MONTHLY NEWSLETTER OF THE COMBONI MISSIONARIES OF THE HEART OF JESUS
Sc. Ricardo Alberto Leite Gomes (P) Acornhoek (RSA) 4.11.2017
Holy Redeemer Guild
December 01 – 15 PE 16 – 31 U
January 01 – 15 A 16 – 31 BR
December – For all consecrated people in the Church that, through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, they may have open hearts, always ready to welcome others and that they may be transparent and in harmony with the will of God. Lord hear us.
January – That we may learn to care for what God has created by taking part in authentic natural and human ecology, overcoming the economic, social and environmental crisis that endangers the planet and all humanity today. Lord hear us.
Fr. Alex Canisius Metin, Avec Saint Daniel Comboni, prier et vivre ma mission aujourd’hui, Afriquespoir, Lomé, June, 2017. The life and works of Comboni are interspersed with concrete prayers for the circumstances of daily life. As stated in the preface, the book brings out, especially in the youth, suggestions and questions that may give rise to new feelings and motivations so that they may be able to respond to the call of God, and reveals that “the charism has formed deep roots in the land of Africa”, as affirmed by Mons. Paul Vieira, Bishop of Djougou, in the presentation.
Forming a plan of vocational accompaniment
The Comboni Family in Brazil gathered from 6 to 10 November at the provincial house in São Paulo for the annual Assembly of formation and missionary animation (2017). The participants included 21 male and female vocations promoters, of whom four were lay women, six Comboni Sisters and eleven Comboni Missionaries from different parts of the country.
We began by presenting reports on the activities carried out in each region that had been planned during the Assembly last year.
During the second and third days, with the help of Marist Brother Alexander Lobo, we studied the process of accompaniment in its various phases: Awakening, Discerning, Cultivating and Experiencing.
To concretise our Plan, we formed a Coordination and Interconnection Team for the Comboni Family; basic geographical teams were also formed, organised in five sectors to guarantee a presence in the various regions of Brazil. These teams will provide the necessary energy and carry out the planned vocations promotion activities. A “Digital Accompaniment Team” was also formed to respond to the needs we noted in this sector. (Fr. Domingos Savio and Bro. J. Paulo)
In November we had the celebration of the confirmation of thirteen black adolescents and we have started a youth group with them.
We are starting to prepare the Christmas novena which is always a time of much activity. During that time, two young Combonis will come to stay with me.
Together with all the active groups of the district, we prepared a day of festival on the last Sunday of November. Each group had the possibility to present to everyone their activities, their objectives and their dreams; there was also a stage where those who wished presented music, songs, dances and plays.
This is one way to reinforce the will to struggle, increase hope and to believe that a different world is possible. (Fr. Franco Nascimbene)
Press conference and Symposium
Two events marked the end of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute in Rome: a press conference on 14 November in Marconi Hall, Vatican Radio and a symposium held in the Aula Magna of the Urbaniana University (chosen for the many memories that associate it with Comboni and his first missionaries) on 17 November.
The Press Conference, had been organised for the purpose of launching the symposium but also to present some hot topics regarding Africa, bringing out the point of view of the missionaries on African events and unmasking widespread prejudice, the ‘fake news’ about Africa that permeate the western world today. The title of the conference was, in fact, “Africa is not fake news”. There were interventions by Fr. Domenico Guarino, a Comboni from the Palermo community, who spoke of the problem of migration in Italy; Fr. Elias Sindjalim, a Togolese Comboni who, with a number of years spent working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, spoke about the situation in Congo and the scandalous exploitation of mineral resources by various multinational companies; Sr. Gabriella Bottani, a Comboni Sister and coordinator of the world network of consecrated life against human trafficking Talitha Kum, who presented the problem of trafficking while Prof. Luciano Ardesi, an Africanist and a Nigrizia collaborator, presented a panoramic view of the seizure of land in Africa. Comboni Father Julio Albanese, editor of ‘Popoli e Missione’, chaired the conference. Besides a number of Combonis and friends, twelve publications were represented by journalists, among them l’Osservatore Romano which, reporting the news of the conference two days later emphasised how “One of the most frequent targets of misinformation , both by the press and politicians, is certainly Africa”.
The Symposium with the interesting title “Regenerate Africa with Africa” was held on 17 November and was open to the Comboni family members, the members of religious institutes of men and women in Rome, university students and friends of the Comboni Missionaries. The symposium (whose Acts will be published) was centred both on history (the first two conferences), and present-day situations (third conference). It aimed in particular to study the Mission in Africa at the time of Comboni and especially the “Collaboration between Comboni and Propaganda Fide in view of the reopening of the Vicariate of Central Africa and its being entrusted to Comboni (Fr. Fidel González) and Africa and the mission in the time of Comboni (Prof. Gianpaolo Romanato). The theme of the third conference given by Congolese journalist J. Léonard Touadi, was “Today Africa: socio-political and ecclesial aspects”, which, though vast, Prof. Touadi expounded brilliantly and professionally, summarising the hot topics of the continent today.
The events organised to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute had the purpose, not only of keeping the memorial of our origins, but also of continuing the journey of ‘regeneration’ indicating the new challenges that missions present to us and the processes required to reconfigure our Institute.
Financial Council Meeting
A meeting of the Financial Council took place from 22 to 24 November at the Generalate in Rome. Those who participated were the continental representatives, technical advisors and members of the General Economate. One of the Council members was only recently appointed by the General Council as technical adviser: Fr. Fabio Carlo Baldan, presently a member of the Comboni Media Centre in Verona (Italy). The main purpose of the meeting was to study the economics of the Institute and the financial situation of the General Administration.
The economy and financial investments were considered in the light of the Encyclical Laudato Si' of Pope Francis on the care of our common home, of 24 May. 2015.
The more important themes discussed during those days were solidarity within the Institute, information on the overall balance of 2016, the analysis of the financial situation of the General Administration, proposals for the close of the 2017 financial year, budgets for the General Administration and the Scholasticates and Brothers’ Formation Centres (CIF) for 2018. As regards the general organisation of the economy, some work was done on the production of Forms for the reports of the Circumscriptions and the Statutes for provincial funds and the Reserves Fund. It was decided to guarantee the continuity of the initiatives for the training of bursars.
The next meeting of the Council will be held in May, 2018: from 17-20, accounts will be reviewed and, from 21-24 the Financial Council will be held.
Comboni Course for Elderly Confreres
The team responsible for coordinating the courses held at the Ongoing Formation Centre at the Generalate wishes to communicate information concerning the third edition of the Comboni Course for Elderly Confreres to be held next year, 2018.
Participants: confreres aged seventy or more who satisfy the conditions necessary to benefit from the course.
N.B.: the opening Eucharist, on 8 September, will be celebrated in the St. Daniel Comboni Chapel at the Mother House in Verona; that same day we shall go together to Limone. Those participants who wish may go directly to Limone.
5) Enrolments: those concerned, having agreed their participation in the course with their respective circumscription superiors, must contact the course coordinator Fr. Siro Stocchetti, using the email: email@example.com – Due to the limited number of rooms in Limone, only the first twenty applicants will be accepted.
The next edition of the Comboni Renewal Course will be held from January to May, 2019, for confreres between fifty and seventy years of age, especially those celebrating their Silver Jubilees of priesthood or, for Brothers, of perpetual vows.
In March 2017, Pope Francis declared as follows: "How many people are persecuted for their faith, forced to abandon their homes, their places of worship, their lands and their loved ones! They are persecuted and killed because they are Christians. The denomination they belong to is of little importance to their persecutors. I would like to ask how many of you pray for persecuted Christians. I want to encourage you to pray with me that our brothers and sisters may experience the help of all the churches and communities by way of prayer and material help”.
Following this appeal, the German Conference of Major religious Superiors has decided to invite all the religious communities of Germany to take part in an initiative of prayer for ALL PERSECUTED AND OPPRESSED CHRISTIANS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. This initiative, which began on 2 July, will continue until 26 December, 2017, the feast of St. Stephen. The communities of the DSP will be on duty on 21 November and 12 December.
Meeting of young Combonis
The younger missionaries of the provinces of Mozambique and South Africa met in the Mozambican city of Matola from 13 to 17 November to reflect on the theme “Interculturality: an open challenge for the Comboni Missionaries today”.
Sixteen Combonis attended, five from South Africa and eleven from Mozambique, belonging to thirteen different nationalities. The opening of the meeting was very enriching as all came to know one another and shared experiences on the work being done in the two provinces. In the afternoon, Fr. Constantino Bogaio, Provincial of Mozambique, spoke on the theme of interculturality in the light of the 2015 Chapter Acts No. 17.
The second day was spent on the management of international conflicts in international communities. In the late afternoon, the participants visited the community of Benfica. On the 16th, having visited the city of Maputo, the afternoon was taken up with an analysis of the situation of Africa in general and, in particular, the elements that prevent more tolerant coexistence between migrants from South Africa and Mozambique.
The meeting ended with a walk along one of the nearby beaches followed by the celebration of the Eucharist presided by Fr. Constantino who again affirmed the importance of this sort of meeting and encouraged the young missionaries to continue along this path.
Kitchener community celebrates 150 years of Mission
The mood was joyful and the celebration grand as the Comboni Missionaries in Kitchener, Ontario, (Canada) commemorated 150 years of mission in St. Joseph Parish, a vibrant, multi-cultural community. The Eritrean and South Sudanese communities continue to thrive and grow. The celebration on October 21 was celebrated by two bishops and eight priests. Three choirs provided beautiful music: the St. Joseph English choir, the Eritrean choir, and the South Sudanese choir.
The first reading was read in Arabic and the second in Tigrinya. The prayer intentions were spoken in seven different languages: Spanish, Tigrinya, Malayalam, Italian, French, Portuguese, and Acholi.
Following the truly joyous Mass, more than 160 guests enjoyed dinner and listened while Fr. David Baltz shared his missionary experience in Uganda. Lay Missionaries Mark and Maggie Banga, along with their three children, spoke of their experience in Ethiopia.
Cincinnati Mission Centre Nativity Experience
The Comboni Missionaries of the Cincinnati Mission Centre, in the USA, present a Nativity Experience: A Cincinnati tradition for 70 years. From Sunday, December 10, to Sunday 27 December it will be possible to visit this extraordinary animated Nativity display every day, except on Christmas day. Afterwards, do some shopping, tour the museum, and go on a scavenger hunt.
On 21 October last, Bro. José Alberto Mora took solemn vows at San Ramón, Alajuela, Costa Rica, before the Provincial Superior, Fr. Víctor Hugo Castillo Matarrita, in the presence of numerous Comboni Missionaries and a church packed with friends of the missions and members of the faithful. Bro. Alberto has been assigned to Colombia where he will carry out his missionary service.
In his homily, the provincial encouraged Bro. Alberto to be always proud of his vocation: “You share the same rights and duties as us priests. In the history of the Institute you will find the testimony of many confreres, many of whom were holy and humble Brothers, who will inspire and sustain you in your vocation … you are called to undertake this marvellous journey that leaves its mark in the hearts of many people whom you will meet on the path of life”.
Enthroning of St. Daniel Comboni in the cathedral of Tarma
“Rest assured that my soul corresponds to this with unlimited love forever and for each one of you...I make common cause with each one of you” (From the homily of D. Comboni in Khartoum, 11 May, 1873).
These words resounded in the cathedral of Tarma on 29 October 2017, the last Sunday of the month of the missions, while four men carried the statue of St. Daniel Comboni for its enthronement. The people of Tarma “enthusiastically welcomed our Founder so that he may also be their ‘pastor, teacher and doctor’”. The location chosen in the cathedral is above the tomb of the second Comboni Bishop of Tarma, Mons. Lorenzo Unfried (+1988). On one side of our Founder there is a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and, on the other, a smiling John Paul II.
The present bishop, Mons. Luis Alberto Barrera Pacheco, MCCJ, (consecrated in 2016), took the opportunity presented by the 150th anniversary of the Institute to make St. Daniel Comboni forever present in his diocese. He mentioned that plans are already being considered for the celebration of the eightieth anniversary of the arrival of the first Combonis in Peru, in 1938.
Celebrating the feast of Comboni
On 1 October, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of our Institute and of the feast of Comboni, a solemn Eucharist, presided by Mons. Salvatore Pennacchio, the Apostolic Nuncio in Poland, was celebrated in our chapel in Warsaw. Joining the celebration were the Comboni Missionaries present in Poland, priests, religious, many of the local faithful with friends and benefactors from Warsaw and its surroundings. Archbishop Salvatore emphasised in his homily how, in the first place, the charism of St. Daniel Comboni found its place in the accomplishment of the missionary life of the Church, especially in the African continent and also how this missionary commitment was unquestionably marked by the goodness of the Heart of Jesus. He also added that missionary activity is not only a sharing of the grace of faith received from God but is also a help to those in difficulty, the tired, the oppressed, the most needy and to those abandoned, extending to them our help, our material and spiritual support in view of their liberation from various forms of poverty, whatever form it may take.
At the conclusion of his homily, on behalf of the Holy See, he thanked the Comboni Missionaries for their 150 years of existence and action in the Church and in society and for their concern for the missions. He then conveyed the cordial greetings and Blessing of the Holy Father and asked for prayers for the Pontiff’s intentions.
The solemn Eucharist was followed by a fraternal agape to which all present were invited.
At the end of October, Krakow was the venue for the third missionary fair, organised by the Comboni Missionaries of Krakow community, with the help of the youth groups that follow our initiatives.
Naturally, the theme of this year was the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute. Despite the somewhat unfavourable weather, many neighbours, friends and acquaintances attended the Fair, dedicating some of their time to a better understanding of the theme of the missions. They also had the opportunity to view a display of photos depicting scenes from some of the countries where Polish Combonis are working, to appreciate the original craft-work from Kenya and Uganda and to share a substantial meal.
150th Anniversary with the secondary school students
One of the crowning moments in the celebrations of the feast of St. Daniel Comboni, in the context of the 150th anniversary of the Foundation of the Institute, was that of the football and volleyball tournaments – The Comboni Cup – organised together with the JPIC Office to celebrate the occasion with the students of secondary schools of Juba. The tournament was played in the Games Park of Comboni Secondary School before many spectators, especially young people living close to the school. It was an excellent opportunity to bring the students together and provide them with an opportunity to be, through the medium of sport, agents of peace, co-existence, respect, tolerance, forgiveness, reconciliation and, above all, of mutual love in such a devastated country as ours.
The final of the volleyball tournament which had four competing schools taking part, was held on Monday, 6 November, 2017. It was attended by the present Director General of the Ministry of Culture and Sport of the country who presented the trophies and medals. While expressing his appreciation for the organisation of the tournament, he spoke of his desire to work more closely with the Church to improve sporting structures and promote sport among the youth.
Eight teams took part in the football tournament; the final was played on Tuesday, 7 November 2017. Before presenting the trophies, Fr. Christian Carlassare, Vice-provincial, thanked the two teams and all the participating schools and the referees for their fair refereeing, emphasising that in this tournament there were no losers seeing the friendship and respect the players showed for one another. Both finals were shown on national TV.
The 150th anniversary of the Foundation of the Institute was also celebrated in the missions where we are present and still continue to feel the living presence of St. Daniel Comboni. In Juba, for example, large posters were put up in South Sudan African Park, inviting the people to the great feast in honour of Comboni.
European Secretariat for the Mission
The provincial secretaries of the European Comboni circumscriptions, convoked by the Provincial of Spain, Fr. Andrés Miguel Pedro, gathered in Madrid on 3 and 4 November, 2017, to initiate and give form to the European Mission Secretariat. The Secretary General for the Mission, Fr. Mariano Tibaldo, also took part.
The purpose of the meeting in Madrid was to delineate the scope, the competence and the composition of the European Mission Secretariat and to propose a continental secretary whose approval will be sought during the Assembly for Provincials. The Continental Mission Secretariats are a means necessary to animate the confreres working in the different sectors, to coordinate and propose criteria for interventions in areas of mission that already have continental dimensions (an obvious example concerning Europe is that of migrants), as well to help the provincials to implement the decisions of the continental assemblies.
Europe is the first continent to form a Continental Mission Secretariat. Other continents will do so in 2018. The Continental Secretariats were instituted by the 2003 General Chapter; the 2012 Intercapitular Assembly expressed the hope that a Vademecum be prepared that would contain in one document the journey of continentality and define its nature, competence and structure. Continentality responds to the need for greater decentralisation in the government of the Institute, though within the limits imposed by the Rule of Life. The Vademecum has been updated several times, the latest being in 2017.
Perpetual vows and ordination to the diaconate
On the fourth and fifth of November, the South African parish of the Assumption in Acornhoek experienced a special missionary weekend with the perpetual consecration and ordination to the diaconate of the Portuguese scholastic Ricardo Alberto Leite Gomes, 28, from Trofa. His parents and the sister along with his Parish priest and his Provincial Fr. José da Silva Vieira came from Portugal for the occasion. Richard made a profession of perpetual vows during the Eucharistic celebration on Saturday, 4 November, 2017, at which Fr. Jude Burgers, Provincial of South Africa, presided, in the packed parish church.
The ordination to the diaconate took place the following day in “Father Angelo Matordes Hall”, in an atmosphere rendered especially festive by local songs and dancing. Mons. Giuseppe Sandri, Bishop of the diocese of Witbank, presided at the celebration held in three languages and followed by the exchange of gifts and good wishes. The newly-ordained deacon, having thanked God for the gift received, also thanked all who form part of his vocation story and, at the end, addressed a message of thanks to the community in the Tsonga language.
Deacon Ricardo has been appointed to Portugal as from 1 January, 2018 and will soon be ordained priest in his home parish of São Martinho de Bougado-Trofa.
THE BROTHER: Alfred, of Bro. Erich Fischnaller (SS).
THE SISTERS: Ancilla, of Fr. Guido Miotti (U); Lucia of Fr. Ascione Ernesto (I).
COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTER: Sr. Mariangela Engheda Kahsu.
Bricalli Remigio (1937-2017): a brother of Fr. Bricalli Jafet (†). As a Comboni he worked in Brazil for ten years. After he left the Institute, together with his wife, he took on the direction of a new parish where for twenty years he exercised all the ministries allowed by the bishop.