MONTHLY NEWSLETTER OF THE COMBONI MISSIONARIES OF THE HEART OF JESUS
GENERAL NOTES - CONSULTA MARCH 2018
1. Fr. Alcides Costa: New Assistant General
We joyfully announce that the GC has elected (RL n. 157.4) Rev. Fr. Alcides Costa as General Assistant to succeed the late lamented Fr. Rogelio Bustos Juarez, as from 1 May, 2018, to complete the mandate together with the other General Assistants until the next General Chapter. The entire Institute wishes to thank Fr. Alcides for having accepted the post, wishes him a fruitful ministry and assures him of our prayers.
Fr. Alcides was born in Ibiraçu, Brazil, on 7.7.1953. After completing the scholasticate in Rome, he served in the Provinces of Brazil and Ecuador. He has considerable experience in the service of administration, having been Provincial Superior in Brazil Sud for six years and a further three years heading the incorporated province of Brazil. Fr. Alcides also took part in the last General Chapter. Last year he was appointed to the Missionary Animation Centre in Quito (Ecuador).
2.1. By the faculty granted by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (Prot. n. 56043/2017) the GC appoints, as from 1 April, 2018, Bro. Adossi Koffissan Adékploví Matthias-Elie Superior of the CBC community, Nairobi.
2.2. By the faculty granted by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (Prot. n. 56064/2017) the GC appoints, as from 1 April, 2018 Bro. Alberto Degan Superior of the CIF community of Bogota.
2.3. The CG appoints, as from 1 May, 2018, Fr. Uribe González Gabriel as socius of the Novice Master at Xochimilco Novitiate (MEX).
3. Code of Conduct
On 17 March 2018, the draft of the Code of Conduct, reviewed by a Vatican Canon Lawyer, was sent to all circumscription superiors and to the members of the General Administration. We invite everyone to read it carefully and to send in your comments as soon as possible so that they may be studied and, where possible, be included in the new text that will be approved by the GC. Afterwards, we will proceed to translate the Code into the various languages of the Institute. If anyone has not yet received a copy, he should refer to the General Secretary who will send it to him.
4. Central Commission for the Rule of Life
Due to the difficulties in holding the meeting planned for June 2018 via Skype, the GC asks the coordinator, Fr. Víctor-Hugo Castillo Matarrita, to call the meeting of the Central Commission in Rome and to settle the date and the agenda. The meeting will be above all else a moment of reflection on the process of re-visitation and revision of the RL. The GC asks all circumscriptions to send a report of the work done at provincial level, together with any proposals for the revision of the RL, to the Continental coordinators of the Commission before June.
5. Intercapitular Assembly
The GC has sent all the participants a letter with indications regarding reports to be presented to the Assembly and other useful information. The GC has decided to invite the four Brothers representing the four continents.
6. Comboni Renewal Course
The next edition of the Course will start on 4 January and conclude on 21 May, 2019. It is intended for confreres between fifty and seventy years of age, but especially for those who have celebrated or their Silver Jubilees of priesthood or are about to do so; in the case of brothers, those who have celebrated 25 years of perpetual vows. The Course will end in the Holy Land (the last three weeks). Those wishing to take part should, having obtained the approval of their circumscription superiors, contact the Course co-ordinator Fr. Siro Stocchetti – e-mail: email@example.com
N.B.: African confreres need a visa to enter Israel, obtainable only with a prior residence permit for Italy. At the moment it takes around four months from the date of arrival in Italy to obtain a residence permit. Confreres should therefore come to Rome at the beginning of December.
7. Missionary Service
The GC deems it necessary to clarify some points regarding the frequent requests for exemption from Missionary Service. It has therefore charged the General Secretary for Formation to send a letter on this subject to all circumscription superiors, scholasticate formators and to scholastics.
8. Famiglia Comboniana
On 8 March, the MCCJ and CMS General Councils met in Rome to share common initiatives and reflect together on their respective post-Capitular journeys.
The next meeting of CMS, MCCJ, MSC (Seculars) and CLM will be held in Pesaro on 2 – 3 of next June.
9. Commitments and journeys of the CG
Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie
3 – 25 April 2018: Visit to the Province of Ecuador with Bro. Alberto Lamana
26 April – 14 May: Visit to the province of Spain
23 – 25 May: Meeting of the USG a Roma
Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins
9 – 13 April: Visit to the communities of Poland
3 – 7 May: Visit to the Paris community
Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla
15 April – 1 May: Uganda for a Finance meeting and First Professions
6 – 18 May: Chad for First Professions
24 – 31 May: Togo for the RL and Finance
Bro. Alberto Lamana Cónsola
3 – 15 April: Visit to the Province of Ecuador with Fr. Tesfaye
18 – 29 April: Visit to the DSP Province
30 April – 3 May: Pesaro for the Brothers’ Meeting
4 – 15 May: Visit to the Province of Spain with Fr. Tesfaye
27 – 31 May: Krakow for Communications Meeting
Sc. Banda Archangel (MZ) San Lorenzo (EC) 09.03.2018
Holy Redeemer Guild
April 01 – 15 CN 16 – 30 EC
May 01 – 15 ET 16 – 31 I
April – That we, the members of the Comboni Family, inspired by St. Daniel Comboni, may be able to unify all our resources for the service of the Mission. Lord hear us.
May – That the dignity of women may be ever more deeply respected and that young people may understand that the roots of respect are to be found in open and sincere dialogue. Lord hear us.
Fr. Alfredo Ribeiro Neres, Je vous donne le pouvoir sur toutes les forces du mal, diocese of Isiro Niangara. As stated in the introduction, this book reminds us of the authority that Jesus gave his apostles and all his disciples over the forces of evil, forces that may provoke physical and psychic illness. In these pages the reader can find concrete indications for discerning and accompanying the suffering and the sick, like those actually met by the author in his thirty-six years of healing and liberation ministry.
Gianfranco Carletti, Vivere e morire per la missione, Edizioni Sant’Antonio, Verona 2017. This book was written by a medical psychiatrist who, from 1973 to 1995, worked with CUAMM in Uganda, Kenya and Mozambique. The author, in this his “reflection on the life, spirituality and relevance today of St. Daniel Comboni”, as the sub-title shows, he goes through the events of Comboni’s life in four stages – his infancy, and the Mazza, Camillian and episcopal stages – inserting the main moments of his life but also showing the theological-spiritual dimension against the background of his personality from a perspective that is valid for today.
A book for the 150th Anniversary of the Institute
The circumscriptions of Anglophone Africa and Mozambique (APDESAM) have printed the book by Fr. Manuel Augusto Lopes Ferreira, “Missionari Comboniani - 150 anni di storia e missione”, in English.
It may be a very useful supplement for all of us, especially for the younger, English-speaking confreres, to get to know the history of our Institute.
APDESAM extends heartfelt thanks to Fr. Giuseppe Bragotti who translated the book from Italian to English.
Making common cause with the world of today
From 10 to 20 March, around fifty men and women missionaries of the Comboni Family – Lay People, Sisters, Brothers and Priests – from Africa, Europe, Latin America and the United States gathered at Salvador de Bahia (Brazil) for two Social Forums, the World Social Forum (WSF) and the Comboni Social Forum (CSF). The theme of the Comboni Forum was “Ministries and networking: how to collaborate with other organisations”.
The tenth and eleventh of March were days spent welcoming those coming from Brazil – the largest group – and other countries. Many participants found inspiring the encounter with the spirit of the Comboni Missionary Ettore Frisotti and his motto “Tem cheiro de Evangelho nas coisas dos negros” (in the things of the blacks there is the perfume of the Gospel), written against the backdrop of the church of the parish of St. Daniel Comboni. Monday 12 was a day of sharing on the work of each one present. The morning of Tuesday 13 was dedicated to theological reflection with the Benedictine Marcelo Barros, a prominent personality in the field of interreligious dialogue and social movements.
In the afternoon the opening march of the WSF took place, a popular folklore event that unites the different groups both political and cultural. From 14 to 17, the programme was to attend the activities of the WSF full time.
On Sunday, 18 March, the entire Comboni Family united in celebrating the priestly Golden Jubilee of Fr. Gian Paolo Pezzi, Fr. Fernando Zolli’s 45 years of priesthood and the 50 years of religious life of Comboni Sister Almerita Ramos along with the birthday of Bro. João Paulo Martins.
The final day, Monday 19, was dedicated to the concluding decisions and initiatives for the future.
These days of intense work were concluded with the Eucharistic celebration of the feast of St. Joseph, a simple man, just and faithful, who reminds us of the words of Comboni: to be hidden stones in the ground so that the Church may be born.
I was a stranger and you welcomed me
The Comboni Family supports Venezuela migrants
The “Tancredão” camp is a school in Boa Vista, in the state of Roraima, that has been adapted during an emergency for the reception of Venezuelan migrants. There is a similar camp in the city.
Completely devoid of services, the Tancredão is packed with people: the only free spaces are narrow corridors between the camping tents and the mattresses scattered here and there on the ground. Within, the smoke of wood fires is breathed by the people while outside there are dozens and dozens of tents, including those of the Civil Guards, surrounded by mud and stagnant water. The drains from the bathrooms often become blocked; barefooted children play next to the open sewers.
“The Fat One”, one of the improvised leaders of the Venezuelan camp says openly: “What right have we got to refuse entry to a new family knocking on our door?! We accept them and look for a little corner for them... but here, two people leave and another ten arrive!”
While the vital principle in the running of this camp is that of welcoming people, exclusion and inertia seem to be the attitudes of the public authorities. This has been strongly emphasised by the Special Pastoral Episcopal Commission for the Struggle against Human Trafficking of the Bishops’ Conference which has completed a mission of observation and solidarity on the Brazil-Venezuela border, which saw “grave situations of the violations of human rights and the lack of public priority policies such as food, health, hygiene, security, education, reports of police violence, violence against women, sexual exploitation, drug and people trafficking and the complete absence of the public authorities”. Following this mission, the Bishops’ Conference of Brazil published a letter in strong and prophetic terms.
The Comboni Missionaries have been working for years in Boa Vista, especially accompanying the indigenous people of Roraima. With the immigration emergency, they have joined the Church and civil forces in voluntary activities of solidarity and emergency support. They regularly visit the camps where they provide basic medicine celebrate together with the Venezuelan people in an effort to increase their hope.
Recently, they launched a campaign of solidarity and support for the Venezuelan people, to condemn the inertia of the public authorities and demand immediate actions suited to the reception and protection of migrants. At the same time, they ask Brazilian people of good will to help as much as they can to alleviate the situation of these brothers and sisters in search of life.
The Institutional Analysis of the Province continues
From 17 to 24 January, 2018, forty-six Comboni Missionaries of the Province gathered to listen to God and to one another, discerning the Comboni identity, the vocation of each one, the situation of the province, the potential and limits of the religious and missionary life, the demands of the situation and the Comboni response. In this way the slow and deep process of Institutional analysis, initiated more than a year ago, continues.
The title of the encounter which was held with the tones of a spiritual retreat, was “Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock” inspired by a passage from the Acts of the Apostles (Ac 20, 28).
With group work, debates in full assembly, silent prayer and liturgical celebration, the group reached a definition of five areas of conversion: community life, self-sufficiency, missionary animation/vocation promotion and inter-culturality, spirituality and the administration of power. By gradually reaching a consensus, they managed to identify pathways of action relative to each of these areas. It is up to each Comboni, each community and the Provincial Council, to decide which of these actions to assume as a commitment to change and collaboration so that our identity and mission may follow ever more closely the voice of the Spirit and respond to the demands of the situation.
In this way, the Institutional Analysis continues in a permanent dynamic that must be based on the discernment and concrete action of each community.
The cycle of conferences on the world of youth concludes
The second conference in the cycle dedicated to the youth and their search for happiness took place on 1 March, in the Chapter Hall and was entitled Psychological profile of the youth of today: weaknesses and strengths. The conference was given by Professor Zbignew Formella, a Salesian, ordinary professor at the Salesian University, pro-dean of the faculty of Science and Education and director of the cathedra of Psychology of Education.
The relator emphasised that, despite the clear differences of social and cultural class, the youth of today have some characteristics in common: emotive social participation, an attitude towards transcendence but without religion and politics that tend to be seen as a private matter. The youth, Professor Formella stated, “absorbs the cultural climate and the fashions of the world of today marked by narcissistic and subjective tendencies, a world that leads them ‘not to choose’ but to possess everything.
However, besides these negative tendencies, the professor placed the accent on the potential of youth and their availability, before authoritative persons, to become completely involved because, – this was his advice to educators – the youth, rather than words or instructions, need credible witnesses of the joy and ability to give oneself to others.
On 22 March, the cycle was concluded with the conference ‘The youth and religion; education challenges; values and conscience’ given by the Jesuit Fr. Giulio Parnofiello, a doctor of moral theology and chaplain to the Sapienza University of Rome. The central point of this conference was how to proclaim the faith today, considering the situation of Italian and European youth. Fr. Parnofiello started by presenting a questionnaire addressed to the members of the Sapienza and some research carried out by the Toniolo Institute with the meaningful title: ‘God my way’.
These two items of research show some basic tendencies: a private faith without a community, without belonging, nomadic, almost a ‘do it yourself’ faith. Fr. Giulio proposed an educational plan for youth based on three aspects: first, activate processes of conscience, having the youth discover that, in their hearts there is a law written by God; second, bring to maturity a journey of freedom as responsibility for relationships with others; third, discernment as availability to accept help from others so as to know how to ‘distinguish’ and choose that which is good and important in life.
Ellwangen: religious celebrate the Day of Consecrated Life
There are four religious communities in Ellwangen. 1) The Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Anne, founded in this city; next to their General Curia, there is a retirement home for the elderly. The Sisters work in the parish and in the hospital. 2) The Franciscan Sisters of Sießen who run two schools. 3) The Redemptorists of the Marian Shrine of Schönenberg who take care of a pastoral unit and a diocesan spirituality centre. 4) The Comboni Missionaries who help with the pastoral work of the parish, especially on Sundays and are responsible for the various activities and offices of the DSP.
Each year, the four religious communities celebrate together the day for consecrated life. This year, fifty men and women religious took part. The four communities take turns each year in organising the celebration. This year it was the Combonis’ turn and they invited all religious to the Josefstal house. The programme was simple: an hour of prayer in common in the chapel and a family encounter in the refectory. It is not often we have the opportunity to spend time together and discuss our activities and troubles; for this reason the day was well attended and everyone appreciated the encounter.
Perpetual Vows and ordination to diaconate
In our Province we are celebrating and living a year of grace that began with the vocational year (October 2017 – October 2018). In April of last year, a young missionary from Zambia, Archangel Banda, arrived to do his missionary service and was appointed to the Apostolic Vicariate of Esmeraldas and our community of San Lorenzo.
Archangel dedicated himself to the pastoral work of the parish: accompanying the youth, visiting the urban and rural communities and the sick, assisting in the formation of leaders and in sacramental catechesis. Having completed his missionary service he was admitted to perpetual vows and Holy orders.
On 9 March, for the first time in more than seventy years of Comboni presence in the parish of San Lorenzo, Archangel took perpetual vows in the parish church. The ceremony, at which a large number of friends and the faithful were present, was presided over by Fr. Rafael González, the provincial and was concelebrated by various confreres in a simple and joyful atmosphere.
On the following day, the celebration of ordination to the diaconate, enlivened by a good choir, began at 10am in the packed church. The Mass was presided over by our Comboni bishop, Mons. Eugenio Arellano Fernández. Many missionaries and diocesan priests, men and women religious attended, together with friends and faithful from the nearby parishes participated with enthusiasm in the various moments of the day, including a substantial meal provided when the ceremonies were over.
We wish our confrere, the Reverend Deacon Archangel Banda a fruitful service as a deacon and as a missionary.
The XXXI Provincial Assembly was held this year in Hawassa from 13 – 15 March. The basic theme was the different attitude towards community life and apostolic activity that may depend upon differences in age or formation. However, it was said that the solutions are not to be found only in the analysis of each single case involving contrast or in intolerance towards such attitudes, but in humble participation in community life, in the use of the Rule of Life as an instrument of discernment, in taking up every day our small cross and in finding ways to communicate that are more open and loving.
Twenty one of the twenty four members present in Ethiopia attended; representatives were also invited from the Comboni Sisters and also the four Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM). Much appreciated interventions were made by Bishop Roberto Bergamaschi, Vicar Apostolic of Hawassa, and by the special guest Abba Eyob Jemaneh, Parish priest of the Cathedral of the Archeparchy of Addis Ababa, who stayed with us until the end of the Assembly.
Ecumenical conference in Arusha
Magda Plekan, one of the CLM in Ethiopia, was chosen (the only CLM) with another Comboni to represent the Catholic Church (through the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians) to take part in the conference “Mission and Evangelisation” held in Arusha (Tanzania) from 8 – March. It is the second time for this conference, organised every ten years by the World Council of Churches, to be held in Africa. The theme of the conference was “Moving in the Spirit: discipleship that transforms”. There were more than 1000 participants from all over the world and of all the Christian denominations.
50th year of Comboni presence in Limone sul Garda
On 15 March, 2018, the beginnings of a long-sought dream, to have a home at the very heart of the native land of our Father and Founder, were marked by a meaningful moment. “To keep the memory means keeping alive the event that has involved us”, Fr. Renzo Piazza, Vice-Provincial remarked during a Mass celebrated at the parish church. Among those present were two confreres from the DSP, Fr. Hans Maneschg and Fr. Pius Daprè, other confreres, the area Vicar Mons. Giuseppe Mattanza, the Parish Priest Don Armando Caldana, some priests from the area and many people with ties to our community from Limone, Tremosine and other neighbouring parishes. The Mayor of Limone, Sig. Chicco Risatti, and some councillors representing the local Administration were also among the participants as a visible sign of the bond that exists with all the citizens of Limone.
Following the Mass there was a meeting in the parish hall and testimonies were given by some confreres who had served here in Limone in the past. Due especially to another engagement, the Comboni Sisters could not be present; nevertheless, three letters of testimony written by Sisters who worked or are still working in Limone were read. One of those giving testimony was Don Mario Trebeschi, who was parish priest of Limone when Comboni was beatified. The deep “Comboni-isation” he received during the thirteen years he spent in Limone became part of his writings from which we Combonis ourselves joyfully draw nourishment and inspiration.
This was only the first episode of the story. There will be other events to which various people will be invited who, with their presence in this ‘love story’, opened new doors and new horizons for an encounter of the Comboni Family with the life of so many people of this locality. The summit of this journey into the past to keep the memory alive is set for 10 October. For Comboni, it is a journey from the cradle to the grave, a grave that is not here as he left his heart in Africa, right where he happened to be, and where today we find the Heart of Christ. ‘I felt his heart beat faster and a divine power seemed to urge me on to those lands’. St. Daniele Comboni again opens the door of his home to us, to again find our hearts. In this house, ‘holiness belongs’.
Meeting of the Provincial Councils of Portugal and Spain
The Provincial Councils of Spain and Portugal met together in Viseu on 20 March 2018, for the fourth straight year, for the purpose of continuing the collaboration begun between the two provinces in a spirit of serenity and listening to God and the members of the Provinces. The two Provincial Councils expressed their gratitude that there is no tension between them and that cooperation is the common denominator that helps them to work together in the best way possible.
At the end of April, for the first time, they will hold their retreat together, at Salamanca, accompanied by father general. “For all of us – they said – it will be a moment of graces and blessings”.
During the Viseu meeting, after evaluating the commitments assumed during last year’s Grenada meeting, and after focussing on some sectors and proposals in particular, it was again stated above all that there is still a desire to work in this spirit of collaboration between the two provinces.
On 25 February 2018, the scholastics Mario Pellegrino made his perpetual profession in the presence of Fathers Christian Carlassare, Fernando González Galarza and Yacob Solomon Shole, of the pre-postulant on experience Mark Okide, three Comboni Sisters and the faithful of three Nyal chapels: The birth of the prince of Peace, the Ascension of the Lord and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Christians were very happy to be able to participate in this important step in the missionary life of our Scholastic Mario and he too was happy to celebrate together with the people among whom he had his missionary experience.
The participation of the people in the liturgical assembly was very moving. When Mario lay prostrate on the map before the altar, members of the faithful surrounded him singing a hymn to the Holy Spirit and responding to the litany.
When Mario read the formula of the vows, everyone, both children and adults, raised their hands together with the celebrant and joined in the prayer of blessing, fully aware that such an event is blessing for the whole parish community who are now waiting for Mario’s ordination to the diaconate. That will take place, also in Nyal, on the first of May this year. Mons. Damiano Guzzetti, a Comboni bishop, will be invited for the occasion.
THE FATHER: Renzo, of Bro. Alberto Parise (I).
THE MOTHERS: Anna, of Fr. Saverio Paolillo (BR); Morena Latamo, of Fr. Yacob Solomon Shole (SS).
THE BROTHERS: João, of Bro. Paulo Luis Correia Aragão (EGSD); Giuseppe, of Fr. Silvio Zanardi (MZ); Luigi, of Fr. Orlando Borghi (PCA).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Encarnación Pérez García; Sr. Ausilia M. Ogbasghi; Sr. M. Santina Dalla Riva.