MONTHLY NEWSLETTER OF THE COMBONI MISSIONARIES OF THE HEART OF JESUS
General Secretariat for Formation
From 20 to 27 January, at the General house, a “Workshop on Intercultural Skills” was held. It was organised by the members of the General Secretariat for Formation: Fr. John Baptist Keraryo Opargiw, Fr. Siro Stocchetti, Fr. Elias Sindjalim, Fr. Fermo Bernasconi and Bro. Guillermo Casas. Work began with a welcoming address by Fr. John Baptist, General Secretary for Formation during which he recalled the content of the Letter of the General Council to the whole Institute which indicated that the year 2019 would be entirely dedicated to reflection and the reorganisation of concrete activities on the theme of interculturality.
Fr. Siro then presented the objectives and the methodology chosen for the workshop, emphasising that the main purpose of the week was to have a personal experience of reflection, sharing and growth in intercultural skills so that each one of the participants might animate the confreres of his circumscription.
The forty participants belonged to fourteen nationalities; two Comboni Sisters also took part: Sister Angelina Nyakuru, from Uganda, and Sister Iris Kelyna Gallardo, from El Salvador. Europe was the continent with most representatives (27, followed by Africa (8), America (4), Asia (1). The Europeans were mostly Italians (14), followed by the Spaniards (6), Portuguese (5), one German and one Pole.
At the end of the workshop, some intercultural experiences were selected and some concrete activities were specified that might help the Comboni circumscriptions to deepen the theme of interculturality.
We are publishing a list of works born or inspired by the Comboni mission in the world. It is most probable that other names may be added to list. We kindly ask you to indicate these to us. Thank you.
INSTITUTES, CONGREGATIONS, ASSOCIATIONS & MOVEMENTS
FOUNDED AND/OR ACCOMPANIED BY COMBONI MISSIONARIES
AND COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS
01. Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate > Mons. Angelo Negri and entrusted to Sr. Angioletta Dognini, Gulu (Uganda) 1945.
02. Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary > Mons. Johann Riegler, Glen Cowie (South Africa) 1949.
03. Sisters of the Sacred Heart > Mons. Sisto Mazzoldi, Juba (Sudan) 1952, assisted by Sr. Donatilla Moroni. It moved to Moyo (Uganda) due to civil war and was entrusted to the guidance of Sr. Elisabetta Goggi. They are now working in Sudan and in Uganda.
04. Sisters of Nazareth > Mons. Edoardo Mason, Wau (Sudan) 1956, together with Sr. Carmen Predelli. They later joined the new Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1997).
05. Sisters of Our Lady of Victories > Mons. Domenico Ferrara, Mupoi (Sudan) 1957, entrusted to Sr. Bartolomea Pedretti. They joined the new Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1997) under the Bishop of Tombura-Yambio who entrusted their formation to the Comboni Sisters.
06. Sisters of the Perpetual Adoration of the Holy Trinity > Mons. Angelo Tarantino, together with Sr. Anastasia Fumagalli, Arua (Uganda) 1960. An enclosed monastery.
07. Lay Helpers > Fr. Antonio La Salandra, Maracha (Uganda) 1970. A lay association.
08. Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church (with a missionary and multi-tribal character) > Mons. Cesare Asili, diocesan bishop of Lira (Uganda) 1972. Formation was entrusted to Sr. Ignazia Curcis.
09. Evangelizing Sisters of Mary > Mons. Sisto Mazzoldi and Fr. G. Marengoni, Himo/Moshi (Tanzania) 1976, assisted by Sr. Pieralba Figini.
10. Misioneras Combonianas del Corazón de Jesús > Mons. Enrico Bartolucci, Esmeraldas (Ecuador) 1982.
11. Contemplative Evangelizing Sisters of the Heart of Christ > Fr. Giovanni Marengoni (Kenya). It was meant to be the female branch of the contemplative congregation founded in 1986 but it was never realised due to converging counter-indications.
12. Handmaids of the Church > Mons. Armido Gasparini, Awasa (Ethiopia) 1988, assisted by Sr. Neghesti Tekié. First vows in 1991.
13. Misioneras de Maria Estrella del Mar > Mons. Olindo Spagnolo, Guayaquil (Ecuador) 1992, approved in 1995.
14. Brothers of St. Martin de Porres > Mons. Sisto Mazzoldi, Juba/Kit (Sudan) 1953, assisted by Fr. Giuseppe Gusmini and Bro. Alessandro Pelucchi. They had to flee to Uganda; they now work in both Uganda and Sudan.
15. Marian Brothers or Brothers of the Immaculate Heart of Mary > Mons. G. Battista Cesana and Fr. Gino Albrigo, Lodonga (then in the diocese of Gulu - Uganda) 1954. Founded for teaching and for catechumens.
16. Brothers of St. Joseph > Mons. Edoardo Mason, Wau (Sudan) 1955. Religious and academic teaching. Overrun during the civil war, the survivors joined the Brothers of St. Martin de Porres.
17. Brothers of St. Joseph the Worker > Mons. Domenico Ferrara, Mupoi (Sudan) 1959. After the civil war they joined the Brothers of St. Martin de Porres.
18. Apostles of Jesus > Mons. Sisto Mazzoldi and Fr. Giovanni Marengoni, Nadiket/Moroto (Uganda) 1964. This was the first African congregation for priests and brothers.
19. Pequeños Hermanos de Maria/Little Brethren of Mary > Fr. Antonio Piacentini, La Paz (Messico) 1971. The movement was approved in 1991. It also has a female branch called Piccole Sorelle di Maria. It gained pontifical approval in 1991. It is present in 17 countries and has 20,000 members of whom 150 are consecrated.
20. Petits Frères de l'Évangile, Lomé (Togo) 1974, derived from the fusion of the Disciples de Jésus founded by Fr. Francesco Grotto in 1971 and the Frères de St. Jean-Baptiste, founded in 1968 by Archbishop Dosseh.
21. Contemplative Evangelizers of the Heart of Christ > Fr. Giovanni Marengoni, Rongai/Nakuru (Kenya) 1986.
22. Sociedad Sacerdotal Misioneros de “Estrella del Mar” > Mons. Olindo Spagnolo, Guayaquil (Ecuador) 1983, approved in 1995.
23. Misioneros de los jovenes de Maria Inmaculada > Fr. Santiago Moratiel, Ecuador, approved in 1995.
The following ecclesial organisations are connected to the Comboni Family:
24. Apóstoles de la Palabra > Fr. Flaviano Amatulli, Messico, 1978.
25. Servidores de la Palabra > Fr. Luigi Butera, Messico.
26. Misioneras Hijas de la Iglesia > Fr. Julio Herrer and Sr. M. Rosaria D'Anna, Quito (Ecuador) 1979.
27. Misioneros de la Reconciliación del Senor de los Milagros > ex Comboni Fr. Felipe Homero Fierro Radiilo, Lima (Perù) 1987.
28. A.M.S.E. = Asociación Misionera Seglar Ecuador, Quito 1994.
29. Hogares Daniel Comboni > Fr. Manuel Sánchez, El Carmen (Ecuador) 2002. For abandoned children.
30. Cenacolo Missionario Comboniano > Sr. Rosangela Passera and Ester Abbattista, approved by the diocese of Rome in 2002.
Sc. Musonda Cosmas (MZ) Lunzu (MW) 24/01/2019
Sc. Sebutinde Michael (U) Namalu (UG) 25/01/2019
Holy Redeemer Guild
February 01 – 15 C 16 – 28 EGSD
March 01 – 07 CO 08 – 15 E 16 – 31 DSP
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.
March – That the canonisation of Bishop Romero may bring all the Christian communities of Latin America strength, perseverance and confidence in the power of the Gospel. We pray to the Lord.
Fr. Simon Mwaura Mbuthia, Fiqh al-aqalliyyāt’s Struggle between Established Traditions and the Need to Adapt fatāwā to the Western Context. The Debate about a Woman who Embraces Islam Without her Husband, Pontificium Istitutum Studiorum Arabicorum et Islamologiae, Roma 2018. This a doctorate thesis in Arabic and Islamic studies by Fr. Simon who analyses the theme of the conversion from Islam in western countries in the case of a married woman whose husband remains in his own faith and the fatāwā in the context of the western world. The work takes into consideration the jurisprudence of minorities and the views of some experts in this area; it has an ample bibliography.
Celebration of thanksgiving for Fr. Gianpietro Baresi
In memory of Fr. Gianpietro Baresi, many of his friends organised a celebration of thanksgiving for his life. It was held at ’Arsenal da Esperança, in São Paulo, on 19 January 2019.
In the past, the structures of the Arsenal da Esperança were used to receive the thousands of migrants coming to Brazil. Today, coordinated by the SERMIG fraternity, the project receives 1,250 homeless people daily, welcoming them and giving them shelter as well as washing facilities and also professional courses and lessons in self-esteem, service and inclusion.
While he was in São Paulo, Fr. Gianpietro would celebrate Mass at the Arsenal twice a week, an authentic actualisation, today, of Jesus incarnate among the poor.
Inspired by the Gospel of the Wedding Feast of Cana, a considerable number of Comboni Family members took part in the celebration: Sisters, Brothers, Fathers and lay men and women friends of Fr. Gianpietro close to the spirit of our charism. There were also representatives of the Prison and Worker chaplaincies, of the Centre for the defence of the Rights of Children and Adolescents in Sapopemba, of the centre for the defence of Human Rights, in Sapopemba and the Daniel Comboni Institute of the Fazenda da Juta, as well as members of ecclesial communities of the East Zone of São Paulo and the Sanctuary of Santa Cruz da Reconciliação, Caxingui.
Gianpietro was remembered for his closeness to the poorest, the friends of God and, at the same time, his ability to understand and make a deep analysis of the reality of the context of socio-political challenges, of the history and the prospects of the Church. Some Combonis who were his students or mission companions emphasised his intuitions in making religious formation more incarnate, going out to the peripheries and acting according to the situation.
The celebration also recalled his commitment to the defence of children and adolescents and with the magazine Sem Fronteiras: the words of Fr. Abel, the pseudonym he chose for his column of ironic, provoking and prophetic comment, resounded once again during this celebration. It was a celebration under the sign of the Gospel of the Joy to which Fr. Gianpietro was always a living and consistent witness. The many poor people whom he knew and served – it was said – must have welcomed him into Heaven. It is such as these that recognise the servants of God and confirm how worthwhile it is to spend one’s entire life in giving, in prophecy and in the service of life.
Spiritual exercises and Assembly
The Combonis of the Delegation of Colombia ended the year dedicated to the Rule of Life (RL) with a week of spiritual exercises from 8 to 15 January, directed by Fr. Rafael González Ponce. “Fr. Rafael helped us greatly to know the RL and, especially, to savour and understand it” said Fr. Antonio Villarino.
On the following days, from 16 to 18 January, the Delegation held its annual assembly, the main theme of which was “Which mission are we conducting in Colombia and how can we improve it?” The missionaries commenced the assembly with a morning of prayer and reflection led by Fr. Carlos Correa, Provincial of the Jesuits in Colombia.
Meeting to discuss the forntier zones
On 3 and 4 December 2018, at the Comboni parish of San Lorenzo the Martyr (Esmeraldas), a meeting was held to share ideas on the social and pastoral forntier zones. Present were representatives of the diocese of Tumaco (Colombia) and of the Apostolic Vicariate of Esmeraldas: their bishops, Mons. Orlando Olave and Mons. Eugenio Arellano MCCJ, and around thirty pastoral agents including priests, religious and laity of the city of Tumaco, of the Vicariate and of the Northern Zone of Esmeraldas. There was also a substantial presence of Comboni Missionaries and Comboni Sisters among whom was Fr. Daniele Zarantonello, parish priest of Tumaco, Fr. José Martin Balda, co-ordinator of the meeting and Pastoral Vicar of Esmeraldas, as well as the missionary men and women working in the parishes of Santa María de los Cayapas, Borbón and San Lorenzo. Even though this experience is nothing new but forms part of a programme of activities going back more than twenty years, this particular meeting arose from a recently-created situation, especially at San Lorenzo and Tumaco, after the bombs that exploded in January and March 2018 at San Lorenzo and Borbón and following the episodes of violence (resulting in the deaths of four Ecuadorians in a mine explosion, the abduction and murder of three journalists and an Ecuadorian couple) carried out by armed groups involved in the drugs trade.
The meeting took place in three parts: the historical memory of pastoral frontiers, the presentation of the various problems by the delegations and the operative conclusions with an evaluation of the encounter.
First of all, the problems, already mentioned on various occasions, have been worsening. The presentation of the problems facilitated the understanding that the two zones are living the same situation, with the same problems and the same hopes, even if things are more serious in Tumaco and in the area of the Colombian border. In fact, they belong to the same ethnic groups and the people see no sense in having a frontier that limits movement, commerce and trade or in having different administration systems.
In this situation, marked especially by unemployment, the struggle for easy money is widespread with an increase in crime, prostitution, human trafficking and drug use. At the same time, traditional values are lost, families are increasingly fragmented and the number of girl-mothers increases as well the number of abandoned children and alcoholics. There is also an invasion of religious sects and it is difficult to form Christian communities ready to take responsibility in the ecclesial, social and political fields.
In drawing conclusions, all the participants expressed their opinion that these meeting on frontier pastoral should continue. Various suggestions were made: to strengthen Afro pastoral following the same lines in Tumaco and Esmeraldas; to promote integral formation, not only religious and sacramental but also social, for the youth and for community leaders; to form critical consciences; promote environmental pastoral, articulate our work with that of other organisations close to the Church; to try to understand what economic and political plans the government intends to propose in the frontier zones; to support producers’ associations in the processing of products in the same territory; assist collaboration between dioceses.
On 12 January 2019, the vigil of the patronal feast of the parish, a great feast was celebrated at Fullasa, in the Apostolic Vicariate of Hawassa, the parish that has by far the largest Catholic population in Ethiopia with around 40,000 Catholics, on the occasion of three ordinations to the priesthood.
The newly ordained were Iyasu Altesa Lodovico and Iyasu Daguna, from Fullasa, and Matewos Kebede, from the parish of Teticcha. Thousands of the faithful took part in the ceremony. There was an especially moving moment when Mgr. Roberto Bergamaschi invited the three deacons to take a vow of obedience to him and his successors, immediately afterwards invoking the Holy Spirit to take possession of them for a ministry that unites heaven and earth in the wake of the redemptive and salvific work of Jesus Christ.
Some Combonis working in Ethiopia were present among whom was Bishop Emeritus of the Apostolic Vicariate of Hawassa, Mgr. Lorenzo Ceresoli. Both the Comboni Missionaries and the Comboni Sisters felt they had had a role in the training of these priests through prayer, example, catechesis and, at times, direct involvement in the seminary formation process. Deceased Bishop Giovanni Migliorati was remembered by the newly-ordained priests as an important figure in their vocational journey.
During the ceremony, the sad event of the killing of Iyasu’s father, which happened two weeks previously during tribal conflicts, was recalled. Both parishioners and all the participants were saddened by this event which cast the shadow of mourning over the joy of the celebration.
ACSE Jubilee in Rome
The celebrations for the ACSE Jubilee began on 23 January with an interesting and well-attended meeting in Rome. About 150 people filled Dante hall of the Palazzo Poli, close to the famous Trevi Fountain. Those present included the friends of ACSE, the Comboni Sisters with their Superior General, the Comboni Missionaries (Father General was abroad visiting the missions), representatives of other Institutes, many young Africans and a number of other people.
Fr. Venanzio Milani, as President of ACSE, presented the history of ACSE from its beginning under Fr. Renato Bresciani up to the present day, together with its various activities. This was followed by interesting testimonies by one of the first women collaborators, by two young people, an Ethiopian and an Afghan, who benefitted from ACSE scholarships, with one becoming an engineer and the other a lawyer, and by Sr. Maria Rosa Venturelli, Vice President of ACSE. Honourable Rutelli, who knew and assisted Fr. Bresciani, remembered him as a man with a free and generous faith, who, when he was Mayor, helped him to understand better the conditions of immigrants and needy persons. The meeting ended with a masterful address by Senator Luigi Manconi on the question of immigration at the present time.
Other meetings are also planned to be held in Rome: on 28 February, at the General Curia on the theme of “The present situation of the health of migrants”; on 25 March at the Seraphicum with Fr. Alex Zanotelli on the theme “A welcome that regenerates”; on 18 May (venue yet to be fixed) a musical evening of African dance, music and song.
Statistics relating to the 38th Verona African Film Festival (2018) in the city and the Province
30 films were shown in 25 halls. There were 60 film shows in schools with 8,364 students attending (2,175 in Verona and 6,189 in the Province) and 937 teachers. A total of 14,385 people attended the festival.
The Comboni Missionaries, besides being one of the sponsors, provided accommodation for some film directors and made the Hall and the Museum available for quite a few collateral festival initiatives such as the exhibition “The Dance of the Spirits”, films by the Travellers and Migrants sector as well as various conferences and the like.
Provincial Assembly on Networking
This year, from 7 to 10 January, The Combonis of the province gathered for their annual assembly. In the presence of Father General, Tesfaye Tadesse, and Assistant General, Fr. Alcides Costa, the members of the province covered the main themes of their daily apostolate. The theme of on-going formation was interculturality, proposed at Institute level for this year. We were assisted in our reflection by Fr. Mario Tubac, a Guatemalan priest in charge of indigenous pastoral in the Archdiocese of Guatemala City and by a group of his collaborators.
The theme of networking, which was ever present during the whole meeting, helped us to see our presence in Central America as an opportunity to work as a team, to unify our strengths and personal abilities in a common project. The presence of Frs. Tesfaye and Alcides confirmed us in our communion with the Institute and showed us how our ministry is to be seen in the context of a Comboni project. After the assembly, Fr. Tesfaye continued his visits to the communities of the Province to animate the missionaries in their service and to gain direct knowledge of the reality in which the Combonis of the Province carry on their work and ministry.
The assembly was an occasion to share joys, difficulties and hopes and to open new horizons for the coming years in fidelity to the charism of St. Daniel Comboni.
All the secretariats and sectors took some time to make their own evaluations and plans so as to delineate the journey of the Province this year.
Bro. Bernardino defends his doctorate thesis
Bro. Bernardino Dias Frutuoso has successfully completed the public exam for a doctorate in Communication Sciences at the Portuguese Catholic University of Lisbon (UCP), defending the thesis “As (re)configurações comunicativas do papado na era da (auto)mediatização” (The communicative (re)configurations of the papacy in the age of (self-)mediatization).
The commission, composed of six teaching professors of the UCP, the University of Coimbra and the “Universidade Nova” of Lisbon, awarded this work of 393 pages (with notes, references and a bibliography) 19/20 and summa cum laude. They praised “the theoretical quality and the empirical work” of the dissertation, the intellectual and personal abilities of the author and the record time – three years – in which he completed his doctorate while, at the same time, directing the Comboni publications in Portugal.
The defence of the thesis was held at the Faculty of Human Sciences of the UCP, Lisbon, on 22 January.
The newly qualified doctor has, for the past four years, been the director of the Comboni magazines in Portugal: “Além-Mar” and “Audácia” and of the bulletin “Familia Comboniana”. He previously worked for the Comboni magazines of Peru and Colombia.
The parish of Abéché thanks Fr. Filippo Ivardi
On Sunday 30 December the parish of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus held a solemn Mass, in a very emotional atmosphere, to celebrate the Holy Family and the closure of the General Assembly of the Rewnodji Movement. It was attended by 300 of the faithful from the eight dioceses of Chad.
The Mass included a special moment when Dominique and Jeanne said their “yes” to each other for ever, followed by thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Filippo Ivardi Ganapini who, appointed to Italy, was due to leave the delegation in January, after nine years of service at Moissalla and N’djamena and five years as parish priest of Abéché.
This is the testimony of Counsellor Fidèle Tonalta Ngaryo, who spoke in the name of the parish community. “For all these years, you have carried out your mission, to announce the Good News with joy and love. You worked not only for the faithful but also for our Moslem brothers and sisters. Through your visits to the families, you were very close to the faithful, especially to Christian couples. I wish to emphasise that, despite the vast area of the parish which covers about a fifth of the country, you travelled to visit the communities, over long distances and bad, dusty roads. On Sundays, you did not think it right to see two Comboni priests celebrating Mass for the faithful of Abéché and so you would go with some of the faithful to say Mass in the prison. Through my words, the parish community expresses its gratitude for your closeness and your joy in accompanying them. So that you may always bear this memory in your heart, we present you with a ‘portable’ map of Chad, showing the outline of our parish”.
Perpetual profession and priestly ordination
The Province ended the year joyfully due to two great events: the perpetual profession of Sc. Christ-Roi Tomety and the ordination to the priesthood of Deacons Sylvain Alohoungo and Noël Sakie.
The perpetual profession was held at the provincial house on 30 November 2018, the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, presided over by provincial superior Fr. Victor Kouande and attended by many relatives, friends and confreres of the newly-professed. In his homily, Fr. Victor invited everyone to listen to the voice of the Lord who continues to call men and women to leave everything and follow him. He then invited the newly-professed to imitate the apostles, including St. Andrew, responding always with promptness to the Lord who called him.
Deacon Sylvain Alohoungo was ordained priest on 15 December 2018 together with 18 other diocesan deacons, with the imposition of the hands by the Archbishop of Cotonou, Mons. Roger Houngbedji. In the course of the celebration, the Archbishop invited the newly-ordained priests to place all their lives on three fundamental pillars: awareness of their consecration to Christ, the logic of holiness and fraternal communion.
On 22 December, finally, it was the turn of Deacon Noel Sakie to be ordained, at Noépé, in the Archdiocese of Lomé. It was a most beautiful ceremony lasting five hours; there were 21 deacons of whom 20 were diocesan, with a great crowd and immense joy. In his homily, the Archbishop of Lome invited the deacons to be assiduous in their work and to avoid avarice and especially the pursuit of money.
The three confreres received their appointments: Sc. Christ-Roi to Ethiopia, Fr. Sylvain to Mexico and Fr. Noël to Asia. May our prayers accompany them so that they may be true heralds of the Good News no matter where their mission takes them.
THE FATHER: Francesco, of Fr. Flavio Mazzata (I).
THE MOTHERS: Margareta, of Bro. Hans Eigner (DSP); Almerinda, of Bro. António Carvalho Leal (P).
THE BROTHERS: Antonio, of Fr. Teresino Serra (I); Rino, of Fr. Bruno Tonolli (I); Rev. Pio (diocesan priest), of Fr. Elia Pampaloni (U).
THE SISTERS: Santina, of Fr. Lorenzo Tomasoni (I); María del Carmen, of Fr. José Manuel Sánchez Ortiz (M); Rosa, of Fr. Mario Mazzoni (I).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr Luisangela Casula, Sr. Gioconda Ganassin. Sr. M. Vittorina Maroso, Sr. M. Giuseppina Margoni, Sr. M. Virginia Parini, Sr. Lettehawariat Bereketeab.