MONTHLY NEWSLETTER OF THE COMBONI MISSIONARIES OF THE HEART OF JESUS
COMMITMENTS OF THE GC
Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie
28 December 2018 – 22 January 2019: Visit to the province of Central America (with Fr. Alcides)
28 January – 16 February: Visit to the province of the Congo (Part One – with Bro. Alberto)
17 – 25 February: Rome: activities of the USG
26 February – 5 March: Visit to the Congo (Part Two)
Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins
14 January 2019 – 28 February: Visit to the province of Kenya and a meeting with the provincials of Africa
Fr. Ciuciulla Pietro
28 December 2018 – 24 January 2019: Visit to the delegation of Chad (with Bro. Alberto)
15 – 26 February: Meeting with the provincials of Africa
Fr. Alcides Costa
28 December 2018 – 23 January 2019: Visit to the province of Central America (with Fr. Tesfaye)
1 – 15 February: In Kenya
Bro. Lamana Cónsola Alberto
28 December 2018 – 24 January 2019: Visit to the delegation of Chad (with Fr. Ciuciulla)
27 January – 19 February: Visit to the province of Congo (with Fr. Tesfaye)
19 – 24 February: In Nairobi
Sc. Gbegnon Sénou Isaac (T) Muxúngue (MO) 11.11.2018
Bro. Kakule Silusawa Lwanga (CN) Butembo (DRC) 01.12.2018
Sc. Geraci Alessio Lima (PE) 02.12.2018
Bro. Kanyomozi Bruno (UG) Namugongo (UG) 08.12.2018
Fr. Mwamba James (MZ) Kapatu-Kasama (Z) 01.12.2018
Fr Ricardo De Sousa Borges Rego (BR) Varzelandia 15.12.2018
Fr. Sakie Tchawe (Noel) (T) Noèpé-Lomé (TG) 22.12.2018
Fr. Alohoungo Abib Ayodele Sylvain (T) Cotonou (BEN) 15.12.2018
Holy Redeemer Guild
January 01 – 15 A 16 – 31 BR
February 01 – 15 C 16 – 28 EGSD
January – That the conclusions of the VI General Assembly of the CLM may help the members of the movement to grow in unity, fraternity, collaboration and missionary commitment both within and beyond their own countries. We pray to the Lord
February – That the witness of our inter-generational and inter-cultural communities may be a sign that God enfolds everyone in the embrace of his infinite love. We pray to the Lord
Fr. Juan González Núñez, Adís Abeba. Guía histórica de la capital de Etiopía, ed. Mundo Negro, 2018. This “literary stroll” allows the reader to penetrate the history and the present reality not only of the city of Addis Ababa but also of the country whose capital, from its very beginnings, bore the name New Flower.
General Secretary of the Mission
America/Asia Continental Mission Council
On 14 December 2018 the America/Asia Continental Mission Council (AACMC) held a meeting using the Skype programme. This was the first official meeting of the AACMC following their draft – during the American Missionary Congress held in S. Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) – of some basic criteria for the composition and functioning of the Council and the presentation of the project to the Circumscription Superiors.
During the 14 December meeting the duties of the AACMC and the themes to be covered during the coming year were defined. While some duties of the Continental Councils have already been developed in the Vademecum for continentality, others will also be defined as the work of the Council goes on and these must assume a more continental perspective. At any rate, agreement was reached on some basic duties: to prepare the assemblies for the various sectors of the mission, to verify the implementation of what is proposed in the assemblies of the mission sector (proposals which ought to be taken up by the assemblies of circumscription superiors) and to stimulate continental reflection. It was emphasised that the nature of the Continental Councils is to be a consultative instrument with respect to the assembly of circumscription superiors.
Some themes to be dealt with by the AACMC over the coming year were specified, among which was the organisation of the assembly for Missionary Animation in Lima. It is important that this assembly should deal with the ad gentes dimension of Missionary Animation in Latin America. This concern – highlighted in an official letter to the provincial of Peru Fr. Francisco Martín Vargas, the provincial in charge of the MA sector – emerged after the American Missionary Congress of Santa Cruz (Bolivia), where the aspect of the mission ad gentes outside the confines of Latin America was only marginally touched upon; moreover, many young people present at the Congress had expressed their desire for more intense MA in the continent. There are other themes on which the Council can offer a significant contribution to the provinces, assisting them to go beyond their territorial dimension and to foster common action: the Synod for Amazonia planned for October 2019 and the question of how to integrate and elaborate common action by the circumscriptions of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil, and, especially, what the Comboni Missionaries may offer the Synod. Finally, the theme of Afro pastoral and in particular how the AACMC can help each circumscription of the continent to implement the proposals of the Combonis who work in Afro pastoral, formulated after the Encuentro de Pastoral Afro in Cali (Colombia).
The majority of the above-mentioned themes are proper to Latin America and have an authentically contextual characteristic. The AACMC, like the European Mission Council before it, is elaborating its own competence and is assuming its own profile. The essential task of each Continental Mission Council is to mediate the priorities of the mission and the proposals of the continental assemblies and their implementation at circumscription level. It is also important that the AACMC should devote more time in its discussions to the priorities that pertain to the circumscription of Asia which are the ad gentes dimension of the mission and interreligious dialogue. (Fr. Mariano Tibaldo, General Secretary of the Mission)
The young Brazilian Comboni missionary Ricardo Borges Rego was ordained priest on 15 December 2018, at Varzelandia (MG), where his family lives. It was a great feast, enlivened by the Comboni Family and shared with the parish and the always hospitable people of God. Ten members of the Comboni Family including postulants and scholastics, one Sister, a Brother and some Priests were involved in mission and vocations promotion with a full week of activities and visits to the families of the area. They witnessed to concern for the poorest by visiting the more isolated families.
The ordination was led by Comboni Bishop Mons. Odelir Magri who celebrated the liturgy in a simple manner. The hymns were those of the Small Christian Communities and the celebration was very inculturated.
Fr. Ricardo’s first Mass was enlivened by Comboni parish of São Sebastião, in San Paolo where Ricardo lived and where his vocation matured. The Mass was Afro-American, very well prepared together with Ricardo. We felt the spirit of Comboni and of Africa which danced and celebrated with us.
The family of Ricardo was also very much involved: his mother took part in the procession, dancing and bearing the gifts for the offertory. The community was deeply moved by their pride and joy in this missionary son of theirs.
Such moments also revive our vocation, the joy of being a missionary family, the memory of our commitment and our communion with the peoples and communities to whom we were sent. We experienced the presence of the dancing Spirit of God present among us.
Reopening of the Asmara Scholasticate
The scholasticate of Asmara was first opened in 2008 following restrictions on leaving the country imposed by the government of Eritrea. In 2016, it was closed for lack of candidates. On 22 September 2018 it was reopened with three scholastics and two formators.
On that day, Fr. Habtu Teklay, Delegation Superior, in the presence of the Delegation Council, confreres from the community of Asmara, of the postulants and of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters, celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving for the reopening. During the event he encouraged the scholastics to deepen their prayer life, to take their studies seriously, to create a good atmosphere in the life of the community and to be involved in pastoral services.
The house is located in the outskirts of the city of Asmara, a few kilometres from the seat of the delegation close to the parish of Sembel Kidanemehret where the Fathers and the scholastics exercise their ministries and apostolate. The prison of Sembel is also located close by.
Among the people of the parish, some are well off, others less so while others are very poor. The location of the scholasticate was chosen so that the members of the community could live close to the people and share their daily life.
On 9 July 2018 the long-awaited peace came to the country and normal relations were established between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Now, people may move between Asmara and Addis Ababa. We hope to see democratic change in Eritrea. If the authorities allow young people to leave the country, our scholastics will be able to meet scholastics from other countries and so experience the interculturality which the Institute considers one of our non-negotiable values.
Golden Jubilee of Priesthood
The fiftieth anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of Fr. Juan Nuñez, who spent most of his life at the service of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia, was marked with great solemnity by a Eucharistic celebration in the Coptic Rite at the Cathedral of Addis Ababa. His Eminence Berhaneyesus D. Cardinal Souraphiel, Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa, the Nuncio Mons. Luigi Bianco and Mgr. Lisanechristos Mathewos, Bishop of Baher Dar who was also accompanied in his formation by Fr. Juan, presided at the Mass, together with a further fifteen priests and the members of our Provincial Council in Ethiopia. A number of Comboni Sisters working in the country, together with a large number of other religious and faithful participated joyfully and actively in the celebration.
Cardinal Berhaneyesus, like many other priests and lay people praised Fr. Juan in their concluding speeches, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Comboni Missionary for his generous and untiring service given over many years to thousands of seminarians, religious and lay faithful in Addis Ababa and in other dioceses of Ethiopia. In fact, Fr. Juan Nunez’s work was very diversified: first in evangelisation followed by formation work in the seminaries, in the leadership of the Comboni Institute, both at Provincial and General levels, as director of the Spanish missionary magazine Mundo Negro and responsible for the publication of various books on themes concerning Ethiopia as part of the missionary commitment in this country. Various groups of the faithful, together with former students of Fr. Juan, expressed their gratitude presenting him with some typically Ethiopian objects. Final blessings were invoked upon him wishing him many more years to dedicate to his mission at the service of the people. Ad multos annos
Fiftieth anniversary of Acse
In 1969, the Comboni Association Service for Migrants and Refugees (ACSE) was founded by Fr. Renato Bresciani. Initially, it was mostly for immigrant Sudanese students but later became a service for all immigrants. This year it is celebrating its Golden Jubilee.
St. John Paul II said that ACSE constituted a truly frontier initiative and a school for social workers which, in turn, would have inspired other similar initiatives. In fact, there followed such organisations as Caritas, the Community of Saint Egidio and the Astalli Centre as an evangelical expression of the imagination of charity.
For the celebration of the Jubilee, there are plans for many meetings on the theme of immigration which, it is hoped, will involve a considerable number of immigrants from Africa and the other continents. We will start with the presentation of ACSE from the figure of the Founder to the recent history of the Association. The Honourable Rutelli who knew and helped Fr. Bresciani very much, will be present. There will be testimonies by volunteers and immigrants … from the first to those of today. Senator Manconi will hold a conference on the present state of the question of immigration, taking into account the security decree. Invitations have been sent to the Presidents of the Camera, of the Region and of the Municipality as well as the Mayor of Rome.
Other meetings will be concerned with welcoming and integrating (Zanotelli and the Mayor of Riace), immigrant health and the dental surgery, an evening of music with the “ACSE Choir”, a meeting of volunteers and immigrants and the participation in the feast of peoples in Rome etc.
Apart from Strenna that briefly presents the life of Fr. Bresciani (edited by Fr. Aurelio Boscaini) and the history of ACSE (edited by Fr. Venanzio Milani), a more substantial book is being completed on the history of ACSE which is expected to be published in January.
A mobile display is also being prepared and an ACSE hymn is being composed under the direction of Fr. Fabrizio Colombo.
It is to be hoped that these celebrations may be an occasion to increase awareness in public opinion regarding immigration and find ever more volunteer collaborators, also among immigrants, at the service of migrants so that immigrants may be welcomed better and be helped by a real process of integration.
Islam reflection group
The group met from 26 to 28 November 2018 in Lilongwe, Malawi. It is composed of Comboni representatives from Anglophone and Francophone Africa and is meant to be an instrument to deepen some themes on Islam and offer pastoral proposals regarding relationships between Christians and Moslems. The General Council insisted on this point in their letter to the participants, reminding them how important it is that “the reflection group should not only have a formative finality but […] it should also give pastoral indications that are concrete and practicable”.
In particular, the Lilongwe meeting dealt with marriage in Islamic legislation and the pastoral implications of marriage between Christians and Moslems, the expansion of Islam in Africa and the areas of conflict between Christians and Moslems. Fr. Richard Kyankaaga, head of Dar Comboni in Cairo, spoke of the areas of interreligious conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the participants agreed on some priorities such as: to make the circumscriptions aware of the content of the encounter; to animate the local Churches on important aspects of Islam and its presence in Sub-Saharan Africa; to present a report of the meeting to the annual assembly of provincials and to encourage them to animate their circumscriptions to discuss themes regarding the presence of Islam; and, finally, to update the website www.awlaadibnhagar.org, a means of information on Islam for Comboni Missionaries.
Islam is a presence on the world panorama, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, which we cannot ignore. It is on positive relations with the faithful of this religion that peace in coming years will depend. Therefore, knowledge of Islam, efforts to collaborate with Moslem people and also the duty of helping Christians to overcome the prejudice and suspicion that undermine social relations and peaceful coexistence, ought to be the pastoral challenges during the coming years. (Fr. Mariano Tibaldo, General Secretary for the Mission)
Perpetual vows and diaconal ordination
On 11 November 2018, the scholastic Isaac Sénou Gbegnon, born in Godomey, in Benin, consecrated himself to the mission in the Institute in the presence of Fr. António Manuel Bogaio Constantino, Provincial Superior of Mozambique, at the parish of Saint Daniel Comboni in Muxúngwè, located in the Archdiocese of Beira where, two years previously, he had gone to carry out his missionary service.
On 25 November, the last Sunday of the liturgical year and the solemnity of Christ King of the Universe, Isaac was ordained deacon, together with five diocesan seminarians, by Mons. Claudio Dalla Zuanna, Archbishop of Beira, at the parish of the Sacred Heart in the area of Macuti.
In his homily, Mons. Dalla Zuanna stressed the importance of the diaconal munus in the Church and gave some advice on the exercise of the diaconal ministry. He then thanked the families for having given their sons and for collaborating in their formation for the service of the local Church.
During the thanksgiving, with a typically African gesture, the main celebrant and the seven new deacons left the presbytery and joined in the singing and dancing of the assembled faithful to thank God for these new vocations.
THE FATHER: Heriberto, of Fr. José Aldo Sierra Moreno (RSA).
THE MOTHERS: Zilia, of Fr. Pius Daprè (DSP); Mercedes, of Fr. Miguel Navarrete Arceo (M).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Idangela Meroni, Sr. Carmen Méndez Mártin; Sr. Pier Paola Filini.
THE SECULAR COMBONI MISSIONARY: Marziani Giuliana, Fabbri Wilma.