wall of the sanctuary, the only one that had not been affected by the restoration work, to preserve the bullet marks that serve as a reminder of a sorrowful past. In fact, this wall, with the majestic panes of the window above, serves as a memorial to the martyrs of the Cristero persecution, especially those of Zamora.
The Auxiliary Bishop, Mgr. Jaime Calderón, presided at the Eucharistic celebration accompanied by the provincial, Fr. Erasmo Bautista, and a substantial group of Comboni priests.
The day ended with a social gathering in the nearby National Park of Lake Camecuaro.
Medal of Merit
Fr. Francisco Alberto Almeida de Medeiros, 64, has been awarded the Diploma and Medal of Merit of St. Claire by the Commune Junta of Freguesia de Santa Clara, on the island of Sao Miguel, in the Azores “for his contribution to the cause of the overseas mission”.
Fr. Francisco was born at Fenais da Ajuda, but his parents lived at Santa Clara. He is at present Superior of the Comboni community of Viseu, having worked for two different periods amounting to twenty four years in the Province of South Africa. He received this award, together with two other prize-winners, during a ceremony that took place during the solemn conclusive session of the celebrations of the first ten years of the Commune Junta of Freguesia de Santa Clara.
THE FATHER: Francisco, of Fr. Fuentes Murillo Marvín (PCA).
THE BROTHERS: Julian, of Fr. John J. M. Converset (NAP); Giuseppe, of Fr. Luigi Zanini (I); Simplice, of the Sc. Saurel Houinsou (KE); Paolo, of Fr. Franco Foini (†).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. M. Enrica Mariani; Sr. M. Gelmina Rigon, Sr. Pierina M. Chidane.