The Comboni Lay Missionary María Augusta Pires, from Janeiro de Baixo, who is stationed in the mission of Mongoumba, Republic of Central Africa, took advantage of a trip to the capital city of Bangui to send us news. Let us pray for peace in that country and for all the missionaries! We relate here the text she sent to “El Astrolabio,”the paper of her parish on May 25:
I and the members of our apostolic community are in good health, thanks be to God.
We are in Bangui to do some shopping… Ana had planned her return on the 18th, but had to delay it until June 8. In any case, we had to come to the capital because our supply room was almost empty.
On June 12 Gervelais and his father are returning from Dakar. We are grateful to the Lord because the surgery was a success. I hope he will be happy and in good health.
On May 11, a patient of the hospital was shot dead. He had been accused of “likundu” (sorcery). We are all sad because of this. We hope that justice will be done and that the killers will be caught, starting with the authorities who denied him protection… We pray to the Lord that he may help us to defend people weighed down by this curse. There have already been several cases of people who were accused, but were protected by the mission or by courageous Christians. May the Lord of life stop this from happening anymore and that all Christians may find the strength to denounce this type of violence.
On May 1, in Bangui, in our parish of Our Lady of Fatima, during Mass, 16 people died and 100 were wounded because of a rebel attack. By the end 22 died, including a priest who was concelebrating. The people of this neighborhood still live in fear of being attacked again. Pray for these people who by now are tired of suffering…
God willing, I will not come back to Bangui before my departure for Portugal, because in June I will be very busy with the evaluation of the students and the conclusion of the course. On July 4 I will live CAR and will be in Lisbon by 5:00 PM. It will be like last year. God willing, I will return to my mission in early September. Cristina is energized and keeps on learning Sango, the local language.
Let us keep united in prayer, because it gives us strength and courage. A great missionary hug, as large as the world, to Fr. Juan and Fr. Orlando and to all the faithful entrusted to you. See you soon!
With great friendship
For the “Astrolabio”
ANO V – Nº 121 – 3 de Junho de 2018
Paróquias de Cabril, Dornelas do Zêzere, Fajão, Janeiro de Baixo, Machio, Pampilhosa da Serra, Portela do Fôjo, Unhais-o-Velho e Vidual
Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said: «Of course I want to, be cured!» (Mk 1:41)
This simple action of Jesus is full of meaning and strongly expresses his attitude towards the marginalised. It is an act of rebellion against injustice that is based on a socio-religious system of exclusion. In this way the Father reveals himself to us (Col 1:5), in a Son who, travelling the roads of Palestine, dares to touch a leper to heal him. Already in the first chapter, Mark reveals to us how Christ, the visible face of God who sent him, is capable of loving, with a heart that overflows with compassion (Mk 1:1).
Devotion to the Heart of Jesus has been, since the beginnings of our Institute, a source of spirituality in which our mission is firmly rooted. Through it we enter into the intimate person of Jesus, his attitudes, his desires and his vision of the new world that the Beatitudes announce. Therefore, their contemplation reveals to us the core of our consecrated life: the central place of the love of God as the key to reading the History of Salvation. It is a love that incarnates itself and defines itself as total passion for humanity (CA 2015, No. 22). Personal prayer is a qualified space for going more deeply into this mystery since it is an intimate encounter with Jesus in humility. In this way it becomes an experience of pardon, acceptance and gratuitousness that transforms us and moulds us according to his Heart.
The Pierced Heart of the Good Shepherd calls us to make a constant gift of ourselves and all that we are. The mission is that of self-offering without expecting anything in return, of pouring out one’s life for others. This is our consecration: to make of our life an instrument of the mercy of the Father incarnate in the charism given to Comboni. Our history, with all its limits and incoherencies, leaves us with the indelible witness of confreres who consumed their life to the end for the sake of the Gospel. Men who allowed themselves to be moulded in a cycle of never ending conversion through the experience of relating to the love of the Father, becoming bread for the hungry and hope for the desperate ones (CA 2015, No. 14).
Mark speaks to us of the life of a man whose principal characteristic is compassion, because this is the face that the Father wanted to show us. His attention to the poorest thus becomes a constituent element of the mission of the Church. This is an aspect that is clearly present in Comboni (W 2647). The contemplation of the Heart of Jesus moves us to being especially close to the excluded and calls us to seek them in new environments where live is relegated to the margins. At the same time, our style of life, which may become an obstacle to the dynamism and flexibility of the mission of today, is questioned. All our activities and reflections must come from below, from contact with humanity nailed to the Cross. This is the most radical expression of the total offering of the Son and is still today very much present in some countries where we operate, countries ravaged by war and other forms of violence. Our missionary presence is a sign of the love that wells up from the Heart of Jesus (RL 3.3).
Comboni, a man marked by the religious experience of his time, developed his own missionary dimension of the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus. The total gift of the Father in the Son is a sign of love that opens us up to new hope. The Kingdom is a programme of the liberation of life in its fullness (W 3323). This deep conviction led him to travel thousands of kilometres on the Nile and in the desert, risking his life because he saw the pierced Christ as a source of life for the remotest. The audacity of our Founder in opening new frontiers of evangelisation is part of our spirituality and mission. Revisiting the Rule of Life is also an opportunity to grow in passion for the Gospel while seeking out those who are forgotten.
The challenges of the world of today render our mission urgent. We live in times of expectations and desire for new political, economic and social structures. There is a deep and sincere search for meaning but it often finds only shallow answers that merely lead to alienation and nihilism. The folly of the Gospel (1 Cor 1:25) transforms the heart and the world; our Institute is still called to travel the road, with the compassion of Jesus and touch the lepers of today.
May the feast of the Sacred Heart give us the grace to continue growing in love.
You were the community I never chose but with which I always wanted to be. Maybe because in the differences I find a little more of myself, and together we reveal a little more of ourselves.
With you I learned that you do not do mission by yourself, and what I need from you. You crossed my path and even without knowing you opened your heart and accepted me as a companion on our journey, yes, because basically this is a journey we walk every day in this piece of land beyond the realities that we both knew.
You extended your hand when I thought that nothing made sense. I realized, on that night when we prayed together and everything seemed to be crumbling, that God does not make mistakes in his plans for each one of us. You were and you are my support when everything seems hard and difficult. You are a word that does not hide, eyes that speak, you are yourself.
With you I learned the dimension of sharing and of giving, in this triangle of love, in the dynamics of the I, the you, the we.
Many times you are the eyes seeing much beyond what I see. The heart that listens to me, when I need to talk. The arms that hold me and sustain me. The hand that is always there when obstacles appear on the way. God knows why he put you on my way, and now I know it as well. May God help me to watch you and to know how to make sense of your presence in my life and in our journey.
What together we are able to be is what moves this community in search of the mission of Jesus in the world. We are silence, we are laughter, we are criticism and demands, we are limitations and the infinite, we are also the stubbornness of our lives and apprenticeship, we are tears often shared between my crying and your shoulders or embrace. We are often prayers when in silence we look at the reality in which we live.
Come what may, it does not matter. What matters is that in our imperfections we want to be of God.
We are witnesses of those who accept to grow together. We are Andrea and Paola (Paula in her native land), lives that God united to walk in the direction of a love which is learned daily, a love born of mistakes, exercised in prayer, made of silences and often of glances that say it all, made of extended hands and chores shared, of bad moods and stubbornness, of different perspectives and of two ways of acting that complement each other.
We are what each one can give of herself. We are in what you are and teach me to be. We are in what we mutually learn. We are from where we know we come from. Love.
When I realized that I was called to mission, I knew that I was being called to be community. In this journey I knew that God was calling me to be community with Andrea, as humbly they call Neuza in Peru. Arriving in Peru I understood that it was time to cross the desert. Even so, when I arrived in Peru I felt happy, totally happy and realized that Andrea was part of this happiness. A happiness filled with obstacles and difficulties, joys and hilarious mistakes, and for all this, complete. When I was called to journey with Andrea I knew and still know that God wants to teach me something through her. We met people in our lives to make us grow, to make us holy, to teach us how to walk and get closer to God. To walk with Andrea demands accepting that there will be complicated and difficult times, but that even in silence she is always there. She knows when you wake up crying and comes to hug you and only returns to bed when she is sure you are alright. She is there looking at you when it seems the world collapsed on you and instinctively she will cry with you to share your sorrow. To live with Andrea is like climbing and descending mountains with a sore stomach from too much laughing. With Andrea I feel capable of facing the greatest difficulties on our journey. With Andrea there is not a boring trip or waiting for a bus. With Andrea there joy in every step in the mission. Andrea puts up with fatigue, pain, and suffering and accompanies me up and down the roads. With Andrea I meet Jesus in every corner. To live with her is a constant learning experience and a journey that I propose to do every day. I am happy and I trust that we are happy even in the days when I am frail and everything looks grey, you are always there at my side to love me just as I am. Just as with the love of God, to be community with Andrea is not easy, but it is enough to know how to love and to be loved. To be community with Andrea reminds me of Pope JPII’s quote, “To love is an act of the will,” because I want to love her every day on each step of our journey.
To live in community and share everything in our lives is not easy. But when we want to and we do it with love and for love, when we do it knowing that it is God who unites us and stays with us at all times, everything is fine. To be community is to be available to walk not in me or in you, but in us. To be community is to stick together in happiness and to share the crosses. To be community is to know how to give space and bear hugs. In community we share the biggest gift God has given us, life. Together, in community, we bring joy to every house we may visit, we pray wherever, we sing wherever and we live in Vila Ecología in the beautiful house we call home.
We are you and me, we are us.
Ayllu Community , Neuza (Andrea) and Paula (Paola)
Last Saturday with some members of our Comboni Friends group, we went to Daye – one of the Combonis’ missions among Sidama people. We met there with youth leaders from different outstations, more than 50 of them came. The topic was based on Matthew’s gospel and parable about talents. There was small teaching about, testimony of Adela about her talents and how she uses them to serve others, and then time to work in small groups to discover and share which gifts God gave us and how can we use them.
Youth had many ideas about the talents they can use in the church (to lead groups, to teach, to sing or play keyboard in the choir, to help those who left the church to come back, to take care of widows and orphans…). And after this more serious part, there was some fun, which we called “Daye got talent!”. Youth in groups prepared short dramas based on different parables. They got really involved in it! And showed that they have acting talents too! 🙂
We hope that this meeting inspired them to discover their gifts and use them. Also for us, it was very joyful and enriching time.
Hi to everyone. How are you doing? I hope you are well. Here the rainy season has begun and, to move around, we could use Noah’s ark. When it rains in Mongoumba, everything stops (I believe the same happens throughout the RCA), the children and the teachers do not come to school, you do not see anyone around and we could sleep all day long, lulled by the sound of the rain, and think of you in Portugal, Poland, Italy, all over the world. Mission has its pros and cons.
I was born on a day
when God was sick.
Everyone knows that I live,
that I’m evil; and they don’t know
about the December of that January.
Since I was born on a day
when God was sick.
There’s a void
in my metaphysical air
that no one must feel:
the cloister of a silence
that spoke on the edge of a fire.
I was born on a day
when God was sick.
Brother, listen, listen…
Alright. And may I not go
without bringing Decembers,
without leaving Januaries.
Since I was born on a day
when God was sick.
Everyone knows that I live,
that I chew… and they don’t know
why there’s a squeal in my verse,
the dark uncertainty of a coffin,
from polished unrolled winds of the inquisitive
Everyone knows… And they don’t know
that the Light is consumptive,
and the Dark fat…
And they don’t know that the mystery encapsulates
that it’s the musical
and sad hunched back that denounces from a distance
the meridian step from the boundaries to the Boundaries.
I was born a day
when God was sick,
In this deep, thick, foreboding, sticky, penetrating, often desolated and discomforting night that envelops the entire Republic of Central Africa, there is lightning of blinding light lasting but an instant. It is the lightning of rifles, of shooting, of grenades followed by an awesome noise… and lightning of ESPERGESIA, lightning GENERATING HOPE.
In Bangui, in the neighborhood called Kilometro 5, in the parish of Our Lady of Fatima where I spent 45 days studying Sango, on May 1, feast of St. Joseph the Worker, during Mass, there was the lightning of weapons, shooting, of weapons, of grenades. It was a well-planned attack by people who want to see the night last forever. There were 16 victims.
We immediately perceived that the rumbling of the thunder of this explosion resounded around the world (someone even wrote to us from Brazil), we have felt the warmth of your nearness. We are OK. We were not direct witnesses. They tell us that slowly the situation is getting back to “normal.” In fact, that is how it is. After the lightning of weapons we have gone back to living in an even darker night.
In Mongoumbua there is lightning of ESPERGESIA, lightning GENERATING HOPE, infinitesimal, but of a blinding light: our visits to the Pygmies camps; Tuesday morning with the babies of the nutrition center; Sundays in the chapels for prayer with the community, sharing a bit of cassava and some small fish caught just for us; the Thursday meetings with a vocation group; the afternoons spent to draw and color; the endless hikes surrounded by cheering children; and the little newly born Pygmies, bundles looking at you with half open little eyes, who seem to tell you: “I was born on a day when God was sick, very sick,” butif I was born in this infernal night, there is still…
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the CLM in the Democratic Republic of Congo a number of lay people professed their commitment in the Comboni parish John Paul II of Kinshasa.
The Mass lasted from 9:00 to 11:30 AM. The presider was the provincial of the MCCJ in the DRC, Fr. Joseph Mumbere surrounded by the faithful the lay and Comboni Missionaries of the city. Twenty seven lay people formalized their lifetime commitment for to the mission ad gentes.
The Mass, celebrated by the provincial of the MCCJ, Fr. Joseph Mumbere in the Comboni parish of St. John Paul II, was also attended by the coordinator of the CLM, Fr. Ngore Hali Célestin, the pastor, Fr. Jean Paul Etumba, and the Frs. Jerome Anakiese, Henry Likingi, and Marcelo Fonseca Oliviera. We thank Fr. Boniface Gbama who was the photographer of the day. The Comboni Sisters also attended with their provincial, Sr. Cinzia Trotta.
The ceremony went well and concluded with a reception in the provincial of the MCCJ from 1:00 to 4:00 PM.
Later on, on May 10 in the parish of Blessed Anuarite in Kisangani, 10 more lay people formalized their lifetime commitment for the mission ad gentes.
Fr. Joseph Mumbere celebrated also this Mass. The concelebrants were the pastor, Fr. Jaques Urodi, the coordinator in Kisangani, Fr. Augustin Fene-Fene and Fr. Ngore Gali Célestin.
The national coordinator of the CLM in the DRC, Tiffany Kimbuni, was also present and received the new members of the Comboni family. The Kisangani coordinator had words of thanks for all the participants.
Thanks to the entire Comboni family, fathers, brothers, sisters and lay people who work day and night for the Comboni mission and charism.
Our commitment in a few words:
We, the CLM, proclaim our faith in the resurrection of Christ, our hope and our joy. By his example, Christ calls us to be light in the darkness, and hope in society. We profess our YES to the mission today before the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Yes forever, beyond all difficulties, our Yes to the charism of St. Daniel Comboni and his gift to the poorest and most abandoned.
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