As always, it was a great pleasure to feel welcome and “at home” in Nuremberg. Bro. Hans Eigner gave us and introduction to the socio-political situation of South Sudan. He helped us to better understand the way and the objectives behind the birth of the Peace Center of Juba and what is currently being done there to enable peace and reconciliation, as well as to help heal traumas.
We saw how we, CLM as a group, can concretely support the very important work of the center and of the schools connected with it. In the future this will be one of the principal points of our missionary activity.
We then concretized our reflections on our own contribution in Germany. It is clear that faith is not usually relevant and it is rarely a topic of conversation. How can we engage in conversations of faith and encourage people to speak about their faith? This, too, will be one of our main points.
During the weekend we had plenty of opportunities to pray and speak together. It was also a lot of fun to attend the open air classical music concert in Luitpoldhain.
Strengthened and with “homework” in our bags we returned to our “daily mission fields.”
The CLM Maria Augusta Pires has arrived in Janeiro de Baixo to spend part of the summer with us, like she did last year, and then return to her mission in Mongoumba.
But before getting here, she sent a message that will do us good to read:
I arrived in Bangui yesterday afternoon in order to continue my journey to you the next day. I am very grateful to Mary and to her Son Jesus who stood by my side, in the joys and sorrows of each day, and especially in the more difficult moments.
I am grateful to my entire family, to all those who prayed for me and to all the missionaries who work with me. Many thanks! I ask the Lord for peace in our country and in other countries as well that desire it so much! May Our Lady of Fatima intercede for us to bring this war to an end. May the Lord touch the hearts of those who attack the innocent and destroy everything in their path.
On Sunday, July 1, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the parish of St. George in Mongoumba and we had 249 confirmations. Thank God we had two bishops. One was Bishop Rhino of Mbaiki and the other was auxiliary Bishop Jesús of Bangassou, who earlier had been a priest in Mongoumba. The church was packed and there were many more people outside. It was a very long celebration (it lasted almost six hours), but experienced with great joy and enthusiasm. People did not leave the church until everything was over. Local authorities and members of other Christian Churches also attended. At the end of Mass, Bishop Rhino addressed the death of a nurse who had been accused of “likundu” (witchcraft) and read the articles of the Constitution in defense of life. I hope the authorities and all the Christians listened to his words and preserved in their hearts, that we may live as brothers, as true children of God. Those who were confirmed in Mongoumba marched through the neighborhoods of the town, singing hymns and, towards evening, returned to the church to pray and sing in thanksgiving for this day. I ask God to help them be proclaimers of the Gospel, to follow Jesus faithfully and not be deceived by the many sects we have here.
The school year ended on the 27th with the publication of the results. Thanks be to God, this year they were a little better than last year’s.
Cristina has started visiting the Pygmies encampments, accompanied by Bob, to promote preventive health care, hygiene… and care for the sick since many delay going to the hospital. Very often, they only go to the hospital when they are already too ill and some end up dying. On June 8, Ana returned from her vacation fully motivated, full of energy to continue her mission. Simone and Fr. Samuel are well, while Fr. Fernando arrived yesterday with resistant malaria… He will remain at Fatima parish until August, when he will go on vacation. May the Lord help him!
I am leaving tomorrow and we will arrive in Lisbon on Thursday, July 5 at 3:35 PM. Always united in prayer.
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6). A biblical phrase that stood out at the end of Saturday during the prayer closing the afternoon of the weekend we spent as CLM family in Viseu,
At the beginning of this Saturday I had that yearning to see the usual faces in the Comboni house of Viseu who had welcomed me so often during my formation. The journey. A journey proposed to all those who feel in their hearts the ardent passion of belonging to this CLM family.
Starting this day made me remember Marisa, Cristina, Paula, Neuza who are now in mission and who followed me closely in choosing my CLM commitment. I remembered Tiago Santos who could not continue with us, Flávio Soares whose life stays close to us, but whose journey is temporarily moving him elsewhere, Rufina who, as I understand, is very dedicated to the refugees, Patrícia Bernardino, whose whereabouts I do not know, but who followed a beautiful journey of vocational discernment. And lots more. Many who filled this house and who have turned this house into a record of my growth that God allows us to manage.
Starting this weekend allowed me to go beyond myself and get reacquainted with this family that has grown, and is still growing, with beautiful people with a missionary soul in their hearts moving them towards the hearts of the poorest and most abandoned. It is great to recognize this growing family to whom I proudly belong!
This is a family getting together to evaluate the year just past, in order to understand the journey just finished and talk about it. A family gathered to talk about important documents that will be the background of our International Assembly in Rome during this 2018. And discussions followed in favor of our movement, conversations giving birth to ideas for our future. And what pride we felt to see the commitment of the lay folks and of those in formation, expressing the will to improve, in the image God wants as the ideal of the CLM. It was a tiring Saturday that ended in a rhythm of prayer. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Together we prayed to be on this journey both individually and as a movement.
Sunday was the day to welcome our friends and relatives. A great day of animation when together we were even able to speak with Marisa and her community in Mozambique. And how exciting to find her happy in her mission, so adapted that she even mixes up the pronunciations of Portugal and Mozambique. We saw videos from Paula and Neuza who described clearly their mission in Arequipa, Peru and how important it is how to act before people, a mission that invites us to focus on the person, and on society in its details. A social, communitarian mission. We also saw a video from Flávio and Liliana in Piquiá, Brazil witnessing to their work with a people demanding better and dignified living conditions, and who get together to celebrate the harvest.
At the end of this time of witnessing, we heard from Fr. Joaquim Nogueira recently returned from Ethiopia. It was wonderful! How many difficulties, but also how brilliant were his eyes as he told us about what the Comboni Missionaries have achieved together with “these poorest and most abandoned, to whom nobody goes.”
The Eucharist and lunch followed and we ended the afternoon with a time to “laugh with God.” It was a session of laughter therapy animated by Fernando Batista, creator of the project laughing more who also has a great mission – proclaiming Christ in a funny, relaxed and faithful way.
Then we were sent out. And we left. One by one we returned to our homes, but with the certainty that we are walking together following “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
We leave you here the extracts where the CLM appear in yesterday’s program “Church in mission” that the CALM (Coordinator of Associations of Lay Missionaries of Spain) has organized in Radio Maria.
In it, we have an interview with our colleague Xoancar who is in Piquiá (Brazil):
News about our next international assembly, that we will celebrate in Rome in December:
And the testimony of Carmen Aranda about her time in Gulu (Uganda):
Hope you enjoy it
Many thanks to the CALM and Radio Maria for carrying out this beautiful work of raising awareness about the missionary laity.
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