Comboni Family

Christmas Meeting: From the Family of Nazareth to the Family of the CLM

LMC PortugalThe Christmas meeting of the Comboni Lay Missionaries took place on December 16 and 17 in Viseu, at the Comboni Missionaries’ house. The theme was “From the Family of Nazareth to the Family of the CLM.” Several CLM attended together with those in formation. It was a meeting marked by joy and by a family atmosphere, a Comboni family and a CLM family. It was a family gathered around a single ideal – namely, Christ – and the same Comboni charism.

On Saturday morning, the CLM Sandra Fagundez gave a presentation on San Daniel Comboni and the movement. Following that, we played a game that gave us the opportunity to discover more about the Comboni Family, the meaning of Christmas, Christmas in mission… as we continued reflecting and praying on the different meditation points. It was an experience of dialogue, of sharing that enriched us and brought into focus in prayer realities distant from our eyes and the entire Comboni family.

The afternoon brought us another surprise. By groups, we had the opportunity to: talk about Christmas in mission and their life experience with the elderly Comboni Missionaries who live in the house of Viseu; converse with the Comboni Missionary Sisters at their home on what characterize the various Christmas celebrations they spent in mission; and, at the family home of the CLM Marisa Almeida, to talk and share with a family which is also part of the CLM family, because with us it shares and lives the dedication and affection to mission. It was an afternoon when we were questioned and challenged by the many witnesses of lives fully lived and dedicated to mission.

LMC PortugalAfter prayer and supper, we had a party where, once more, we shared fun, laughter, jokes and music (and where Fr. Felix delighted us with his accordion). We also exchanged gifts! Once again, it was a time of unity, during this happy and genuine time together, with the CLM family and the Comboni family at large.

On Sunday, The CLM Susana Vilas Boas gave a presentation on the theme of “From the Family of Nazareth to the CLM family” starting with a reflection and ending with a sharing. From the morning session I remember the idea of journey. The CLM is on a journey, as Comboni would say, with their eyes fixed on Christ – because only this way does the journey have meaning. This is in order to follow the example of the family of Nazareth: the unity of Mary and Joseph, its humble service to Jesus, its desire to fulfill the will of God and the total dedication to his will must be the example for the CLM family, so that it may fulfill the dream that God has for it, and continue on a journey of growth in order to serve in mission according to the style of St. Daniel Comboni.

The Christmas meeting ended with the Eucharist with Fr. Francisco Medeiros as the main celebrant and with the joy of having with us at lunch the family of the CLM Neuza Francisco.

This is the word I was looking for to sum up the Christmas meeting of the CLM: family. In prayer, sharing, being together, listening, this meeting has awakened in each one of us the notion that we belong to something bigger than ourselves, a spiritual family that accepts us and challenges to improve, to do and live our mission in the style of Comboni, with our eyes fixed on Christ, passionate about Him and about people.

LMC Portugal
Filipe Oliveira

First Christmas in Mozambique

LMC MozambiqueIt was almost Christmas Eve when I realized how close it was, while I was about to start praying on my own and I was going through the liturgies of Advent. I know that, if I weren’t here, everything around me would remind me of Christmas. The proliferation of Christmas advertising would have pointed me in the direction of these celebrations practically starting from the year’s third quarter in an astute and gradual game.

Between the lighting, the external and internal decorations, suggestions for the menus always more exquisite and the dress code for the Holy Night and the Christmas dinner, the magic aura one feels in the city streets, the typical Christmas carols (…) between one dinner or another with friends and groups from here and there, nothing would distract us, not even the most absent minded, from “what is about to happen…”

Here there is absolutely nothing of the sort. In the city one may see some “imported” signs of Christmas. But not here. The senses are not overwhelmed by this avalanche of stimulations. There is no cold weather and fogged up windows showing flickering lights. One does not hear seasonal songs. One does not feel, or want to join, the frenetic glut of shopping and gifts – and even less the last minute shopping and needs. You do not watch things alone at home on TV. The heat is too intense to even think of changing from your slippers, skirts, shorts and light shirt into heavier clothing. There is no yearning for salted cod and extra-virgin oil. There is no king cake, French toast, walnut cookies or sweets of this or that kind. There are no dreams of toys or promises of instant and quickly passing paradises.

I must confess that, on Christmas week, I was a little apprehensive for being my first Christmas in mission, for missing my family, for everything being so different from what I was used to, and even for not having had electricity or water, making communications difficult and stunting my creativity…

But, this year the Baby Jesus has taught me this much: Christmas is not an ornament. It may look like Christmas all around us, but it will not be if it does not exist within our own self. Christmas is also movement, journeying. We must constantly be moving in order to find it. If we want to see the ‘great light,’ we must get up and go out; we must go meet the mangers where there is human suffering; we must return to the stable of simplicity; we must return to the manger where God’s hope and human hope meet – but always trusting that, between the silence and the word we are looking for, a star will always guide us.

Christmas, I believe, wakes us up to bring us back to our roots, up to the original dream that God has for each one of us. The childhood of God is also our childhood. That is why, after a long wait, we find peace when, finally, we rest in God.

An interesting fact…

After independence, Mozambique became a lay state. However, December 25 was preserved as a feast day, not because it was Christmas, but as the Day of the Family. Thus, on this day, independently of one’s religion, families get together to celebrate the gift of Family (naturally, for the Christian community, this day means much more, because it is the day of Jesus’ birth, when Salvation and true Peace descended on earth). This way, quite deservedly, they get together to celebrate and gain energy for the year that is about to come – but, after all, is not Christmas also this? On Christmas, each time we celebrate hope we end up saying in our hearts that “there is a future for Humankind.”

 

I will leave you with part of a poem by José Tolentino Mendonça (“We are the manger”) that has resonated with me over the last few weeks:

We are the manger

It is within us that Jesus is born

Within each age and status

Within each discovery and each loss

Within what grown and what falls apart

Within stone and flight

Within whatever in us puts us through water or fire

Within the journey and the path that seem without an escape LMC MozambiqueHoping you had a good Christmas,

Best wishes for a Happy New Year

Marisa Almeida, CLM in Mozambique.

Thanksgiving Mass on the 20 years of the CLM in Congo.

LMC 20 años Congo

We start our celebration in the Orphanage Marie of Passion at  10:00 am.

The celebration of the Eucharist was presided over by Fr Celestin Ngoré, whose homily was based on, the mission, the gift of self.

After the celebration the sister in charge of the orphanage, invites father Celestin to bless the newly built cave, so we all went to the cave for the blessing, It was a moment of grace for all.

There was a prayer organized by the CLM, we went into a circle, hands in hand praying and asking the intercession of the Holy Virgin Mary, St Daniel Comboni, Blessed Anuarite and Bakanja in union with all the Saints of Africa, to say thank you to God for the gift of CLM in Congo. We entrust our lives in the hands of the Lord, that he, who was kind enough to begin this project, may continue to be the protagonist of our mission, may He gives each one the grace necessary to carry out the mission He entrust us.

We have prayed for the international coordination of CLM’s (Central Committee), the African coordination and all of our brothers and sisters on mission. May the Lord lead us, strengthen our relationship and make us a strong family, filled with love, a way of peace and a channel of His grace for His people.

We have also prayed for the MCCJ, thanks for their total support and welcomed us into the Comboni family and for all the time they have accompanied us, like a child that they give birth, they taught us everything and despite our majority today, they do not abandon us. May God fill us with his grace and blessings.

Pray for the orphanage Mary of the Passion that receives us, may the Lord help them so that they never lack anything.

We follow with the animation and cocktail with children; followed by a guided tour of the place. We finished the event at 13:00.


CLM Congo

Formation Community in Portugal: Experience and illusion

LMC Cristina y TereThe gifts of one person can enrich another.

The time that we spend in community is lived as a period of preparation for mission.

The breaking away from the daily routine, work, sharing with friends, family, the priorities that define us in a consumeristic society, etc. Everything changes in order to arrive at a subsistence society. It is done by making us rethink what in fact are our true priorities and/or necessities.

Remaining always focused on mission with our eyes fixed on Jesus, our community planning begins when we realize the richness we have, the experience of one and the illusion of another, that allow us to overcome the challenges facing us.

Fear, discouragement while learning a language, the insecurity of not being able to answer the expectations and the needs of the mission, difficulties in adapting and all the other thoughts that at times overwhelm us, can be quickly conquered with moments of mutual respect, prayer and sharing.

In our efforts for mutual understanding, laughter follows, painting our hearts in many colors, of love and joy.

Tere and Cristina. International formation community in Portugal.