Comboni Lay Missionaries

Dream of God in Us

“The position of a missionary disciple is not the center but the periphery.”

Pope Francisco

Lourdes Vieira

I find myself in this immense periphery of Contagem since six months continuing the mission that Jesus has entrusted to us as CLM’s. When I came here I was scared thinking how I could help, because I realized that the community walked pastorally well, each area with its coordinator, everything flowed.

“But when we silenced the heart, God speaks!”

Of course there wasn´t monitoring for the possible vocation to be CLM, but as we know the winds are not to have many vocations, especially in this new context through which it passes our economy in Brazil. But when we silenced the heart God speaks! There is a saying of the Macua people of Mozambique that says: “Yakhala enokhala mmurimani, ekoma khoniwa” (When there is noise in the heart you do not hear the beat). Then, one beautiful day of prayer, I put myself in God’s hands and asked the Holy Spirit, with my permission, to place me at the service of the brothers in these outskirts of Minas Gerais.

Therefore it would be necessary to seek new skills. Then I studied Massage Therapy and got some notions of Biomagnetism with Father George and Regina who happily led me.

“In small gestures I found myself with the reality of the people…”

Today, attending people in the Comboni House and in the Study Center of the Sisters in Pampulha, I feel that I just need to surrender and the rest is up to Him. The Pastoral of the Child is also subject to this call, these days we are finishing a training course for new leaders, this time not so worried about the child underweight, but children with obesity from Zero to Six years old. Right now we are working with 8 groups, assisting 200 families and about 300 children are been accompanied by the Pastoral of the Child here in the area of the parish. In small gestures I found myself with the reality of people who seek happiness, health and safety, life in abundance!

The mission today is no longer just the desire to be a missionary, but also training for the rapid changes that are happening and we are not always willing to open our mind, sit down on the benches of the preparatory school to better serve the brothers.

Of course I could not stop talking about the Pope Francisco. I’ve been in Aparecida do Norte for a meeting of the Pastoral of the Child and I could see him pretty closely, at the feet of the patron saint of Brazil. And in the emotion of the words of our pastor I prayed for all who were lost in drugs, families and to have more vocations in the Church. Thus we continued to walk; together!

By Maria de Lourdes Vieira – CLM Brazil in Ipê Amarelo



Perseverance – the race of all Ethiopians


“Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  – James 1:2-4

Ethiopia has been known for her long distance runners since 1960, when a shepherd’s son, Abebe Bikila, stunned the world by winning the Olympic marathon gold medal running barefoot in Rome.  Ethiopians dominate the endurance races, which is particularly amazing for a country well acquainted with poverty, famine and war.  How do they do it?  Some say genetics or high altitude training, perhaps the running culture and presence of role models, or patriotism.  I think there is something more – a virtue that permeates not only the athletic world but all life in Ethiopia: perseverance.

A few months ago we watched Town of Runners, a documentary film about young runners from Bekoji, a small highland town in Ethiopia, which has produced some of the world’s greatest distance runners.  At the heart of the film is Sentayehu Eshetu, also called “Coach”, the man who has formed most of the young runners for 25 years on a voluntary basis.  At dawn each morning he guides an enthusiastic group of 250 youngsters through a punishing workout.  In the film, Coach is asked “what does it take to be a great runner?” and he replies three things:

  1. Food
  2. Rest
  3. Perseverance

His list surprised me, because to be a world class athlete elsewhere in the world, surely the coach would have said talent or natural ability.   The first two points illustrate the challenge of poverty in Ethiopia (which I witness on a daily basis), where food is often scarce and survival means working long hours without rest, farming by hand and ox, tending animals, hauling drinking water and collecting fire wood. Reflecting on Coach’s third point is a key for me to understand not only the successful athletes here but the Ethiopian psyche.

What is perseverance? It is the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. It is a virtue that forms the strong character we have witnessed in our colleagues, friends and community here.

One of the first Amharic proverbs we learned upon our arrival to Ethiopia was:Qes be qes enkulal be eger yihedal.”  An English translation would be “slowly slowly the egg will walk on his legs.” Or in other words “perseverance enables one to accomplish great things”.   Haile Gebresellasie, one of the world’s most highly decorated runners, grew up 10 km from the nearest school. There was only one way to get there: run. Be it hot, cold, windy or rainy, he ran ten kilometers to school every morning, and the same back every evening.  This put a lot of miles under his feet.  You may even notice a peculiarity in his running posture that his left arm is still crooked as if holding his school books.  Haile is perseverance and his 27 world records attest to it.

The Ethiopians on the podium demonstrate this trait clearly to the world but it is present in the rural villages, in the mother persevering with a baby tied to her back completing daily chores despite no electricity and water, in the strong faith in God of the Christians here, in the high school student persevering with her homework sitting on the mud floor by candlelight, in the farmer persevering in the heat of the day weeding fields by hand.  It is a virtue taught by the difficulties of life here.  There is no other way but to persevere.

– Maggie

Maggie, Mark and Emebet Banga, Comboni Lay Missionaries, Awassa, Ethiopia

Community experience of CLM from Poland

CLM PolandOn November 4th three Comboni Lay Missionaries have started the last stage of preparation to the missions. This is a time of our community experience. Now we form our little community, living in the house of the Comboni Missionaries in Cracow. The aim of these four months, that we are spending together, is to prepare us to the missions in Uganda, where we are going in the next year.

The community experience is a time to grow in faith and mutual enrichment. It will be a very interesting experience for us, during this we will have the chance to get to know each other, learn to live together, share every moment, joys and sadness.

The last stage of preparation to the missions is very active and abundant in all kinds of activities- so we have plans! We will gain the necessary knowledge, but also engage in various activities. First of all, we will continue to grow and strengthen our faith. We are beginning a biblical and theological course, that aim to broad the knowledge of faith, religion and Bible. The knowledge, we will get, will serve us both at work on the missions, and also here in Poland.

We are also getting to know better the person of St. Daniel Comboni, his spirituality and charism, learning how to love people, who are next to us- the poorest and most abandoned. There are things that you can only learn through specific actions or activities, so commitment to volunteer work is very important. Each of us will start a volunteering in different institutions, because helping starts here, at the local level. We must be able to see those who are close.

A language course is also very important. English is the official language in Uganda, so we’re learning now in Poland, to avoid the language barrier. We will also take an active part in missionary animation and assist meetings and retreats with the MCCJ.

Last months before leaving are very crazy, because we have to do a lot of formal things. We have to meet with our diocesan bishops to inform them about our departure. We’re visiting also a center of missionary formation, where we can meet other people preparing to mission (laity, priests and nuns).

So, we will have a lot of work. We know that four months will pass very quickly and we’ll have to say goodbye. We hope that this time of community experience will be a good time for all of us – time to work, study and growth spiritually. We ask everyone to pray for our community, for each one of us.

Asia Owanek, Comboni Lay Missionary

Our way of living the Mission!

A reflection- prayer from our friends Maria Grazia and Marco Piccione, Comboni Lay Missionaries, from Italy.

CLM family in UgandaThe Piccio are … Dad Mark (Piccione in fact), mother Maria Grazia and their two children Francesco (4 years) and Samuel (2 ½ years).

They are a family of Comboni Lay Missionaries from Milan and belonging to the group of CLM in Venegono Superiore (VA).

Since August 2011 they live in Aber (Uganda) where they were sent as Comboni Lay Missionaries, fidei donum, from the Archdiocese of Milan to the diocese of Lira (Uganda).

Maria Grazia works as a doctor in the hospital of Aber and Marco is an educator in the orphanage Saint Clare, working in schools and in various educational and social fields.

Francesco goes to kindergarten of the Saint Josephine Bakhita parish and Samuel is a Ugandan child that they are adopting. He lives with them since he was 10 months old.

Their mission project is to share their everyday life -work and family- with the people they meet every day, being a witness of responsibility, commitment and proximity.

This reflection and more can be found in Piccio’s blog, which is the way they use to share their experience every week with Italian friends (and not only) who support them and enable their dream:


 Mission is…

 Mission is … This is who I am (because of my history, my culture, my skills) and that “being me” I want to share with you;

mission is… to share a revelation that makes me happy;

mission is… when I put my feet out of bed every morning to renew the “yes” that I have said (as a husband, as a father, as an educator, as a Christian) and promise to do my best;

mission is… I do not expect changes in the others;

mission is… I’ve got no will but I do it anyway;

mission is… I have no  strength, but I know I can get in an extra reserve;

mission is… I do not have the ability, but I do my best;

mission is… I’m afraid but I trust;

mission is… I can hardly understand you (and understand You) but I make an effort;

mission is… make the prophets of all time continue to live, witnessing all we have learned from them;

for all of this, the mission is… to grow by challenging ourselves;

for all  of this, the mission is… with everyone;

for all of this, the mission is… everywhere;

for all of this, the mission is… always.

Resonances of the meeting: The Kingdom of God: myth or reality?

“The Kingdom of God is a reality always under construction in each of us”


The House of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, in Lisbon, hosted in the past weekend the laity who began their training in September, during the Missionary Conference in Fatima.

They were very intense days and true enrichment, thanks to the trainers, the Comboni Missionary Sister Carmo Ribeiro and the CLM Pedro Moreira.

The theme chosen for Reflection: The Kingdom of God: myth or reality? Was broadly welcomed and left, surely, the sweet taste that the Kingdom of God is a reality always under construction in each of us, and beyond being Church, goes further than it. Where, among other things, there are love, forgiveness, joy, humility, seeds of the Word, sometimes tiny, but the Spirit sows wherever and whenever He wants.

The Kingdom of God is the ultimate goal of all men and women. The Kingdom of God is Jesus Himself; therefore, The Kingdom of God is Love.

Thanks to all for the generous hospitality, for all you have given us and taught and the beautiful testimony of life and friendship.

S. Daniel Comboni was right when he said. “Fear not, I die, but my work will not die.”

By Rufina Garcia