Comboni Lay Missionaries

2020: Year of the Ministeriality

Trabajo en equipo
Trabajo en equipo

The magisterium of Pope Francis insists upon the vision of a ministerial Church by which is meant a fraternal Church that is steeped in the “odour of the sheep”, that is synodal, collaborative and one that witnesses to the joy of the Gospel by its proclamation, by its style of life and by service; a Church that embarks on a journey of conversion, overcoming clericalism and the pastoral criterion: “We have always done it this way” (EG 33). The XVIII General Chapter took up this directive of the universal Church and made it its own, in the hope of undertaking a journey of regeneration and requalification of our missionary commitment as regards ministeriality (CA ’15, 21-26; 44-46).


“If you read my words, you will have some idea of the depths that I see in the mystery of Christ. This mystery that has now been revealed through the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets was unknown to any men in past generations; it means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Christ Jesus, through the Gospel. I have been made the servant of that Gospel by a gift of grace from God, who gave it to me by his power” (Ep 3,4-7).

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“This is why…. He will have to think of himself as one unnoticed worker in a long line of workers, all of whom can only hope for results, not from their own personal work, but from the gathering together and continuation of efforts mysteriously guided and used by Providence” (Writings 2889).

Trabajo en equipo

Dearest confreres, we send you greetings in this time of Christmas and wish you a Happy Beginning to the New Year 2020!

As is well known to us all, the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium has drawn attention to the historical changes of our time and the need for a profound renewal in the Church, so as to live the Gospel with joy and to be faithful to our proper vocation as missionary disciples of Jesus. With this renewed vision of the Church, there continually and increasingly emerges a Church that is “going out”, in which the mission is the paradigm of its being and doing, listening to the Spirit through the cry of suffering humanity, the cry of the poor and the cry of Creation. The magisterium of Pope Francis insists upon the vision of a ministerial Church by which is meant a fraternal Church that is steeped in the “odour of the sheep”, that is synodal, collaborative and one that witnesses to the joy of the Gospel by its proclamation, by its style of life and by service; a Church that embarks on a journey of conversion, overcoming clericalism and the pastoral criterion: “We have always done it this way” (EG 33).

The XVIII General Chapter took up this directive of the universal Church and made it its own, in the hope of undertaking a journey of regeneration and requalification of our missionary commitment as regards ministeriality (CA ’15, 21-26; 44-46). The Spirit calls us to dream and to be converted, as missionaries “going out”, who live the Gospel by sharing joy and mercy, cooperating in the growth of the Kingdom, first of all by listening to God, to Comboni and to humanity; a dream that is the dream of God, that leads us to dare, despite our littleness, and aware that we are not isolated but members of a ministerial Church. We are called to evangelise as a community, in communion and in collaboration with the whole Church, to promote for the sake of the poor the globalisation of fraternity and tenderness. All of this is concretised in a reduction and requalification of our commitments, developing specific pastoral services, going out towards human groups that are marginalised or in liminal situations.

To help us to grow during this journey, the Guide to the Implementation of the XVIII General Chapter set aside the year 2020 for reflection on the theme of ministeriality. We wish to propose that we engage in action-reflection, which means taking an approach that starts from experience, and reflects on its transformative potential and its critical points, so as to discern renewed courses of action.

This is what Comboni himself did: he conceived the Plan for the regeneration of Africa on the basis of his personal experience of the mission, of in-depth study and comparison with other experiences, discovering in the ministerial style the answer to the “impossible” challenge of the evangelisation of Africa. His Plan reflects a systemic understanding of the ministerial approach: a work that is collective and “universal”, that creates networks of collaboration to gather together all ecclesial resources, recognising the specific nature and originality of each individual; a work that gives life to a variety of services, in response to human and social needs, for which he scientifically prepares ad hoc ministries, and which results in the foundation of missionary communities that are sustainable from the point of view of ministeriality, socio-economy and social significance. As both Benedict XVI and Francis remind us, the Church grows by attraction and not by proselytism.

Our reflection on ministeriality, therefore, requires we listen to the Spirit, the driving force and protagonist of ministries in the missionary-disciple Church. We commit ourselves to deepening our understanding of this theme in relation to our missionary life and our personal and community ministerial experience, mostly through sharing on these two supplements:

  1. Inserts in Familia Comboniana;

2. A flexible supplement using prepared formularies to facilitate sharing, study, reflection and discernment in our communities.

We invite you to make full use of these instruments in view of a journey of ongoing formation that is both personal and communitarian, facilitated by a guide, chosen from within each community, who will make use of the abundant material provided together with the supplement.

The recently celebrated Synod for Amazonia, too, has highlighted the urgency of the pastoral conversion of the Church: growth in ministeriality is the basic key to this journey. We have, therefore, an extraordinary opportunity for growth and renewal, and it is up to each one of us and each community to profit from it. But it is not a journey we make alone but rather in communion with the Church. Indeed, it is our hope that our commitment to set out on this journey of missionary-ministerial renewal may be a stimulus and a support – in a reciprocal maieutic dynamic – to the local Church where we live: it will not simply be a journey of ongoing formation but also of missionary mission/animation.

In 2020 we shall also have a special event, a forum involving the whole Comboni Family, on social ministeriality, which is to be held in Rome from 18 to 22 July. This forum is part of a broader journey that we, the Comboni Family, are undertaking, which includes the recording of all the experiences of social ministry of the Comboni Family. We would like to create synergy, develop a shared vision and language and create a network and movements that will evangelically transform the social reality. In the medium term this journey will help us towards a participated development of specific pastorals, as requested by the 2015 Chapter. We need your enthusiastic participation in this process which, the more inclusive it is, the more endowed and meaningful it will be.

Finally, in support of the JPIC (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation), the transverse axis of the missionary ministries, we are pleased to present to you two practical instruments that will be published in 2020:

=   Supplement for Basic and Ongoing Comboni Formation in the Values of JPIC

=   The second volume on JPIC of the Comboni Family, edited by Fr. Fernando Zolli and Fr. Daniele Moschetti, following the previous volume: Be the change you wish to see in the world.

May St. Daniel Comboni intercede for us: may he make us “holy and capable” of bringing to fruition the gift of ministeriality.

The General Council The General Secretary for the Mission

Visiting the APAC of Santa Luzia

LMC Brasil
LMC Brasil

I have the opportunity to be visiting the Association for the Assistance of Convicts, APAC, in Santa Luzia, which is basically a prison detention center, but not just like any detention center. Does it hold privileged people? No. Does it hold investments of the rich and the powerful? No. It is a center made available by the proposal of Dr. Mario Ottoboni: no one is unredeemable. This is pure Gospel.

From the very first impression one perceives that things are different: one of the inmates is the doorkeeper of a detention center with 120 “criminals,” and holds the keys both to the main door and the doors to the closed and semi-closed sectors. Once you enter, it seems that these “criminals” have, among other things, different faces: peace, joy, goodness, repentance, charity, deep and sincere desires of redemption.

Here, no one is a criminal, but all are REDEEMABLE, a very precise word, exacted and necessary as the initial step to ensure that whoever one day made a mistake will not go back to that same state. John 8:11 “She answered, No one, Lord.” Jesus then told her: “Neither will I. Go and sin no more.”

For sure, there is a method, the APAC method, to work seriously in the re-insertion of recovered people in society.

With God’s help, together with the CLM Alejo Ramirez, for the past 20 years we have been helping in an enlightening project of interpreting Spanish texts, so that some of the inmates may take the ENEM test and with it continue their plans to attend the university after APAC. For the time being, we continue throughout the year 2020 with plans of major human and social importance.

To live among men who may have committed any type of barbarous acts, but who want to change their lives, and some of them without formal education, but each day trying to study, work, paint, and learn some trades, is a courageous thing. Actually, more than courage, it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s mercy, never merited but always unconditional, in a climate of strict rules in conjunction with the family of the inmate and local society.

I thank God for the opportunity of being able to embrace and see in the eyes of these men, who are always so grateful, the joy when once again we come to visit them. If God believes in humanity, who are we not to believe in it?”

Alejandro, CLM

Silver Jubilee of Tangaza University College

LMC Kenia
LMC Kenia

Greetings to one and all! As several of you know, these last few weeks I was on a visit to Kenya. I experienced a lot of things during those days and I would like to share some of them with you. My first item will be to tell you about my first days in Nairobi, when I had the opportunity to attend the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Tangaza University College.

First of all, I must thank the community of the Comboni Sisters that hosted me during these first days while I was attending the Silver Jubilee of the Tangaza University College. I include Sr. Teresita, with whom I shared all these days, who showed me around and explained the place’s history. We shared good days when we could converse and get to know a little better the reality of Kenya and, through the other sisters, of South Sudan as well.

Tangaza University College was born 25 years ago. It was a pioneering idea in many ways and, above all, an inspiration that the Comboni family and other congregations and people are still supporting.

LMC Kenia

In particular, these days they celebrated the 3rdAnnual African Conference on Entrepreneurship during which lectures and round tables were held over the purpose and the importance of social entrepreneurs in Africa and specifically in Kenya.

Kenya faces many economic difficulties and a high level of unemployment, especially among the young. This reality which statistics throw at us stands in contrast with all that was discussed during these days. The gathering was a venue where to share experiences and challenges among a solid group of entrepreneurs. These are people filled with initiative and with many ideas that want to change the country.

Social entrepreneurship goes well beyond the interest to have a business survive and make a profit. Generating wealth in the country and its repercussion in society are two supporting pillars for these entrepreneurs.

We all know the importance of investing in education and health care in a country, but this is only a first step. The second step is the challenge for civil society to generate a just wealth for all. It means to generate a development that will improve food availability, provide better transport, a better agriculture that will satisfy people’s needs, infrastructures and, finally, to raise the level of life of the people, the level of health care for all and a care of the environment, because it is the only way to guarantee a better future for all.

LMC Kenia

These days dealt with all these things. The plenary sessions and the round tables that were held were all equally interesting. This included, in a parallel way, the exhibits of small enterprises that are opening up in this field and the contacts made possible between people sharing an interest in opening new businesses that will offer solutions to concrete problems.

It was often stressed that the problems of Africa can only be solved by Africans. This is very much in tune with St. Daniel Comboni who, almost two centuries ago, was saying, “Save Africa with the Africans.”

All this made me reflect a lot on our style of mission, our missionary priorities as a Comboni family, and especially as lay people. For sure, as lay people we are much closer to this reality. And even though it is true that not everyone is called to be an entrepreneur, it is certain that our missionary activity must grow along these lines of helping local people, especially the young, to build sustainable wealth and development. It is important to be involved not only in education, health care and social matters, but also the economic development of society and local communities must be a priority in our missionary planning, in our formation, in our vocation promotion.

Clearly there continues to be much work ahead and all our gifts remain few as we place them at the service of those most in need.

LMC Kenia


Alberto de la Portilla, CLM

Diversity is truly beautiful

LMC Kinshasa
LMC Kinshasa

Dear Friends,

It has been two months now since I am in Africa. My first stop was Democratic Republic of Congo. First thing that surprised me when I landed in Kinshasa was the temperature, it was very, very high. I was already in Kenia twice so far, so I supposed I would not be very surprised by African reality, and for sure not by the weather!

At the airport, there were waiting for me two persons: father Celestin, responsible for CLM movement in DRC and Tiffany – CLM Coordinator. They took me to the provincial house of the MCCJ where I was welcomed very warmly by all CLM and Comboni fathers’ community.

During these two months spent in Kinshasa, I focused mainly on learning French, but also on experiencing community life, in big international group. It showed me that diversity is truly beautiful. So many different cultures, different languages, habits, it can really work and give joy to the people who live together. We can find something that connects us: first of all – God, other people, happiness of being together, common mission and care of God’s work. Of course, life with other people is not easy, but the awareness that we share the same goal helps a lot.

As I mentioned before, time spent in Kinshasa was mainly to learn French, quite difficult experience for me, but it really taught me many things.

At the beginning, I tried to mix up French and English, but most of the time I still used simple English instead of French. The later, the harder, more and more people required from me to speak French, but that worked for the best! I was of course stressed and frustrated, but I knew that was for my own good and I am grateful for that time. Every day I tried to speak more and more in French, sometimes I felt shameful because of my spelling or grammar mistakes, but it was an additional motivation to improve my language skills.

Now I know, why it is so important to speak, even with mistakes, because someone can correct them. We need other people to help us with defeating the barrier of speaking (even with the mistakes). That is why community is so important.

In our Comboni spirit it is crucial to appreciate people we are among, their presence and support, their motivation. Alone, we do not have so much strength as we have together. Maybe you can find this as an ideal vision, so perfect that cannot be true, but that is my experience both from Cracow and Kinshasa.

This time showed me how adequate are the words: “God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called”.

LMC Kinshasa

When I had some free time on Saturdays, together with Enochi (CLM from Kinshasa) I served people on the street. It was a program called “meal from your heart”. It was prepared by one family for people who lived on the street. Kinshasa is a very big city, and people came from different parts, just to have a warm meal. During a couple of hours, we were giving around 250-300 plates. I realized how blessed I am that I have something to eat, access to drinkable water, place to sleep and clothes to wear. There is so many people in the world who cannot afford it. I have in mind pictures of young boys who “take a bath” and washed their clothes in the small moat near to the provincial house. I will remember it for the rest of my life.

Time in Kinshasa allowed me also to experience the happiness of people here, despite of difficulties, they need to go through. To see their energy and commitment.


Now, for over 3 weeks, I am in Bangui – capital of Republic of Central Africa. I will stay here also for two months to learn Sango – local language. I got to know my community – Christina and Simone, I will live and work with them in Mongoumba. On Friday 28 June, we celebrated together the Day of Holiest Heart of Jesus Christ. It was time for adoration, dinner and talk together.

I wanted to ask you all to pray for me, for the people I meet here, for all I am about to do here, my mission and my life. I will also pray for you.


Monica Jamer, CLM

News from Nairobi Kenya


A meeting of the AEFJN ANTENA KENYA, took place at the premises of the RSCK (Men Religious Conference of Kenya).

After seeing some questions of interest about the World today, Europe´s relationship to Africa, the coming European Elections, some Social Movements, and the way to organize the participation in the next Meeting with a representative of the AEFJN at Brussels, (may be asking from them economical support), in Uganda; on the motto „think globally, act locally“; some reflections were then done regarding the Kenya Situation.

The urgency of not only to meet but to act was felt by all participants.

An interesting proposal was to ask the Episcopal Conference to raise its voice about salaries for the workers (decreasing) and good allowances for parliamentarians (increasing).

The importance of higher Education for Religious both men and women was a relevant point.

That was the time to introduce properly the “INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL MINISTRY IN MISSION” (ISMM) of THE “CATHOLIC TANGAZA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE” (TUC). THE TANGAZA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE is jointly owned by members of Religious Congregations. Currently the College offers certificate, diploma, undergraduate and master‘s degrees in its Institutes.

But the “institute of social ministry in mission” (ISMM) is the one run by the Comboni missionaries, MCCJ, together with the Comboni missionary sisters, CMS, as Comboni-family. It is an institute of higher learning, founded in 1994, to train agents of “social transformation” for the society, the church, the states and institutions. It offers diploma, b.a, m.a, and doctorate programs. Not only for Kenyan but also for citizens of the neighboring countries. Especially right now, that Europe seems to close the doors to students from Africa it is the fundamental importance that all Religious Congregations here and there, know about these GREAT POSSIBILITIES in this Institute.

The institute, now even with the PhD program on “social transformation” celebrates this year its silver jubilee!

It is really a wonderful Comboni-family achievement.


The mission of “ISMM” is to offer high standards of education that unlock the noble potentials of every learner to become a “transformer” agent in the society.

“ISMM” programs offer learners opportunity for growth, and spiritual guidance that contribute towards their welfare, acquiring knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for social transformation in the society. Programs focus on human dignity, social justice, advocacy, research and development, providing the learners with the methodology competences, and operational tools for facilitating them. In fact, many of the graduated people are already active in “social movements” aiming to transform society in many different areas from politics and legislations to entrepreneurships, from environment to peace building, health, etc.

“ISMM” is a center of excellence and innovation for transformative ministerial learning and “social transformation”. “ISMM” educates and train agents to discover their personal, communitarian and „world transformations” calling. They contribute with enthusiasm, creativity, initiative, integrity, and professional competence, to a society where human dignity is cherished, and development is understood as a process to realize the full potential of human life and social justice.

Nevertheless my emphasis is necessary, why?

Because it is well known, that plenty of Europeans come to make „practical experiences in Africa“, while the rich nations (?) Do not want to give visas to African students!!! And African students should also have „practical experience“ abroad!!! According to justice we should do strong advocacy for them…; for that….!!! It is a very combonian issue. We may try our best to raise awareness even among e.u. parliamentarians about this!! And to do an effective campaign on it.

It is for Africa! It is for the Africans! It is for the world! It is for the Kingdom of God!

Right now, directly from Kenya,

Sr. Teresita Cortés Aguirre CMS