MONTHLY NEWSLETTER OF THE COMBONI MISSIONARIES OF THE HEART OF JESUS
GENERAL NOTES - Consulta of June 2019
1.1. The GC appoints, as from 1 September 2019:
Fr. Alberto de Oliveira Silva Father Master of the novitiate of Santarém (P)
Fr. Antonio Guarino Socius of the Lusaka Novitiate (MZ)
Fr. José Francisco de Matos Dias Socius of the Cotonou Novitiate (T)
Fr. Manuel Fidelino Gomes Jardim Socius of the Namugongo Novitiate (U)
Fr. Tesfaghiorghis Hailé Berhane Father Master of the Decameré Novitiate (ER)
Fr. Víctor Manuel Tavares Dias Father Master of the Manila Novitiate (A)
Scholasticates and Brothers’ Centres (IBC)
Fr. Eguíluz Eguíluz Ramón Second Formator of the Bogotá CIF (CO)
Fr. Ferdinand Sito Formator of the Kinshasa Scholasticate (CN)
Fr. Fermo Bernasconi Member of the Ongoing Formation Team (C)
Fr. Benedetto Giupponi Superior of the Community of Student Confreres (C)
Fr. Sindjalim Essognimam Elias Coordinator and Superior of the CCFP in Roma (C)
Fr. Villaseñor Gálvez José de Jesús Member of the Formation Council (representing the America/Asia Continent).
1.2. The MCCJ GC, the SMC GC and the CLM Central Committee have nominated the Members of the Commission of the Comboni family for the Forum on Social Ministry: MCCJ: Fr. Daniele Moschetti and Fr. Fernando Zolli. CMS: Sr. Maria Teresa Ratti and Sr. Hélèn Israel Soloumta Kamkol. CLM: Marco Piccione (Venegono). They will choose their own coordinator.
1.3. The GC compliments the two Comboni Bishops on their new appointments:
Mons. Ayuso Guixot Miguel Ángel, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Mons. Odelir José Magri, President of the Missionary Committee of the Conference of Bishops (BR).
2. Admission to Perpetual Vows and Holy Orders
The GC has admitted to the profession of Perpetual Vows and Sacred Orders the following scholastics:
Sc. Fazili Makanzu Germain (CN – CN)
Sc. Welemu Anatole (MZ –MZ)
Sc. Mbala Topa André (CN – CN)
Sc. Nkwe Lugiri Claude (CN – RCA)
Sc. Atti Razak (Theophile) (TGB – TGB)
Sc. Hounlessodji Messan Sikpa Vincent (TGB – TGB)
Sc. Kambale Kasika Emmanuel (CN – studies Rome)
Sc. Revolledo Villanueva Eduardo Antonio (PE – A)
3. Fixed Assets
The official allocation of circumscription property to their Fixed Assets has been postponed until the October 2019 Consulta.
4. Communication of official decisions
The GC asks that the communication of official decisions by circumscriptions be made, always and only, by means of trustworthy (legally valid) means of communication. In making decisions, the GC cannot take into account messages sent only through WhatsApp or similar means. It is taken for granted that the communication must reflect the view of the whole Council and not only that of the Circumscription Superior.
5. Rule of Life
Following the meetings of June-July 2017 and June 2018, the Central Commission for Revisiting and Revising the Rule of Life met in Rome from 10 to 15 June. Fr. Markus Körber was unable to attend due to illness. The first four days were devoted to the completion and re-elaboration of the proposals for revision coming from the circumscriptions, the General Secretaries and the scholasticates. The Commission prepared a first draft of the revised text of the Rule of Life to be presented to the next General Chapter in 2021. The last two days were dedicated to meeting the Comboni Consultants. At this stage in the process, it became clear that there is a great desire in the Institute to re-appropriate the spirit of the Rule of Life and to understand more deeply the Comboni charism so as to recreate it and live it in a new way. The Commission wishes to thank all those who participated in the process through their reflections. We are now faced with the great challenge of constantly re-visiting our Rule of Life and making it our daily Life.
6.1. First Religious Professions of 2019
This year, 31 novices, two of whom are Brothers, took the vows in the various seats of the Comboni Novitiates: Cotonou (13), Lusaka (8), Nampula (4) and Xochimilco (6). The newly-professed are from three continents: Asia (1), Francophone Africa (13), Anglophone and Portuguese-speaking Africa (12), America (5). The Institute joyfully welcomes these 31 new confreres who have already been assigned to the various Scholasticates and International Brothers’ Centres to continue their initial formation.
6.2. New novices in 2019/2020
The Institute estimates that, in the coming year of formation, there will be 63 new novices of whom 59 will be candidates for the priesthood and 4 for the Brotherhood; they will be distributed among our novitiates as follows: Decameré (3), Cotonou (24), Lusaka (16), Manila (4), Nampula (4), Santarém (4), Xochimilco (8). Given that the Cotonou novitiate can only accommodate 19 candidates, the GC is in dialogue with the Circumscription Superiors and Father Masters so as to find room for the remaining 5.
On 14 June Fr. Aguilar Sánchez Víctor Manuel (C) defended his doctorate thesis at the department of Patristic Theology of the Pontifical Gregorian University, obtaining maximum marks “Summa Cum Laude”. His thesis is entitled “Corpus Nestorianum Sinicum”.
Fr. Asfaha Yohannes Weldeghiorghis (ET) has completed his Licentiate at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Spiritual Theology specialising in formation.
The following will complete the course for formators at the Teresianum at the end of the month: Fr. Manuel Fidelino Gomes Jardim (C) and Fr. Onesmas Godfrey Otieno (EGSD).
7. October: Extraordinary Mission Month
The Extraordinary Mission Month was proclaimed by Pope Francis on the occasion of the centenary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud of Benedict XV (30 November 1919).
For us Combonis, being ad gentes missionaries, this missionary month has a special value. Even though no particular activities have been organised at Institute level, we are confident that each circumscription will celebrate this month in the most appropriate way.
The GC invites the Circumscription Superiors and the Mission Secretaries to implement the proposals indicated by the General Secretary for the Mission in the letter of 20 March 2019. This Missionary Month will, moreover, be celebrated together with the Synod for Amazonia (October 2019). May the celebrations help us to rediscover our charism, the purpose and passion of our lives.
8. Famiglia Comboniana
For the first two days of June there was a meeting in Carraia of the members of the General Councils of the entire Comboni Family (CMS, MCCJ, CSM and a representative of the CLM. On the first morning, the lay Biblical scholar Luca Moscatelli led the group in reflecting on mission from scratch, followed by a debate on Christians in Europe, presented like a canary in a cage: the question arose as to how to develop in this minority group concern for the Kingdom and help them to see outside their cage. Ample space was given to sharing on mission promotion from the time of Comboni to today and on the Rule of Life of our Institutes.
9. Consultations for the election of circumscription superiors
At the end of this Consulta almost all the results of the straw ballots for the choice of new provincial superiors had been received. The GC wishes to thank all the confreres for their participation. Circumscription superiors are reminded that the real consultations will commence on 15 July next year so as to allow those receiving votes sufficient time for reflection and prayer. The remaining results of the consultations, for provinces and delegations, must be received in Rome by 10 September next.
10. Deontological Code
Prior to the final approval of the Deontological Code, the GC has decided to await the possible publication of the “Vademecum” of the Holy See regarding the management of situations of abuse of minors, so as to include the new guidelines in our Code. Meanwhile, the new directives of the Motu Proprio of Pope Francis “You are the Light of the World”, have been included. It is hoped that we can soon publish the final edition of the Code. The translations will be made after its approval.
11. Journeys and Commitments of the GC
Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie
1 July – 11 August: in Ethiopia for holidays and in Eritrea
for a visit and spiritual exercises
12 – 18 September: in Madrid for a meeting of Comboni Bishops
1 – 14 October: visit to Asia with Fr. Alcides
Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins
2 July – 8 August: visit to Mozambique
20 – 27 September: in Portugal for a meeting on interculturality
Fr. Alcides Costa
29 June – 11 August: Lima and Brazil
30 September – 15 October: Visit to Asia with Fr. Tesfaye
Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla
1 – 8 July: in Chad for CAE Council
12 – 30 July: in the NAP
3 – 10 August: in Sicily for holidays
13 – 24 August: in Malawi-Zambia for spiritual exercises
17 – 24 September: in Congo to meet the bursars
Bro. Alberto Lamana Cónsola
1 – 9 August: spiritual retreat
24 – 31 August in Spain
20 – 27 September: in Portugal for a meeting on interculturality
Mons. Ayuso, the new President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
Pope Francis has appointed Mons. Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot as the new President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID). Mons. Ayuso succeeds the late Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who died in July 2018.
Born in Saville on 17 June 1952 and ordained priest on 20 September 1980, Mons. Ayuso worked as a missionary in Egypt and Sudan up to 2002. In 1982 he was awarded a degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI) in Rome and, in 2000, a doctorate in dogmatic theology at the University of Granada.
In 1989 he became professor of Islamology, first in Khartoum and then in Cairo. He later taught at the PISAI where he was Principal until 2012. He also chaired a number of meetings for interreligious dialogue.
On 30 June 2012, Benedict XVI appointed him Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He was consecrated Titular Bishop of Luperciana in March 2016.
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is a Decastery of the Roman Curia, created by Paul VI on 19 May 1964, as a Secretariat for non-Christians but was re-named by Pope John Paul II on 28 June 1988. Mons. Ayuso took office as President on 25 May 2019.
Sc. Atti Razak Theophile (T) Lomé (TG) 28/06/2019
Sc. Hounlessodji M. Sikpa V. (T) Lomé (TG) 28/06/2019
Sc. Mbala Topa André (CN) Kinshasa (RDC) 28/06/2019
Fr. Antonello Giovanni (I) Verona (I) 29/06/2019
Holy Redeemer Guild
July 01 – 15 KE 16 – 31 M
August 01 – 15 MO 16 – 31 MZ
September 01 – 15 NAP 16 – 30 PCA
July – That in moments of loneliness and difficulty we may feel the presence of the Lord and succeed in making these situations into occasions of closeness and listening to his Word so as to become light and hope for the whole world. Lord hear us.
August – That the up-coming Synod for Amazonia may promote a mentality able to break the structures that end life and build networks of solidarity and inter-culture while giving up the “culture of obsolescence”. Lord hear us.
September – That the Comboni Missionary Sisters, gathered for the Inter-Chapter Assembly, may reflect upon and understand more deeply the processes in hand with the eyes and heart of God. Lord hear us.
Fr. Enzo Santangelo, La donna che ha cambiato la storia, ed. Fraternità Nazareth, Salerno, May 2019. As the author himself says in the prologue, this book is a “work of fiction” in which Our Lady tells the story of her vocation and her mission alongside her Son so that it may “speak to the minds and hearts of parents in such a way that they may be inspired by Our Lady to bring up their children well”.
General Secretariat for Finance
Meeting of the Council for Finance
From 28 to 31 May, a meeting was held of the Council for Finance with the purpose of verifying accounts and planning the economic and administrative activities of the Institute. The more important themes discussed in the course of the meeting were:
The Financial Council meets twice a year and is composed of the members of the General Economate, four continental representatives and two technical advisers, to audit the accounts. Its duties involve different areas such as checking and examining accounts, verifying administrative and managerial procedures, indicating choices to be made in financial planning and the study of the financial problems of the Institute and the global financial context. The next meeting of the Council will be held from 25 to 27 November.
Financial Assembly in Rome
The General Council (CG) met on 4 and 5 June 2019, in Roma, with the members of the Council of Finance and some provincial superiors and bursars, mostly from Europe. There were 26 participants who met to study at Institute level the possibility of setting up a Pensions Fund and how to finance initiatives to promote regular local income.
“There are indications – said General Bursar Fr. Claudio Lurati, in his introduction at the beginning of the meeting – that show that perhaps the time has come to take some important steps beyond the usual forms of solidarity, to provide better prospects for the sustainability of all the circumscriptions. We must first establish a Pensions Fund to fulfil the Chapter mandate and make up what is lacking as we consider the long-term future of so many confreres. Secondly, we are faced with requests for financing by some provinces so that they may create some regular sources of income”.
How did this Assembly originate?
The proposal was made by the Council for Finance and was supported by the General Council in the December 2018 Consulta. During the meetings of provincial superiors (of Europe and Africa) in February, the proposal was discussed and commented on.
In the recent March Consulta, the GC made the initiative official sending out a letter of convocation and inviting the participation of provincial superiors and bursars of the DSP, Italy, LP, NAP, Portugal and Spain, the continental defence persons and the members of the Council for Financial.
The Assembly concluded with a Eucharistic celebration presided over by Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse, Superior General, in the chapel of the General Curia.
General Secretariat for Formation
Father Masters and their Soci meet in Rome
The formators of nine novitiate communities, coming from the four continents where Combonis are working, had a meeting lasting from 17 to 30 June, at the Generalate in Rome. They were fourteen in all. Out of nine novitiates, six are located in Africa (Zambia, Chad, Uganda, Mozambique, Benin and Eritrea), one in Europe, one in Latin America and one in Asia.
Speaking about the meeting, Fr. Víctor Manuel Tavares Dias, who is leaving for the novitiate in the Philippines, said that the main dimensions of the life of the novices and formators were reflected upon: human, psychological, intellectual, spiritual and missionary. In fact, the integral and harmonious development of the candidates demands reflection and gradual progress in all its dimensions.
Precisely for this reason, Fr. John Baptist Keraryo Opargiw, Fr. Siro Stocchetti, Fr. Elias Sindjalim Essognimam and Fr. Fermo Bernasconi, members of the Centre for Ongoing Formation, included in the agenda some moments of revision and evaluation of the programmes, the contents and the methodologies used in the novitiates, of the formative environment, of relations between formators and novices and the continuity of formation both before and after the novitiate.
On 1 May, the Christian community of the parish of St. Joseph the Worker at Iao Hon (in the north of Macao), celebrated the XX anniversary of the blessing of the church. The celebration, presided over by Bishop Stephen Lee, was accompanied by the participation of some diocesan priests and religious and about 400 people. During the Mass, six boys received the sacrament of Confirmation and ten recived their first Holy Communion.
Since 1999, the Combonis have been charged with the care of this new place of worship and to ... “find some fans”! To this end they began to visit the quarter, forming small groups of catechumens, finding a place for the children to play, and organising some celebrations... and so the community grew and developed. Today there are 80 children enrolled in the Sunday school and there are 20 catechumens (at Easter, 8 adults received the sacraments of initiation and 11 children were baptised).
The motto for the celebration of the XX anniversary, “Two decades in the love of God: evangelise together for the future”, is meant to express the feelings of all who form part of this little flock and to recognise that it was the love of God that united them and took them on a long journey and to renew the commitment to work and pray together... sharing the Gospel with the neighbouring people: this is how to build a bright future.
The Comboni Missionaries and the Comboni Sisters organised and took part in the meeting of VIVAT International which was held in São Paulo at the end of May. VIVAT is, of course, an organisation that represents thirteen religious Institutes at the UN.
This organisation allows us to voice effectively our fundamental commitment to evangelisation in the promotion of justice, peace and the integrity of creation at the UN. It gives our work visibility and protection; it contributes to the development and promotion of policies that defend human rights and integral ecology; it facilitates sending reports and appeals to the UN Special Speakers.
About thirty men and women religious from various parts of Brazil took part in the meeting, together with the international co-ordinators Helen Saldanha and Robert Mirsal who work in New York. The Comboni Family was represented by Sr. Candida Amaro, Bro. Simone Bauce and Fr. Dario Bossi.
VIVAT Brazil has revised its networking priorities for the coming years: to confront the negative impact of mining and agribusiness; to remote a culture of peace by defending the Statute of Disarmament; to reinforce its commitment in the area of migrations.
The Institutes which were present, during a meeting of their provincials, undertook to promote in the coming years the transition of VIVAT Brazil from an informal group to a legally constituted organisation.
New Website of the ‘Laudato Si’ Missionary Centre
The ‘Laudato Si’ Missionary Centre, inaugurated in August 2018 in Kinshasa, is a Comboni undertaking involved in animation, formation and research on the management of the environment and the protection of creation. In June 2019 the Centre opened a new website in French, English, Spanish and Italian. There is an open invitation to visit the site for information on the activities of the Centre. The website may be accessed through this link: www.cmlaudatosirdc.org.
Meeting of Lay Men and Women of Missionary Institutes in Italy
The representatives of lay groups of the various missionary Institutes and fidei donum of the diocese of Rome met from 14 to 16 June 2019 at the Comboni Missionary Generalate in Rome. There were about 30 participants at the meeting which was chaired by Fr. Giorgio Padovan. They represented Villaregia, Xaverians, Consolata, PIME, Franciscans, Comboni and others. Two lay couples shared their experiences: one from Palermo (Comboni Lay Missionaries) and the other from Padua (Malbes Community, with the Comboni Sisters).
The aim of the encounter was to compare mission experiences both at home and abroad so as to improve missionary presence in the local Church, in groups and in civil society. Those were days of meeting, listening, reflection and planning.
The participants were assisted by the lay theologian Marco Vergottini (Vice President of the Italian Theological Association) who, with his relation “The Christian witness. Identity and mission”, led the meeting in a critical re-reading of some Council documents, proposing that the “lay” category be abandoned and replaced by the expression “Christian witness”.
Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
On Friday 28 June the community of the General Curia celebrated the solemnity of the Sacred Heart. Participants: the Combonis present in Rome, some Comboni Sisters and a group of friends and benefactors. The Eucharist was led by Mons. Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Mons. Giuseppe Franzelli, Bishop Emeritus of Lira (Uganda), and Fr. Alfio Tirrò, parish priest of the parish of San Vigilio, were also present.
In his homily, Mons. Ayuso said that “for Pope Francis, the solemnity of the Sacred heart is like a feast of love, the love of a heart that had loved much” and indicated its three characteristics: “The first characteristic of the love of the Father for us is that it is a personal love. He does not simply love the human race but each single person … A second characteristic is tenderness. The third characteristic, to which we should all conform ourselves, is meekness”.
We are now in a position to say that, in 2019, after many years of difficult work and negotiations, the DSP concludes its process of restructuring its buildings and properties. Little by little, the missionary houses have been updated and, where necessary, plots have been reduced and land has been sold. In 2016 the missionary house of Mellatz was sold. At the same time, part of the land of Brixen was rented out and it is now being used for bio-social agriculture. In 2018 the old house in Graz was renovated while the building of the residence and the agricultural land have been rented out to Caritas. Finally, the house of the community of Josefstal has been sold, given that the DSP, in the area of Ellwangen, could not continue maintaining two houses.
The process of reduction requested by the General Chapter of 2015 (CA ‘15, 44.7) has been completed and the DSP no longer possesses buildings that stand empty or require extensive and costly work.
40th Anniversary of reunification
The 40th anniversary of the reunification of the two Institutes – FSCJ and MFSC – into a single Comboni Institute, the MCCJ, was celebrated firstly on Sunday 16 June at Ellwangen, in Germany. The Mass was presided over by Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse, Superior General.
The following were present at the celebration: Fr. Karl Peinhopf, Provincial Superior of the DSP, the members of the provincial Council, the confreres of the Province, Bro. Alberto Lamana, General Assistant for Europe, Fr. Venanzio Milani, Fr. Josef Pfanner and many other confreres “who did so much for the reunification”, said Fr. Tesfaye in his homily. In the General Administration, the lives of Fr. Alois Eder, Fr. Otto Fuchs, Fr. Joseph Uhl, Fr. Alois Weiss and Fr. Anton Fink were a blessing. Many others who spent some time in Rome, like Fr. Markus Körber and others who served on committees like Fr. Franz Weber and Bro. Hans Eigner, helped with the services and initiatives of the General Administration of our reunified Institute”. Lastly, Fr. Tesfaye thanked Fr. Georg Klose for his symbolic embrace of Fr. Tarcisio Agostoni on the day of reunification, the feast of the sacred Heart, 22 June 1979, when the two Superior Generals sealed the reunification after 56 years of separation.
A second celebration was held a few days later in Limone sul Garda, where the missionaries of Brixen/Bressanone and other representatives of the German communities joined the missionaries of the communities of northern Italy. Among the roughly fifty participants there were various confreres who had not seen each other for more than thirty years: some had studied together at Innsbruck while others had been in the same circumscription in Africa or Latin America. They were overjoyed to meet again.
The day was joyfully marked by a Eucharistic celebration and a fraternal meal in the house that witnessed the birth of Saint Daniel Comboni.
Around sixty concelebrants, mostly Combonis, accompanied Giovanni Antonello, 30 years of age, for the ceremony of ordination that took place on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, 29 June, at the parish of the Votive Temple, Verona. Presiding at the celebration was diocesan Bishop Mons. Giuseppe Zenti. Also present were the Provincial of Egypt-Sudan and Giovanni’s immediate Superior, since he juridically belongs to that Province.
Mons. Zenti, while conducting the celebration, stressed the most important aspects of ordination and emphasised mainly the missionary character and the importance of “ad gentes” today.
He expressed affection and admiration for the Combonis who, in his opinion, are those who give themselves completely for evangelisation without borders.
The attentive assembly accompanied the ceremony with passion and emotion. At the end, the Bishop asked Giovanni to impart his blessing to his family in recognition of a journey that found its principal inspiration in them.
After the ceremony, the festivities continued at our house and, on the following day, a Sunday, Fr. Giovanni celebrated his first Mass at his parish church, the Guardian Angels.
The fourth of May was a day of great joy at our Fr. William Nyadru Interprovincial Novitiate (of APDESAM), at Bauleni, Lusaka, with 8 novices of the provinces of Malawi-Zambia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya taking their first vows.
Many came to witness this celebration that marked an important passage in the formative life of the novices. Present were the Comboni Sisters and the friends of the novitiate, confreres of the communities of Chama, Chipata, Kalikiliki and Lilanda. The Mass was enlivened by the English choir of the parish of Saint Kizito.
In his homily, the main celebrant, Fr. Andrew Bwalya, Vice-Provincial of Kenya, thanked the novices for their courageous decision to take a step forward in the journey of formation and asked them not to waste their time and energy dwelling on the difficulties encountered during the novitiate but to embrace every moment of the journey with gratitude and consider it all a time of grace that helps to mould their vocation.
Fr. Andrew also reminded the newly-professed of the importance and necessity of being faithful to their vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, which are the pillars of their consecration, especially at a time when these Evangelical counsels seem to contradict the style of life of the world in which we live.
For his part, the Novice Master of the novices, Fr. Dawit Wubishet Teklewold, thanked all the confreres who were an integral part of the formative journey of the novices and announced the various destinations where they will continue their theological studies. (Fr. Daniel Chisha)
Meeting of those in charge of Comboni media in Europe
Those in charge, with the directors and administrators of the European Comboni publications, met from 27 to 31 May at the Comboni community of Maia. The formation theme chosen for this year was “Religious Marketing. New means of editorial diffusion”, and was presented by the Lay Combonis João Maria Neves and Cristina Alçada. Fr. José da Silva Vieira, Provincial Superior of Portugal and responsible for the media sector in Europe, acted as moderator.
The participants presented their reports on the printed Comboni publications and shared their experiences and ideas regarding the challenges that the means of communication today present to evangelisation and missionary animation by Comboni Missionaries in Europe. Bro. Alfredo do Rosário Almeida Durão and Bro. António Carvalho Leal spoke of their experience in distributing the magazines “Além-Mar” and “Audácia” in Portugal.
Fr. Arlindo Pinto presented the final proposal of the “Guide for the development of a Plan of Communication for Comboni media in Europe”, which he prepared together with Bro. Alberto Lamana, General Assistant. Fr. Enrique Bayo, a member of the editorship of “Mundo Negro” (Spain), presented the draft of the Plan which the magazine has already established. Fr. Carmine Curci informed the meeting that the new multi-lingual European Web portal, an initiative already approved by the provincials of Europe and which will be run by the London Province, may be ready for October 2019.
The next meeting will be held in Sunningdale from 25 to 29 May 2020, in Sunningdale (England) and will, as well as the exchange of the Plans of communication of the various circumscriptions, on online publications and the challenge of the transition from printed matter to a digital system.
The meeting was attended by Comboni representatives from Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom (LP), Poland, Germany (DSP), the Rome Curia and a representative of the Comboni Sisters, Sr. Paola Moggi.
The Comboni Family On The Move
The heads of the four branches of the Comboni Family met on 8 June in Cacia to review and plan their joint activities of missionary animation and formation. With reference to the activities of the year 2019-2020, the theme “Christ is alive and wants you to be alive too”, was chosen. The project of the Comboni family, to the value of €10,000, will benefit the families of Colombian veterans and help coca producers cultivate alternative crops.
Two days later, about thirty people took part in Comboni Family Day which is celebrated on 10 June, Portugal day. The sanctuary of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Leiria hosted the meeting which began with a Eucharist led by the Provincial, Fr. José da Silva Vieira and continued with a fraternal meal and the presentation and sharing of experiences by each branch of the Family. The day concluded with a guided tour of the cathedral of Leiria.
Funeral of Bishop Giuseppe Sandri
His death took us all by surprise: even though we knew he was not very well, we were hopefully waiting his recovery and return to normal life. But this was not the plan of God and Bishop Sandri died on 30 May.
Following the South African custom, the funeral did not take place on one of the days following his death but a full week later, on 6 June, in Witbank, his episcopal see. The funeral was preceded by a “commemorative function” in the afternoon of 5 June. It concluded with a Mass at which many priests of the diocese participated as well as a large congregation of the faithful.
Before Mass, prayers of petition and praise were raised to God for the eternal repose of the soul of Bishop Sandri. Many from among the faithful came to the lectern to give their testimonies which noted especially his closeness to the people, his informal manner and his ability to see the funny side even in difficult times. He was described as a man of the people and a man of God, as one whose loss is felt by all as they realise they will no longer enjoy his friendship or benefit from his untiring work.
On 6 June, there were so many people attending that it was not possible to celebrate the funeral in the Cathedral. The civil authorities, therefore, made available the large town hall where the celebration was held, with the Archbishop of Johannesburg, Mons. Buti Tlhagale, presiding and concelebrated by almost a hundred priests, including almost all the Combonis working in South Africa. Members of the faithful were there from all the parishes of the diocese. Also present were six members of Bishop Sandri’s family who, on hearing of his passing, came from Trent, in Italy. All present were deeply moved by the celebration and expressed their emotions especially through various speakers who emphasised how much concern Bishop Sandri showed about the social problems of South Africa, the economic situation and education as well as the struggle against corruption. It was clearly evident that he really practised his motto, “venio ministrare” (I have come to minister). After the funeral, the remains were taken into the cathedral for burial alongside two other Comboni bishops.
One of the repeatedly emphasised aspects of the life of Bishop Sandri was his Comboni identity. Bishop Sandri truly incarnated the Comboni charism in the exercise of his ministry. Of him we may indeed say what we read of Saint Daniel Comboni in the Rule of Life, no. 2: “He distinguished himself for his total dedication to the missionary cause for which he spoke, worked, lived and died”.
From 29 April to 3 May 2019 the annual Provincial Assembly was held. It was an occasion to get together as a family, to review the progress made and plan for the future. The main theme was “interculturality”. Fr. Edward Kanyike, Provincial of Malawi-Zambia, helped us to reflect upon the theme. During the Assembly, four confreres renewed their religious vows: Bro. Michael Avaga and the Scholastics Constanz Opiyo, Elias Orishaba and Felix White.
On 5 May, during a lively ceremony, the province handed over to the diocese the mission of Aliwang (Lira diocese). The Eucharist was presided over by Mons. Sanctus Lino Wanok who, in his homily, thanked the Combonis for their marvellous work during the years of their presence at Aliwang and in the diocese of Lira in general.
From 20 to 25 May, the province hosted the Brothers’ Assembly at Layibi. The participants were from the Anglophone provinces of Africa, from Mozambique and the province of Congo. It was an important opportunity to meet together and discuss questions of common interest. We are grateful to the General Council and especially to Bro. Alberto Lamana for his participation at this Assembly.
This year, the celebration of the solemnity of the Ugandan Martyrs was prepared and animated by the Archdiocese of Gulu. In his homily, the Archbishop of Gulu, Mons. John Baptist Odama, preached a message of unity among peoples. The number of pilgrims is increasing every year and we cannot fail to thank God for the gift of those martyrs to the Church.
On 8 June, many people gathered from all over at Ombaci (Arua). The confreres Fr. Justin Ogen of the parish of Angal, Fr. Roberto Pegorari of the parish of Ombaci and Fr. Isaac Martín, from the Palorinya refugee camp, celebrated their Golden Jubilee of priesthood while Fr. Ruffino Ezama celebrated his Silver Jubilee.
THE FATHER: Perfect, of Sc. Apedovi Awoumessi Hippolyte (T).
THE BROTHER: Cristoforo, of Mons. Giuseppe Franzelli.
THE SISTER: Luigina, of Bro. Luigi Salbego (I).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Lucia Carrera, Sr. M. Margherita Bedin, Sr. M. Anastasia Zanotto.