Comboni Lay Missionaries

Guatemala in time´s of COVID

Chispuditos Guatemala

The Comboni Lay Missionaries of Guatemala are concerned with the proclamation of the Kingdom in an integral way: being there, teaching, evangelizing with doctrine and witness, sharing some bread, some refreshments, giving a little monthly help, both in Santa Cruz Chinautla and in the Chispuditos programme. Our material resources are few, however, God has allowed us to remain in his works, our greatest resource is the desire to proclaim God’s love.

Chispuditos Guatemala

Love, the driving force, the charism of Comboni, the way:

We will have to work hard, sweat, die; but thinking that one sweats and dies is for the love of Jesus Christ and the salvation of the most abandoned souls in this world, I find the necessary consolation not to give up in this great undertaking“.

(St. Daniel Comboni)

These times of COVID, in which it is forbidden to “be” with people, to “tire and sweat”, literally, is not possible. This has been a time for reflection, for reorganization of the mission, it has been necessary to make an effort to discover, with God’s help, how it is possible to announce Jesus from the “passivity” of our house. At the beginning of the pandemic, uncertainty, some optimism as well, we thought it would be a matter of only a couple of months, we have been here for three months already, and the health crisis currently being experienced in our country is going through the most critical days.

It has become necessary to find a way to at least take something… however little it may be… Fr. Roberto, parish priest of Santa Cruz Chinautla, told us. This suddenly makes us feel as if we were some kind of philanthropists, and not missionaries announcing Jesus. It was time to be on the social networks to raise funds, and to bring only things, not presence, not sharing time, not “be”. It seems that we are carrying out the mission in the style of Comboni, half way.

The Catechism of the Church says: “With the help of the Holy Spirit, Christians must distinguish between the growth of the Kingdom of God and the progress of the culture and promotion of society in which they are involved. This distinction is not a separation. Man’s vocation to eternal life does not suppress but rather reinforces his duty to put into practice the energy and means received from the Creator to serve justice and peace in this world”. (CEC 2820)

Chispuditos Guatemala

In other words, the Church shows that we are on the right path. And I offer, together with the present missionary action, the following prayer:

Lord, more than the material, make people receive hope, and believe in your love and in your presence always, especially in the most difficult moments“.

Holy and capable. The one without the other is worth little to the one who follows the apostolic career. …The missionary must go to heaven accompanied by saved souls. And although they must first of all be holy, that is, completely free from sin and offense against God, and humble, this is not enough: they need to have charity, which is what makes them capable. (St. Daniel Comboni)

Chispuditos Guatemala

Lily Portillo

CLM-PCA, Guatemala

Two young lay missionaries at the time of coronavirus

Etiopia
Etiopia

Among the novelties brought about by this sadly famous Covid-19 pandemic is that it does not give much room for charitable action or heroism in favour of others. In old times of plague, whoever chose to do so could dedicate himself totally to the plague-stricken even at the risk of his life. This was done by people who were later declared saints, such as Louis Gonzaga, King Louis of France or Daniel Comboni. But that’s now forbidden. We are in a super-organized society that acts according to scientific hygiene criteria, and what we are told is that the best way to help others is to stay at home to reduce the risks of contagion. However, there is always room for generosity, even in times of coronavirus.

I say all this from a corner of Africa where, thank God, the coronavirus has not “yet” arrived and where government measures of isolation are not as draconian as they have been in Europe. But we are still conditioned in many ways by the virus, which is like a sword of Damocles that hangs menacingly over our heads.

I live in the mission of Gilgel Beles, in Ethiopia, with two young Comboni lay missionaries, one Spanish and the other Portuguese, who arrived here a year ago. Nothing was known about the coronavirus at that time, and they came full of enthusiasm to do many things for others. They gave themselves without measure in services such as teaching everything they were capable of teaching, visiting the villages, taking the sick who fell in their path to the health center… They worked hard to make the most of the brief two-year period of their stay.

Then, unexpectedly, in the middle of the work, so to speak, came the coronavirus. Many organizations called on their members to return to the nation of origin. They too were called. If they stayed, it was their responsibility. And they did not hesitate in their choice: they remained “on their own responsibility”, even when the mother of one of them is awaiting a delicate cancer operation and even when they themselves are afflicted by continuous attacks of typhus and typhoid fever, which weaken both of them…

And here they are. As I said, it’s not that the containment measures are particularly harsh. The range of movement is still quite wide, at least as long as the first contagions don’t show up in our area.

However, the whole rhyme of the activities has suffered. With academic life totally paralyzed and meetings banned, they can no longer teach groups and the library that they had opened no longer has any customers.

Despite all these limitations, they try to resist to the limit. They have become attached to these people and, although they cannot do many things “for them”, they can be “with them”. And they feel that the simple presence in these moments of tribulation is a value that in itself justifies both coming and staying as long as possible.

LMC Etiopia

Fr. Juan González Núñez

From Gumuz, Ethiopia

Third Anniversary Chispuditos´ Program

oracion

Third Anniversary Chispuditos Program in La Aldea la Salvadora, Santa Catarina Pínula, Guatemala

oracion

I give infinite thanks to the love of God, His Mercy and Providence, for these three years of service in the Chispuditos Program. (Chispuditos, is the name of a food that is given only for children enrolled in the program, between the ages of 6 months to 6 years. The objective of the food is to provide the vitamins and minerals necessary for the integral development of the child, help strengthen their immune system, and prevent anemia and malnutrition. In Guatemala, there are several places where this program works, it is free, sponsored by foreign benefactors).

Since June 10, 2017, every first Saturday of the month, the CLM of Guatemala, arrive at the village La Salvadora, to pray, share, give an evangelizing message, accompany, weigh and measure the children registered and keep their growth record. It is a wonderful experience, we return home with our hearts full of joy and gratitude. The last time we did the program activity was on Saturday, March 7. Days later COVID 19 arrived in our country, the first case appeared around March 12. As in all parts of the world, it trampled on our freedom of meeting and moving, limitations began and that prevented and continues to prevent meetings up to this day. Because of responsibility and conscience, we kept the social distance and took the measures to wash our hands and #StayHome as it has been seen all over the world.

After a few days of uncertainty, we began to discern how to move forward with the missionary service in the Chispuditos Program. It was then that, thanks to Divine Providence, we made solidarity campaigns through the social networks to get economic contributions and donations of different products. Thus, we took some food for the families three times, during March, April and May. These deliveries have been made taking certain safety measures: use of a mask, social distancing and to avoid gathering, only one person would come to collect the aid. It was beautiful to see everyone’s responsability, not one person failed to follow the instructions.

There is nothing in the world that impedes the proclamation of God’s love, the pandemic teaches us that we must continue with the mission, in different ways, but to continue, always ahead, with joy and happiness, to announce the Living Jesus.

So how do we celebrate the third anniversary of the program?

Since the pandemic, we made a group of WhatsApp with those families who have this means, they have committed to keep informed those who do not have it. The celebration was not with a cake or a meeting, the celebration has been virtual with many messages of love and encouragement, through videos, audios, and virtual cards, that each CLM in Guatemala made, and also some people from abroad like Sonia Lara, on behalf of the CLM from El Salvador, Fr. Máximo Huamán from Peru and The Camey Family from Brazil.

The party had so many virtual contributions that it lasted 10 days! From the 1st to the 10th of June.

Currently, there are 34 children enrolled in the program. Six have persevered since 2017, two since 2018, sixteen since 2019, and ten children who barely registered between January, February, and March of this year. I pray to God for the mother of each child, that the program will be completed until her son or daughter turns six years old. The youngest of the 34 Chispuditos is 8 months old and the oldest is 5 and a half years old.

A hug to every CLM in the world. My solidarity for those who have been infected with the virus, my prayers for your health and that of your family.

“Holy and capable, making common cause with the poorest and neediest”

(St. Daniel Comboni)

Lily Portillo

LMC-PCA, Guatemala

Dear Guilherma, rest in the arms of the Father

LMC Guilherma Vicenti
LMC Guilherma Vicenti

“I will sail, in the waters of this sea… only love, I will seek my place/no doubt, without fear of dreaming!”

With a mixture of sadness and hope, the CLM of Brazil communicate the death of our CLM Guilherma Vicenti.

Guilherma brought at the beginning of her name what she always was: a warrior! She was a woman of faith and fight, and wherever she went on mission she left a mark of her service and missionary giving. Even today we can hear in the testimony of the people who lived with her, the affection and the gratitude for her presence.

Careful and attentive, she always prepared with profound care the welcome of those who arrived, to stay or simply to visit.

We believe that God, in his infinite goodness and mercy, will prepare with redoubled affection the welcome of our dear Gui in His Kingdom, together with all the missionary community already there, thus becoming part of the group of those who, from the side of the Father, intercede for all missionaries.

With deep gratitude to God for the opportunity to live and learn from her, we place ourselves in prayer and solidarity with her family and friends at this time.

Sincerely,

ALMC Council

on behalf of each and every CLM in Brazil.

Tribute to Guilherma Vicente – Brazilian CLM who left for the Father’s House on June 10, 2020 – This is how we will remember Gui!

One of his missionary presences was in Maputo, with young people and women to whom she taught industrial cutting and sewing. This video was prepared to honour her at the Missionary Exhibition of St. Amelia’s Parish in 2017 for her membership of the Comboni Family.

Agroecology in Brazil

Brasil

The agroecology is still very shy in the Tocantina region of Maranhão. We hope that this initiative can facilitate the adoption of this innovation, which is at the same time a set of agricultural practices, a science and a social movement. For this, collaboration and dialogue with different actors is very important, such as teaching and research institutions (Family Rural Houses, IFMA, UEMASUL …), unions, settlements, rural social movements, technical assistance organizations, municipal secretariats of agriculture and society in general. But especially with innovative and restless farmers. We are ready to add on this common journey.

With subtitles in Portuguese, Spanish, English, Italian and French.

CLM in Brazil