Comboni Family

The heart of Jesus – mission of compassion

Corazon de Jesus ComboniMoved 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.

The General Council, mccj

 

Youth program in Daye

CLM EthiopiaLast 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.

CLM Ethiopia

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.

CLM Ethiopia

Magda Plekan. CLM Ethiopia

Eucharistic Celebration for the Commitment of CLM in RDC

Mision CongoOn 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.

Mision CongoLater 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.

Mision CongoLimbuini Kilolo Tiffany

National Coordinator of the CLM in the DRC

World Social Forum and Comboni Forum

Concluding message of the members of the Comboni Family Taking part in the World Social Forum and the Comboni Forum

 TO RESIST IS TO CREATE – TO RESIST IS TO TRANSFORM

 Ministerial methods and networking/cooperation within the Comboni Family and with other organizations

FSM y FCWe, the Comboni missionary lay people, sisters, brothers and priests who took part in the WSF and the CF, greet you from Salvador, the land of black resistance and of Afro-descendant cultures, with hearts full of gratitude and hope. From the 10th to the 19th of March 2018 we lived together a strong and unique experience by attending the WSF, that had as a theme “To resist is to create – to resist is to transform” and the 8th CF on the theme of “Ministerial methods and networking/cooperation within the Comboni Family and with other organizations.” We thank in particular our general councils that together sent us a message of encouragement for our commitment to JPIC and for our participation in the WSF as an experience of how we live our charism in the challenges of today’s world.

Our participation was relevant and numerous: 53 members from Africa, Europe and America. We experienced the great richness of our charism in the variety of our commitments. For the first time representatives of our young people in formation at the scholasticate and at the CIF with their formator attended. We are also grateful for the answers we received from four scholasticates to the questionnaire sent by the central committee with the objective of understanding how much the JPIC themes are present in their formation. We also confirm our commitment to involve always more the people in formation and their educators in the themes of JPIC and in the dynamics of the WSF and of the CF.

In the WSF we, as Comboni Network presented four workshops: Land grabbing, Mineral extraction, Socio-political situation of the DRC and of South Sudan, and the Elimination of violence and gender discrimination. This allowed us to share our commitment as missionaries for the possibility of an alternative world within the methodology of the WSC. A stand, which we set up, allowed us to do mission promotion, to meet and dialogue with many people and be known. From among the many workshops offered by the WSF we followed with great interest the New Paradigms, Theology and Liberation, Youth, the Resistance of indigenous people and of Afro-descendants, Migrations. In the course of the Forum we also attended the women’s world assembly. The WSF took place in a festive climate, only interrupted by the killing of two human rights activists, Marielle Franco in Rio de Janeiro and Sergio Paulo Almeida do Nascimiento in Barcarena, Pará.

The CF took place under the sign of continuity with prior encounters. The days were marked by times of inculturated spirituality when we celebrated life, sufferings and hopes in tune with the situations of the countries we came from or encountered at the Forum. We reflected on the need to deepen our reflection on the new paradigms of mission, of consolidating this experience as a Comboni Family and give wider space for lay people to participate. In this reflection we were accompanied and animated by Marcelos Barros, who shared with us the current state of theology and liberation, and by Moema Miranda, who after an analysis of the world’s situation, proposed some sources of light for the journey as proposed by Laudato Si´. Faced by a neoliberalism without limits, the invitation consisted to introduce the poor to dialogue and to strengthen the faith in the presence of the Spirit of God who walks with us through history.

Stimulated by what we have experienced we propose to:

  • Publish a book that will gather the history and the experiences of these 11 years of CF, showing directions for the future;
  • Enlarge the coordination of the Comboni Network for a better service of animation and formation on JPIC themes;
  • Organize a continental Comboni Social Forum to involve the various realities wherein we work;
  • Create a fund to support the activities tied to our commitment to JPIC;
  • Consolidate an on line platform where to gather and share experiences and material on

After this experience, we realize all the more the importance of meeting again for a greater cooperation within ourselves, to face one another as Comboni Family and as people busy in different fields but united in our commitment to JPIC to look for new ways to minister and new paradigms of mission.

Salvador de Bahia March 19, 2018 Feast of St. Joseph

“I am a Gem, I am the Church” – 6th CLM Formation Unit

LMC PortugalOn February 17 and 18 we held the formation unit “I Am a Gem, I am the Church” in Viseu.  On Saturday we had as presenter Divine Word Fr. José Augusto Duarte Leitão, who in the course of the day spoke to us of some principles of the Church’s doctrine: the centrality of the human person, the common good, the principle of subsidiarity and the principle of solidarity.

We spent time reflecting and sharing on moments of the life of Jesus where these principles were present and noticeable. We came to understand that these principles are almost always interconnected and how they teach us how to act and relate in the world, in the light of Christ and of the Church.

It gives me trust and hope to understand that many of the things that are meaningful to me and that I intend to hold dear on a daily basis are considered structural in the social and charitable doctrine of the Church.

I understood that what I believe in and the way I see my life and my relationships with my neighbor and with the world around me are what the Church defends and promotes.

We then had a time of prayer, a little different, with praying by steps that turned out very well. I hold the words “You are precious to my eyed,” and I do not want to forget this Love that God has for me, of the worth of my person in his eyes. Is there a greater joy than this, to know that I am loved by God? He is the only one who saves me, who knows me and he is the One who for love calls me by name and makes me run to meet him in the others, in those who cross my path. He is the one who calls me to serve, to love, to give. He call me to be Love, as he is with me. I know that often I am far from this total love, I am fragile…  But I know that I am a gem in this Church in the world, I have a place in it and day by day I try to make it a better place.

In the evening we saw the movie Germinal,   a French production that deals with the struggle for the rights of the workers in a mine. It was intense, both as a topic and as the imagery. It was hard! But it was also moving and made me think of the many inequalities and of how at times we have to put up with things that may not seem good at first sight, but in the end we do not lose our personal integrity, but we are simply fighting for a greater good.

On Sunday, we had with us Bro. José Manuel who came to talk to us of the need to unite our mind and our heart in order to reach the essence of the love of God that Jesus came to give us. And only uniting mind and heart we can look at the world and find this transforming Love.

Bro. José Manuel told us about the conditions he is facing since living in Portugal, such as the situation of the Barrio de la Torre with a gypsy community homeless and without stability, in Beja. In a special way he spoke to us of the sufferings of people in our country and to whom he cannot be indifferent. He repeated that it is important to go to the roots of a problem, to listen to people, to understand the causes of the suffering and act accordingly, always in the light of what Jesus would do. Always in the light of Love.

It was beautiful how the witness of Bro. José Manuel came to bring to life what Fr. Augusto had taught us on Saturday. It was good to see this unity between “theory” and “practice.” How the teaching of the Church are present in our daily life and especially must be made present in the world in which we live. I feel that I must be a living gem of this Church and that I cannot remain indifferent to the sufferings of the world. We must act, we must struggle, and we must do our part!

And finally, I hold dear an idea that the brother left to us, “go where God’s agenda sends you”… And this is the agenda, the one where God’s love reigns, that governs our life and our mission in the world. May I allow myself to be led where God’s agenda leads me.

En los días 17 y 18 de febrero tuvimos la formación "Soy piedrecita, soy Iglesia", en Viseu. El sábado, tuvimos como formador al P. José Augusto Duarte Leitão, del Verbo Divino, que a lo largo del día nos fue hablando de principios de la doctrina de la Iglesia: la centralidad de la persona humana, el bien común, el principio de subsidiariedad y el principio de la solidaridad.  Fuimos reflexionando y compartiendo momentos de la vida de Jesús donde estos principios se hicieron presentes y notorios. Hemos entendido que estos principios se interconectan casi siempre y que nos muestran cómo debemos actuar y relacionarnos en el mundo, a la luz de Jesucristo y de la Iglesia.  Me inspira confianza y esperanza entender que muchas de las cosas que para mí tienen sentido y que intento tener presentes en mi día a día son consideradas por la Iglesia como estructurales en la doctrina social y caritativa.  Entendí que aquello en lo que creo y la forma como veo la vida y mi relación con los demás y con el mundo que me rodea es lo que la Iglesia defiende y promueve.   Tuvimos después un momento de oración, un poco diferente, con el paso a rezar que estuvo muy bien. Guardo las palabras "Eres precioso a mis ojos", intento no olvidarme de este Amor que Dios tiene por mí, de la valía de mi persona a sus ojos. ¿Habrá mayor alegría que ésta, de saberme amada por el Señor? Sólo Él me salva, sólo Él me conoce y es Él quien me llama por mi nombre y me hace correr a su encuentro en los demás, en los que se cruzan conmigo. Es Él quien me llama a servir, a amar, a dar. Es Él quien me llama a ser Amor, como lo es conmigo. Sé que muchas veces estoy lejos de este amor pleno, soy frágil... Pero sé que soy una piedrecita en esta Iglesia del mundo, tengo mi lugar y voy intentando día tras día convertirlo en un sitio mejor.   Por la noche vimos la película Germinal, una película francesa que retrata la lucha por los derechos de unos trabajadores en una mina. Fue intenso, tanto por la historia que retrataba, como en términos de imagen. ¡Fue duro! Pero fue también emocionante, y me hizo pensar en tantas desigualdades y en cómo muchas veces tenemos que someternos a ciertas cosas que pueden no parecer bien a primera vista, pero que, en el fondo, no perdemos nuestra integridad como personas, y que sólo estamos luchando por un bien mayor.  El domingo, tuvimos con nosotros al hermano José Manuel que nos vino a hablar de la urgencia de unir la mente con el corazón, para conseguir volver a la esencia del Amor de Dios, que Jesús nos vino a traer. Y sólo uniendo la mente con el corazón podemos mirar el mundo y podemos encontrar este Amor que transforma.  El hno. José Manuel nos contó acerca de las situaciones que está viviendo desde que está en Portugal, como la situación del barrio de la Torre con una comunidad de gitanos que están sin hogar y sin condiciones, en Beja. Esencialmente nos ha hablado del sufrimiento de personas que habitan en nuestro país y con el que no puede ser indiferente. Reitera la idea de que es importante ir a la causa del problema, escuchar a las personas, entender el origen de las situaciones de sufrimiento y actuar en consecuencia, siempre a la luz de lo que Jesucristo haría. Siempre a la luz de su amor.   Fue hermosa la forma como el testimonio del hno. José Manuel vino a traer a la vida las enseñanzas que el P. José Augusto nos transmitió el sábado. Fue hermoso ver esta unicidad entre la "teoría" y la "práctica". Como las enseñanzas de la Iglesia se hacen presentes en nuestro día a día y principalmente se deben hacer presentes en el mundo en que vivimos. Siento que quiero ser una piedrecita viva de esta Iglesia y que no puedo permanecer indiferente al sufrimiento del mundo. ¡Hay que actuar, hay que luchar, hay que hacer nuestra parte!  Y para terminar, guardo una idea que el hermano nos dejó "vais a donde manda la agenda de Dios”... Y es esa agenda, aquella en que reina el Amor de Dios, que gobierna nuestra vida y nuestra misión en el mundo. Que sepa dejarme llevar a donde me lleve la agenda de Dios.   Ana Isabel Sousa

Ana Isabel Sousa

Lent recollection Ugandan CLM 2018

lenten recolation Uganda

Greetings from CLMU and we hope all is fine and well over there. We are moving on with everything well with the grace of God.

We had our Lenten recollection in our apostolic community of Our Lady of Africa Mbuya Parish which was facilitated by Fr. John Bosco Nambasi – MCCJ with a theme of Relevancy of Religious Life in Today’s Society- 1 Kings 3:4-13 and Mt. 6:30

He illustrated many characteristics of our world that affect our prayer life and how to live in harmony with one another and the people we administer to. Some of these characteristics include dire need/poverty, yearning for authentic spirituality, commitment/stability, unity meaning of real love of God. He further illustrated the need to live the spirit of poverty as mentioned by Pope Francis who has declared 2018 as the year for the poor which is a true reflection of the world we live in which is full of poor people. This poverty he said is of material, spiritual and otherwise.

He also tasked us to come away to some lonely place and rest awhile. This helps to listen to ourselves (discernment), pray and make relevant options for apostolic work. A life without reflection is not worth living as a great writer once said. When we retreat or recollect to a lonely place for a meaningful prayer, we are likely to attract others to ourselves and this will make us relevant to the current world we are living with full of challenges.

Many people are living like sheep without shepherd in which there is no care from family to society and the parental roles for the young ones is lacking and no guidance for those who need it. Our apostolic missions should target these people who are like sheep without shepherd. This is where majority of poor people are and we need to do all that we can to improve their lives. He said to prioritize the poor is to set to teach them and impact gospel values/virtues in society.

He further said that being as opposed to doing is what we must be aware of. “Being” refers to what our core values are as religious involving prayers, charity in addition to our vows and commitments we made. The essence of being is therefore to strive to live a life of faithfulness, justice, integrity of heart other than having long life, riches and founding oneself on capitalistic mentalities of consumerism, relativism, scientism and individualism. Doing on the other hand refers to trying to live according to public opinion and to do everything to impress the public which at the end makes us to live double life full of stress. He said the bad die early and the good do great. We must try to live a life balanced to what our daily cores demand. He urged us to pray at all times and he cited that there is scientific evidence (research work) indicating that people who pray remain at peace with themselves and others and they are likely to live longer than their counterparts (The Longevity Project a book by Dr. Leslie Martin & Dr. Howards S. Friedman reports of 20 years of follow up research on 1,500 adults since 1921).  Also St. Augustine after his many years of living earthly life after finding about God remarks “you have made us Oh Lord our hearts are restless until they rest in you”. These researchers found out that people who pray get more engaged in social work and free service to others than those who do not value prayer. He emphasized the need of Lectio Divina which focuses on personal prayer focused on the scriptures which we must be able to relate to our personal life and work. He said Lectio Divina is different from community prayers like from the Breviary which many times we confuse.

This is the time also for us to renew our vows and commitments on daily basis basing on the charism of Comboni Missionaries, we need to renew our vows we made and commitments that we made the first time and see if we are still on the road or we have deviated from the originality. We need to pray at all times and Fr. Paulino Mondo MCCJ Assistant Parish Priest of Our Lady Of Africa Mbuya Parish brought it beautifully in one of the morning Masses that the Prayer of our Father has three points that we always need to focus; it teaches us to ask for food which we use to nourish us and we also need to ask for this food for the poor and needy and should endevour to do this for the benefit of others. Secondly he said it teaches us to be delivered from the sin and evil one which is the core of this Lenten period and this we can do through daily self-examination of consciousness like what St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches us in his beautiful book of Spiritual Exercises and personal reflections during our solitude moments. The third element is prepare for death as we say in the prayer of Hail Mary…..death is certain we shall die and we need to prepare for this moment sooner or later we shall die. When we come to the final judgment what shall be said of us, shall we be the people on the right of the Lord or the ones on his left who are cursed and cast into eternal hell….??? The answer must be deep in our hearts.

What should be done despite all these?

Fr. John Bosco MCCJ gave us some suggestions in how to live with the above issues that affect our life more so in the spirit of Lenten season;

We need to adapt to novelty and renew our life through putting more emphasis on prayer and fasting, common apostolate in all that we do. He said Religious life should not be run like companies that are managed aiming at making outstanding brands. We are all human beings in need of mercy of God to live a life worthy of his call. He said superiors need to look for new ways to animate communities and we must read the signs of the time in terms of technology and human development. We must come out of comfort zones that this is how it used to be done, times have changed. Members should be happy with their vocation, put Christ/Church at the centre of their life and reduce on the measure of consumption of social media, money, digital gadgets, power/politics and bodily satisfaction of sex and beauty. We must stop the saying that “I do this because of obedience” when someone puts us in such a task contrary to our vocation

He also said we live God centred life through looking at the evangelical counsels, Lectio Divina and daily reflection on the founder’s charism. Have constant proximity to the gospel values, accept your weaknesses and work on them to live faithfully.

He also said we be life care givers. There are many religious men and women today who have very wide knowledge about humanity and the institutions they run but have no heart for the human person and yet our Lord Jesus prayed that “Father may they be one…. John 17:21”. They have knowledge for excellence of institutions they run but nothing of the life in Christ. He said vows therefore help us to affirm meaning, obey the laws of nature and God and face life with realism. He finalized this point by saying “you can only make decisions from a thoughtful and discerned position if you accept the life cycle: Birth-growth-death. Let us therefore bring Christ to the people we work with, the people we lead and the people we live especially in the different institutions we lead and work with.

We were also blessed to receive MCCJ Council Members from Rome who made apostolic visit to us and it was such a wonderful moment. They tasked us to do our work in the spirit of St. Daniel Comboni to the poor and the needy. They told us to promote vocations as very many Priests and Comboni Missionary Sisters are advanced in age and there is need to bring many to the table of the Lord. Therefore everything we do we must promote the message of St. Daniel Comboni to the young people so that they carry the candle of St. Daniel Comboni burning to the rest of the world.

From Uganda we wish you all happy Lenten season as we discover where we went wrong in order to be worthy followers of Jesus and renew our lives imitating the Lord when he was in the desert for the 40 days living among the wild animals with the angels guarding him. Our wild animals include hatred, jealousy, pride, lust, gluttony, greed and many others that we call the angels to guard us from.

Eric Ezati Comboni Lay Missionaries. Uganda