We pray that, in our missionary life, we may be real makers of peace, instruments of compassion and builders of dialogue and universal fraternity. Lord hear us.
After a well-deserved lunch break, we resumed the workshops with the missionary witness of the Portuguese community of Fetais. The Portuguese CLM decided last year to open a community presence in the outskirts of Lisbon. In a neighborhood with a great diversity of nationalities, where migrants from former Portuguese colonies in Africa stand out, but where there is also the presence of Latin Americans and people of Asian origin. All this with Portuguese, many of them of gypsy ethnicity.
All this great diversity makes living there a very different experience from what is usual in the rest of the country. Undoubtedly a melting pot of cultures that brings a lot of richness, but sometimes with many difficulties linked to their condition of exclusion.
This experience also gave rise to a debate on the rights of migrants in the European Union, the common policy that does not facilitate immigration and how the unequal demands of one country or another can also cause people to be more disadvantaged depending on local legislation.
Then the CLM from Spain helped us to deepen into a very elaborate presentation of the importance of political advocacy in our missionary action in Europe. To become aware of how Pope Francis encourages us to a positioning and an ever greater political responsibility as lay people because politics, as a service to the common good, definitely marks the lives of the people. How important is the influence on the change of legislations, the sensitization of the people for the different issues that affect so much as the care of the planet, migrations, etc.
The presentation was accompanied by the external intervention of Sister Benjamine who spoke to us about the work done by Talita Kum against human trafficking at the international level. Brother Simone spoke about the work of VIVAT International and the pressure they are trying to put on the UN and Geneva to change global policies, and Father Lorenzo shared with us the struggle of the Church and Mining network against abusive mining activities in Latin America. All of them reinforced the responsibility and the need for work in this sector that we have from Europe.
The last session of the day was in charge of the CLM from Italy, who presented several of the projects they are developing in different parts of the country. From the reception of migrants in the community La Zattera in Palermo. A place to organize their lives, to rest and to integrate into the new society.
In this line, Venegono explained to us the projects that they develop from Combinazione, such as the various shelters for refugees that they run, where they act from the first reception to a last resort on the way to an independent life where they facilitate the exit from the previous resources.
They also explained the work of awareness raising in schools. Bringing the realities of the world to children and young people, with awareness-raising projects adapted to different age groups, sometimes with the testimony of African migrants. Or even with the edition of a book that helps to enter and embrace more the reality of a changing society and the protagonism of everyone in this society, especially the youngest.
Finally, Simone shared with us the experience of life as CLM in the Comboni religious community of Castel Voturno and especially his work in the Black and White association that seeks to offer educational and leisure alternatives to the children of migrants who arrived in Italy and who even being born in Italy do not have the right to Italian citizenship. Also how this resource becomes the only place of leisure or study possibilities for these boys and girls due to the poor conditions of the neighborhood where they live.
To end this intense day we were able to have a time of quiet and prayer together organized from Spain. A simple prayer in different languages, where we could place at the Lord’s feet all that we have shared, the needs of all those we serve and our willingness to continue on the path wherever He calls us.
With the Our Father in each of our languages we closed this beautiful day of sharing and dreaming together from the gifts and services that each one of us develop. Surely it will have enlightened many for new initiatives and encouraged everyone knowing that we are together in this common cause which is the Kingdom of God.
A hug to all of you and thanks to those who participated because with your contributions you made us grow.
Alberto de la Portilla. CLM Central Committee
With this suggestive title, the European CLM held a workshop last Saturday.
First of all, we would like to thank the European committee for the effort of organizing this meeting for several months. It was not easy, but in the end it worked very well and the simultaneous translations made it possible for CLM from different countries to participate and take advantage of everything that was shared.
The idea of the meeting was to offer a variety of content and experience according to the interests, activities and commitments that we as CLM develop in Europe or from Europe.
The meeting began with the intervention of the CLM from Germany who shared their great work on the theme of Peace. They began by supporting Comboni projects for the development of peace in Sudan and have been expanding this range to the different conflictive realities that we face on the planet and even at the local level in our immediate environment. All this with a methodology of approach that seeks to understand the conflict and promote valid solutions for all.
Following this, the CLM from Poland encouraged us to reflect on how to raise awareness of the work we do and how to raise funds for it. They emphasized the importance of including collaborators, not only as someone who can give occasional help, but to establish a link that allows us to follow up on the work we are developing and make people feel that they are part of it. Various initiatives and possibilities were presented to us. Afterwards, different initiatives were shared from other countries that are being carried out and are bearing their small fruits.
Then we had a time of reflection on the mission as a family. It was a rich time where, from experience, we shared what it means to be in mission as a family. The misunderstanding sometimes on the part of some who think that being on mission means having a lot of time to do activities while from experience we realized that it is really our testimony of life, in this case as a family, which brings us closer to the people, to their day to day life.
We also reflected on the importance of choosing places where the family can be. Where the level of violence is not high and at the same time it is possible to have a minimum of education and health care for the children. Also the importance of dialogue in the family, especially when the children are reaching adolescence and youth and are making their own decisions and life choices. In general, we found that it is a great enrichment for children. Undoubtedly a very nice topic and very linked to our lay reality.
In this way we finished the morning sessions and went for lunch.
Tomorrow we will finish telling you about the meeting 😉
Greetings to all and each one of you
Alberto de la Portilla. CLM Central Committee
According to some prophetic calls, which have been announcing either a post-modern, or a post-religious, or better a post-capitalist era, we are now dropping into a post-hope one with a never-ending story of increasing domination of the capital owners, more disadvantages and social injustice for the hindmost in society, increasing pollution, a tremendous unconscionable abuse of water everywhere, and rivers and oceans full of plastic and chemistry. What is more, some groups of people show less commitment and more political disaffection. Nevertheless, we are meeting people who keep asking witty, remarkable, and important questions about how to manage: Is democracy still there? Is our planet earth still to be saved? What could we do?
We see these and similar questions already as a sign that humanity, that some reasonable and intelligent people still have resources in themselves and want to live according to their dignity and noble-mindedness. That is encouraging even for us. Despite many difficult situations, catastrophes and injustices, they and we do not resign, we do not give up, we do not remain passive. It is not enough to feel anger, to look for the guilty ones. Hate and violence are not in place. On the contrary.
Let us start again anew, let us come together to analyse situations in the light of the Gospel and of the Social Teaching of Pope Francis. Together we will find new ways to do better, first of all we ourselves, and then we will take courage to propose to others these new ways we find for the present and for the future. With loving tender care for LIFE!
We started thinking about writing this message to you while approaching the feast of our Lady of Mount Carmel. You have certainly heard about the Dolomite Mountains in Italy and about the fact, that the mountains have changed face. So, we were inspired to look at our Lady of Mount Carmel as the caring Mother of Jesus of Nazareth, and as a role model leading a genuine life in contact with nature, in simplicity of relationships and in a creative way of life. We love to contemplate her and her family, with Joseph being the carpenter of the village. We see her enhancing wood, trees, herbs, and flowers. We see her collecting water with reverence and doing the domestic work thriftily and economically, being unpretentious, making the most with little things. With love and care for LIFE.
We feel called upon to continue our profound transformation in ourselves, in our mental and practical doing, as well as our Transformation Campaign for a new lifestyle, for a simpler life, in a way that we do not add destruction and worsen the desperate condition of our Mother and Sister Earth. Let us all leave behind the usual wild market and consumerism mindset and become families and communities with an integral human and environmental development mentality.
Let us think anew of planting trees, of always treasuring and saving water, of looking at our fields with veneration and of cultivating in us and around us an attitude of maximum respect for the Sacrality of Creation, like our ancestors did. Let us think of eliminating plastic from our everyday life and invest our creativity on how to substitute it. This is actually an affirmation of our faith in your creativity!
Dear friends, let us create something new! Let our homes be centres of new LIFE, quality of LIFE, like we have always seen in our vision and mission as “Social Ministers”, “Social Entrepreneurs”, “Social Transformers”. Together we dare! Together we will succeed! With loving tender care for true LIFE!
“Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.” (LS 1)
“I do not want to write this Encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the field of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.” (LS 10) “Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases.” (LS 23) Due to wild exploitation! “Let us mention, for example, those richly biodiverse lungs of our planet which are the Amazon and the Congo basins, or the great aquifers and glaciers.” (LS 38)
“In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the word ‘creation’ has a broader meaning than ‘nature’, for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance. Creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion.” (LS 76) “Yet God, who wishes to work with us and who counts on our cooperation, can also bring good out of the evil we have done. The Holy Spirit can be said to possess an infinite creativity, proper to the divine mind, which knows how to loosen the knots of human affairs, including the most complex and inscrutable.” (LS 80)
“A prayer for our earth”
“All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe, and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united, with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.” (LS 246)
All of you please feel embraced with our daily prayer and affection,
Fr. Francesco Pierli MCCJ / Sr. Teresita Cortes Aguirre CMS
We present the experience of La Zattera (The Raft) community in Palermo, created by some families of Comboni Lay Missionaries, for thirteen years it has been playing a welcoming role for foreign migrants, through paths of support and sharing.
“A free port, safe,” a community that involves many people who contribute to the creation of many activities, and who support this experience of fellowship and understanding for a better world.