MONTHLY NEWSLETTER OF THE COMBONI MISSIONARIES OF THE HEART OF JESUS
Rome, 9-29 September
LETTER TO CONFRERES
Rome, 29 September 2018
We greet you in the peace of Christ Jesus.
Now that we have finished the work of the Inter-Chapter Assembly, we wish to send you a message of communion and appreciation for what you are and what you do in the daily life of the mission. During these weeks you have been present in our prayers and we are sure you have accompanied us in our review of the missionary commitment of the Institute with the love and passion of St. Daniel Comboni.
We began by observing our own situation and that of the peoples among whom we live, not starting from statistics but rather with the eyes of faith and a spirit of sharing. We asked ourselves how we could make the burden of the situations into a kairós of hope. Living the Comboni charism today, we said, means taking cognisance of the transformations taking place and learning to show the God of history, always close to the least of the earth. Interpreting the situation, at once beautiful and tragic, moved us deeply and called us to personal and communitarian conversion so as “to be mission” in a world renewed by the Gospel of Jesus.
Today more than ever, the mission demands coherence of life and spirituality that is ever closer to Jesus and his project. We cannot live the mission without taking seriously his call to holiness.
Our charism is clear and dynamic but it must return to the sources that renew it. The new paradigm of mission, of which the Chapter spoke, must rise from the affective relationship with the Trinity and become service to communion, a generator of new human relations based on justice and mercy. These relationships of fraternity must renew us from within, urge us to make a radical option for the poor and to accept responsibility for our “common home”. We are missionary disciples of the Risen Lord who give both peoples and creation the dignity that they received from the God of Love in the beginning.
You will shortly receive a synthesis on the discernment, evaluation and programming carried out with respect to the various dimensions of the life of the Institute. We have given our attention to the care of persons and communities, valued the richness of the experience of the various continents, and accepted the challenges of inter-culture and missionary commitment in inter-provincial contexts and themes. The different relations presented helped us to understand the present situation of the Institute; we have studied the work and the future prospects of the Secretariats of Mission (in its new structure with Missionary Animation, JPIC and CLM), Formation (initial and on-going) and Finance. We have observed the living remembrance of our “saints and martyrs” and we dwelt upon the specific accompaniment of our elderly and sick confreres.
All of us appreciated especially the process of revisiting the Rule of Life which favours greater sharing of our experiences and the deepest expectations of each one of us.
During these weeks concerns and hopes merged together.
We wrote a letter to Pope Francis to express our closeness and support for him in the choices that seem to isolate him within the Church.
With joy we have followed the efforts for peace made in South Sudan and Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, the stages of rapprochement between the two Koreas and the development of new dialogue between the Church and the Chinese government, with agreement on the appointment of bishops.
We have shared the sorrow of the families involved in the recent tragedy on Lake Victoria, in Tanzania, and of the victims of extreme weather events in the Philippines, in China, in the United States and in Nigeria. These things remind us to include in our missionary concerns also the grave socio-environmental crisis provoked by the present neo-liberal model of production and consumption.
We have condemned the massacre of innocent civilians in the city of Beni, in North-Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the victims of fundamentalist groups that seek to control the resources of north Mozambique.
We have not remained unmoved by the constantly worrying situation in the Central African Republic or the crises in Venezuela and Nicaragua.
We prayed for Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli, SMA, kidnapped by Islamic fundamentalists in Niger.
We mourned the death of more than a hundred migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and reflected on the precarious existence of many migrants fleeing from war, hunger and climate change in many parts of the world.
In this suffering humanity we have seen the people of the promise journeying towards new heavens and a new earth (2 Pt 3, 13), where justice will make its home. It is up to us missionaries to prepare and open up this journey!
As we conclude our meeting, all of us together commit ourselves to the renewal of our missionary charism received from Comboni whom we have repeatedly invoked during our Assembly. May he lead us at this time to look to the future with hope.
We have entrusted this work of ours to him during the days of the Assembly.
The Inter-Chapter Assembly
How the work was carried out
From 9 to 29 September the Inter-Chapter Assembly was held in Rome at the General Curia with the participation of circumscription provincials and delegates, the members of the General Administration and some invited confreres.
The opening Mass was presided by Superior General Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie who greeted those present while also remembering our deeply mourned Fr. Rogelio Bustos Juárez. M. Luigia Coccia, Superior General of the Comboni Missionary Sisters, spoke immediately afterwards, pointing out the main areas of collaboration between the two Institutes and expressing her hopes for even greater cooperation in the future.
Assistant General Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla later made a brief presentation to the participants, reminding them of the objectives of the encounter: to verify the implementation of the decisions of the 2015 General Chapter and to study new ways to continue their realisation (RV 144); to be a moment of encounter and work between the General Council, the circumscription superiors, the general secretaries and the Continental Reference Brothers; to grow in communion, in sharing and in the service of authority; to have a common overview of the Institute half way between one Chapter and another; to discover together new strategies to continue to follow the path marked out by the previous Chapter; to look together to the future with hope in a world that is complex and full of suffering while encouraging one another.
After a day of retreat on Monday 10 September led by Fr. Ferruccio Brambillasca, Superior General of PIME, the real work began on Tuesday 11 September with the report of the General Council, presented by Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse G. Bro. Alberto Lamana Cónsola, General Assistant, then presented the statistics of Comboni personnel. In the afternoon, reports were given by Fr. Umberto Pescantini, General Secretary, Bro. Mario Camporese, Librarian of the Curia Library, and Fr. Piergiorgio Prandina, Head of the Historical Office and General Archivist.
Wednesday 12 September saw the presentation of the General Secretariats and General Offices: Fr. Mariano Tibaldo presented the report of the General Mission Secretariat, followed by questions and clarifications. Fr. Dario Bossi used the occasion to present the proposal made during the Comboni Forum (Salvador de Bahia, 10-19 March 2018) to organise a continental or international Comboni Forum on social ministry. Fr. Arlindo Pinto and Bro. Alberto Lamana presented the report of the Communications Office, pointing out that it is a sector of the General Administration, belonging to the General Council and the General Secretariat, which is especially responsible for the communication, the identity and the external image of the Institute. Bro. Lamana presented the new Logo, explaining that is the result of a long process of reflection that involved the participation of a large number of Combonis. Out of 40 confreres present in Assembly, 31 voted in favour of the new Logo (3 iuxta modum and 6 abstentions).
In the afternoon, the Postulator General, Fr. Arnaldo Baritussio, after a short video about Fr. Ezechiele Ramin, presented the current situation of the causes of Combonis: Venerable Giuseppe Ambrosoli; the Servants of God Frs. Ezechiele Ramin, Bernardo Sartori, Antonio Maria Roveggio and Bro. Giosuè dei Cas.
Thursday 13 September was devoted to the report of the Secretary General of Formation, Fr. John Baptist Keraryo Opargiw, and to that of the Secretary General of Finance, Fr. Claudio Lurati. Fr. Siro Stocchetti spoke about Ongoing Formation and in particular about the Courses organised for confreres in different stages of life, at Institute level.
The continental reports were presented starting on Friday 14 and ending on Monday 17 September. The reports of the provinces – each province had prepared its own – were not read in the Hall but made available to those interested. The first report was that of Anglophone Africa and Mozambique, presented by Fr. Austine Odhiambo Radol, Provincial of Kenya, and, in the afternoon, Fr. Joseph Mumbere Musanga, Provincial of the Congo and co-ordinator of the sub-continent of Francophone Africa presented the report of Francophone Africa; Bro. Jean Marie Mwamba Kabaya spoke of the Brother candidates.
The second week of the Assembly began with on Monday 17 with the presentation of the America/Asia report given by Fr. Enrique Sánchez González, Provincial of Mexico and co-ordinator of the continent of America-Asia, and by Fr. David da Costa Domingues, Delegate of Asia. The situation of the Brothers was presented by Bro. Alberto Degan who works at the Brothers International Centre (CIF) in Bogota, Colombia.
On Monday afternoon Fr. Giovanni Munari, Provincial of Italy and coordinator of the continent of Europe, presented the report of the European Circumscriptions. After he had spoken, there was a period for clarifications and questions regarding the different sectors and activities.
On Tuesday 18 September, led by Fr. Mariano Tibaldo, the requalification of missionary work and the revision of commitments in the circumscriptions were discussed. This was followed by discussions in continental groups that later reported to the Assembly on the proposals elaborated by the secretaries, the result of the work of the previous days.
On Wednesday 19 September, the entire day was devoted to the processes of unification and restructuring of the general Secretariats for the Mission (EV, MA, the JPIC and CLM offices), with Fr. Mariano Tibaldo, and of Formation (basic and on-going), with Fr. John Baptist Keraryo Opargiw. Among other things, a study was made of the concept of the model of integral formation and the need to implement greater relations and interactions between the General Secretariats.
The days was concluded with the reading and approval of the personal letter to be sent to Pope Francis, signed by Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse, to thank him for his “life-witness and his calls for a radical change in the mentality and structures of the Church and of society” and to manifest to him the solidarity of the Comboni Missionaries at this time in which his commitment “brings criticism, personal attacks and boycotting”.
On Thursday 20 September Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins, Vicar General, Fr. Victor Hugo Castillo Matarrita and Fr. Markus Lorenz Körber presented the work that the Commission had already completed at provincial and continental level. The various proposals presented by the confreres that had been already received by the Commission were also presented. It was said that the Commission does not start from scratch but takes up the historical wealth of our Institute. With reference to the Rule of Life – it was stated – it is not a question of simply reformulating existing texts but also of taking into account the progress made by the Institute in the past thirty years.
The morning of Friday 21 September was devoted to the theme of inter-culturality delivered by Fr. Palmiro Mileto, a Comboni and an expert in the subject who noted uncertainty and discontinuity in dealing with this theme within the Institute, identifying a possible cause “in the lack of an organic policy that might, from the educative point of view, bring the intercultural dimension to be an integral part of the curriculum of the formative process”.
In the afternoon, Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins and Fr. Aitor Jiménez Echave spoke of responsibility, honesty and personal and community fidelity in religious and missionary life.
On Saturday 22 September the Assembly participants took a break from their work spending the day visiting historical places in Marsica, an ancient region in Aquila Province.
The third week began on Monday 24 September with an evaluation of progress in continentalty with two testimonies. The first, from an African context, was given by Fr. Joseph Mumbere Musanga and the second, from an American context, was given by Fr. Dario Bossi. Among the topics mentioned were the official languages of the Institute, candidates to the Comboni missionary life and the process of the revision of the RL: the Circumscriptions will work up to June 2019 and the work of the Commission will continue until the next General Chapter. In the meantime, the Circumscriptions may send further proposals that will be inserted into the text to be presented to the General Chapter.
Tuesday 25 September was dedicated to finance. Fr. Claudio Lurati reiterated the importance of transparency and checking accounts at personal, community and provincial level.
On Wednesday morning, 26 September, Bro. Alberto Lamana and Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins gave an up-date on the situation of the amalgamation of the circumscriptions and the provinces of Brazil and Egypt-Sudan shared their experience.
On Wednesday afternoon, Fr. John Baptist Keraryo Opargiw spoke of the present state of the Scholasticates and CIF and of the programme of specialisations.
On the morning of 27 September, Fr. Fermo Bernasconi spoke of the “Service of Accompanying confreres in particular situations” and Fr. Angel Lafita spoke of the reality and functioning of the General Procure. The importance of on-going formation was stressed as well as the importance of the circumscription superior carrying out the service of accompaniment of confreres with mercy, patience, justice and truth in charity.
In the afternoon Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins presented Part Two of the Directory of the General Administration and Superior General Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse G., spoke of the journey to the next General Chapter.
On the morning of Friday 28, there were interventions by Bro. Daniele Giusti on assistance to elderly and sick confreres in the Italian Province and by Bro. Antonio Belpiede, OFM, on the mixed Institute (CA ’15, no. 53) according to Canon Law and the progress made by the Union Of Superiors General (USG) with the Holy See to speed up the request to grant clerical religious Institutes and S.A.L. of Pontifical Right the privilege of allowing religious Brothers access to positions of government.
In the afternoon Bro. Alberto Degan and Bro. Alberto Lamana clarified the situation of the Brothers in the Institute, the Comboni Works for Human Promotion and the Continental Reference Brothers.
Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse G. addressed the Assembly to announce the programme leading up to the XIX General Chapter in e 2021.
The Intercapitular Assembly was closed on the morning of Saturday 29 September with a Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla.
Letter to the Brothers
Bro. Alberto Lamana met in Rome with the four Continental Reference Brothers. Together they assembled and evaluated the suggestions emerging from the continental Brothers’ meetings and the formation journey. A message was written to all Brothers indicating some of the challenges of the mission and new ministerial prospects for the mission today.
Holy redeemer Guild
October 01 – 07 RCA 08 – 15 TCH 16 – 31 RSA
November 01 – 15 SS 16 – 30 T
October – That missionaries may always be bearers of Good News both in word and in deed, as builders of brotherhood and justice. Lord hear us.
November – For the Lay Comboni Missionaries as they celebrate their VI General Assembly, that they may renew their commitment for life to the mission, accepting the challenges of today and giving themselves in a way that is truly lay and Comboni. Lord hear us
Siate il cambiamento che volete vedere nel mondo, La Famiglia Comboniana e Giustizia, Pace e Integrità del Creato, edited By Fr. Fernando Zolli and Fr. Daniele Moschetti, August 2018. This book is intended, as we read in the Preface by Sr. Luigina Coccia and Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse, the experience of the World Social Forum and the Comboni Forum and the journey undertaken by the Comboni Family in the field of JPIC: “It is a reflection that means to invite us to study the motivations and the urgency of this ministry”, something that has become today an essential dimension of the Christian community and our missionary communities. The book is available in English and Spanish.
Meetings in the Province
At the end of August, a series of meetings was held at the provincial house that re-launched the priorities of the Province and concretised some important indications of the Institutional Analysis.
Over two days, there were meetings of representatives of the defence of human rights and nature founded in the Province by the Comboni Missionaries throughout all these years.
The aim of the meetings was to create a network of defenders of human rights connected to the Combonis, to support those threatened or in difficulty, offering a missionary spirituality to support them and to receive indications and inspiration concerning the policy and activities of the Province.
Two more days were then devoted to the Combonis who coordinate the parishes in which we work. We shared our experiences and difficulties, seeking to identify the principles that characterise the Comboni parish and its missionary style. The benefit of the encounter will be a synthesising document defining the guidelines for leading a missionary parish in Brazil. We believe that these principles are especially useful for new confreres coming to the Province to begin a service of this kind.
Finally, an entire day was dedicated to a sharing meeting of the community superiors. Under the direction of a female psychologist, we studied the challenges of community dialogue, bringing out the dynamics that foster resilience and guarantee participation and circularity in decision-making.
A dramatic situation
Mons. Juan José Aguirre, Archbishop of Bangassou, wrote in September describing the dramatic situation of the diocese and the country in general which is being destroyed by a shameful civil war. Bangassou, like much of the CAR, is totally in the grip of confusion and disorientation. However much they try to find a way to peace, sustained only by faith and prayer, the people live in an almost constant state of panic.
Even gestures of reconciliation – commissions for dialogue, encounter groups, women for peace, Justice and Peace etc. – are entirely useless unless the aggressors leave. The city is occupied by foreigners armed with Kalashnikovs. Entire quarters are subject to violent and irrational people. After the Seleka guerrillas, there came the great foreign plunderers, attracted by diamonds, gold and raw materials. The 12,000 UN soldiers are not always helpful and they often make situations even more difficult.
It is easy to lose one’s bearings in these conditions; collecting corpses, holding children on one’s arms until the gunfire ends … They have stolen everything from these people except their faith. In fact, despite the scenario presented by Mons. Aguirre – four refugee camps, people wounded in body and soul, violated women, families dispersed, young sons of the Anti-Balaka militias with their hands covered in blood, priests and nuns crushed under the weight of intimidation and violence – many still wish to fix their gaze on Jesus crucified in order to find reasons for hope in the future.
African Film Festival
The African Film Festival has again opened in Verona. This is the 38th edition. Another stage in the journey begun by the Combonis in 1981 with the single constant of being faithful to the original vision: to document the evolution of the continent through the mirror of pan-African films.
This 38th edition wishes to be a still image of the dignity of the person and the relationships that make up its dignity. The Festival will take place in Verona from 9 to 18 November and, for the province it will be held from 19 November to 20 December in 20 localities. It will continue in Comboni Africa Hall from Friday 2 January until June with the sector “travellers&migrants”. Nine screenings are planned for the schools.
On 6 October a very interesting display will be opened: “the dance of the Spirits”. It comprises about thirty works by contemporary African artists in dialogue with a corresponding number of traditional works of art. The Hosts will be the curators Bruno Albertino and Anna Alberghina.
The display will be open until 9 December.
On 23 October, there will be an interesting conference on “The Africa of forms: a dual glance at the life of the objects” with the participation of Professor Marta Nezzo and Professor Emanuela Gamberoni from the University of Padua.
(Missionari Comboniani, Vicolo Pozzo 1, 37129 Verona, Tel. 045 8092100, Cell. 349 1926644 Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Arriving in Peru eighty years ago…
Together with a delegation of forty of the faithful of our Lima-Chorillos parish of “Christ Missionary of the Father” and a number of Combonis, we went to Pozuzo on 21 September to mark with gratitude the arrival of the first three Comboni Missionaries of the then german Branch in the Austro-Germanic colony: the Fathers Alois Ipfelkofer, Andrés Riedl and Miguel Wagner. Another delegation arrived later from the parish of Saint Martín de Pangoa which benefitted from the consignment of the parish of Pozuzo, made to take on Saint Martín situated on the selva and much more needy and extensive with its 300 communities. However, not all were in favour of handing over the parish of Pozuzo, a symbol of our presence in Peru.
The reception we received was friendly and generous. During the Mass which was celebrated in the afternoon at the chapel of Saint Joseph, built in 1875, the celebrant remarked that, the presence of five missionaries at the altar, one of whom was Fr. Joseph Maina, originally from Kenya, was due to the blessing of the Heart of Jesus which the Institute experienced with the 1979 reunification, permitting the internationalisation of the Province.
In the “Father Francisco Schafferer Museum”, we were reminded of the arrival of the first colonist in 1859 and the great misadventures and troubles they had to endure during the two years they took to travel from the port of Huacho to their destination. Of the 300 colonists – 200 Tyroleans from Austria and 100 from the Rhineland in Germany – who left Europe on the ship “Norton”, only 170 reached the “promised land”. The perseverance and faith of Fr. José Egg, who was their leader, helped them overcome all difficulties, the hardships of the weather and even the deaths of those who died crossing the Andes Range.
Today, the inhabitants of Pozuzo realise they are the heirs to this remarkable history and tourists come daily to this, the only Austro-Germanic colony in the world. Pozuzo surprised its visitors with its wood-roofed houses similar to those of Tyrol and we were all pleasantly struck by this clean and well-ordered small city that we would like to think is a model for all the cities of Peru. (Fr. Alois Weiss)
Handing over three parishes
On 22 and 23 September, the Comboni Missionaries restored to the diocese of Aveiro the pastoral care of the parishes of Ponte de Vagos, Covão do Lobo and Santa Catarina.
Present at the installation of the new parish priest, a Brazilian, were the Vicar General of the Diocese, the Vice-Provincial Superior Fr. Victor Manuel Tavares Dias and the two Combonis who formerly served the parishes, Fr. António Aparício and Fr. Joaquim Pereira.
The Vicar General thanked the Combonis for their valued collaboration with the diocese during the six years they served the three parishes.
Many parishioners expressed their disappointment with the departure of the Combonis while certain that the missionaries would work with the same fervour as hitherto in other communities.
The consignment of the parishes follows the closure of the Calvão community, according to the Six-year Plan and the Chapter Acts. The missionary animation of the zone covered by Calvão is now entrusted to that of Viseu.
THE FATHER: Valentin, of Fr. Jean Philippe Koudjo Kunegbodzi Lokpo (RSA).
THE MOTHERS: Herminia, of Fr. Miguel Angel Villegas (†); Elizabeth, of Fr. Antony Mkhari (MZ); Alicia of Fr. Hernández Jaime Pedro Pablo Leobardo (ET).
THE BROTHERS: Mario, of Fr. Alberto Anichini (U); Claudio, of Sc. Ricardo de Sousa Borges Rego (RSA); Bruno, of Bro. Rinaldo Pendin (U).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. M. Clara Aravecchia, Sr. Vincenziana Propersi, Sr. Agnesilde Xotta, Sr. Flora Visentin.
THE SECULAR COMBONI MISSIONARIES: Loriana Pierotti, Maria de Fatima Figueiredo Tenreiro.