Comboni Lay Missionaries

Between Palms and Songs

Domingo de Ramos

A day of faith and reflection

Still in the Easter mood, an invitation to revisit the intense days leading up to Resurrection Day, a unique week in which we tried to recreate with fervor the last steps of Christ as Man.

At the entrance to the village, under the welcoming shade of the mango trees, children and adults, men and women gathered in faith to begin the celebration of Palm Sunday. Everyone had their own palm, some of them beautifully decorated.

To the vibrant sound of the songs of “Hossana”, the community walked down the main street in procession, a sea of palms waving in the air, a unison chant that echoed the joy of faith.

In the church, the celebration went on for more than two hours.

Thus began Holy Week, paving the way for a time of reflection, a time to meditate on Christ’s sacrifice and the promise of redemption.

On this journey we are invited: to relive the footsteps of Jesus, to meditate on the meaning of his surrender and to reflect on the meaning of our own lives.

A unique opportunity to strengthen our faith and renew our hope.

Élia Gomes, CLM RCA

Celebrating Easter in Kitelakapel

LMC Kenia

Hello Saints!

Happy Easter! Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Receive warm Easter greetings from Comboni Lay Missionaries – Kenya (CLM-K).

Easter season is the heart and soul of our Catholic Faith. Christ died for us and through Him, we obtain eternal life. Throughout the season of Lent, we are called to mind our sinful nature, repent and believe in the gospel! Our Saviour bears all our sins through His passion and His death on the cross. The Easter season is a new dawn. Christ is risen and in Him we have new hope. St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” We must celebrate! Our Saviour has conquered death! Through Christ, we have new life!

CLM-K celebrated the resurrection of Christ in bravura. We travelled to our mission in Kitelakapel, West Pokot County, to celebrate Easter with the international CLM community working there. We arrived at the mission station on Holy Thursday morning, and we were in West Pokot all through Easter Monday. We were fortunate to have our assessor – Fr. Maciej with us, who celebrated mass for us through Holy Week and the beginning of the Easter Season. On Good Friday, we were joined by a large number of Catholics from the Kitelakapel community and we had the most solemn Way of the Cross, reflecting upon the suffering and death of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The Easter Vigil on Saturday night was so beautiful. As we were gathered around the bonfire, I couldn’t help but stare at the stars, so beautifully aligned, gleaming with hope. From then on, all we could say was Alleluia! Christ is risen! We will rejoice and be glad! When Jesus appeared to His eleven disciples after resurrection, he said to them “…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Mathew 28:20. In the same way, we must live out our lives in confidence knowing that Christ is ever-present.

We are grateful to the international CLM community based in Kitelakapel, Maya (Poland) and Pius (Uganda), for being gracious hosts. Thank You for everything and for the work that you continue to do in West Pokot. All for the glory of God!

In a special way, we would like to thank our assessor, Fr. Maciej. Thank You for your selfless nature and thank You for guiding us in our journey of faith. We are grateful for your warm demeanour and your patience as we each discern our vocation. May you be added many more years and experience the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

Remember the words of Miss Clara Williams? Miss Clara Williams is a character in the award-winning book and 2015 movie, War Room. She is a powerful woman of God, who goes to ‘war’ (prayer) for the sake of her family. There is something she says that I absolutely love and that has stuck with me. She says, “My God is Faithful, my God is powerful, my God is in charge. You can’t fire him and he’ll never retire! Glory Alleluia!” This is true. He is all this and more. He is our light and salvation. He has given us new life. We must live it for his glory. Alleluia! He is Risen!

May this Easter season renew your faith, strengthen your spirit, and fill your heart with profound joy. Happy Easter to you and all your beloved!

Warm regards,

Cecilia Nyamu

Comboni Lay Missionary – Kenya

GUARDIÕES: The fight for the land

LMC Brasil


Even today, after a morning of pouring sun, the rain visited us, half an hour of a powerful storm that dissolved in a few seconds, like the rapid passage of a plane. The rainy season has become this, a short cold shower, everyone wonders if it is a coincidence that it no longer rains for entire weeks as it happened in the past, but it is clear that climate change is screaming loudly here too.

You don’t reach these levels overnight, there is always a path and a story behind it, and the history of this land has very deep roots.

It all started a long time ago. In fact, from the time of the colonial invasion to today, Brazil has never implemented a popular agrarian reform. Consider that in a huge area like that of Brazil, only 1% of landowners own almost 50% of the total cultivable area in the country, and half of these large properties are totally unproductive and could therefore be expropriated for agrarian reform. Brazil is also the largest territory in the world in terms of possible arable land. It is for this reason that for decades the right to land has been conquered and not received by right, it is a fight against the system that has seen the birth of large movements such as that of the LANDLESS (MST), movements that fight to be able to live there where many, with roots in the land and fields, have always wanted and would like to continue to live.

Thus the idea of an occupation was born: hundreds of families reunited, organized themselves, occupying large plots of land to attract the attention of the federal government. Raimunda, waiting to receive this land, lived camped with her family for years, in tents made up of plastic sheets and 4 sticks, inside which there were pots and coal for cooking, clothes, hammocks to hook between a tree and the other, and then children born in the middle of the woods, raised far from life in the city. All in a true sense of community, of struggle, of life shared with little, waiting for the big day when we can finally receive a piece of land to build our own homes, surrounded by trees and fields to cultivate.

The inhabitants of the Francisco Romao Assentation have won the right to the land after 10 years of living in camp.

When they arrived in that territory they discovered that it was Government land, which had been occupied by a landowner illegally, the whole area had already been deforested to create an immense pasture of dairy cows, destroying the surrounding vegetation.

This phenomenon of illegitimate land appropriation is known as “Grillagem”, a practice of forced aging of false documents that are placed in a box with crickets, making them yellowed and gnawed, giving them an ancient and more credible appearance, a phenomenon of forgery to illegally take possession of vacant or third-party land. The families denounced this illegality to ask the government for the possibility of having part of that land and being able to cultivate and reforest it. After years of struggle and reclaiming the land, each family managed to have a property where they could do what they had always dreamed of: living off the land in a sustainable way. It’s an incredible story that of the assentamentos, places where life flows to the rhythm of the countryside.

You enter the settlement on dirt roads, a bright red earth, and you are immediately surrounded by houses and courtyards full of fruit trees and medicinal plants of all kinds, of which the families know every benefit and valorize them for purposes to the last sheet. When we go to visit them they tell us with great nostalgia about those times gone by: the times of precariousness, but also of union, happiness and sharing. The houses were initially made of mud and straw, people lived very little. Life in absence was a constant sharing of one’s possessions, the goal was for everyone to be able to live off that land and for issues to be resolved together, under the canopy in the center of the town, a space dedicated to community meetings. Together we decided what to grow (corn, beans, castanha), we decided where to build the school, together we fought to get tractors, we fought to have a public health building. These were the foundations for allowing a dignified life, and they were built together. A dignified life that allowed for at least 3 meals a day, with rice, beans and cassava, basic elements of Brazilian cuisine. Throughout this process, women were the true protagonists, taking care of the house, taking care of the children and helping the men in the fields, a true example of strength and leadership.

Community, solidarity and doing together, this is the common thread that has made it possible to win many battles and with which the assentamentos were built and still resist, places of life, struggle and defense of peasant life. Farming families have always had one great goal: to plant and harvest food, but also to reforest and protect native vegetation. This is why we called them Guardioes: the guardians. Guardians of nature, guardians of the well-being of the soil and of that piece of the Amazon that has been entrusted to them. Guardians of the community and of peasant life, of the fight against a system that wants to take away the life of the least and give strength to the powerful. Guardians of that land which has now been completely destroyed.

In the next episode you will know other stories of women who have chosen to fight in the face of all this. We wish you a good continuation and a happy and peaceful Easter and resurrection in the Lord.

Anna and Gabrielle, CLM in Brazil

I’m happy

Tito LMC Brasil

March 7 is not just any day for me, it’s a very special day: the day God chose for me to come into this world.

And on March 7, 2024, my birthday, it was very, very special, because, in addition to the messages, hugs and singing happy birthday, and being with friends and people I love, I had a very, very special gift. It was the greatest gift!

I’m on mission in Mozambique, in Africa, and I had the privilege of being able to visit those displaced by the terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado province, who are in Namapa, in Nampula province.

It was a great birthday present for me, to be with the people, to be able to bring affection, love and words of faith and hope to them, who live in a very difficult situation of poverty and hunger.

I thank God for giving me this great birthday present.

Living the mission means being with the people and walking with them.

Thank you, God, for calling me to this great mission!

Tito, Comboni Lay Missionary.

Lay missionary experience of Ilaria Tinelli and Federica Rettondini in Modica

LMC Italia

“What is essential is invisible to the eyes.” We wish to begin with this beautiful phrase, taken from The Little Prince, because it perfectly sums up what has affected us most in these months of life lived to the full here in Modica.

After spending a few weeks in Verona, attending the course at the Unitarian Center for Missionary Formation (CUM) and receiving the mandate from the Bishop, we returned to this land so rich in life and passion, which we missed so much. We spent a few days passing through the community of Avola, for testimonies in the parish and in some schools. Here, too, we touched with our own hands so much generosity, warm welcome and gracious kindness, but above all the “thirst” for a God who is fullness of life and truth, and also that great desire that each of us carries in our hearts to always be sister/brother, or “home,” to someone.

When we returned to Modica, as always, people welcomed us with open arms, and we became part of the various activities going on, such as the Italian school, in the morning, with the immigrant women and, in the afternoon, with the children at the “Crisci Ranni” educational worksite and the boys here at the Badia.

Well beyond the activities that take place, the beauty of this experience lies precisely in seeing and especially feeling that people are really generous and beautiful, always ready to dedicate themselves, with all the love and passion they possess, to assist others and create an extended community where everyone feels called to make common cause and feel like one family.

What struck us in a special way-and was felt by us as a “great gift”-were the young people we met in the schools, during catechism classes, especially in preparation for Confirmation. Amazing were the high school youth (in particular, those from the Liceo Classico and Ginnasio in Modica Bassa), capable of delivering us so much “beauty” made of values, hope and joy. In them we sensed a great desire to live a “big life,” to spend themselves in something great. But they need us adults to learn to listen to them, being close to them and accompanying them.

There were some moments in class when they “gave themselves up” in a profound way, and we understood how gently and carefully their lives need to be guarded. How often we adults, on the other hand, judge these young people, “labeling” them perhaps even just by the way they dress. Instead, they have their own world of expressing themselves, and they need to be helped to “bring out” what they have inside.

Here is a fact that struck us. One evening, we went for a little walk in Modica Alta, to see the view, to contemplate the beauty of creation. Arriving at the locality “Il Pizzo,” we saw a group of 20 to 30 boys laughing and joking. We approached them and slowly, very gently, greeted them and then chatted a little with them. Nothing special, mind you. But great was our surprise when they thanked us for the simple fact that we had had the courage to greet them, to stop, to share our lives with them, and also to listen to them. They told us, “Usually, if not almost always, we are ‘criticized’ and kept away.”

With this few lines, we wish to invite you to have the courage to “get our hands dirty,” to dare in our lives. Life is worthy if we spend it for the last! And when our path encounters obstacles, let us continue undaunted on our way, knowing that the Lord is always present and ready to guide us. The important thing is not to give in to any compromise of any kind, but to continue faithfully on “the way of the Lord.”

Thank you, guys. You are the “beauty of this life.” And we are certain that “beauty” and “created fullness” will always remain indelible in the heart of each of us.

Thank you, Modica, for making us experience six super-dense months of fullness. We will always carry you indelibly in our hearts!

With affection and deep gratitude,

Ilaria Tinelli and Federica Rettondini