We pray that, in our missionary life, we may be real makers of peace, instruments of compassion and builders of dialogue and universal fraternity. Lord hear us.
After a well-deserved lunch break, we resumed the workshops with the missionary witness of the Portuguese community of Fetais. The Portuguese CLM decided last year to open a community presence in the outskirts of Lisbon. In a neighborhood with a great diversity of nationalities, where migrants from former Portuguese colonies in Africa stand out, but where there is also the presence of Latin Americans and people of Asian origin. All this with Portuguese, many of them of gypsy ethnicity.
All this great diversity makes living there a very different experience from what is usual in the rest of the country. Undoubtedly a melting pot of cultures that brings a lot of richness, but sometimes with many difficulties linked to their condition of exclusion.
This experience also gave rise to a debate on the rights of migrants in the European Union, the common policy that does not facilitate immigration and how the unequal demands of one country or another can also cause people to be more disadvantaged depending on local legislation.
Then the CLM from Spain helped us to deepen into a very elaborate presentation of the importance of political advocacy in our missionary action in Europe. To become aware of how Pope Francis encourages us to a positioning and an ever greater political responsibility as lay people because politics, as a service to the common good, definitely marks the lives of the people. How important is the influence on the change of legislations, the sensitization of the people for the different issues that affect so much as the care of the planet, migrations, etc.
The presentation was accompanied by the external intervention of Sister Benjamine who spoke to us about the work done by Talita Kum against human trafficking at the international level. Brother Simone spoke about the work of VIVAT International and the pressure they are trying to put on the UN and Geneva to change global policies, and Father Lorenzo shared with us the struggle of the Church and Mining network against abusive mining activities in Latin America. All of them reinforced the responsibility and the need for work in this sector that we have from Europe.
The last session of the day was in charge of the CLM from Italy, who presented several of the projects they are developing in different parts of the country. From the reception of migrants in the community La Zattera in Palermo. A place to organize their lives, to rest and to integrate into the new society.
In this line, Venegono explained to us the projects that they develop from Combinazione, such as the various shelters for refugees that they run, where they act from the first reception to a last resort on the way to an independent life where they facilitate the exit from the previous resources.
They also explained the work of awareness raising in schools. Bringing the realities of the world to children and young people, with awareness-raising projects adapted to different age groups, sometimes with the testimony of African migrants. Or even with the edition of a book that helps to enter and embrace more the reality of a changing society and the protagonism of everyone in this society, especially the youngest.
Finally, Simone shared with us the experience of life as CLM in the Comboni religious community of Castel Voturno and especially his work in the Black and White association that seeks to offer educational and leisure alternatives to the children of migrants who arrived in Italy and who even being born in Italy do not have the right to Italian citizenship. Also how this resource becomes the only place of leisure or study possibilities for these boys and girls due to the poor conditions of the neighborhood where they live.
To end this intense day we were able to have a time of quiet and prayer together organized from Spain. A simple prayer in different languages, where we could place at the Lord’s feet all that we have shared, the needs of all those we serve and our willingness to continue on the path wherever He calls us.
With the Our Father in each of our languages we closed this beautiful day of sharing and dreaming together from the gifts and services that each one of us develop. Surely it will have enlightened many for new initiatives and encouraged everyone knowing that we are together in this common cause which is the Kingdom of God.
A hug to all of you and thanks to those who participated because with your contributions you made us grow.
Alberto de la Portilla. CLM Central Committee
With this suggestive title, the European CLM held a workshop last Saturday.
First of all, we would like to thank the European committee for the effort of organizing this meeting for several months. It was not easy, but in the end it worked very well and the simultaneous translations made it possible for CLM from different countries to participate and take advantage of everything that was shared.
The idea of the meeting was to offer a variety of content and experience according to the interests, activities and commitments that we as CLM develop in Europe or from Europe.
The meeting began with the intervention of the CLM from Germany who shared their great work on the theme of Peace. They began by supporting Comboni projects for the development of peace in Sudan and have been expanding this range to the different conflictive realities that we face on the planet and even at the local level in our immediate environment. All this with a methodology of approach that seeks to understand the conflict and promote valid solutions for all.
Following this, the CLM from Poland encouraged us to reflect on how to raise awareness of the work we do and how to raise funds for it. They emphasized the importance of including collaborators, not only as someone who can give occasional help, but to establish a link that allows us to follow up on the work we are developing and make people feel that they are part of it. Various initiatives and possibilities were presented to us. Afterwards, different initiatives were shared from other countries that are being carried out and are bearing their small fruits.
Then we had a time of reflection on the mission as a family. It was a rich time where, from experience, we shared what it means to be in mission as a family. The misunderstanding sometimes on the part of some who think that being on mission means having a lot of time to do activities while from experience we realized that it is really our testimony of life, in this case as a family, which brings us closer to the people, to their day to day life.
We also reflected on the importance of choosing places where the family can be. Where the level of violence is not high and at the same time it is possible to have a minimum of education and health care for the children. Also the importance of dialogue in the family, especially when the children are reaching adolescence and youth and are making their own decisions and life choices. In general, we found that it is a great enrichment for children. Undoubtedly a very nice topic and very linked to our lay reality.
In this way we finished the morning sessions and went for lunch.
Tomorrow we will finish telling you about the meeting 😉
Greetings to all and each one of you
Alberto de la Portilla. CLM Central Committee
Dear Confrères, A warm greeting in the Heart of Christ, the Good Shepherd, in whom we are rooted as humble and joyful witnesses in the world of a fraternity without frontiers or borders.
Gathered together for the XIX General Chapter, we want to join each one of you and each one of our Communities in the celebration of this extraordinary ‘feast of love’, which as the Rule of Life reminds us our Founder received from the fountain of the Pierced Heart of the Good Shepherd:
“The Founder found in the mystery of the Heart of Jesus the strength for his missionary commitment. Comboni’s unconditional love for the peoples of Africa had its origin and model in the saving love of the Good Shepherd, who offered his life for humanity on the cross: “And trusting in that most Sacred Heart … I feel much more ready to suffer … and to die for Jesus Christ and for the salvation of the unhappy peoples of Central Africa” (RL, No. 3).
The contemplation of the Heart of Jesus gives us our true identity and status as Missionaries: born, nurtured, cared for, energized, inspired, supervised, and sustained by this Sacred Heart, and enables us to lead people to this Heart and to assist our placing Jesus at the heart of each person.
The authentic Comboni Mission can only be lived through a vibrant relationship with the Pierced Heart of Jesus which reaches its climax on the Cross. No wonder that our Founder invites us to keep our eyes fixed on Christ crucified, pondering on the meaning of a God who died on the Cross for the salvation of people.
This Chapter is experiencing that, despite our weaknesses, the charism given by the Spirit to St. Daniel Comboni is still very much alive and strong. This is shown in the growing number of vocations, in the passion with which many Comboni Missionaries give themselves to the Mission, in the witness of life of our sick and elderly, in the Communities that live close to the poor, in inter-culturality shared with joy and mutual enrichment, in the respect and the care for our common home, and in many other ways.
We are sure that the Heart of Christ, who has kept us faithful and united for so many years, is preparing for us a new missionary era for our Institute, full of life and vitality. If we allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit, it will be a Mission more faithful than ever to the desires of the Good Shepherd and to those of our Founder, a Mission that will not be “German, French, Italian or Spanish”, but truly a Catholic and fraternal Mission for the betterment of humanity.
So we invite you to celebrate this Feast of the Sacred Heart with an attitude of thanksgiving and with a humble but committed response to Gods´ love.
We ask for your prayers so that all of us, in the Chapter and beyond, may allow ourselves to be moved by the Spirit of God and renew our covenant in the charism of Daniel Comboni for the good of the people we work with over four Continents.
May the contemplation of the Heart of Jesus help us to renew our consecration and our missionary passion.
Cordially yours, All the Capitulars of the XIX General Chapter Rome, June 24th 2022, The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart