MONTHLY NEWSLETTER OF THE COMBONI MISSIONARIES OF THE HEART OF JESUS
Holy Redeemer Guild
May 01 – 15 ET 16 – 31 I
June 01 – 07 ER 08 – 15 LP 16 – 30 P
May – That women may be ever more aware of their specific role and talents and participate fully in the life and leadership of the Church. Lord hear us.
June –That the small steps towards opening between the Vatican and the People’s Republic of China may help to increase the understanding and respect of the government towards all Christians living in China. Lord hear us.
Comboni Missionaries, Vocation Stories, Comboni House, Juba, South Sudan. Various Combonis working in South Sudan present, in a few pages, the story of their vocations: real stories by real people coming from different contexts and countries who were fascinated by a single call, that of Jesus saying to them: “Come, follow me”, as Fr. Louis Okot Tony, provincial superior, writes in the introduction.
Comboni Missionaries, A sign for the times. Who they are and what they do, Comboni Missionary Publications, United Kingdom and Ireland. This booklet begins with the return of Bishop Daniel Comboni to Khartoum, in 1881, and brings us face to face with men and women who followed his footsteps in Africa, Asia and the Americas: from the mission in the midst of the civil war in South Sudan to ministry among the indigenous peoples in the heart of Peru and to advocacy at the United Nations in New York. Different apostolates but with a single purpose: to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Association Casa-Famiglia Ludovico Pavoni, in the Torpignattara quarter in Rome, was the fruit of the experience of the Pavonian priest Fr. Claudio Santoro, at the oratorio of the church of St. Barnabas situated in that same quarter of the city. Fr. Claudio, urged on by the growing presence of minors in danger of going astray, by the growing influx of migrants and by increasingly pressing requests on the part of the families, decided to initiate this association that has as its aim to assist children and adolescents to go to school, to assist poor families and to help migrant families and children to find their place in the socio-cultural environment.
Fr. Claudio presented his experience during the third conference held at our Generalate on 11 April 2019 and entitled: “The challenge for people of different cultures of living together in a parish environment”. Most impressive in Fr. Claudio was his simplicity and also his ability to make radical choices based upon the Gospel message of love. The conference was not a systematic exposition of the theme. On the contrary, Fr. Claudio, speaking off the cuff, communicated in a captivating way that which, for him, is the motivation which makes possible an encounter between people of different cultures: to love and to make God loved. The result is acceptance and respect beyond religious differences. His accounts of life among the children and youth belonging to various religions and cultures who accept and respect one another, in a place where migrants (mostly from Bangladesh) are ’80% of the population, were deeply moving.
He is certainly a priest who does not fit into the usual categories. Provocatively, he emphasised the need to change the way parishes are administered: “We must go out of the Church because it is the road that makes the Church” he said; “The time has come to break with self-referential pastoral and parish groups that are closed in themselves”. Speaking of the possibility of people of different faiths meeting each other, he stressed the need to “being one in charity”. Fr. Claudio remarked upon the necessity that the priest be a mediator who awakens the question of God in young people by means of his enthusiastic witness to the Gospel: it is this enthusiasm that moves young people and even older people as well and is, in fact an instrument of unity and communion.
Feast of the benefactors
On Sunday 5 May, the friends and benefactors of the Combonis of the Curia met at the general House to share and celebrate a festive gathering with the community on the theme of the mission. Among the outstanding moments of the feast was the testimony of Fr. Celestino Prevedello, the new superior of the community, who spoke of his missionary work of almost thirty years in Sudan and the Eucharistic celebration at which he presided.
Fr. Celestino recalled some events in the social, political and ecclesial history of Sudan, describing the life of the people and the work of the Comboni Missionaries, especially in the field of education and interreligious dialogue. At the end of the meeting, Fr. Torquato Paolucci introduced Fr. Michele Tondi, newly appointed to the Curia community with responsibility for missionary animation.
In his homily during the Mass concelebrated with other Comboni priests, Fr. Celestino, commenting on the Sunday readings, emphasised especially the personality of the apostle Peter whom Jesus asked three times, “Do you love me?” and three times told him to “Feed my sheep”. These very words, Fr. Celestino said, “Are today spoken by Jesus to each one of us”. All of us are called to be missionaries, to proclaim and be witnesses of the Gospel to all creatures, following in the footsteps of Jesus, of the apostle Peter and our Founder St. Daniel Comboni.
The celebration concluded with a fraternal meal shared in the rectory.
Convention for Brothers in Pesaro
The Brothers of the Italian Province gathered in Pesaro from 29 April to 2 May for their annual meeting. This year, besides the Brothers from the Curia, the Brothers from Portugal and the DSP also attended. They thank the Lord for the gift of this experience of fraternity which renews every year their passion for the charism of St. Daniel Comboni and for the vocation granted to them. In communion with the journey of the entire Institute, this year they dialogued on the theme of interculturality, the title of the Convention being “In mission as Brothers in a multicultural world”. One theme which was of special interest to the participants was that concerning the Comboni Work of Human Promotion which the 2015 General Chapter asked to be promoted in each continent and which the European provincials decided to carry out at Camarate, in the outskirts of Lisbon, Portugal.
The Brothers wish to express their heartfelt thanks to Father provincial, Fr. Giovanni Munari, and the Brother Assistant General, Bro. Alberto Lamana, for their discreet and fraternal presence and for their contribution to understanding the theme of the meeting; they likewise thank those confreres who contributed to the development of the proposed theme: Fr. Giorgio Padovan, Bro. Alberto Parise, Bro. José Manuel Salvador Duarte and Fr. Horácio Ribeiro Rossas. They also wish to send their cordial greetings, through the good offices of Bro. Alberto Lamana, to all the General Council, assuring them of their constant prayers and support in their ministry at the service of the Institute.
Visit by Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse
Father General, Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse G., is visiting the North American Province (NAP) from 5 to 19 May when he will preach the Spiritual Exercises for the confreres who will attend in two groups. The first is that of California which includes Covina, the Sacred Heart and Holy Cross (Los Angeles), from 6 to 11 May. The second group is that of the communities of Kitchener in Canada, Chicago, Newark and Cincinnati, from 13 to 18 May. Fr. Tesfaye will also lead the discernment reflection of the NAP on the missionary objectives of the Province and on its commitments regarding the personnel situation in view of the election of the new provincial and his council.
The Studio Comboni of the Combonis in N’Djamena is a powerful instrument of missionary animation. A number of initiatives are under way.
Fr. Luigi Moser, having restructured the diocesan radio Arc en ciel and the Mass Media Centre of the Archdiocese over a period of five years, now works there full time, in collaboration with the diocesan committee and the national POM.
The Studio is the seat of the new website of the Combonis in Chad: combonitchad.org
Among other things, before October 2019, the studio will make available to parishes and other centres a missionary display: “Evangélisés pour evangéliser” (Evangelised in order to evangelise): the history, illustrated by geographical maps, photos and documents, of the evangelisation of Africa and of Chad, consisting of 24 panels 100cm x 70cm, on coloured plastic-coated card, with an easily transported metal frame (50 Kg). Four panels are dedicated to Comboni.
Starting last year, comments on the Sunday readings from a missionary point of view are being regularly sent to more than sixty confreres and priests.
During the summer holidays, after a period of formation for the “composers”, a competition for the composition of missionary songs in French and the local language will be launched. The winning compositions will be awarded prizes and will be published.
Sessions, following a syllabus, are also being prepared at the Studio on music, liturgy and the media, all with a missionary outlook.
Other achievements are in the pipeline: missionary broadcasts on national radio and TV; not forgetting development and health, work is going ahead on preparing an educational film called “Le compost”, the local production of biological fertilisers which restore to the soil all its productive ability while giving harvests that are four or five times more abundant than previously. A film on the theme of health is also being produced.
Long may Studio Comboni live!
Experience of mission
It is in order to give thanks that I wish to share my experience of mission in a context of Moslem majority.
“The Lord is my light and my help, whom shall I fear...”
In March 2015, after five years of priesthood, I was sent to northern Benin, to the parish of St. Tamaro of Toko-Toko, a mission run by the Comboni Missionaries.
The diocese of Djougou – whose former bishop and great pastor Mons. Paul Vieira is well remembered – is in Moslem majority and includes all the factions that make up that denomination. Despite this growing presence, the Catholic Church continues its journey and is present all over the area.
As I began my ministry, this completely Islamised context caused me some concern. As a pilgrim of the Good News, I soon started to work organising meetings for the youth.
The youth are the most vulnerable social group and are exposed to the teachings of their friends and, by following this strategy, my insertion was facilitated both pastorally and as regards relations with our Moslem brothers and sisters.
The diocese is continuing with its process of interreligious dialogue with the encouragement of all the pastors which fosters mutual support and the exchange of ideas.
Situated 40 km from Djougou, our mission is completely surrounded by mosques and there is also an important Koranic school. The construction of numerous Koranic structures is meant to rival and influence the Christian faith, to the best of our knowledge. On the other hand, mutual respect and collaboration between religions have fostered an atmosphere of peace. Very often, especially towards the end of the year, we visit them as a community so as to consolidate our ties. In fact, my position as diocesan Almoner of the Legion of Mary has brought me into direct contact with the difficulties that generally stand in the way of good relations between religions. Many young people in search of a better life migrate towards neighbouring Nigeria and, on their return, demonstrate disturbing changes including a degree of radicalisation of their ideas. Due to poverty and deprivation, our young people are easily persuaded and are often led to reject their Christian faith.
“Give thanks to the Lord for he has worked wonders...”. We live in hope since our God does the work. (Fr. Adanle Léopold, mccj)
THE FATHER: Danilo, of Bro. Damiano Mascalzoni (I).
THE MOTHERS: Lettehawariat, of Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel (I), Agnese, of Fr. Antonio Campanini (P).
THE BROTHERS: Flavio, of Fr. Norberto Stonfer (EGSD), Leone, of Fr. Pietro Bracelli (I), Jill, of Fr. Romulo Panis (PCA).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTER: Sr. Marialba Cianca.
THE SECULAR COMBONI MISSIONARY: Nunziatina Lepore.