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

CLM-Feast in the Mission Promotion House Nuremberg

CLM Germany
CLM Germany

One year after the general assembly in Rome and the greetings of Pope Francis we celebrated with the Comboni-Family the Comboni Lay Missionaries movement day together with volunteers in the global south and north, who decided to be inspired by Saint Daniel Comboni, strengthened by a movement of lay Christians and lifelong dedicated to spread the good news of the Gospel.

We started with a World-Cafe with statements from Pope Francis about mission today, mission in shrinking communities, mission in post-colonial Europe and in times of global climate change. Those arriving had the opportunity to comment on selected statements at several tables. The idea was to exchange ideas in several small groups at parallel tables.

Afterwards, a short video of the Pope’s greeting in Rome in December 2018 (compiled by Christina from Brazil) and the greeting of the Central Committee of the Comboni Lay Missionaries were read out partly as an introduction to the feast. It dealt with the reading of the third Advent and the joy with which the gospel is to be proclaimed as well as the growing together of the CLM nationally and internationally. The new international logo of the Comboni Lay Missionaries was presented. This was the result of a cooperative process last year and was selected from several proposals.

CLM Logo

The word service was initiated by a “search order”. Those present were invited to collect various objects during a walk, from which a crib should then be designed. Thus, the current times and the past were brought together as well as aspects of global integration and injustice, pollution and mission today. The two MaZ-in-service, the returning MaZler *, the CLM international and the numerous Comboni friends, who had responded to the invitation but unfortunately could not be there, were included in the prayers.

The feast continued in the dining and living room. A “shepherd’s meal” was prepared there. This again illustrated the upcoming Christmas. Thanks to many helping hands, there was a delicious, social get-together, rounded off with cake and children’s Christmas punch (as two families brought their four children as well). During the evening and the following day, congratulations and pictures came from CLM celebrations in Mexico, Kenya, Guatemala, Portugal, Spain, Egypt, Italy and from Rome were shared live via WhatsApp while the feast.

CLM Germany

CLM, Germany

Today is a joyful day!

Asamblea LMC
Logo LMC

“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 1)

Today is a joyful day!

It’s Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin word for rejoice, and on this Sunday we are called to pause our Advent in order to recall the joy and anticipation of the Promised Redemption. In the first antiphon of today’s Mass we could hear “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4, 4). These words should accompany us every moment, in every situation, even if sometimes it is not that easy.

And for us as CLM is also another reason to rejoice today. Last year on the international CLM assembly in Rome it was decided that 3rd Sunday of Advent will be our feast, when we can gather also with other members of Comboni Family and celebrate together.

Asamblea LMC

This day can be very inspiring for us as missionaries. In Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” we could read a lot about how the joy and mission are connected.

First of all we have to remember about the source of joy. The real Christian joy is different from the one which offers the world. It comes only from the personal encounter with Jesus Christ, which has to be renewed unfailingly every day. God’s presence in our lives and His unconditional love strengthens this joy. Christians has to be people filled with joy and radiating it. We cannot keep this joy just for ourselves. We are called to share it with others, that it could reach everyone, especially those poorest and most abandoned ones who might haven’t experience many good things in their lives. This is the base of the mission in every place where we are.

Asamblea LMC

In the homily for the beginning of the Extraordinary Mission Month Pope Francis said beautiful words regarding this topic. Maybe some of them heard them already, but still it’s good to read it again and think about it more: “Can we, who have discovered that we are children of the heavenly Father, keep silent about the joy of being loved, the certainty of being ever precious in God’s eyes? That is a message that so many people are waiting to hear. And it is our responsibility. Let us ask ourselves: how good a witness am I?

We sin by omission, that is, against mission, whenever, rather than spreading joy, we think of ourselves as victims, or think that no one loves us or understands us. We sin against mission when we yield to resignation: “I can’t do this: I’m not up to it”. How can that be? God has given you talents, yet you think yourself so poor that you cannot enrich a single person? We sin against mission when we complain and keep saying that everything is going from bad to worse, in the world and in the Church. We sin against mission when we become slaves to the fears that immobilize us when we let ourselves be paralyzed by thinking that “things will never change”. We sin against mission when we live life as a burden and not as a gift when we put ourselves and our concerns at the center and not our brothers and sisters who are waiting to be loved.”

Asamblea LMC

Today is a beautiful day for celebration united with all other CLM all over the world. But it is also a good day to reflect personally and share in the groups:

  • What type of person am I? One who looks like I came back from a funeral? Or one whose life glows with fervor because I received the joy of Christ?
  • How is God inviting me to return to the source of my joy?
  • How am I nurturing the source of my joy, my relationship with Jesus?
  • Am I living my day-to-day life in a way that allows the goodness of the Gospel to spread to others?

As we reflect on these questions, let us keep in mind that a sure sign that the Gospel is being proclaimed and bearing fruit is if joy is present (Evangelii Gaudium #21). May all of our ministry be full of the joy of the Gospel that is rooted in our own personal encounters with Jesus.

Asamblea LMC