Wednesday 2 October 2019
Fourteen Comboni missionaries began the 19th edition of the Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation (ACFP) in Rome on the 19th September, with a Eucharist celebration presided over by the General Superior, Fr Tesfaye Tedesse. The participants, from 10 different nationalities, come from 3 continents: Africa, America and Europe. These add to the 314 other Comboni Missionaries who have previously made this journey in previous editions of this course of about eight months of stoppage and reflection. The main purpose of ACFP is to stop one’s habitual missionary life activities in view of starting over afresh.
The ACFP offers to each one of the missionaries the opportunity to slow down the pace of their life missionary activities in the mission field to allow a more conscious and deeper encounter with themselves, with God, with founder St. Daniel Comboni and with their mission confreres. It is a time where it is offered the proposal of an experience that allows the missionary to make a new synthesis of his life, in tune with the existential moment he is living in. This ACFP happens after at least 10 to 15 years of missionary service, which falls during the middle age of life.
The privileged means of achieving this deep reflection experience are, basically, listening to the Word of God, the personal and community prayer, the monthly retreats, the spiritual exercises of the Ignatian Month, with which the ACFP is concluded. This journey also favors fraternal living through sharing of life and missionary experiences based on the values of the Comboni charism, common to all participants, the themes and conferences on self-knowledge, biblical and missionary spirituality, psychological and spiritual accompaniment.
The participants in this edition of ACFP put well in evidence the universality of the Comboni Institute. The most consistent group comes from Latin America (6), after Africa (5) and then Europe (3). The youngest is 39 years old while the most “mature” is 56. The average age of the participants is 46 years old. 11 of the missionaries carried out their missionary ministry in nine different African countries (Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa), two in Latin America (Mexico and Peru) and one in Europe (Italy). The current coordinators of the ACFP are Fr. Sindjalim Essognimam Elias, Fr. Bernasconi Fermo, and Fr. Stocchetti Siro.
The Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation will conclude at the end of May 2020 with the Ignatian Month retreat, hoping that after this stoppage period the missionaries will resume and start afresh their missionary lives and activities “holier and more capable,” as St. Daniel Comboni wanted his missionaries to be.
P. Filipe Resende
Participant in the 19th edition of ACFP