Comboni Lay Missionaries

[Spain]: “COMBONI CHARISMA: The branches of the tree”

Familia Comboniana

I think the more we feel challenged, more can be the conviction to accept the challenge.
We have always known that the presence of the laity in the evangelizing mission of Daniel Comboni was a reality since the beginning of his ministry. However, feel saying the speaker of “work shop” about the PLAN FOR REGENERATION OF AFRICA, Joaquim Valente (Comboni missionary) to be a fundamental intuition of the Plan, the Comboni Family: Religious and Lay, the CHARISMA is as a tree with branches that if any of these are separated from said tree, and ceases to have life the whole tree is affected.

Fidelity to our Comboni charism keeps questioning and invites us to live more deeply the desire to grow in union between the different BRANCHES of the Comboni Family; we’re waking each other through mutual understanding.
Personally, and I have not been the only one, I have noted with great joy at this meeting that I already knew all the Comboni Lay Missionaries, unthinkable just a few years ago. This knowledge creates bonds of friendship, love and understanding of the different lifestyles that lives the Comboni Family.

With great joy I have experienced this encounter; 20 years lived in Uganda have enriched me at level of collaboration with other apostolic forces and have experienced the joy of union. The current Spanish situation can actually be more tiring this path of collaboration and union, but if in other continents and contexts we can cooperate even without having the same CHARISMA, aren´t we going to get it among the members of the Comboni Family?
I think that the unity challenges us in a same way: Comboni Missionary Sisters, Comboni Missionaries and Lay Comboni Missionaries. I also believe that the way forward is listening to the Word of God, listening to the greatness of the legacy of Comboni (Charisma) and listening to each of us to understand how we should be faithful to the novelty that each one brings and enrich at the present time in our history.

We have experienced the pride of having a Founder with intuitions (PLAN) so divine and human, and this has increased our desire to grow in unity. Logically, first of all being “THE CENACLE OF APOSTLES” Comboni wanted from us.

Personally I think we have to face a great challenge: Are we called to cover all fields of apostolate that we find around us? We have heard with satisfaction that being the CHARISMA a GIFT for implementing a particular aspect of the Kingdom of God, each task has its Charisma that complements the TOTALLY. Therefore we must continue to reflect for not wanting to cover all there is to do in the Church and in Society and make room for the others Charisma.

Encarnita Cámara Liébana. Comboni Missionary Sister
(Currently in Spain for the ministry of Missionary Animation)

 Familia Comboniana

We want to share with you the meeting of the Comboni Family, we had in Madrid, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Plan of Comboni.
I must say that it exceeded all my expectations. In the beginning was the idea that it would be a formality within the activities planned for the event. The truth is that it was a beautiful and rich time in every sense, was noticeable that the spirit of Comboni was there updating its Plan, reminding us that we had to unite all our efforts and put our heart to serve the poorest and abandoned; that with different characteristics continue to be today at the “Africa’s” of our world. All this without losing sight of the crucified Christ who continue to suffer in all our brothers because of selfishness and injustice.

Fr Joaquim Valente was slowly reeled the PLAN OF COMBONI FOR THE REGENERATION OF AFRICA. This exhibition enlightened us and helped us to see what is our mission today as Comboni Family. Result of this listening and reflection shared a lot of ideas came to work as Comboni family serving the mission in different fields like: immigration, missionary animation, places of presence, mixed communities, mission today in Spain… plus what we are already sharing as Vocational Youth Pastoral, assemblies and celebrations.

Finally: We started and ended the meeting celebrating the Love around the Banquet Table as a real family, where children could not miss. A bless of God. We left with renewed heart willing to work with enthusiasm and passion for the mission.

Antonia and Felix. Comboni Lay Missionaries

Familia Comboniana

Just a few days after the conclusion of the general meeting of the COMBONI FAMILY in Madrid, I keep remembering and echo the words and messages we received during those days. Aiming: look at Comboni missionary Plan, we have taken on the task of looking. Looking at ourselves, look at each other, looking at our missionary path, looking at our projects. I am delighted that once again today as yesterday, there are no “silver bullets” for the implementation and development of a mission plan. Are faith, brotherhood and perseverance at work, which have allowed our family to start, following the footsteps of our founder.

Comboni began in the name of God a missionary work and the progress of this work, it has been made from ​​every Comboni (lay or religious). Together we have written a story that belongs to us. God has put each family member in the proper place and has wanted today as yesterday to continue the work for the implementation of the missionary plan of Comboni.
I am aware of having participated to an unprecedented event in our province and that puts us at the forefront in the way of a deep and sincere collaboration in the missionary task of the Church. Although not comes to an epochal change, we are facing a new perspective to see our mission.

No doubt, like me all those present, appreciate the valuable intervention made by Fr. Joaquim Valente who through his interventions facilitated the work of reflection. It was precisely in the group work, where we descended to our Comboni missionary walking in the province of Spain. Participation in the living from many of those present allowed us to realize the interest of each member of our family to implement the Comboni mission in the Church, which is still new and urgent.
We ended our meeting with a good taste but especially with the desire to continue taking steps that allow us to look with hope to the future of our mission. We found that in everyone the desire to continue our missionary pilgrimage for the poor and abandoned is latent: Legacy of Comboni.

Hector Manuel Peña. MCCJ

We are one big family (Spain)

Familia Comboniana

The weekend of the 5th and 6th of April, was held in Madrid the first meeting of all the Comboni Family in Spain: male and female Religious, Secular and Lay people all united around a single Charisma and the figure of S. Daniel Comboni as part of the 150th anniversary of the Plan for the regeneration of Africa written by Comboni in 1864.

Comboni says in his Writings: In 1864, on 18th September, I was in Rome and while I was attending the beatification of St Marguerite Mary Alacoque in St Peter’s Basilica, the thought of suggesting a new Plan for converting the poor African peoples to Christianity flashed like lightning through my mind. Its individual points came to me from on high as an inspiration. It later obtained the approval of His Holiness Pius IX, who had it submitted to the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda Fide. It was translated into various languages and came out in various editions. On the basis of this Plan, my intention was to organise the Mission among the poor black peoples of Central Africa with greater vitality and coherence. I therefore resolved to found two Institutes in a suitable place in Europe, one for each of the sexes, for the purpose of forming personnel, both male and female missionaries, to run these missions in Central Africa… (E4799)

No doubt, it has been an opportunity to reflect together on the intuitions, ways of been present and living the mission today as Comboni family in the light of the Plan of Comboni; at the same time it has given us the opportunity to strengthen ties among us and grow as a family.

As Comboni Family we are heirs of the great “dream of Comboni” who spared no effort in his work of evangelization of Central Africa. We thank God for the opportunity we had of sharing experiences and for having all being called to the missionary vocation.

Thanks to all those who have made ​​this meeting possible.

CLM Spain

The Plan of Comboni and the ministry

ComboniAn up-to-date reading of the Plan of Comboni – based upon the missionary challenges of today – reveals two prophetic intuitions whose value, with the passing of time, has only grown:

1.“The regeneration of Africa with Africa” (Writings 2753).

Daniel Comboni, due to his experience and that of other great apostles, is convinced that to achieve this “regeneration” there is no other way but to involve the African people as authentic protagonist of their history and builder of their liberation.

2. “… It will find an approving echo, support, favour and help in the hearts of the Catholics of the entire world, clothed and filled as they are by the spirit of that superhuman charity which embraces the immense vastness of the universe and which our divine Saviour came to bring to the earth” (W 2790).

With even greater audacity, Daniel Comboni declares that the realisation of this Plan for the regeneration of Africa requires the unconditional collaboration of all the forces of the Church and civil society, conquering all boundaries, prejudices or mean-spirited arguments.

These pages will be concerned with the latter aspect, the urgency, that is, to unify the commitment of all “Catholics” in favour of a single mission. The term “ministry” (ministerium = diakonía = service) helps us to better render the thought and the praxis of Daniel Comboni. We are aware that, in the Plan, he never uses such a word and that it is a term which is not found in the baroque language nor in the Tridentine theology of his time. By “ministry” we mean the missionary responsibility of all the baptised, without exception, to cause to emerge the Kingdom of love and justice (universal brotherhood) inaugurated by the person and the event of Jesus Christ among us. Daniel Comboni did not simply propose an organisational strategy but a manner of being a mature Church.

Let us go directly to the text of the Plan so as to achieve an understanding of the breadth of its horizons (cf. The final edition dated Verona 1871, S E2741-2791):

A) What theological foundation does Comboni place as the basis for his Plan?

It is a Christological foundation and a martyrial response:

  • The Catholic looks at Africa “not through the pitiable lens of human interest, but in the pure light of faith,” and there he discovers “an infinite multitude of brothers and sisters who belong to the same family as himself, having one common Father in Heaven…” Then “carried away under the impetus of that love set alight by the divine flame on Calvary hill, which came forth from the side of the Crucified One to embrace the whole human family …” he feels his heart beat faster and “a divine power seems to drive him towards those unknown lands to enclose in his arms and in an embrace of peace and love those unfortunate brothers and sisters of his…” (W 2742).
  • It is precisely due to the power of this charity welling up from the side of Christ that Daniel Comboni is prepared to “pour out the last drop of our blood” (W 2753) for his poorest and most abandoned brothers and sisters. We may, therefore, say that the motivation behind the entire life of Comboni is the response of a sound faith in the redemption which the Paschal mystery of Christ merited for us and which constitutes the principle of all missionary action. In other words, the “ministry” (missionary service) that Comboni asks for in his Plan is connected to Jesus Christ, the servant par excellence of the Father to carry out his plan of salvation, and to the Church, which is sent to serve humanity so as to continue the merciful mission of her Lord.

B) What vision has Daniel Comboni of the Church that enables him to require such a great commitment from all Catholics without distinction?

It is a challenge which, then as now, seemed almost impossible, especially if one takes into account the discouragement and frustration embedded in many ecclesiastical leaders.

The love which Comboni has for Nigrizia leads him to ask, concretely, for:

  • The help and cooperation of the Vicariates, Prefectures and Dioceses already established around Africa (W 2763);
  • The creation of Institutes for African boys and girls in strategic locations around the whole of Africa (S 2764-65);
  • The religious Orders and the male and female Catholic institutions, approved by the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda Fide, to run these Institutes (W 2767);
  • The establishment in Europe of small colleges for the African missions to open the way to the apostolate of Africa to all secular (diocesan) clergy of Catholic countries who might be called by God to such a sublime and important mission (W 2769);
  • The possibility of establishing European women’s religious Institutes in the less unhealthy countries in the interior of Africa, seeing that European women showed greater resistance than missionary men, due to their ability to adapt physically, their temperament and their family and social way of life (W 2780);
  • To set up for the coordination of this whole project a society composed of intelligent, generous and very active persons, capable of dealing with all the Associations that may provide economic and material means (W 2785) and unite all the forces of Catholicism in favour of Africa (W 2784-88).

The goal which Daniel Comboni wants to reach is that of giving dignity to the entire African population:

  • Not only to the inhabitants of the African interior, but also to those people who live along the coast and in all the other parts of the great Continent… to the whole African race (W 2755-56);
  • The young men will be trained as Catechists, Teachers and Artisans – virtuous and capable farmers, doctors, phlebotomists, nurses, pharmacists, carpenters, tailors, bricklayers, cobblers, etc. (W 2773);
  • The young African women, in turn, will be educated as instructresses, teachers and housewives who must promote the education of women … (W 2774);
  • From among the catechists, will be chosen a group of individuals distinguished for their holiness and knowledge and who are found to be predisposed to enter the clerical state (local clergy), and these will be directed towards the priesthood (W 2776);
  • From among the young African women not inclined to the married state, a group will be formed of Virgins of Charity made up of those distinguished for their holiness and the practical knowledge of the catechism, languages and feminine skills (W 2777);
  • In order to develop the gifts of the most able members of the indigenous clergy and to train them as able and enlightened leaders of the Missions and Christian communities of the interior of Africa, small theological and scientific universities may be established at the most important points around the periphery of the great African Continent (Algeria, Cairo, St. Denis on the island of Reunion, and facing the Atlantic Ocean). With the passing of time, small higher-level training workshops may be founded for the more capable artisans. (W 2782-83).

To sum up, we find in this proposal of Daniel Comboni an ecclesiological vision that is extremely open and inclusive, which comprehends all the ministries (from that of the Pope to that of the most humble catechist or artisan) while seeking to carry on the mission in favour of the most needy. And this is not derived from mere philanthropy or a romantic sense of ingenuous heroism but from the sound motivation that flows from the baptismal event which existentially reveals to us the love of God and makes us brothers and sisters in the same vocation to sanctity and ability. This practical way of creating ministry will find a response only a century later in the post-conciliar theology of the Second Vatican Council.

Even if the aspects which we have indicated deserve more thorough study, available space allows us just to present, in the form of a Decalogue, a series of teachings we may draw from the Plan of Comboni:

1) Daniel Comboni recognises the importance of the ministry of the Pope (with whom he dialogued on various occasions) and of Propaganda Fide. To them he addresses his Plan, showing ecclesial communion.

2) The audacity of his “dreams” derives from his facing up to the situation of suffering and oppression in which his brothers and sisters live. His Plan is the fruit of solidarity within a missionary method of incarnation.

3) Supporting his position there is his capacity to interact with all sorts of people with human and spiritual maturity. Ministry in the Plan presupposes people who are integrated and capable of authentic relationships.

4) We find in the Plan a sort of anthropology that goes beyond its epoch and recognises the full dignity of people.

5) In the Plan there emerges a model of a Church in communion and participation, born of baptismal consecration and of the common vocation to full life in God.

6) In it the laypeople find their full ministerial expression. Not in a pyramid-shaped visualisation but as co-responsible people of God.

7) Women find the space where they can be valued for what they are and as consecrated people. Comboni is a true pioneer in this.

8) The work of evangelisation envisioned by the Plan is inclusive; no human dimension is excluded as all the human dimensions find space in God’s project.

9) The strategic plan of insertion that is proposed in order to render the work possible, without further tragedies, presupposes a praiseworthy concern for planning and evaluation.

10) All of this is included in the mystery of the Cross, aware that it is a matter of knowingly giving one’s life but, above all, of trusting that the works of God are born and grow at the foot of Calvary. And that it is the Holy Spirit who – today, as in the past – guides the mission.

Fr. Rafael González Ponce, mccj

Happy anniversary of Comboni

Greetings to everybody in this special day.

On this important day for all Comboni Family, friends and collaborators we want to share with you a modest video with some pictures of our missionary activity.

Little by little we are encouraging and preparing for the meeting that we will have as Comboni Family in Spain around the 150th anniversary of the Plan of Comboni.

Hope you like.

St. Daniel Comboni helps us to be faithful to our missionary vocation and continue to support all those who need it.

With your help it will be possible.

Opening of the 150th anniversary of the Plan of Comboni in Carapira

Cruz 150 anosHere, in the Parish of Carapira every Wednesday we celebrate the Mass with the Catholic students of the Industrial School of Carapira and the girls of the female home of the Comboni Sisters, who are students of the elementary school in the neighborhood. This week, on February 19, the celebration took a special issue as a whole, with the opening of the year of reflection of the 150th anniversary of the Plan of Comboni. Anticipating tomorrow’s official opening suggested by the Institute of the Comboni Missionaries, this celebration was marked by the presentation of the memorial cross for this milestone, given to each community in the MCCJ Province of Mozambique, explaining to the present its meaning and motivation . Father Gino Pastore, who presided the Mass, highlighted the strength and courage of Comboni and his inspiration in developing the Plan, under the slogan “Save Africa with Africa”, thereby motivating the students to become protagonists of their own history, building a better social reality. He launched the Industrial School students who complete 50 years of its foundation, the challenge, inspired by the example of St. Daniel Comboni, that also write the Industrial School of Carapira Plan to comply with this slogan.

On Thursday, the 20th, in the celebration of the Mass with the missionary team, Father Paulo Emanuel stressed that date by reading excerpts from the letter from the MCCJ General and reflecting on the Gospel in the sense of not having the same temptation of Peter of being, even unconsciously, impediment to the realization of God’s plan in our lives and in the lives of people.

After dinner, the team met at the home of the CLM in a tone of celebration to mark the day by sharing food and conversation. As a symbol of this meeting to encourage personal and community reflection, each missionary received a message containing one of the questions that were posted on the general’s letter of the MCCJ on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Plan, in the part that invites us to write our own plan.

May the example of Saint Daniel Comboni follow drawing inspiration for the missionary vocation and that the Spirit of God, the same one that guided Comboni in preparing the plan, enlighten and guide us on the paths of building up the Kingdom!

We are together!

CLM Mozambique