Friday, August 18, 2017
On July 21-23, 2017 at the Comboni Postulancy House in Addis Ababa we held our annual retreat as Comboni Friends of Ethiopia. I was really looking forward to this chance to pray, worship, build our friendship and strategize. This is always a special time for me: to leave the office and get away from hustle bustle. I said: “O Lord, your ways are holy”. Earlier this year, I went on a silent retreat for a week. What better, I thought, than a week of silence for an introvert? So it was a bit of disappointment when I learned that Comboni Friends’ retreat would not be one in complete silence. But God continued to surprise me and make me laugh.
I was very pleased with the Comboni Friends retreat. During the weekend-long meeting we felt like a family. Praying together, eating together, working together. Preparing meals, washing dishes, playing games, talking – doing everything together was great fun! On Saturday afternoon we went out to play Bible games on the street and I really liked that idea to share the Joy of the Gospel with others.
“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have loved one to another” – we continued our retreat activities in Mother Teresa’s House, where our group got involved this year in monthly volunteering. It was the first time for me to visit the compound and as one of the sisters guided us through different departments of the centre, a thought came to my mind: each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor and for enabling them to be fully a part of society. This requires us to be attentive to the cry of the poor and to come to their aid. The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “Faith is gift that is given to us to be shared”. My prayer and hope is that every member of the Comboni Friends in Ethiopia will be willing and committed to put those words into practice. The task of each one of us is to live what we believe. This is the most important way of spreading and strengthening our faith.
During the reatreat, Comboni Missionaries did work hard to share the joy of the Gospel “in deeds and in words”. We thank them for what they did for us and pray for them, especially for Fr. Juan, responsible for Comboni Lay Missionaries in Ethiopia, Fr. Sisto, the Superior of Ethiopian Province and Comboni Lay Missionaries from Poland working in Ethiopia who reactivated the Comboni Friends group in Ethiopia. “Your good work will be poured out in the sight of all mankind” – dear lay missionaries, we rejoice that our Heavenly Father has performed this in practice, and we thank Heavenly Father for your work.