MONTHLY NEWSLETTER OF THE COMBONI MISSIONARIES OF THE HEART OF JESUS
October Consulta 2019
1.1 Provincial Superiors/Delegates
In the Consulta of October 2019 the GC appointed the Circumscrip-tion Superiors elected by the confreres for the triennium 2020-2022:
A Fr. David Costa Domingues
BR Fr. Bossi Dario
CN Fr. Ndjadi Ndjate Léonard
CO Fr. Villarino Rodríguez Antonio
DSP Fr. Grabmann Hubert
E Fr. Pedro Andrés Miguel
EC Fr. Poletto Ottorino
EGSD Fr. Kyankaaga J. Richard
ER Fr. Habtu Teklay Tiluq
ET Fr. Agostini Sisto
I Fr. Baldan Fabio Carlo
KE Fr. Radol Odhiambo Austine
LP Fr. Pelucchi Alberto
M Fr. Sánchez González Enrique
MO Fr. António Manuel Bogaio Constantino
MZ Fr. Mumba Michael Nyowani
NAP Fr. Ezama Ruffino
P Fr. Fernando Domingues
PCA Fr. Calderón Vargas Juan Diego
PE Fr. Martín Vargas Francisco José
RCA Fr. Longba Guéndé Godefroy-Médard
RSA Fr. Burgers Jude Eugene
SS Fr. Okot Louis Tony
T Fr. Hounaké Kouassi Timothée
TCH Fr. Katsan Fodagni Kokouvi (Fidèle)
U Fr. Kiwanuka Achilles Kasozi
Two Father Masters have been elected Provincials. The GC has therefore appointed Fr. Vincenzo Percassi as Father Master ad interim of the Cotonou (T) novitiate and Fr. Stéphane Kamanga Mutombo as Father Master of the Sarh (TCH) novitiate.
Furthermore, due to the poor state of health of Fr. Körber Markus Lorenz, the GC has appointed Fr. Benedetto Giupponi as formator ad interim of the Casavatore (I) scholasticate.
1.3 General Treasury
The GC has appointed the Provincial Bursar of the Congo Fr. Marcelo Fonseca Oliveira, from 1 November 2019, as representative of the Francophone Circumscriptions (ASCAF) on the Financial Council, for three years, and has appointed Fr. Philip Zema as auditor of the accounts of the Institute instead of Fr. Fabio Baldan.
2. Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot
The GC, in the name of the entire Comboni Family and together with a number of Comboni confreres and Sisters, took part with great joy in the solemn ceremony for the conferral of the rank of cardinal on Mons. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, on 5 October last. This is a first in the history of our Institute and is certainly a sign of God’s benevolence, but also a stimulus for us to commit ourselves increasingly to the Mission at all levels. The GC wishes to extend to Cardinal Ayuso the congratulations of all Comboni Missionaries, assuring him of our prayerful support. Cardinal Ayuso is President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
3. Synod for Amazonia
From 6 to 27 October 2019, the Synod for Amazonia was held in Rome, the culmination of a long Synodal journey already begun in 2015 and brought to the fore when Pope Francis visited Puerto Maldonado, in Peruvian Amazonia, and convoked this Synod in January of last year. It was a new experience of listening to discern the voice of the Spirit who is leading the Church to new processes of presence, evangelisation, and intercultural dialogue in Amazonia. The final document of the Synod indicates four attitudes of conversion that will make up the new processes for change in the mode of the presence of the Church in Amazonia and in all the world: Pastoral conversion, Cultural conversion, Ecological conversion and Synodal conversion.
Two Combonis took part in the Synod, Mons. Eugenio Arellano, Bishop of Esmeraldas, Ecuador, and Fr. Dario Bossi, Provincial of Brazil. Alongside the Synod there was the “Tent ‘Amazonia’ – Our Common Home”, organised by the Combonis Fr. Massimo Ramundo and Bro. Antonio Soffientini, together with other institutions, which held more than 140 events.
The Synod may be over, but the work goes on, while waiting for the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation by Pope Francis which will set out the modes of action. Jesus Christ continues to point to Amazonia. Let us return there.
4. Meeting of Circumscription Superiors
The GC says that from the evening of 15 February 2020 to 1 March, after lunch, the meeting of Circumscription Superiors with the General Administration will be held in Rome. The letter of convocation and the programme details will be sent to all after the Consulta to be held in early December.
On 13 and 14 February, 22 February and 2 and 3 March, the GC will meet each Circumscription Superior individually; the full timetable will be sent to each superior. Since we have 27 circumscriptions in the Institute, the GC requests that all keep to the time established for each circumscription representative. On 15 February the GC will meet the continental representatives.
The GC requests all concerned to organise their journeys for the period: 13 February-3 March.
5. Reopening the Novitiate in Asia
On 10 October last, the feast of St. Daniel Comboni, in a solemn celebration attended by the members of the postulancy and the Delegation community, Quezon City Novitiate in the Philippines was reopened. There are three novices: one Filipino and two Vietnamese. The father master is Fr. Víctor Manuel Tavares Dias. We thank the Lord for the vocations he sends us and we ask St. Daniel Comboni to call many young men to the mission.
6. Comboni Writings in Italian
The books of the Writings of Comboni in Italian have run out, but before considering a reprint, the person in charge of Studium Combonianum asks us to collect and send to him any spare copies that may be found in our Comboni houses, in any of our circumscriptions.
7. Year of Ministeriality 2020 – Mapping of ministries
In view of the Year dedicated to Ministeriality, the work of the commission for the mapping of ministries will continue until the end of January 2020. The Circumscription Superiors should bring with them, when they come to Rome in February for their meeting, the results of the research done in their circumscriptions. It is widely known that our confreres conduct a life rich in ministeriality, even if this is still not sufficiently acknowledged in our circumscriptions.
8. Rome: Exhibition “Languages, Mission, Memory”
An exhibition of the contribution of the Comboni Missionaries to the study and preservation of local languages in their work of proclaiming the Gospel is taking place in Rome on the occasion of the Extraordinary October Mission Month, from 10 October to 20 December 2019
9. Comboni Social Forum
Since the World Social Forum, to which the Comboni Social Forum is linked, has been postponed, the Comboni Family has decided that the Comboni Social Forum on the theme of Ministeriality will be held at the Rome Generalate, from 18 to 24 July 2020.
10. Rule of Life
The Central Commission for the Revision of the Rule of Life met in Rome from 14 to 18 October 2019. Those present: Fr Victor-Hugo Matarrita, Coordinator, Fr Léonard Ndjadi Ndjate, Secretary, and Fr Jeremias Dos Santos, Vicar General. Fr Körber Markus Lorenz and De Marchi Benito were absent due to reasons of health.
The commission invited Fr Manuel Augusto Ferreira to present in detail the work which the Comboni consultants did during their meeting in Verona from 26 to 27 September 2019.
The meeting had two parts: in the first part, the Commission tried to put together the proposals of the consultants and other confreres and to insert them into the Rule of Life; in the second part, the commission presented the work done to the GC. There was then a direct exchange of views between the Commission and the members of the GC regarding some proposals. All the sections of the Institute (confreres, communities, circumscriptions, scholasticates, secretariats, consultants and the GC) were involved in this process. The Commission extends to them their heartfelt thanks.
The next steps to be taken are as follows:
• Have the original text – in Italian – examined by an expert in the Italian language.
• Send the corrected text for a last revision to the Circumscription Superiors for their January 2020 meeting.
• Present the text to the Superiors for discussion during their meeting in February 2020.
• Send the text to all circumscriptions for final comments from the grass roots.
• Collect the final suggestions and send the text to the Pre-Chapter Commission which will continue the work until the next General Chapter.
The final meeting of the Central Commission will be held in Rome in June 2020.
11. Journeys and commitments of the GC
Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie
30 October – 22 November Visit to South Sudan
26 – 29 November Meeting with USG in Rome
30 November – 1 December in Verona
15 – 31 December Visit to Congo - Isiro Zone
Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins
30 October – 2 November Meetings in Ethiopia
3 – 13 November Meetings in Kenya
26 – 29 November Visit to Poland
10 – 16 December Visit to Paris
16 December – 3 January In Portugal
Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla
8 – 16 December Meeting with ASCAF Provincials
23 December – 2 January In Sicily
Fr. Alcides Costa
30 October – 22 November Visit to South Sudan
Bro. Alberto Lamana Cónsola
29 October – 7 November In Kenya
8 – 15 December In Colombia
Sc. Babley Komla Djigbodi (Daniel) (T) Lomé (TG) 10/10/2019
Holy Redeemer Guild
November 01 – 15 SS 16 – 30 T
December 01 – 15 PE 16 – 31 U
November – For all men and women missionaries coming to the end of their earthly journey: Lord, welcome them with your Fatherly embrace and may they always be for us an example of selfgiving and the seed of new missionary vocations: We pray to the Lord.
December – For all the children who, like Jesus, are forced to come into this world far from their own countries, that they find a welcome and fraternal support as they grow up. We pray to the Lord.
Official visit and reopening of the Novitiate
The Asia delegation was overjoyed to receive Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse, Superior General, and Fr. Alcides Costa, Assistant General, for their official visit to the Delegation from 1 to 14 October. Even though the period of the visit was not long, Fr. Tesfaye and Fr. Alcides managed to visit all the communities and to have personal dialogue with all the confreres. It was certainly a great stimulus for all of us and a help towards greater communion within the Institute.
This year the solemnity of St. Daniel Comboni was marked by the official reopening of the Novitiate for Asia, by Father General and Fr. Alcides, the Assistant general in charge of Asia, at the community of Quezon City, which already is home to the Daniel Comboni seminary with aspirants and postulants and is also a centre for the promotion of vocations in the Philippines.
The day began with a solemn Mass at which Fr. Tesfaye presided. In his homily, he repeated the theme of the message of the General Council for the feast of St. Daniel Comboni: the holiness of Comboni which is perpetuated in his children. The friends and benefactors present appreciated the simplicity and humility of Fr. Tesfaye in transmitting the Word of God. After the Mass, all shared in a fraternal meal during which they also celebrated the birthday of Fr. Renzo Carraro, the eldest member of the community.
The ceremony of the reopening of the novitiate took place in the evening. The Master of Novices is Fr. Victor Tavares Dias, who has returned to the Philippines after an absence of ten years to continue his work of formation.
The three novices, two from Vietnam and one from the Philippines, publicly declared they were ready to accept the life and formation programme of the novitiate and were received by Fr. Victor. They were each given a copy of the Rule of Life and the Writings of Comboni together with a small crucifix. The fathers of the community were present with their students as were the fathers and a brother from the community of Sucat and the two Delegation Councillors, Fr. Victor e Fr. Rocco Bettoli, who initiated our presence in Vietnam and has now had the joy of seeing the first two young Vietnamese men reach the novitiate stage of formation.
What began some years ago as an audacious project has shown promise and the decision to reopen the novitiate is now a reality that provides a real path for the present and the future Asian candidates to the missionary life in the Institute. The happiness of all and their gratitude to God were clearly seen.
Feast of St. Daniel Comboni
The tenth of October 2019, the feast of St. Daniel Comboni, was an especially beautiful and moving day at the General Curia in Rome.
From early afternoon, the house was blessed with the presence of numerous friends and guests who attended, first of all, the inauguration of our exhibition “Languages, Mission, Memory”, and afterwards assisted at Holy Mass presided over by H.E. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, the first Comboni cardinal, appointed by Pope Francis during the Consistory held on 5 October.
In his homily, Cardinal Ayuso, having noted that the celebration was part of the extraordinary mission month, emphasised how Comboni was “an expert in the glory of the Cross … limitlessly faithful to the Church but also able to live out his limitless faithfulness with equally limitless freedom”.
Having thanked the congregation for their closeness and affection, Cardinal Ayuso, with reference to his appointment, concluded with these words: “Many see something new in this, a first in the history of our Institute, but what is truly newsworthy is the sacrifice and self-giving of our missionaries who, with great generosity in their daily missionary lives, take up the Cross and, with enthusiasm and generosity, offer themselves like the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for all, even for those sheep that are not of this fold”.
After the Mass, all the many people present gathered in the dining hall to share happily in an evening meal at the close of an event-filled day.
XIX Edition of the CYOF
On 19 September last, 14 Combonis began the XIX edition of the Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation (CYOF), in Rome, with a Eucharistic celebration presided over by the Superior General, Fr. Tesfaye Tedesse. The participants, of ten different nationalities, well reflect the universality of the Institute. The largest group is from Latin America (6), the next being from Africa (5) and finally Europa (3). The youngest is 39 while the most “mature” is 56. The average age of the participants is 46 years.
Eleven of these missionaries were ministering in nine African countries (Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa), two in Latin America (Mexico and Peru) and one in Italy.
At the moment, the CYOF coordinators are Fr Elias Sindjalim Essognimam, Fr. Fermo Bernasconi and Fr. Siro Stocchetti.
The CYOF provides each missionary with an opportunity to slow down the pace of his activities for a more conscious encounter with himself and with God, with St. Daniel Comboni and with the confreres. The preferred means for this reflection are the Word of God, personal and community prayer, monthly retreats and the spiritual exercises of the month of St. Ignatius with which the CYOF is concluded. This process is also fostered by fraternal life in common, the proposed themes, the conferences and spiritual and psychological counselling.
Comboni day at Cordenons
On 10 October, the Comboni community at Cordenons held a Comboni-day, to which they invited as speaker the former Fr. General, Fr. Teresino Serra, who preached a retreat on the theme “Missionaries going forth” and also led the Eucharist of the Solemnity of Comboni.
A large number of friends and benefactors who share the Comboni missionary commitment participated. The feast concluded with a fund-raising supper – attended by 160 people – for the benefit of the missions of Central Africa.
All agreed that the Comboni-day should be held every year and hoped that other Comboni communities would follow this example.
The community of Cordenons, in this special month of October, is involved in various initiatives: the celebration of World Mission day at Cornuda and in neighbouring parishes, with the participation of Fr. Venanzio Milani; a meeting at Cordenons with Mah Aisata Fofana (Mali) and Blessing Okoedion (Nigeria) on the theme: “Ransom and Freedom”; a conference given by Fr. Filippo Ivardi at Cornuda on the theme: “Africa, development and neo-colonialism”. In November Fr. Francesco Occhetta, a Jesuit working for Civiltà Cattolica, will speak on the theme: “The future of the country of Italy: a politics-society-Church analysis and the World of the Youth”.
Reopening of the European Comboni Novitiate
After being closed for a year, the Comboni novitiate in Santarem reopened with three Brother candidates: two Italians, Giuseppe Luca Mantegazza and Giacomo Brunelli, and one Portuguese, André Filipe Sousa Araújo. The Eucharist was led by Fr. José da Silva Vieira, Provincial Superior, accompanied by the Novice Master, Fr. Alberto de Oliveira Silva, and some confreres from the various communities of the province.
“Courage! Be courageous in this difficult hour and especially in the future. Do not desist. Never give up. Face any storm without fear. Do not be afraid. I am dying but my work will not die”. These words of Comboni were read shortly before the three novices made their request to enter the novitiate, “the first profound experience of the Comboni Institute’s way of life”, as the Rule of Life (92) states, whose “goal is to prepare the candidate for consecration to God for missionary service”.
Each novice was given a copy of the Rule of Life and the Writings of Comboni, the two fundamental texts for reading and reflection during the two years of novitiate.
On the same day, there was the celebration of the eightieth birthday of Bro. Bernardino da Silva Ferreira, who entered the Institute as an adult and took perpetual vows in 1983. He spent 23 years of his 36 years of missionary life in Brazil. He is now a member of the community of Santarém.
Celebrations in Juba
On Saturday 5 October, the communities held a public conference at the South Sudan Catholic University on the theme of “St. Daniel Comboni encounters the youth”, in the context of the extraordinary missionary month.
Fr. Louis Okot, the Provincial, was the main speaker and encouraged the youth to take God as their guide in life and to live their faith actively. Most of those attending were students of the Catholic University but there was also a large group from the Comboni secondary school and of the students of the secondary schools that are members of the YCS (Young Christian Students), an association that was greatly supported by the late lamented Fr. Ottorino Sina and by Fr. Todd Riebe. After the address, there was time for questions that showed the great thirst for God the youth have, during which they found answers to their many doubts and uncertainties.
On 10 October, the Archdiocese of Juba invited all the diocesan clergy, religious, seminarians, catechists, the youth and lay ministers to celebrate the feast of St. Daniel Comboni at Rejaf, as part of the celebrations for the Centenary of the Faith. The celebration was presided over by His Grace Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro and was attended by many of the Christian faithful, especially young people. The religious Institutes displayed banners presenting their charisms and their work. In Juba there are eighteen male and female religious Institutes that greatly enrich the ecclesial community. At the beginning of the liturgy of the Word, the missionaries presented various signs indicating the work of God and of the Trinity. The book of the Word of God was carried in procession on a small boat by two children in remembrance of the Redemptor, the boat purchased by Mons. Franz Xavier Geyer. The day ended with a meal offered by the archdiocese, some entertainment offered by various groups of young people and some speeches by Church and government representatives.
Besides the celebration at Rejaf, Fr. Paul Idra and Sister Akumu Lily Grace Lam, both of whom are Comboni vocations promoters, held a vocations meeting at the Provincial House, on 12 October, attended by about fifty young people and aspirants.
The Archdiocese of Juba is preparing for the great celebration of the closure of the Centenary year at Rejaf on 1 November 2019.
Death of a postulant in a road accident
Saturday 28 September was a day of great sadness for the province, due to the death of the postulant Dismus Rukundo (24 years old) in a road accident. On that day, the postulants, who had just finished their retreat, were going to the places of their usual apostolate. It was on the road to Bugembe, a suburb of Jinja and his area of apostolate, that Dismus met his death, struck down by a speeding vehicle. He died immediately. In August he had just begun his course of basic formation and was in his first year of philosophical studies. His only brother was already deceased but Dismus is survived by three sisters.
On Saturday 29, the first funeral Mass was celebrated in the chapel of the postulancy and another in the chapel of the ‘Queen of Apostles Philosophy Centre’, presided over by Bishop Charles Wamika, Ordinary of the diocese of Jinja.
The remains were interred on Monday 30 September at his paternal home at Kebisoni, in the district of Rukungiri, in the diocese of Kabale. The burial was also attended by the Provincial Superior and some confreres.
THE FATHER: Francis Bilibwandora, of Fr. Sylvester Hategek'Imana (U).
THE MOTHERS: María Guadalupe, of Fr. Guillermo de Jesús Martínez M. (M); Esther, of Fr. Lauro Betancourt García (KE), Fanny, of Fr. Ramón Alberto Vargas Egüez (U).
THE BROTHER: Carlos, of Fr. Francisco Gómez Uribe (M).
THE SISTER: Anna, of Fr. Tarcisio Marin (I).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Milena Teresa Pezzelato, Sr. M. Guglielmina Schiavone, Sr. M. Luisa Favero.
THE SECULAR COMBONI MISSIONARY: Mimma Longo.
Rev. Mario Marin, a former Comboni, who died on 11 October at Bassano del Grappa.