Comboni Lay Missionaries

The one thing necessary

Open HandsOne of the most difficult parts of this “missionary” life for me has been accepting all that I am missing out on. In my lowest moments, I think about missing my family, my close guy friends (it is so hard to make authentic peer-to-peer friendships here), my god-children, career development, saving for retirement, my familiar culture, and things like this.  It’s taken a few years to come to terms with all that I need to give up in order to be authentic to God’s invitation for me to become more loving, which at this present moment keeps me in Ethiopia.  Now, most days I feel at peace, which is a logical effect of voluntary sacrifice.  But I have learned that the most important effect is an opening of me to others, a widening of my horizons away from myself to the needs of others.  Thomas Merton’s writings, particularly from “No Man is an Island” have been a great inspiration:

“One who is content with what he has, and who accepts the fact that he inevitably misses very much in life, is far better off and more at peace than one who has or experiences much more but who worries about all he may be missing. For we cannot make the best of what we are, if our hearts are always divided between what we are and what we are not.

The relative perfection which we must attain in this life if we are to live as children of God is not the twenty-four-hours-a-day production of perfects acts of virtue, but a life from which practically all the obstacles to God’s love have been removed or overcome.

One of the chief obstacles to this perfection of selfless love is the selfish anxiety to get the most out of everything, to be a brilliant success in our own eyes and in the eyes of other people. We can only rid ourselves of this anxiety by being content to miss something in almost everything we do. We cannot master everything, taste everything, understand everything, visit everywhere, drain every experience to its last dregs. But if we have the courage to let almost everything go, we will probably be able to retain the one thing necessary for us – whatever it may be. If we are too eager for everything, we will almost certainly miss even the one thing we need.

This type of authentic happiness consists in finding out precisely what the “one thing necessary” may be in our lives and in gladly relinquishing all the rest. For then, by a divine paradox, we find that everything else is given us together with the one thing we needed.”

– Mark

Maggie, Mark and Emebet Banga, Comboni Lay Missionaries, Awassa, Ethiopia

Advent 2013: “Let your light shine”.

AdvientoAdvent 2013: “Let your light shine”. This Advent time (1-24 December) we pray as communities united all across the world that the Holy Spirit may inspire us to transform our world; empower us to seek the common good for all persons; and give us a spirit of solidarity making us one with all who suffer injustice and live in want. In attachment we publish the Prayer reflection for Advent 2013 in English (text) and Spanish (texto 1, texto 2, texto 3 y texto 4).

Mission from the fragility

Comunidad de Boda

It’s the first time I get to the mission of Boda. We decided to celebrate the feast of Comboni with our brothers in Boda who have had a difficult time with the Seleka conflict, as they have repeatedly been ransacked the house and stolen almost everything. In Boda live these three Comboni brothers tested by the Mission: Adelino with 70 have very poor health, Berti with 74 remains an off road in the parish of Boganangone, and Claude, a centralafrican of 45 years.

Sister Margarithe, from La Martinique, tells me the suffering of her people. She works at the hospital in the city, but in August the doctor and the midwives fled because of the violence of the soldiers and now many women give birth in the jungle and not few mothers and children die. Each day in the hospital you have to face the inhuman conditions in which these people live.

It is in this context of insecurity and suffering that, to celebrate the feast of Comboni, Adelino invited us to meditate this morning on the “Mission from the fragility”. Based on the experience of the Church of Algiers proved twenty years ago with many martyrs as their Bishop Pierre Claverie, the seven monks of Tiberine or the four white fathers and many other missionaries and Christians… we reflected what it means to live the mission in our particular situation of pain and suffering, a Mission from the fragility.

In this moment we are called to live the mission with bare hands. It was not us who have chosen this time of trial, was our Lord, the Suffering Servant, who has brought us this far.

When we do mental cabals asking “What would be the ideal time for the mission?” we mess ourselves with utopian future events away from the heart of God. That ideal time of the mission doesn´t exists; the best time is today, the present… The four white parents murdered in Algeria were aware of their vulnerability and so had chosen “the fragility as the language of love …”. This time invite us to a second election they said, move from “a spirituality of development to a spirituality of presence and dialogue.” Definitely it is not but follow the model of Jesus in the flesh to live the life of men. “Learning our helplessness and be aware of our radical poverty, of our radical being naked in front of God, cannot be more than an urgent call to create no power relationships with the other; having recognized my own weakness I cannot just accept the weakness of the others, but I can even live my invitation to make mine this weakness imitating Christ poor” (Cristel, White Father).

The real dialogue is located in the no power, rooted in the weakness and fragility; there is real dialogue only when everyone is confronted with his own vulnerability and fragility. This requires a change of perspective in the style of St. Paul (1 Cor 2: 1-5) which boasts of its own fragility in order to approach the other with the strength of the weakness…

It is true; the weakness is not a virtue, but the expression of a fundamental reality of our being that has to be constantly shaped by faith, hope and charity to conform to the weakness and poverty of Christ. Jesus did not choose strong media; the Church cannot lean on its power or its strength. In these testing times of crisis and trial we are invited to escape from a self-referential Church, a Church that is an end in itself; when the Church touches the weakness and the frailty of men, then, from his own weakness can become mystery of salvation.

Throughout this pedagogy of fragility, following the steps of Comboni, we have seen how prayer is our only strength, so we have meditated on three temptations of our prayer in this time of crisis:


1st) The fear for the future… think that there is no future. We fear that God would open our eyes and undress, we are afraid because we know that when God ask for a hand he takes the whole arm…

2nd) The evasion… Live in a hypothetical future that does not exist, “if we had lived in another time, in other circumstances, with other people …” Avoidance is the fear and the denial of God´s present in my life.

3rd) The impatience… Want everything now, immediately… The logic of God’s patience goes in the other sense… the logic of the cross, of the wheat grain.

No, we haven´t chosen this time of pain and trial, was the Lord Jesus who lovingly led us here in order that from our own fragility and vulnerability, maybe, we can get into real contact with these people humiliated and outraged.

“Why do you stay?” were asked those in Algeria. This is the place of the Church, the Cross of the Lord.

By Jesus Ruiz (MCCJ in Mongoumba).

Our way of living the Mission!

A reflection- prayer from our friends Maria Grazia and Marco Piccione, Comboni Lay Missionaries, from Italy.

CLM family in UgandaThe Piccio are … Dad Mark (Piccione in fact), mother Maria Grazia and their two children Francesco (4 years) and Samuel (2 ½ years).

They are a family of Comboni Lay Missionaries from Milan and belonging to the group of CLM in Venegono Superiore (VA).

Since August 2011 they live in Aber (Uganda) where they were sent as Comboni Lay Missionaries, fidei donum, from the Archdiocese of Milan to the diocese of Lira (Uganda).

Maria Grazia works as a doctor in the hospital of Aber and Marco is an educator in the orphanage Saint Clare, working in schools and in various educational and social fields.

Francesco goes to kindergarten of the Saint Josephine Bakhita parish and Samuel is a Ugandan child that they are adopting. He lives with them since he was 10 months old.

Their mission project is to share their everyday life -work and family- with the people they meet every day, being a witness of responsibility, commitment and proximity.

This reflection and more can be found in Piccio’s blog, which is the way they use to share their experience every week with Italian friends (and not only) who support them and enable their dream:


 Mission is…

 Mission is … This is who I am (because of my history, my culture, my skills) and that “being me” I want to share with you;

mission is… to share a revelation that makes me happy;

mission is… when I put my feet out of bed every morning to renew the “yes” that I have said (as a husband, as a father, as an educator, as a Christian) and promise to do my best;

mission is… I do not expect changes in the others;

mission is… I’ve got no will but I do it anyway;

mission is… I have no  strength, but I know I can get in an extra reserve;

mission is… I do not have the ability, but I do my best;

mission is… I’m afraid but I trust;

mission is… I can hardly understand you (and understand You) but I make an effort;

mission is… make the prophets of all time continue to live, witnessing all we have learned from them;

for all of this, the mission is… to grow by challenging ourselves;

for all  of this, the mission is… with everyone;

for all of this, the mission is… everywhere;

for all of this, the mission is… always.