Comboni Lay Missionaries

Maria Augusta has arrived

LMC RCA

LMC RCA

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.

Hugs to all from CLM Maria Augusta

– in the Astrolabio

YEAR V-#124 – July 22, 2018

Feast of the CLM, the joy of sharing as a family

LMC Portugal

LMC Portugal

“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.

LMC Portugal

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.”

LMC PortugalCLM Carolina Fiúza

Spanish CLM in Radio Maria

Radio Maria

Radio MariaGreetings to everybody

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.

 

After two weeks in Arequipa

LMC Peru

LMC Peru

I have already been here for two weeks and I do not know whether it is a lot or too little.

I already got used to the kitchen and know where everything is and I even baked a sponge cake (yes, we have an oven!!). I also got used to the taste of water and to the routine of boiling it and at time having to drink it while still lukewarm (considering how little I enjoy hot water even in winter…).

The sleeping is super because Paula gave me her bed which is the best and the largest. Some evening, when it is not too late, the three of us fit together on this bed to watch a show or a movie, remembering the old days in David’s home. In any case, the rooms are really cubicles divided by partitions that do not reach the ceiling and with an opening for the door, but without it. So that basically it is like being all three in one room. We can converse each one from our own bed without a problem.

But I have yet to get used to the dust that invades my lungs whenever we leave the house and becomes downright horrible when a vehicle goes by.

I have already heard a couple of earthquakes and have caught a cold with the changes of temperature and during the last gray days we just had.

It is still fascinating go outside and see the volcano Chachani close to 20 thousand feet tall, so great and majestic with its snow shining in the sun, and the Misti, a mere 19,000, that is visually overwhelming because we are so close to it, almost in its foothills. These days it appeared with a dusting of snow.

At the beginning I was feeling a little out of sort, but I am now getting used to the girls routine and activities.

The nursery (child care from 2 to 5 years old) is the easiest place for me because the children are beautiful and charming, even though, as all children, like (or would like) to do what they want. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we go to the project “My school, my Family and Me,” where some children stay behind for a while engaged in activities that will improve their socialization, autonomy and language skills… It is always done with fun activities and games and then we eat together. The project demands the involvement of the families that we follow and keep informed. It was interesting to attend the meeting with the director of the nursery, who is the teacher involved in the project, and two psychologists speaking on the development of the children, their family situation, discussing the possibilities of visiting families who are not answering the commitments agreed upon… Even though this is what could be considered an “elitist” project, since it is only for 20 children picked because of their needs and conditions, it is clear that in order to do it well it cannot be a mass venture. The personal attention we give them is very good and it pleased me to see how they know the reality of each child and their environment.

With the senior citizens there is a program on Wednesdays where they perform activities to improve their mobility, do something manual, pray together and play some simple games. With the women’s group they meet every Saturday and try to provide someone who can help them, at times with psychological topics in order to help them with personal questions, at times with manual activities… From what I understand, in both projects there is an attempt to form groups so that they will socialize among themselves, to motivate them so  they will not get rusty, to have them have some fun and help them to stay strong to put up with their problems and daily activities. Especially with the women, they bring in other people (psychologists, teachers…) to run the sessions so they will see different faces and experiences, but lately some people have been missing and it is a little bit of a drag.

LMC Peru

In all these activities I have been mostly a spectator, but already this week I took care of the senior citizen session and we made a “rattle” with rolls of toilet paper . The truth is that you make most of it yourself, but it was OK because we gave them time to personalize it and so they were drawing. Since it coincided with Carmina’s birthday, Paulina brought a cake to celebrate her birthday and my arrival and we all sang Happy Birthday with our seniors and with some children Carmina had brought along. It was very nice.

With the women we made rosettes with the colors of Peru because on July 28 we begin to celebrate the independence of the country and it is a National Holiday . It is an important celebration that lasts a week. In fact most places are already decorated with these rosettes, flags and wreaths. Today, even the Mass was dedicated to this feast and everything was suitably decorated .

Family visitations are a little harder… It is tough to see how people live: junk all over, garbage, dust… Almost all the visits are to older people who are somewhat abandoned and rather pitiful… On top of that, they want to make sure that you get a slice of fruit or they invite you to have bread and tea. We also visit people who are sick and we also went to see families who just had a child or are about to have one and brought them some baby clothes. I am impressed by the capacity Andrea and Paula have to raise their spirit. They know their history and listen with kindness and patience, and do not have a problem to shift gears and give them a massage or help them in whatever they might be doing, such as cleaning, cooking… They roll up their sleaves!

We have also been at the hospital to visit some neighbors. The hospital is rather gloomy and old, but I am told that it is not one of the worst in the region. Then there is the financial situation…  Here some people have the right to the SIS (Total Health Coverage offered to the needy) but they do not always get it, or the procedure becomes very laborious. Andrea and Paula help people with these steps as well. The classic case is to try to get money in way, which is usually with a chicken roast where a family asks the neighbors’ help to prepare fried chicken, potatoes and beans to be sold and make some money. Already in these two weeks we went to visit a very dear neighbor who was very sick, but is now getting better. He always welcomes us with joy and affection. Last weekend we were going to give a hand to his wife in preparing the chicken roast, but we were delayed at the meeting of parents at the nursery. On Sunday, we went to pick up our plates in order to cooperate and he told us that he had gotten a lot of help from relatives and friends. It is beautiful to see how people support one another in these situations, either by cooking or by buying.

On Wednesdays Fr. Corrado comes and we have the Eucharist in the Comboni Chapel of Villa, which is a rather intimate setting because only few people attend. On Sunday there are more people, including the catechism children and the confirmation young people, who have their classes before Mass. The young people who play the guitar and sing never miss. Andrea and Paula started meeting with them, but now the majority moved on to be catechists and two commitments a week are too much, so that regretfully they had to let these meetings go. The close relationship, the cooperation and the affection they have with them is very evident. They are super nice with me as well. In general they all extend to me the love they have for them.

Last Saturday there was a day for the candidates for Confirmation from the various chapels. It was held in Comboni Hall, next to the Comboni Missionaries’ church of the Good Shepherds, located in Independéncia, a slightly better neighborhood with asphalt and located closer to the city. They asked us to give a talk, “Jesus calls you,” and also our personal witness. It was hard but, between the three of us, we came up with a neat interactive presentation also as a way of organizing our witness. Finally we ended up with a very cool session, even though it was short because there were about 50 young folks and it was difficult to elicit their answers. But I think they liked it.

LMC Peru

We also go to Independéncia on Thursdays to pray Lauds with the Comboni Missionaries. Then we join them from breakfast and usually a meeting. The first week, some were going to the doctor, Corrado was leaving for Lima, so there was no meeting and we strolled back home. On the way we arrived at a place where we took pictures of the panoramic views of the volcanos, while even saving time to visit some old folks. They are wonderful, but they discuss a lot, intensely like adolescents. It is funny how they accuse each other of having someone around somewhere, when they are both as wrinkled up as raisins, and she is almost blind while he is deaf. An interesting couple.

This week we had the meeting which, to my surprise consisted in the lectio divina on the Sunday readings followed by a short meeting (what I considered a meeting) to organize upcoming events. At that time Corrado told us about the death of Fr. Jaime, a greatly cherished Comboni Missionary who worked in Arequipa for 10 years. Some anecdotes surfaced. On Monday we will have a Mass for him at the Good Shepherd.

I am happy that they have this weekly activity with the Comboni Missionaries that helps us to feel like a family. This way we do not relate only with Corrado, the pastor who usually comes to Villa, but with all the other fathers and brothers. Also, when there is a celebration we are invited, if they remember… Last Monday we went over to say goodbye to José who is going to Kenya. We spent a wonderful day in Moquegua (photo 8) where we visited the downtown and the museum of pre-Hispanic culture, and in Ilo, on the Ocean, where we took a boat ride and ate in a cevichería. We got our fill of riding a bus, but we took advantage when going by singing and sleeping, and coming back by chatting about our vocations with Frs. Corrado and Isidro.

We also had a ‘tourist day’ of our own through the downtown area of our city, taking advantage of our community day. Camera in hand, we visited the churches in the area and the Plaza de Armas.

The truth is that I see them more inserted and adjusted. They have control over situations, give time to the people without caring about their time or what they want to do, help in all activities wherever they are or are invited to join, are present in the parish and also have their own initiatives and projects, etc. But they also take time for themselves, or to stay home and pray together, to watch movies and shows, to write or read, and speak with their families… It is a very good witness and to share it with them is something special.

Very often I still find that I am out of it, when they speak of people and events, or something happens and, at a glance, they already know how plans have changed, while I am literally two steps behind, lost and understanding nothing. But this is normal, even though they make an effort to bring me up to date and to include me, it is difficult to summarize 10 months of living. So that I try not to be upset or feel bad, but rather simply listen and, if needed, ask.

I am happy when, during interminable bus rides, meals of community prayers, neat conversations come up on how they feel, how these months were, how they lived through this or that situation and how they do it now, how they faced (and at times still do) comparisons with other people who were here earlier, especially with Gonzalo and Isabel who are still much remembered by the people, because logically they had different ways of doing things. Then there is the relations with the Comboni Missionaries, and the Camilas, another religious group working in the area, and also with the Portuguese lay people. And there is no lack of conversation over plans for the future, dreams, desires… A lot, a lot of living.

And I also love the fun and laughter of every day, this touch of craziness they have, to see shows stretched out together in one bed, singing in the kitchen… Naturally there is no lack of reproaches and misunderstandings, because we all have different tastes and ways of doing things. But in general, we mix well and enjoy one another, I think.

We will continue to live and share this time of joint mission, discovering what life offers us each day among these people.

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Kisses to all. I love you

Aitana CLM

Reunion in Mission

LMC Peru

LMC Peru

Having lived with you the preparation for going to the missions, it was very moving to think of arriving in the land which is now your home. I left for our reunion in Peru, my first mission land of nine years ago, and to rekindle the call of my vocation.

Aitana, Spanish CLM

 

Days pass in the mission of Villa Ecológica and, while we walk among the people who welcome us, for several long months we have been wishing to increase our community and in some way share our lives and our experience of a missionary Jesus. The arrival of someone in the mission is a source of hope for us that we will be able to share how we have been transformed by the mission and to live all this with someone who has seen us being born as a community. All our conversations, all that we have shared so far in words and reflections, is now taking flesh and bones through the faces welcoming the arrival of Aitana.

Andrea and Paola, Portuguese CLM

 

LMC Peru

The reunion became real in the warm embrace that melted us into one. Together again. Slowly we are now catching up with things.  Actually, a year has passed since our community experience in Granada, a deep experience at the beginning of our journey, but it seems that time stood still. We were involved in different journeys, but always with mission in our heart, planting the roots of this wanting to be a thousand lives for mission. This was the cry of Comboni that continues to be the call making us leave the shore and take to the sea.

LMC Peru

The first days were spent in introductions and welcomes, gradually inculturating ourselves into the people and the country’s history from getting to know the local market to taking part in activities from the cradle up to the senior groups, passing through family visitation. We go from participating in the Eucharist to shared prayer with the MCCJ community by way of our own community prayers. Together we continue in the discovery of ourselves and of our life mission.

The CLM Ayllu Community, Peru

Aitana, Andrea and Paola