General Notes of the Consulta of June 2020
As we all know, the virus is claiming tens of thousands of victims all over the world and this has led to an alarming financial situation for millions of people in the poorer countries. For this, and for other reasons, the GC invites the confreres to finance their projects by seeking grants from various organisations rather than using up the funds of their circumscriptions.
2. Journey towards the XIX General Chapter
In line with the indications of the Rule of Life n. 147, the Superior General, with the consent of the General Council, by a letter dated 19 June 2020, has convoked the XIX General Chapter which will be held in Rome at the General Curia House. The Capitulars must be in Rome by Sunday 29 August 2021 for a week of preparation. The Chapter will be opened with a solemn Holy Mass at 9.00 on Sunday 5 September 2021. It is expected to close with a solemn Eucharistic celebration on Sunday 10 October 2021.
The GC, having consulted the circumscription Superiors on how to prepare the General Chapter, has decided to continue to process along the four lines already begun in the circumscriptions:
As indicated in the RL 147.3, the GC wishes to involve all the members of the Institute in this process. Bearing in mind the progress already made and the difficulty of travelling because of the pandemic, we propose the following timetable for the proximate preparation of the Chapter:
3. Appointments to various services
In the Consulta of June 2020, the GC has appointed:
3.1. for the period 2020-22
- Fr. Kibira Anthony Kimbowa Vice-Provincial Superior of Uganda.
3.2. from 1 July 2020
- Fr. Monella Pierpaolo socius at the Manila novitiate (A)
- Fr. Guivi Yaovi Benjamin socius at the Nampula novitiate (MO)
- Fr. Akpako Théotime Parfait socius at the Cotonou novitiate (T)
- Bro. Redaelli Giuseppe (SS) as a member of the Council for Finance, replacing Fr. Paolo Latorre.
- Fr. Codianni Luigi Fernando (I) as a member of the Council for Finance, replacing deceased Fr. Dasilva Fernández Gonzalo.
3.3. from 1° August 2020
- Fr. Sindjalim Essognimam Elias General Secretary of Formation.
3.4. from 1 September 2020
- Fr. Alenyo John Peter Novice Master ad interim at Namugongo Novitiate (U)
- Bro. Dimanche Godfrey-Abel formator at Bogotá CIF (CO)
- Fr. Bellucco Enzo Novice Master at Isiro-Magambe Novitiate (CN)
- Bro. Alfredo Ribeiro Neres socius at Isiro-Magambe Novitiate (CN)
- Fr. Nordjoe Yao Djodjo Eugene formator at Kinshasa Scholasticate (CN)
- Fr. Ardini Roberto formator ad interim at Kinshasa Scholasticate (CN)
- Fr. Peinhopf Karl formator and bursar at Casavatore Scholasticate (I)
The GC wishes to thank all confreres who are now terminating their service in the field of initial formation (Fr. Jérôme Anakese, Fr. Sylvester Hategek'Imana, Bro. Alberto Degan, Fr. Benedetto Giupponi, Fr. José Júlio Martins Marques)
4. Reopening of a Novitiate
The GC has authorised the reopening of the Isiro-Magambe Novitiate in Congo as from 1 September 2020. This due to the growing number of novices in the Francophone provinces with no more room in the novitiates of Sarh and Cotonou. We thank the Lord who continues to call so many young men to the mission and urges us to continually seek solutions for their formation.
5. General Secretariat of Formation
5.1. The Process of revising the Statute
In the Consulta di June 2020, the GC has approved the Statute of the General Secretariat of Formation which came into force on 19 June 2020, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Statute, already approved ad experimentum in 2017, has been revised and updated. This instrument guides not only the functioning of the General Secretariat of Formation but also the continental secretariats of formation and those of the circumscriptions.
5.2. Mapping Social Ministry in the circumscriptions
The exercise of mapping the social ministry of the Comboni Family is still going on. Some provinces have not yet sent in their replies. We would ask everyone to contribute generously to this important analysis of our missionary commitment.
5.3. Comboni Social Forum on Social Ministeriality (CSFSM)
The commission charged with preparing the Comboni Family Forum has decided that it will be held from 12 to 16 December 2020, in Rome, at the General House of the Comboni Missionaries. instructions on how to take part will be sent out as soon as possible.
5.4. The Book: “Noi siamo missione: testimoni di ministerialità sociale nella famiglia comboniana”
This book brings together a variety of missionary experiences in the field of social pastoral. The material will be useful for the reflection that will be made during the CMFSF. The GC thanks all who have contributed to it. For the time being, the book is available in Italian, English, French and Spanish. The electronic version will also be distributed.
5.5. Thanks to Fr. Siro Stocchetti
The GC wishes to thank Fr. Siro Stocchetti for his 18 years of generous dedication to the work of ongoing formation in the various courses: CYOF, The elderly and Renewal. Our heartfelt thanks go to him for his work on the material produced during these years which now consist of four books which continue to assist both formators and those who are still in initial formation, as well as all the confreres in their journey of ongoing formation.
5.6. Thanks to Fr. John Baptist Opargiw
The GC also wishes to thank Fr. John Baptist Opargiw Keraryo for his eleven years of service as General Secretary of Formation. Our heartfelt thanks go to him for his dedication and his efforts in accompanying the formative journey of our candidates in the various stages of their growth: vocations promotion, postulancy, novitiate, scholasticate and ongoing formation. The GC invokes the light and presence of the Holy Spirit, the protagonist of mission, on Fr. John Baptist in whatever new work the Institute entrusts to him.
5.7. Reflection on the growing number of scholastics
During the process of assigning the newly-professed, the General Council reflected upon the growing number of newly-professed and on how to approach the problem of finding room to receive them at Scholasticates/CIF. The growing number of newly professed is a relevant fact that urges us to foresee and plan accordingly, also looking ahead to the next assignments in 2021. As for the scholasticates which already have a large number of formandi, the GC will seek to assign them a third formator. The plan at present is to have two scholasticates with more than twenty scholastics and the rest with around fifteen. The possibility is being considered of having some small formative communities, in the European and American circumscriptions that agree to do so, where small groups of scholastics (4 to 6) would be accepted for their Comboni and theological formation. In some ways, this model may also help in the internationalisation process of our Comboni presence, especially in Europe and increase the diversification of the theological formation of our scholastics. This reflection finds its place in the broad process of global evaluation of our Comboni formation which the GSF and the entire Institute is implementing. We invite all circumscription superiors, the formators and all who have worked in formation to make their contribution by helping us discern the best way to respond to the present challenges of formation.
6. Revisiting and Revision of the Rule of Life
Last March, the Central RL Commission, together with the GC, issued the proposal of a journey of revision of the RL. As indicated in the letter, suggestions must reach the Commission by 31 August. We hereby make it known that the text of the corrections is available in French, English, Portuguese and Spanish, so as to facilitate the work of evasion proposed by the Commission. The GC thanks all the confreres who carried out the translation and revision of these texts which are available, on request from the Commission or the General Secretary.
7. Code of Conduct
The GC is happy to note that many circumscriptions have programmed activities aimed at assisting the confreres to understand better the Code of Conduct (CC). We would like to invite all circumscriptions to organise, as soon as possible, some conferences for the purpose of explaining and studying the CC. We also invite the circumscriptions to share what they are doing in this field. These meetings may be useful for the study of some themes covered by the Code and seen as more relevant for your circumscriptions. You will thus be able to study it in light of the civil and ecclesiastical laws in the circumscription.
8. Applying Mass Intentions
The GC wishes to bring to the attention of all confreres some practices of our Comboni life which appear to be neglected or even unknown by a good number of confreres. The GC asks that each confrere carefully adheres to what the RL 42.5 says concerning the application of Masses for deceased confreres, to RL 53.2 concerning the monthly Mass for the intentions of Father General and to RL 53.3 concerning Masses for one’s own intentions or the intentions of non-priest confreres. Parish priests are urged to follow the norms of law concerning Mass for the people, the missa pro populo (can. 534§ 1). Furthermore, the GC appeals to the circumscription superiors to see to the intentions of the Holy Redeemer Guild as indicated each month in Familia Comboniana, in fidelity to the commitment we have of offering Mass according to the intentions of those enrolled. The GC asks the circumscription superiors to bring this matter to the attention of all confreres.
9. Receiving medical treatment in Italy
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the resumption of hospitality activity in Italy is still rather slow. Confreres who wish to return to Italy and receive treatment in Brescia have to be ready for a very slow and unpredictable process (long-term appointments and frequent cancellations). It is also possible that they may have to go into quarantine if a case of Covid-19 were to be found at the Brescia house, or if, during visits to hospital or clinics, they happened to come into contact with other Covid patients. For this reason, those involved are asked to be ready to accept the way things work out during the Covid epidemic; things are now more complicated than previously.
10. Postponement of the ceremony of the Beatification of Fr. Giuseppe Ambrosoli in Uganda
Due to the uncertain situation caused by the spread of COVID-19, the Archbishop of Gulu, Mons. John Baptist Odama, in dialogue with the provincial of Uganda Fr. Achilles Kiwanuka, has proposed to the Holy See that the ceremony of the beatification of Fr. Ambrosoli be postponed until 21 November 2021.
11. Visits to the Circumscriptions
The GC will continue to discern the COVID-19 situation and the real possibility of visiting any of the circumscriptions.
Sc. Mbusa Augustin Makasyatsurwa (CN) Cape Coast (GH) 19/06/2020
Sc. Nkumileke Macaire Mbo (CN) Cape Coast (GH) 19/06/2020
Sc. Agbonou Kouami Agbéssi René (T) Cape Coast (GH) 19/06/2020
Fr. Welemu Anatole (MZ) Dedza Lilongwe (MW) 27/06/2020
Fr. Trevisan Stefano (I) Bressanone (I) 28/06/2020
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 the LCM, in their forthcoming continental meetings, may allow themselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit and so respond generously to the needs of the people they meet in various countries. We pray to the Lord.
August – That those who govern the whole world may implement policies capable of building more human and fraternal societies, for the common good and not for vested interests. We pray to the Lord.
September – That the Secular Comboni Missionaries, while conducting their X General Assembly centred on the icon of the mustard seed, may live in the certainty that Christ will cause the seeds of the Gospel sown by them to bear abundant fruit. We pray to the Lord.
Houses of Brescia and Milan
As regards the house of Brescia (see n.9 of the General Notes), the confreres will refer to the information sent to their provincials.
Milan – The fact that the Comboni house in Milan is home to sick and elderly confreres as well, as some active confreres, has made it necessary to discern how to alleviate the strict limits of access to the house set up during the lockdown.
Exact information regarding access to the house for confreres and others and the organisation of meetings in the house and the liturgy during post-lockdown Phase 2, is best available by contacting the house directly: tel. +39 02 645 6486.
ACSE among the promoters of initiative for immigrants
On 18 June, in the late afternoon, an ecumenical vigil was held in the Basilica of S. Maria in Trastevere, Rome, in memory of the migrants who died on the journey towards Europe. The organisers of the initiative were: Centro Astalli, St. Egidio, Caritas, Acli, Evangelical Churches, Community of Pope St. John XXIII, Fondazione Migrantes, Caritas Italiana, Scalabriniani and ACSE (Comboni Association for Service to Immigrants). Mons. Stefano Russo, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, presided at the function.
From 1990 to the present day, 40,900 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea or on other immigration routes towards Europe. This is a startling number which was worsened during the first months of 2020 when, despite the emergency caused by the Coronavirus, 528 people – half of them women and children – died attempting to reach our continent, especially from Libya by way of the central Mediterranean route.
During the vigil, some of the names of the dead were called out. “Each one of them”, said Mons. Russo, “is precious in the eyes of God who never forgets anyone. May hope be the help of those seeking a harbour of goodness, life and peace”.
Fr. Venanzio Milani and a just small group representing ACSE also took part, due to the limits imposed by the Coronavirus. Fr. Milani read the prayer intention for the Africans who died in the migrations towards Europe and in the continent itself.
On 29 June, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the diocesan Church of Bressanone gathered round the Comboni Family for the ordination to the priesthood of Stefano Trevisan, 36, from San Vigilio di Marebbe (Bolzano), a trilingual celebration – German, Italian and Ladino – in Bressanone Cathedral, presided over by Mons. Ivo Muser. Among those present were the community of Casavatore (NA), where Stefano did the scholasticate, and the communities of Castel Volturno, Bologna, Padua, Verona (Mother House and San Tomio), Brescia, Venegono, Trent and Limone, as well as the DSP communities. The provincials of Italy and Germany were also present.
Mons. Muser, who knows the Combonis well and appreciates them, spoke during his homily on the text of St John in which Jesus asks Peter: “Simon, do you love me more than these?” and said that the life of a priest must every day be a response to this basic question, inviting Fr. Stefano to make it the central theme of his life. He then expressed the wish that the new priest “would always do everything not just for the people but with the people, so that they might themselves become the protagonists of their lives, capable of committing themselves to their rights and dignity”. And he added: “I also pray that your missionary work be marked by the struggle for justice, peace and care for planet Earth as our common home” and he concluded: “That is why, dear Stefano, in the journey you are starting today, we are sure that you will never be alone and that the great missionary from your Ladin valley, Giuseppe Frinademetz, will be always close to you”.
At the end of the celebration, the newly-ordained priest expressed his thanks – in Italian, german, Ladin and English – to all those who accompanied him to this important goal and all his fellow travellers over the years.
With great joy I wish to inform you that on 27 June 2020, the deacon Welemu was ordained priest in Dedza by Mons Tarcisio Ziyaye, of the Archdiocese of Lilongwe. This event is good news for the Comboni Missionaries, for the Church in general and for the Malawi-Zambia Province: “We feel a sentiment of gratitude to God for his closeness to us” (Chapter Acts 2015 n. 6). Despite their weaknesses, the priests and religious will always be a blessing for the Church and the world.
Fr. Welemu is the first member of the Institute from the diocese of Dezda. I am convinced that this will be a determining factor in the promotion of vocations for the Institute from this region of Malawi. Many family members, friends and parishioners took part in the ordination ceremony. We were obliged to keep to the health regulations required by Covid-19 laid down by the government. For this reason, the ordination took place in the chapel of the diocesan Minor Seminary. However, it was not possible to subdue the rejoicing crowd at the ordination. The Malawians like to celebrate important events and their culture is able to inspire and motivate the priesthood.
The Province is grateful to His Grace the Archbishop of Lilongwe for agreeing to come to the diocese of Dedza to ordain Fr. Welemu. Actually, as you may be aware, Dedza diocese has no bishop of its own at present since the local bishop died. The ordination could only be celebrated on 27 June 2020 due to the coronavirus. Taking the pandemic as his starting point, the Archbishop reminded Fr. Welemu and the other priests present that they must be servants of hope for the people: priests ought to walk with the faithful and not become simply celebrants of Masses and Sacraments. This ordination is a special grace granted by God to Fr. Welemu in a very difficult period in the story of humanity!
Fr. Malata and other confreres have had a central role in preparing this ordination. I am thankful that the spirit of collaboration and sacrifice in the province of Malawi-Zambia reflects what the Comboni Family stands for. May the Lord bless all who accompanied and supported Fr. Welemu in his journey of preparation and formation.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank Father General and his Council for the way they are guiding the Institute in the right direction. Nothing happens by accident. Their good directives, with their spiritual and financial support facilitate vocations promotion and missionary animation. May God grant you good health and sustain your vision of the Institute. (Fr. Michael Mumba)
Master, where do you live? Come and see (Jn 1, 38-39)
Our hearts were open and ready to celebrate the First Professions in a very different context. Because of the world emergency, it was not possible to celebrate the ceremony as we usually do, with festivity, surrounded by family, friends and benefactors. Nevertheless, we felt in our hearts the closeness of all those who live, pray for and support the mission.
Saturday 9 May 2020, therefore, at the Xochimilco Novitiate, in Mexico City, the following novices made their first religious profession: David Eduardo Romero Chajón (Guatemala), Luis Felipe Bedoya Patillo and Yeison Olivo Morales Bolívar (Colombia), Iván de Jesús Bautista Ramos and José Manuel Hernández Cruz (Mexico). With the help and support of the grace of God, they consecrated their lives to the mission according to the charism and style of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus.
The Eucharistic celebration started at 10.00 and was presided by the Provincial Superior, Fr. Enrique Sánchez González, accompanied by some Comboni Missionaries and some religious Oblates of Saint Martha. Fr. Enrique exhorted the novices to live their consecration in joy and serenity, living the availability of a constant yes and the dedication of their lives to God, trusting in the One who called them and who will never forget to bring His promise to its fulfilment. He also invited them to allow themselves to be continually seduced by God, remembering that it will not be they who, by their merits, bring to completion this consecration but God Himself who will give them the strength to remain faithful. The celebration ended with a brief and joyful time of celebration.
First religious professions of eleven novices
At the end of a formative journey 2018-2020, at the Sainte Croix Novitiate, at Sarh, in Chad, eleven novices (ten candidates for the Priesthood and one for the Brotherhood) took their first vows. They are from the province of TGB (5), RCA (2) and CN (4).
The ceremony took place on Sunday 3 May 2020, in the courtyard of the novitiate. At 9.00, the novices processed, with their formators, some priests, the Delegation Superior Fr. Fidèle Katsan, and the Bishop, Mons. Miguel Sebastián, and joined the small group of people – about ten people including some religious men and women and some laypeople – who had gathered in a shady corner of the courtyard.
The unhappy national and world context of the coronavirus with its restrictions on gatherings of people, was of help to us, on the pen hand, since it helped us to include in our prayers the sufferings of humanity and, on the other, to thank Our Lord for these eleven young men who, by the profession of the evangelical counsels, have accepted to be consecrated and sent into the world as rays of divine love to “embrace the less fortunate” (cf. WR 2742).
The Delegation Superior, Fr. Fidèle Katsan, received the vows of the eleven young confreres during a Eucharistic celebration warmly led by Mons Miguel Sebastián, even though he was still weak after a bout of malaria. After the Mass, a common fraternal meal kept the group together until 15.00.
The newly-professed are now residing in the various communities of the Delegation. Confined to the houses, they share community life and continue their preparation to living the mission fully. Some of them are learning new languages while others are working in the gardens and helping with house maintenance. We are waiting for the airports to reopen for international flights so that they can return to their original countries and go to the scholasticates/CIF after a period of holidays at home with their families.
The international scholasticate of Saints. Peter & Paul was officially opened on 1 July 2009, as an inserted community in the parish of Saint Paul in Nkanfoa, in the Archdiocese of Cape Coast (Ghana). Since the beginning of the formative journey, around thirty scholastics received their formation in this scholasticate. Now, for the first time, the community is blessed by the perpetual vows of three Comboni scholastics.
On 19 June 2020, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the three scholastics Augustin Mbusa Makasyatsurwa and Macaire Mbo Nkumileke, both from the DRC, and Agbonou Kouami Agbessi René, a Togolese, took perpetual vows. The professions were made in the chapel of the scholasticate, during a solemn Mass presided by Fr. Antoine Komivi Kondo, in an atmosphere of simplicity due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Five Comboni priests, some scholastic and a few parishioners took an active part in the Eucharistic celebration. It serves to remember that the scholastics who took perpetual vows had already completed their theological studies here in May 2019 and have been appointed to TGB for their missionary service. It is a privilege that they have returned to this same structure and dynamic community that sustained them right up to their perpetual profession.
The celebration was characterised by meaningful moments of prayer and thanksgiving to God for his ineffable love in the life of each one of them and by a period of celebration.
The whole community expresses its gratitude to God, the superiors, family members, to all who were present and all who were in communion of prayer in such a beautiful and transforming experience. May the scholastics who have just made their perpetual profession be joyfully faithful to their consecration, a unique moment of grace in human life.
THE MOTHERS: María, of Mons. Jaime Rodríguez Salazar (M); Elena, of Fr. Sylvain Alohoungo (M); Aurora, of Fr. Pedro Andrés Miguel (E).
THE BROTHERS: Zeray, di Fr. Estifanos Helafu (ER); Paride, of Bro. Arnaldo Braguti (E); Fr. Aurelian (OSB), of Fr. Alois Weiss (PE), Victor Manuel, of Fr. Guillermo Medina Martínez (M).
THE SISTER: Lina, of Fr. Carlo Faggion (BR).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTER: Sr. Lidia M. Cahsai.
James Murphy, who died in May in Shettleston (district of Glasgow), was a former Comboni Brother who worked from 1982 to 1994 in Uganda and in the London Province and, after he left the Institute in 1995, continued to collaborate with the London Province, especially with the communities of Carmyle and Sunningdale.