The last days of the conference in Arusha

LMC Africa

Sunday was day when we could pray more together and to learn more about other Christian denominations. We were assigned to different churches in Arusha – myself went to Mennonites. We were very warmly welcome by the local pastors and also the Mennonite bishop. We joined the prayer which was full of joyful songs and dances, prepared by the parish choirs (there were three of them – children’s, youths’ and adults’). There was also reading Bible & preaching and then we heard some more about the Mennonites’ activities in Arusha. And after that we shared the delicious lunch, which gave us occasion to more informal chats and getting to know each other. Very blessed time and beautiful experience of community! The last part of the program was planting the tree.

LMC Africa

The last two days of conference continued to be intensive. Full of prayers, sharing and inputs. On one of the days was focused on embracing the cross. We heard very touching speech of Orthodox Patriarch of Syria – sharing his experience of war, showing photos from his recent travel Damascus and the Eucharist they celebrated in the ruins of church and also about the support they provide for the people who are still there – mostly Muslims, but it doesn’t matter, they are suffering brothers, so as Christian is our duty to be on their side and help. There were also other testimonies from different part of the world, where people experience suffering and what “embracing the cross” means in their context. The prayers were also focused on this, some made in the orthodox way of praying.

LMC Africa

At the end of the conference the committee was preparing final message, based on what we were talking for last few days and also on what we shared in small groups. And then all the people had chance to comment on it to make this document really something that most of us could say – yes, that’s the essence of what we bring from Arusha and what we want to share with others. This document can be find here – https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/commissions/mission-and-evangelism/the-arusha-call-to-discipleship

Those few days in Arusha were really wonderful for me, I’m thanking God for this chance to be there, to pray with all these people, to share with them, to hear so many interesting things, to experience this spirit of unity and openness.  I met many wonderful people from all over the world, from all the Christian denominations. And it was amazing that everyone was equal – it didn’t matter if you are just a student or you have a phD or are a professor, didn’t matter if you are just a member of the church or you are the bishop – in front of God we all are His beloved children. And we could really feel it there in Arusha.

LMC Africa
Madzia Plekan CLM

Visiting Rondônia in the Brazilian Amazon region

LMC Brasil

Arriving at the little airport of Jí-Paraná and being hotly welcomed by 30 plus degrees.

José was waiting for me by the exit to take me to his home. There Rose and their three children welcomed me into the family with much affection.

Rose works at the Padre Ezequiel Ramin Institute where they pursue several projects that attempt to keep alive the legacy of Fr. Ezequiel of justice for all.

We had a short time to visit the institute and learn about their activities. They are undergoing some changes, but they will soon be at 100%.

LMC Brasil

During these days I had the opportunity to visit an indigenous village of the Arara. Rose worked for over 12 years in the pastoral of the indigenous people. She knows all the families and wanted to show me some of the real situations. We spent a morning there visiting the families of the village, talking and laughing with them.

Very often in Brazil their land is invaded, access to education and health care is complicated and the lumber companies attempt to appropriate as much as they can. They say that also the arrival of television has brought about many changes in a short time.

Rose, a CLM living in the area for the past 14 years comments that the Amazons is an area where everyone come to take something away, be it from the land or from the people.

Her husband, José, works in the pastoral of the land. He as well tells me of the many problems of occupation, such as of those who are looking for the rights to their land and some who turn it into a business, the violence with the landowners and other types of violence.

He is carrying on an activity along the lines of Fr. Ezequiel Ramin, a Comboni Missionary murdered 30 years ago. He tells me about the farmers’ movements that are pushing for an agrarian reform, to obtain land for the small farmers. He speaks of the invasion and destruction of the Amazon Basin by economic interests, of the gunmen who keep on killing and on making leaders who make them uncomfortable disappear.

He tells me about some of the cases followed, documented and helped by the pastoral of the land, not all of them, because not everyone acts in a proper way. This is an activity that is not looked upon in a positive way by many and that becomes difficult.

LMC Brasil

We came close to an encampment, but, just as he suspected, it had already been abandoned because of the pressure they were under. We avoided going to other places that were in a situation of conflict. I am sending you some pictures of the abandoned camp.

I am very grateful to the entire family that has allowed me to be part of their life for a few days. I cannot forget to give thanks to God for the life of commitment and service to the most needy by our CLM in Brazil.

LMC Brasil

Today will be a long day of travel. Starting at 8:00 in the morning by road to Porto Velho and then continuing the journey at 2:00AM by plane to Imperatriz by way of Brazilia, then more night travel up to Açailândia.



Another day in the ecumenical conference

LMC AfricaThe days of conference are very intensive, since early morning till very late evening. And full of interesting topics!

The most important parts are prayers and Bible sharing. Their topics are about following Jesus and becoming His disciples who may transform the world. You can find them online https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/bible-studies-for-conference-on-world-mission-and-evangelism-are-available and I really recommend to read them as they contain very practical ideas and could be used in communities to read & reflect on them in your own contexts.

Always we have sharing after that it’s so enriching to see how the people are disciples in different realities – muslims dominated Asian countries, western secularized countries, post-colonial countries… which kind of challenges they encounter and think together how can they be overcome.

The other main part are speeches and workshops – everyday on different topic. One day we focus on the Evangelism, hearing people from all different continents. It was many times mentioned that mission is not only saving the souls, but changing the world – starting from ourselves and then going to the world, bringing there hope.

The other day – mission from the margins. There were testimonies of people who are descendants of slaves or Africans who lived under colonization. They shared how the Gospel was brought to those people in very humiliating way – the value of Christian slaves was higher on the slave market… Also on the Africans Christian faith was imposed from European who felt much superior to them. So we were discussing later how to not repeat those mistakes in mission these days. And one more thought I liked in that topic – “Evangelism from the margins begins by looking to marginalized communities as the places where Jesus lives and speaks”. As many times they can much more to offer to us than we to them, they can show us Jesus and what the faith really means.

LMC AfricaMadzia Plekan CLM

Conference on World Mission and Evangelism

Madzia LMC

I was lucky to join catholic delegation to Conference on World Mission and Evangelism which started today morning in Arusha (Tanzania). It’s ecumenical event organized by World Counsil of Churches. It is the second time when the conference like this takes place in Africa (last time it was in Ghana in 1958).

The topic of the conference is “Moving in the Spirit: called to transforming discipleship”. Over 1000 participants came from all over the world and from all the Christian denominations. There is beautiful spirit of unity and openness to other to find common ways how we can share the gospel not only in words but also how to put it into practice.

Today, as it was first day, was full of introductions – welcoming, introducing to the history of these conferences and world ecumenical movements, introducing to theme etc.

Madzia LMC

But as 8th March is also international women’s day, there were very powerful speeches about discrimination and empowering women.

But the conference are not only speeches. The very important part take prayers – when we can feel one, praying to the same God and not focusing on differences in traditions.

There is also time of sharing in small groups, which gives everyone chance to present his perspective to different challenges we face in mission, which is so enriching. And except all these serious things – there are also breaks with Tanzanian songs and danced! So much joy! This first day was full of wonderful experiences and I’m looking forward to next ones.

Madzia LMC

Madzia Plekan CLM

Formation that spoke to our hearts

LMC Portugal

When we speak of what fills the heart, we are able to touch the heart of others with such an intensity that is beyond imagination. In fact, besides giving great formation on volunteerism and cooperation in development, La Salete, lecturer at the formation meeting, told us fantastic stories about her life in mission, leaving us, in my opinion, with a great message: it is extremely important to place ourselves in other people’s shoes, to try to understand certain situations so that we may be able to relate to them with greater openness, respect and love for the people we meet in mission.

The second formation meeting of FEC took place in Fátima on February 17 and 18 and was quite intense. During this time we had the chance to discuss inequality in the world; how wealth and development are limited to a few countries; the concepts of cooperation and development; the paradigms of development; education to development and global citizenship and, even more, we had the opportunity of undergoing intense formation on the methodology and analysis of projects.

I will share with you some points that I found interesting: the concept of Gross Internal Happiness, a concept created by the king of Butan in contraposition to the Gross Domestic Product and with good results; the Fairphone, a cell phone put together without damaging or enslaving the workers who produce it. The sale of this phone does not aim at benefitting from the exploitation of many workers, but makes sure that work receives proper pay, as it happens in the fair trade stores.

At the end of Saturday afternoon we saw the movie “Shooting Dogs” which was followed by a discussion where we analyzed the conduct and attitudes of the various characters, which in turn resulted in a very good sharing of ideas and feelings. In the evening we had the missionary witness of a couple belonging to the Lay People of the Good News, who spent a year in the diocese of Pemba, Mozambique.

It is always a great joy to take part in these formation meetings, to share our missionary charism with great people and to experience the diversity within the Church. The fact that the meeting was held in Fátima and of having the opportunity to pray in the chapel of the apparitions, made this meeting very special. How good it is to be able to journey and grow in these formation processes that expand our horizons and help us to keep on learning more about the missionary journeys.

CLM Pedro Nacimiento

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