MONTHLY NEWSLETTER OF THE COMBONI MISSIONARIES OF THE HEART OF JESUS
Sc. Obwaya Justus Oseko (KE) Amakuriat (KE) 25/12/2019
Fr. Obwaya Justus Oseko (KE) Nyamagwa-Kisii (KE) 06/08/2020
Fr. Apedovi Awoumessi (Hippolyte) (ET) Lomé (TG) 12/09/2020
Fr. Babley Komla Djigbodi (Daniel) (T) Lomé (TG) 12/09/2020
Fr. Hounlessodji M. Sikpa Vincent (T) Lomé (TG) 12/09/2020
Holy Redeemer Guild
October 01 – 07 RCA 08 – 15 TCH 16 – 31 RSA
November 01 – 15 SS 16 – 30 T
October – That all Christians may feel they are “sent” ad gentes and take to heart the mission of building up an atmosphere of welcome and encounter for the poor and for migrants, and commence initiatives of mutual knowledge and respect. Lord hear us.
November – That deceased missionary women and men may enjoy the peace of the encounter with the Lord whom they proclaimed to the world during their earthly lives. Lord hear us.
Commissioning Mass for Mons. Claudio Lurati
Mons. Claudio Lurati is ready to leave for Egypt where he will be ordained bishop on 30 October at 18.00, in the church of St Joseph in Cairo. Before leaving the General Curia, Mons. Claudio presided at two commissioning Masses. The first was with his community on 25 September, the anniversary of his arrival at the Curia, twelve years ago, to assume the post of Treasurer General of the Institute. The second Mass was celebrated on 27 September, together with the faithful of the quarter who usually attend Mass on Sunday mornings in the chapel of the Generalate.
As we all know, on 6 August, Mons. Claudio Lurati was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Alexandria in Egypt where there are sixty thousand Latin Catholic Christians, distributed in sixteen parish communities, five of which are staffed by Comboni Missionaries. About 90% of the population of Egypt are Moslem. The rest are mostly Christian and most of them belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church.
“On 24 July, when I went to see H. E. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, in the Vatican, to give my reply as to whether I accepted or not the proposal to accept the pastoral care of the Latin Catholics in Egypt – Fr. Claudio said with some emotion – I had many reasons to refuse but I said yes because I saw it as the voice of the Lord Jesus, the Christ, who was calling me to go to a new mission, albeit with a different role, in a country with which I was already familiar. Today I ask you to accompany me with your prayers”.
Before the final blessing, Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins, Vicar General, on behalf of the entire Institute, of the General Council and the Curia community, congratulated Fr. Claudio and assured him of their best wishes for his new missionary service and thanked him wholeheartedly for his twelve years of work as Treasurer General, carried out with great competence and clarity, at the service of the Institute.
Laudato Si’ Park at the General Curia
This is the name given to the educational tour that some Comboni Fathers and Brothers have been setting up within the grounds of the General Curia. Its purpose includes raising awareness among the young and not so young of the beauty of nature of which we not always aware.
In particular, the tour is an invitation to discover the message and spirituality of the encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, from which some extracts have been taken for the brief reflections that will accompany the stages of the tour.
In the context of the campaign “The Time of Creation”, that is celebrated annually from 1 September to 4 October and in anticipation of this tour, on Sunday 20 September, a group of children, accompanied by their families, inaugurated a recreational-educational proposal for the care of the common home.
Bro. Marco Binaghi, the curator of the proposal, led the young participants in the discovery of the ecosystems existing in the grounds, the trees and the plants, enjoying direct contact with nature. Playing various games, the children were brought into close contact with such values as the safeguarding of creation, for example, by the differentiated collection of rubbish, and creativity in the uses of natural materials and relations with the environment.
Meanwhile, their parents were kept occupied with a spiritual tour accompanied by the Comboni Sisters.
Meeting of the National Coordinating Group of the GIM in Italy
From 25 to 27 September, there was a meeting at the General Curia of the National Coordinating Group of the GIM (Youth Missionary Involvement), the common youth vocations ministry course of the Comboni Family in Italy. The participants consisted of the teams of the groups that meet in Venegono Superiore (VA), Verona, Padua, Rome, Casavatore (NA) and Bari.
In verifying the progress made and planning for the new year 2020/21, an analysis was made of the challenges to be faced in this historical moment and a definition of the steps to be taken towards a Comboni presence alongside young people that can help them to (re)discover the God of life and motivate them to work together with those regarded as the least important.
In particular, during the year 2020/21, the youth will be sensitised to the support of the missions in Mozambique and the campaign of pressure against the “armed banks” in Italy.
On 16 April, our confrere Fr. Karl Wetzel celebrated his ninetieth birthday in Ellwangen. He is still quite well, though his memory is deteriorating. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, only the elderly confreres of the Centre celebrated this joyful event. Other confreres sent him their best wishes by phone or by post.
On 29 June, eighty eight-year-old Fr. Fidelis Pezzei celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination at the community of Neumarkt/Baviera. Fr. Andreas Thorwarth, who worked for years with Fr. Fidelis in Peru, told in his homily of interesting experiences in the missionary life of Fr. Pezzei, of his ministry in Tarma and later in Huánuco.
Among other things, he recalled the difficult times of the Sendero Luminoso, when Fr. Fidelis was targeted for having spoken on TV and on the radio of the attack of the terrorists on a village he visited to celebrate Mass. He was threatened with being killed and so had to leave Peru.
Fr. Fidelis has been part of the community of Neumarkt since 2008 and lends his assistance in parishes of the diocese of Eichstätt.
On 29 June 2020, at the age of 92, Fr. Josef Pfanner celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Having gained a doctorate in Canon Law, in 1963 he left for the missions of Peru where he was entrusted with the parish of Huasahuasi, in the diocese of Tarma. Apart from his pastoral work, he was especially involved in development and the formation of the people. When he returned to Germany, he was appointed novice master and held posts of responsibility in the governance of the MFSC and the DSP. For twenty years, he was a member of the community of Graz/Austria, with various pastoral services in the city. He has been in the community of Ellwangen for the past two years and is still very active in the house and garden. His favourite pastime is swimming.
On 30 July, Fr. Karl Wetzel joyfully celebrated a great feast: seventy years ago, he was ordained priest. Fr. Karl was the last to enter the novitiate before the Second World War, in 1939. He, too, was called to arms. At the end of the war, he was captured but was released the same year, 1945. He immediately resumed the novitiate. Towards the end of his theological studies, in 1949, he took first vows and was ordained priest in 1950 by the Bishop of Lydenburg (South Africa) Johann Riegler, at the sanctuary of Schönenberg, a short distance from Ellwangen. On 30 July, on the seventieth anniversary of his ordination, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, only the community of Ellwangen, some confreres from other communities and a niece of his gathered for the happy celebration. The provincial superior, Fr. Hubert Grabmann, recalled in his homily the places and the services Fr Karl carried out during his missionary life: leaving for Peru immediately after his ordination, the founding of the parish of Mirones/Lima and two agricultural cooperatives, the post of parish priest of the cathedral of Tarma, his formation work at Neumarkt/Baviera seminary and pastoral ministry at Mellatz. Or some years, Fr. Karl has been a member of the centre for elderly and sick confreres. Ad multos annos!
Bro. Manfred Bellinger returns to Mozambique
On 23 September, after six years in Ellwangen, Bro. Manfred Bellinger left for Mozambique where he is expected at the technical school of Carapira. For six years, he served the community of Ellwangen as the person in charge of the sick and elderly confreres. His most important duties were night duty at the centre and accompanying the confreres for their check-ups and while in hospital.
He also worked as a volunteer among the refugees at the reception centre in the city. He was a member of the Freundeskreis Asylum and on Tuesdays and Fridays he took part in sports with the refugees, including the children and adolescents, organising football tournaments. It was when the time came to say goodbye that the refugees and camp personnel showed how much they thought of Bro. Manfred.
The community wishes to thank Bro. Manfred for his other services such as caring for the grounds and serving in the kitchen. Sincere thanks from all the confreres and best wishes for his new missionary commitment!
Inauguration of the Centre for Missionary and Vocations Animation
On 23 August last, at Kalikiliki, one of the poorest quarters around Lusaka, the capital of the country, the Centre for missionary and vocational animation (CMA), was opened. Fr. Carlos Alberto Nunes, one of the main promoters of the project, recounts the origins of this project and how it was completed.
The inauguration of the Centre, dedicated to St Daniel Comboni, was simple but very meaningful both for the Comboni Missionaries and for the Local Church. There were some representatives of the Archdiocese of Lusaka and the nearby parishes and religious communities, especially the parish of St Augustine, where the centre is located: one hundred persons in total, the number allowed during this Covid-19 pandemic that affects also Zambia.
After visiting the actual buildings, there was a brief moment of prayer and reflection followed by the blessing of the Centre, there was a fraternal gathering with songs and dancing. The celebration concluded with the Centre anthem.
The celebration was recorded by “Lumen TV”, owned by the Episcopal Conference of Zambia and was later broadcast as a documentary entitled “Mission today in Lusaka and Zambia”.
Today, all agree that the Local Church is the main protagonist of mission promotion and that we missionaries are collaborators at the service of the Local Church. On my arrival for the third time in Zambia in July 2019, Archbishop Alick Banda, whom I visited to pay my respects, jokingly asked me: “I know you were Director of the Pontifical Missionary Works in this diocese, but now what are you going to do?”. I answered: “Whatever God and you ask of me. My superiors want me to organise a Centre for Missionary Animation”. “You are very welcome – he said – just keep me informed”.
The flyer we distributed states that our mission is open to all; our team is made up of two Combonis, a Sister and a laywoman and we are willing to work with all those who wish to deepen their faith and the missionary vocation. It will be a Centre radiating mission and vocation, inspired by the charism of St Daniel Comboni which our Institute wants to keep alive in the Churches where we are present.
Fr. Sandro Cadei. Fifty years of perpetual vows
On 9 September, the feast of St Peter Claver, patron of the missions and the slaves, a thanksgiving Mass was celebrated for the fifty years of perpetual vows of Fr. Sandro Cadei, former provincial superior of Togo. In the course of his homily, Fr. Sandro, joyfully recalled his missionary life from his arrival in the Province in 1972, going over his parish ministry (Kodjoviakope, Togoville, Fidjrosse), his service as provincial superior, as a formator at the Paris scholasticate, the Cotonou novitiate and in the postulancy, where he is at present working: “The Lord continues his work – he said – watching over us and asking us to trust Him”.
In particular, Fr. Sandro thanked God for the growing number of autochthonous Combonis, a palpable sign of the fact that the efforts of the missionaries have not been in vain but gave effective witness. He concluded by inviting those who serve in the province to continue with self-denial the missionary work entrusted to them.
The feast was held in the Saint Pierre Claver Postulancy in Adidogome. By happy coincidence, on the same date that Fr. Sandro took his perpetual vows, 9 September, he celebrated fifty years of vows in a community entrusted to the protection of the saint whose feast occurs on that day!
Ordination to the priesthood
On 12 September, in the Comboni parish of “Mary, Mother of the Redeemer” of Adidogome, the ordination took place of three Combonis: Fr. Daniel Babley, Fr. Hippolyte Apedovi and Fr. Vincent Hounlessodji, together with a further twelve of whom nine were religious (SMA, Eudists and SVD) and three were diocesan. It was the first ordination for the new metropolitan archbishop of Lomè who took his see in January 2020.
Mons. Nicodème Barrigah-Benissan, with appropriate example typical of his style, invited the ordinands to consider the priesthood as a gift that the Lord grants out of his goodness and that calls for “self-giving”. He then emphasised how, as priests, they belong to God and are not the owners of the Church. The Church belongs to God. This is why the priest must do everything he can to be a dealer in sacred things.
Fr. Daniel, Fr. Hippolyte and Fr. Vincent will all go to the mission ad extra, to Kenya, Etiopia and Uganda respectively.
Ordination to the diaconate
“The mission of the deacon is a noble one”, said Mons. Isaac-Jogues Gaglo in his homily on the ordination to the diaconate of three Combonis: Augustin Makasyatsurwa, Macaire Mbo Nkumileke (both from the DRC) and René Kouami Agbonou (Togo), who were ordained deacons together with nine others of the diocese of Aného, on 19 September, in the cathedral of the city.
Mons. Gaglo highlighted the nature of the diaconate which is, to be understood at two levels, the service of the table and the service of the Word, emphasising that, even if the primary duty of the deacon is service at table, this does not dispense him from meditation and preaching. He then invited all to holiness. He urged the deacons to touch the sacred vessels with a holy attitude and ecouraged everyone to receive Holy Communion, Jesus himself, with a pure heart.
The three new deacons will continue their service in the respective communities of the Province. Our hearts are full of joy and gratitude to God who, despite faring the dangers of the Covid-19 pandemic, makes these celebrations possible for the greater development of the mission and the salvation of the human race.
Perpetual profession and diaconate of three scholastics
For the first time in the history of the Province, three scholastics, Izakare Amoko Isaac, Nicholas Onyait and Vicent Turinawe, celebrated together their perpetual profession. The simple and impressive ceremony took place on Thursday, 15 July, in Layibi, at the spirituality centre, in the presence of the provincial superior. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, many were unable to attend but there was still a good number from the communities around Layibi, of the Brothers postulancy and the Fathers’ community. The provincial superior, while congratulating the newly-professed, appealed to them to have the same zeal as Comboni in the religious life they had embraced. The celebration was preceded by an eight-day retreat conducted by Fr. Peter Alenyo.
The following day, Saturday, the three scholastics and the provincial went to the parish Church of the Nativity in Matany where, on Sunday, 18 July, they were ordained to the diaconate by Mons. Damiano Guzzetti, Bishop of the diocese of Moroto.
The liturgical celebration was very impressive, enlivened by the parish youth choir and accompanied by traditional Karimojong dances. Despite the restrictive measures, many confreres and members of the families of the candidates were present, together with religious and priests of Moroto diocese. In his homily, Bishop Guzzetti warned the deacons against clericalism tendencies which are contrary to the call proper to deacons – to be a servant – and exhorted them to be available for service in their ministry. After the Mass, there was a meal with some time dedicated to expressions of good wishes addressed to the newly-ordained deacons. (Deacon Nicholas Onyait)
Karamoja: a worsening situation
The state of insecurity in the Karamoja region has worsened in recent months: the parish of Kangole, in the district of Napak, is the worst affected. What began in December del 2019 with the theft of some animals by robbers identified as Matheniko, from Moroto, has now become nothing less than an attack on homes which are plundered and burned down. Those who resist are killed or injured. This has caused immense suffering and innocent victims, especially women and children.
The worst-hit villages are Kautakou, Narengemoru, Lomerimong, Lomosingo, Lolet, Lopeeny, Lomerimong, Lokachere and Nachuka in the parish of Kangole, where a number of women and children went seeking a place of refuge.
The situation is alarming. Many people have lost everything including their homes and their savings. There is an urgent need for food, clean water, sleeping mats, blankets, medical supplies and the usual things for daily living. Besides the danger of the Coronavirus, there is also the danger of contracting cholera.
THE FATHER: Albino, of Fr. José Domingos Fernandes de Oliveira (P).
THE MOTHER: Amparo, of Fr. Miguel Angel Martín Lambás (E).
THE BROTHER: Teketel Ababo, of Fr. Endrias Shamena Keriba (RSA); Aldo, of Fr. Mario Benedetti (I).
THE SISTERS: Miryan, of Bro. Gustavo Montoya (CO); Maria de Lurdes of Fr. Ramiro Loureiro da Cruz (P); Maria, of Fr. Antonio Furioli (I).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Annaflora Belotti, Sr. Luigia Emilia Dell’oca, Sr. Anna Pia De Marchi, Sr. Zena Olivato, Sr. Mary Silvia Pisetta, Sr. Amine Abrahão.