The first Sunday of November is known as the meeting day of the Congress of the CPM. This year, the congress took place on November 4, 2018 at the Industrial Street 15/Limete-Kinshasa in the D.R. of Congo on the theme: “CPM, committed to the culture of justice and peace.” The social inequalities and injustices, the ecological dangers, the imperialism and the economic domination of the rich, wars and human migration are scourges that cannot leave anyone indifferent.
In his presentation, Fr. Boniface stressed that “the work of education to a culture of peace is extremely important, because education, the key to the sustainable development of a society, is the most powerful weapon against poverty. No country can eradicate poverty without education. To develop a culture of justice and peace is a commitment that all, at different levels, are called to embrace to make this world a better place. However, it requires sacrifice, as Jesus showed us by his example (1 Peter 2:21).”
On that same day, the new Choir called Afriquespoir was born.
The Congress started around 9:30 AM and ended around 3:00 PM with the celebration of the Eucharist and a common meal.
Yesterday, Sunday, November 4, at Comboni House in Guatemala City, we lived through the much expected day… following a time of training, mission promotion, sales, celebrations, noise, joy, service, difficulties, fatigue, bureaucratic papers, after so much anxiety, insecurity, but also a lot of trust, love, prayer and commitment… the CLM of Guatemala lived through a great day, shared by the whole community, but naturally, more than most, by Alejandro, Ana Cris, Esteban, Isabel, Agustín and Lucia.
I will quote from the beautiful homily delivered by Fr. Victor Hugo Castillo, the Provincial of Central America, who started his message with these words:
“All the works of God start small. Just like a child is small and defenseless, but slowly grows. And so it has been with the Comboni Lay Missionaries of Guatemala.”
“Mission brings about transformation in the way we think, the way we live our faith, the way we approach others.” And the decision to go needs time to take shape.”
God performs miracles every day, and does not begin from what is perfect and grandiose, but from simplicity, with financial obstacles, but in truth, when God wants to accomplish his purpose… and we make ourselves available, simply… as if not knowing… not being able… only trusting… allowing ourselves to be moved… a little at the time, discovering God’s plan… walking together… stumbling and picking ourselves up… this way, as a community we reach a day like today.
The first reading chosen by Alexandro and Ana Cris spoke of this process for ourselves as a community and especially for them as a couple:
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.”
But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you,
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.”
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.”
I continue with words from the homily:
“We are called to something great. To receive a blessing. We become blessings for others. To do mission means to put one’s life at risk. And life is worth living when we have projects. Projects are constantly in a state of construction. A project grows as we grow. In the project of a lifetime there is trust… Sacrifice”
These words summarize the journey done and the journey remaining. To live it in a community is wonderful. With everyone united in the same feelings, the same desire to see the mission adgentes being carried out, to see the Comboni charism and identity grow and be the instrument to announce to all nations Jesus who died and rose again, as Scripture says. United, we will all go out of our borders, in different ways, but cooperating so that those who can do it, will do it.
I am just reflecting and I am grateful that we are a generous community, unselfish, without envy, as a family, and wish the best for each one of our brothers. Alejandro and Cris have been courageous by being available to leave… we love them… we admire then and we are proud of them. While they will be there where God placed them, we over here will work hard so that they will not be in any need.
“The type of domestic mission that turns us into navel gazers. It is not a mission that grows. The only way to grow is through experience. The journey to mission entails a process: to feel called. To dialogue. To discern. To ask for advice, in order to start moving… and go.
We carry this mission treasure in clay pots. Let us remember that there is no mission without cross.” This is what Fr. Hugo added to his message.
Strengthened by love, we want to grow, to open to new members, new spaces… today it is Brazil, tomorrow, God already knows the place and who will go. We pray for discernment and light to keep forging ahead. Without comfortable settling down, but on the contrary moving along, with dynamism, while there is life there is mission, projects, work, meaning, a reason for living. What more can we ask from Heaven? Everything bubbles over, and so is the love of God.
Mary is an example of service:
“Only when we accept the call we are capable of moving forward in an attitude of service.”
Fr. Hugo commenting on the Gospel said that Mary went on a journey, without planning, only wanting to serve her cousin Elizabeth. She left… on her own, from her home and people… to go and serve. All baptized people are called to this, and then this beautiful charism, Comboni’s, that unites one to a bunch of “crazies,” because of the love we have received and experienced. Crazy to ensure that others will see it and experience it. Crazy with passion for mission. Crazy for Jesus. This craziness makes us go and serve, understood by few, criticized by many, but God knows the heart of the missionary and affords what is needed to live a particular vocation.
“Mission is madness. How often do we hear: why are you going so far? Isn’t there enough to do over here? The answer is, Yes, but my vocation calls me to go farther. And vocation cannot be explained or understood, it simply stands as a gift from God.”
Blessed are we, Comboni Missionaries for this inheritance of our founder, St. Daniel Comboni. It cannot be explained. Married, single, young, not so young, but this vocation lived as a gift, wherever we are, however we are, is what gives meaning to our lives and to the gift of our Baptism. It follows the theme of the infinite love of God who does not spare his generosity.
To end, Fr. Hugo encouraged all present:
“Mission also belongs to the laity. Pope Francis insists on the fact that the laity is a sleeping giant that must be awakened.”
The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are the cause of our joy
After a great weekend, from the Community of Ervedal, Alentejo, the parish that saw the CLM Pedro Nascimento grow up and today sends him off, our CLM Rufina shares with us the emotions of this special occasion.
Today Alentejo, and more concretely Ervedal, has celebrated.
It was already expected that it would be a success, but for sure it went well beyond all expectations, especially when you take into account such a beautiful church, so well decorated, where they are already the Extraordinary Mission Year, and whose pastor succeeds, certainly as a result of the work carried out over the years, to gather all the parishes under his care to take part responsibly and joyously in the missioning of Pedro Nacimiento to Ethiopia.
Without a doubt, the most important moment was the Eucharist presided over by Archbishop Francisco Senra Coelho with the participation of other invited priests, especially Fr. Francisco Medeiros, a Comboni Missionary from the diocese of Viseu.
The ceremony included also two deacons, relatives, friends and many CLM who, together with Pedro are part of the “Thousand Lives for Mission.”
A reception followed for everyone where lunch in the good local style was served, which we enjoyed a lot.
Pedro, as a CLM and being as well from Alentejo, I cannot forget to thank God for your missioning on this Extraordinary Mission Year, certain that it will be a time of growth and enrichment that will allow you, together with your Ethiopian people, to carry out a mission abounding in love, filled with the Comboni charism and enlightened by the smile the Lord lovingly placed on your face sweetening this soul of Alentejo that is so typically yours, in difficult moments.
As Pope Francis says, “Mission is to go meet the other.”
And how it has been mentioned in the Pastoral Note of the Episcopal Conference of Portugal on both the Extraordinary Mission Year and Mission Month, “Everyone, everything and always in mission.”
Therefore, go, my friend, go.
Let us keep in touch! Happy Mission!
Rufina (October 14, 2018)Thank you, Rufina, Thank you, Pedro. Thank you for your commitment
We have a new CLM taking the formation course in the NAP, preparing himself to go to mission.
Darrel J. Vandeveld is a lawyer and retired Army officer who graduated from the University of California, San Diego, and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
He comes from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he raised his four children and served as the head of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office in Erie, from which he recently retired.
After September, 2001, Darrel served in the US Army in Bosnia, Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He retired from the Army Reserve in 2015 as a Lieutenant Colonel. In his final assignment for the military, Darrel was assigned to a capital murder trial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State.
Darrel has served as an elected member of his local school board, and has served on the boards of non-profit organizations, including the Pennsylvania Artists’ Collective Alliance, an organization dedicated to providing local artists with performance spaces and other resources.
He is a member of the St Joseph Bread of Life Community in Erie.
We are the Camey Figueroa family and we are happy to share with you our first steps towards our mission in Brazil.
We have been staying at St. Thomas, San Salvador, since September 7 and will return to Guatemala on the 22nd. This is we are going through or Experience of Detachment and community life prior to our actual leaving for our mission. It has been a very needed and enriching experience.
We could certainly try to imagine many aspects of missionary life, and even think that this experience is not even necessary, because it is enough to be very cautious in figuring out what we would do, carry along, how to work, and so on. However, It is only when you experience something personally that you see and live through things as they really are, and this is what has made this experience a great source of strength for us and for the CLM community of the Central American Province, because all the work we have done here has been possible thanks to the support of the new CLM that is taking shape in El Salvador.
Perhaps the most typical reality that we have experienced is the simple fact that we are a family. By the mercy of God, as a family we have my strengths and we know each other, we know how to be complementary and move on. But it is also true that the current situation is unusual, we never lived this way and it has been the source of some difficulties.
These difficulties have made us aware that we must stick together, be more conscious of our weaknesses and of the need to be patient and persevering in facing them.
More specifically, our missionary work, and it is worth saying that it is not separate from who we are personally and as a family, is very public in the context of daily life.
For the most part, we have visited seniors, some in poor health, others very old and ill and mostly afflicted by loneliness.
These are elderly people, who had large families, like in the case of Hilda who had six children, two died early and four lived with her. Her husband left her with the four. She had to work a lot and leave the children alone for many hours. Now her children, possibly without any bad intention, but wounded and never healed, reflect this same style.
Now she lives with one son, who only had one child and then his wife left him. This grandson, the only child of her own son, has also gone, but, at least this is good news, he has been in the seminary for several years and keeps in touch with his grandmother.
Even though we are neighboring countries, when we arrived we realized that we were seeing a degree of poverty and violence worse than in Guatemala. The social inequality has gotten worse since they changed from the local currency to the dollar without a referendum and the corruption damages any attempt to development. People are seriously abused and the Church is doing its best to help the communities face this evil.
We are very happy to realize how Bishop Romero was able to leave a mark in the life of many Salvadorans, who are anxiously awaiting their canonization in October. There is no house or church that does not have a picture of him, a true symbol of justice and a sign of God’s love, since he struggled to mediate between the army and the rebels.
These realities are not abnormal, because our societies are suffering in the same way. At time for the urge to enjoy “the good life,” and other times because of the poverty of our countries of Latin America.
Today, it is very important that we live fully our being family. We must believe in the promises of God, our good Father, so as not to worry about too many things, since the flowers of the field are so well dressed and the sparrows in the sky do not toil and yet eat. And so it is that our Almighty God always remembers us.
Our first preoccupation, or better yet, our first task must be love God and to allow ourselves to be loved by him. Life came from Him, and to Him it shall return (so we say daily) and so we should not be afraid to be father, or mother, or children and even more, to be family.
We thank God who gives us the opportunity to know him in simplicity and in daily life, but above all because it allows us to be witnesses to the abundant generosity of the people who welcome us in their homes, give us everything, and give us the chance to see that this mission belongs to God and not to us, who are simply a family ready to love and do his will, namely, “what is good, perfect and pleasing to God.” (Rom 12:4)
Thankfully, we had plenty of time for other activities, such as the mission promotion visit to the parish of St. Thomas on Saturday evening, where a Neo-catechumenal community gathers, they themselves missionaries ad gentes.
There we attended Mass presided over by Fr. Santiago Piccinelli, MCCJ, who introduced us as a CLM community together with our MCCJ advisor, Bro. Humberto. He also allowed us to promote mission even by selling our products we ourselves make with recycled material.
Human Development is also part of missionary work, as Comboni insists: Holy and able! So one afternoon we held a workshop to teach the women of the “colonias” La Hermita and La Moran how they, too, can make things with recycled material. It was, as always, a great experience, and even children came around. Even Niña Betty, who had her right foot amputated two years ago and still uses a wheelchair while learning to manage her prosthesis, did not give up and came.
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