Comboni Lay Missionaries

Emma Chiolini returns to Brazil

EMMA Brasil
Emma Brasil

My decision comes from a personal journey that started with the various experiences of volunteer service I had in Tanzania and in Ethiopia with the Comboni Lay Missionaries group, of which I am a member.

This journey through time ripened in me the idea of embarking in a long-term missionary commitment, so in December 2013 I left for Brazil, headed for Minas Gerais where I remained until December 2016, three years! Those three years literally changed my life, because mission changes you, if you allow it. What you see, what you touch, what you feel, what you live through, transforms you and leads you to discover a God who wanks through your steps, a God who has the face of the people and the histories you meet, an extraordinarily beautiful God in the defense of Life and for Life and in a commitment to serve and share so concrete and strong, that you fall in love with it, I did!

I lived for three years in a violent and poor neighborhood, in the periphery of an existential and structural world, but full of humanity and strength. Besides the various pastoral activities connected with the parish, carried out by the Comboni Missionaries, I got involved specifically in the prison ministry of the diocese of Belo Horizonte. I had never been in a prison and Brazil was my first time, a place where the prison situation is one of the worst in the world, made worse by violence and criminality, abuses of power and violations of human rights. Our job was to follow the inmates both spiritually and humanly and often to denounce situations where human dignity was not respected. Most of the Brazilian prisons’ population comes from situations of life where the family and the social structure are fragile and vulnerable. They all come from favelas or other very difficult environments. The inmates and the families I met, all of them carried the deep wounds of violence, lack of opportunities and poverty. This pastoral work taught me that no one is beyond redemption, because only Love heals, only those who are accepted and loved can be reborn, because no one can escape Love, I am convinced of it! Mission for me was above all sharing, walking together with others and share problems and hopes. It is not in doing great things, but above all, in Being present with the heart, the head and the hands!

Needed are a heart for loving, a head for understanding and interpreting without prejudice, hands to lead and build together. Today, my missionary commitment makes me leave for a second time, again for three years and again in Brazil, in a new experience, in a new city, Salvador Bahia, where I will live in a community that gives shelter to moradores de rua, street people. Last year, with our mission center, we went to visit this community and the project was born to share experiences with them, helping those who take care of the re-insertion of the street people who decide to get hold of their own life and start from scratch. I am ready to start again and to live the joy of meeting and discovering, but above all the joy of sharing and walking together.

Emma Chiolini, CLM

Be mission in Ethiopia – first moments

CLM Ethiopia
CLM Ethiopia

We left back behind Qillenso, Adola and Daaye and what I saw during the journey, in this green that contrasts with everything I had seen so far since I arrived in this new place where God awaits every one of us, at least in the embrace of a prayer that, it cans travel from far away (I hope from your hearts). I take the duration of this trip to try to share (at least a grain) the wonders of this people that has received me so well.

We are in an unusual week. We take advantage of the fact that the Amharic classes will only start on June 3 (next week) to get to know the various missions of the MCCJ and also of the CLM (in Awassa) in the southern zone of Ethiopia.

Addis Ababa, is a city where pollution reigns, noise, the frenzy of the many cars and people who roam without rule through the streets. It could be seen in almost any European city if it were not for the disorder that governs here. Traveling by car is always an adventure, because the road here also belongs to animals and people (after all, the cars arrived later!). Among the several and crowded streets that exist here, the one more difficult for me to cross (until now) is the indescribable Mexico Square, point of reference for the arrival at home. Indescribable for not having words to express the pain it cause me when I see those bodies stretched out in the middle of the street, thin bodies, barely alive, some that do not see, others that have no feet to walk … Along with these bodies we can find many times the face of a child, whose lost eyes does not pass unnoticed. I imagine stories in my head that probably are his. They are malnourished mothers and their children. How it hurts to look and it hurts even more not knowing what to do!

CLM Ethiopia

This week’s trip through southern Ethiopia also allowed us to have a very different and colorful vision of this great and immense country. As we travel from Addis Ababa to Awassa, Qillenso, Adola and Daaye, the landscape changes its shapes and figures. If in Adis and Awassa there is a mantle of houses as far as the eye can see, in Qillenso, Adola and Daaye the earth is dressed in red and the green of the plants just born with the first rains. Along the way, houses are planted, with a rudimentary configuration but which are authentic works of art. The car passes and those who see us pass also look at us. I watch them also through the glass of the van. What a beautiful look! They always smile when they see us pass!

I am happy for the mission that God gave to the three of us and for which we ask for your prayers. The mission will never be ours. It is also yours. And above all, it’s God´s. Probably, and aware of this, we know that the mature fruits of this work only (and God willing) will be visible within a few years.

CLM Ethiopia

I’m fine! Feeling everything. The people, their looks, their words that I often do not understand, but I try to respond with a smile, or a look of tenderness, or using the few words I already know in Amharic. It has been a time to observe, hear, try to understand. It is also an advantage that I do not have a fluent level of English that allows me to talk a lot (and even less Amharic). I take advantage of that and I end up listening more, observing more. It’s time for that!

Our walking on the street is always a cause of looks. People look at us, as if we were something strange. For children it’s a party! They look at us and sketch daring smiles:

– Farengi! Farengi! Or China! China!

Don’t knowing what to do many times, we look at them and smile. We extend the arm and exchange a handshake. They’re all happy to touch us … it’s reciprocal!

One of these days, in Awassa, we visited the sisters of Mother Teresa, and the expected thing happened: the same reaction of the children who want to grab us … They run in our direction to touch our hands. But not just the hand. The arms, the face. They get closer, delighting in our heat. They run searching for love. And we try to give it to them. In the difficulty of not knowing much Amharic, I say the same all the times. I couldn’t limit myself to the same old words, I thought. I try to remember other things I can say, and there it comes out:

CLM Ethiopia

– Mndn new? (What is this?) – I ask pointing to my shirt.

– Makina (car) – several answer, each one in time.

I repeat the same question for other things, including the cross I bring to my chest.

And so they answer me. It’s a party for them! And for me. They do not know how much they teach me. I believe they are the best teachers I can have. They are happy with this little. As the one who is thirsty, like me.

I feel everything, even nostalgia. Great nostalgia! This also inhabits me, of course (I am Portuguese … of those very nostalgic)! As someone told me, nostalgia is the love that remains. Therefore, I always want this nostalgia to be part of me.

They have been beautiful days, full of novelty. Also within the community, with David and Pedro. In our differences, I see three pieces of a puzzle that come together and fit together. It is being beautiful as we realize what we are called to do here. We feel the weight of the responsibility of being starting to sow this grain that we want others to come to water, to reap, to harvest. The harvest here is great! But we feel a great strength of wanting to take steps. May the Holy Spirit enlighten us to take the right steps, in the right times and places.

Pray for us, for the mission and above all for this people that welcomes us and that seeks and fights for life, day by day.

With lots of love,

CLM Carolina Fiúza

Missioning Mass for the CLM Carolina Fiúza

Carolina
Carolina

My dear friends,

My heart is full and grateful for all the blessings and love I received on May 12, when in my parish – St. Eufemia – my missioning was celebrated… not only the ceremony itself, but the entire day and the mission promotion were full of sharing and missionary fraternity.

My thanks to all for being together in prayer. I feel fortunate… for belonging to you as family and for the many friends who fully love me. Thank you! For those who could not be present at the Eucharist, I share what I said to all.

Animacion Misionera

My dear Heavenly Father,

This is the prayer of your much-loved daughter, Carolina de Jesus Fiúza, who with the strength of this community is sent for two years to the people of Ethiopia.

From quite sometime your invitation has resonated within me saying:

“Go deeper at sea and throw your net to fish. Do not be afraid” come with me, you will fish people! Come, follow me!”

I thank you for this invitation and with great joy, like Mary, I say YES! May it be done to me according to your word!

To you my greatest THANKS for this Yes is the fruit of a mutual relationship. To You I repeat my THANKS for not giving up on me and for trusting in me. To you I give thanks for all these people who are here physically and spiritually. To You I give thanks for the thousand lives that, very often, without knowing, are a thousand lives for mission, just like Comboni was asking: a thousand lives for mission. I thank You for the courage and the strength that give to my Yes the confidence they place in me.

To you and to these people I give thanks and promise: promise to make mistakes and fail. Such is the human condition! But, I promise to always improve, learn, listen, keep silent, accept, understand, share what I am, accept what I am… and, above all, TO LOVE. I promise to give myself totally to the Ethiopian people and do what I can, with what I have, wherever I am.

I look at myself and see how small I am. But with my limitations, with what I have in my bag, I wish to give myself to you and go to the poorest and most abandoned, inspired by St. Daniel Comboni. I trust in the fact that you do not choose the able ones, but that you enable those you choose. Thus I trust that you will give me the ability to love this marvelous people of Ethiopia, where you reside since forever.

At times many do not understand why I choose to leave for the missions. I understand and accept their lack of understanding. And I appreciate the support which, even in a conditional form, they give me. Just like my dear father says, “Good can be done anywhere!” And it is not a lie…in fact, You Heavenly Father, You who are one Body, but with many members and with each member having its function, You call us all to be missionaries, in different ways. Today and to me the call is to go, to be the grain of wheat tat dies in the ground in order to bear fruit. And this isa mystery. Just like the mystery of the most beloved Son who died on the cross. Just like him, I too give my Yes ready to have the mission be born and grow at the foot of the cross. O My Father, will we ever be able to understand this mystery of the death of Jesus on the cross. Perhaps, no. In the same way, my Yes may not be understood by others. This is a mystery as well. Even for me the mission entrusted to me is a mystery. But I say Yes anyway. I do it with confidence because I know that never, never will you abandon me.

O my God, You know the GRATITUTE I have for many people. Without mentioning all of them, I especially am grateful to my family, who has agreed, who gave me missionary genes!

I thank you for the life of my parents, Edite and Manuel Fiúza, who gave me an education the best way they knew how. Without them, my life, my values, my gifts… all that I am, it would never have been possible. Many thanks for your life and the fruit of your creation, myself, the gift I am and which I want to bear fruit. I am grateful because it gives it the capacity of supporting me and loving me unconditionally, even without understanding my decision. I ask You to protect them, to look after them always, and give them always the strength to fight for life, just as they taught me to do.

I thank you for the life of my fiancé, Hélder Neves, who has supported me from the beginning and given me strength in times of serious doubts. I thank you for the love that binds us and can only come from you. I know that this Yes is not only mine, but from both of us. He too accepts of living the mission with me. And we accept this mission in great confidence. I ask you to protect him always, keeping him in your arms. And what you have joined, our mutual love, we will never dare to separate or damage. Gives the confidence and the trust to remain forever one!

I thank you for the life of all the parishioners of my “land, my beautiful land,” this beautiful St. Eufemia. This land that saw me grow and sustained me in life and in Christian faith. To the catechists, choir members, priests I met here (already 3 of them) and many people I see today, I wish the best… I am grateful for the life of each of you. Special thanks to Fr. Nuno Gil, whose joviality and strength to reach us all does not leave me indifferent. I pray that you continue to give him strength to continue leading the Kingdom here on Earth.

And finally, knowing that I could thank many more people, I thank you for the Comboni Family. I thank you for being the lighting this journey where I search for you daily and with love more and more. I thank you for the example given by each one of a life inspired by St. Daniel Comboni making it possible to understand more and more my missionary vocation. I truly thank them because the mission in Ethiopia trusts in me, And I ask that I may always be the best as a CLM.

O my God, you know that I take you within me more than anything. You know how much it hurts to leave the love I have here. But you also know how happy I am, because even where I go, love expects me there. I go to meet love, following in the footsteps of the one who sends me.

We well know that it is never a good-bye, but always a see-you-again.

See you again, my community. Never be afraid to say Yes, because God, a merciful Father, will never abandon us. I leave you a souvenir: a typical Ethiopian cross (sent to you by a Comboni Missionary Sister in Ethiopia) to help us remember that we all part of one cross, the cross of Christ. Pray for me and for the people and mission of Ethiopia. Be assure that we, too, will pray for you.

Carolina Fiúza CLM

News from Nairobi Kenya

Escuela
Escuela

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.

ISMM MISSION

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

News from the Central Africa Republic mission

RCA
RCA

The CLM María Augusta writes for her parish paper, the Astrolabio.

I came to Bangui, the capital of the Central Africa Republic, because Fr. Fernando had an accident and is here in the hospital. The accident happened when he was returning from Mbaiki after attending the Chrismal Mass. Mongoumba belongs to the diocese of Mbaiki. The CLM Cristina and Fr. Maurice were with him and behind them there were seven people. Luckily, Cristina and Fr. Maurice were not hurt and had no great physical pains, but it is always difficult to absorb the accident emotionally. However, they were able to stay by Fr. Fernando, which was the important and necessary part.

The people following behind were hurt a bit, but fortunately there was nothing serious and only one was taken to the hospital, but with nothing major, by God’s grace. Fr. Fernando was thrown out though the glass on the door side and suffered a double trauma, one in the face including the eyes and one in the back. He underwent surgery on Easter Sunday and all went well.

Ana and I arrived in Bangui on Tuesday and stayed at the postulancy, because they were having the Comboni Assembly. We spent Easter worrying a lot, because we did not know how they were doing. When we saw Fr. Fernando he was still in a bad shape. Only today he came briefly to Comboni House, the Comboni residence in Bangui, because we have been very busy with him. By God’s grace, he is improving every day. Just the same, he must eat everything pureed because his upper jaw does not meet his lower jaw and so he cannot chew. We are hopeful that at the level of his head everything is working, because he speaks well and all his senses work… We thank God who protected all the travelers. God’s Providence was with them, because the accident happened 1 km from the Mbata mission and also because a vehicle went by that took them to the town hospital, where Fr. Fernando was sutured, and then all the way to Bangui.

Fr. Fernando will be moved to Benin for a CAT-scan of his head, to make sure he is well, and then to rest and get his energy back to continue the mission the Lord has chosen for him. I am confident that, by God’s grace, all will be well!

Cristina underwent some tests and all is well. She helped Fr. Fernando a lot! She will remain in Bangui to rest until she recovers enough to go back to Mongoumba.

Fr. Maurice is well, but very tired… up until Wednesday he spent night and day taking care of the wounded. Thanks be to God that on Thursday and Friday he could rest and begin to feel better…

Fr. Samuel returned on Wednesday, fully animated for the mission waiting for him. In July and August he will do mission promotion in the United States.

We hope that by then Fr. Fernando will be back in good health.

The assembly went well. A brother from Togo, a friend of Fr. Maurice, came to take part in it.

The twin girl I talked to you about in my last message, eventually died… The Lord welcomed her in his arms, because she suffered a lot.

Always united in prayer.

I wish all of you a Happy Easter!

A worldwide embrace to you all! Thanks for your prayers.

María Augusta, CLM

For Astrolabio

Year 5 – No. 147 – May 5, 2019

The parishes of Cabril, Dornelas do Zêzese, Fajão, Janeiro de Baixo, Machio, Pampilhosa da Serra, Portela do Fôjo,Unhais-o-Velho and Vidual