Comboni Lay Missionaries

Chispuditos Program in the Village of la Salvadora, Santa Catarina Pínula, Guatemala

LMC Guatemala

Comboni Lay Missionaries of the Province of Central America, Guatemala

LMC Guatemala

Chispuditos is the name of the food given only to children taking part in the program, between the ages of six months to six years. The purpose of this product is to provide vitamins and minerals necessary for the integral development of the children, helping to strengthen their immunological system, and to avoid anemia and malnutrition. In Guatemala the program is working in various places, it is free, and it is sponsored by foreign benefactors.

How is it that we, the CLM_PCA of Guatemala know about Chispuditos?

This is the story as told by Ana Cris de Camey, who is currently a missionary in Brazil:

“The month of February, 2017 was the first time we reached the village of la Salvadora and, as part of our missionary activity, we started home visitations with the idea of getting to know the families and their needs. That is where we met María Mercedes and Walter. She was 24 and he was 37. They had seven children, the last two being twins, a boy and a girl, Fabián and Tania, who were severely undernourished, pale, without hair, with spots on their heads and with a severe rash. The worst part is that they could not sit up even though they were already one and a half year old.

María Mercedes said that she was taking them to the national hospital Roosevelt once a month, where they were being treated for chronic malnutrition, were giving them some milk products, but it was not enough for them. For certain it was a precarious and difficult situation for the mother, who had problems finding food for the children since her husband did not have a job and was not even looking for one. On top of that she was the victim of physical and verbal abuse.  

On that same day in the afternoon, we talked with the community to find a way to help them because their situation was beyond deplorable. Miriam, also a CLM, commented about the Chispuditos program held at the clinic St. Daniel Comboni, run by Sr. Sarah Mulligan, SC.

Miriam spoke with Sr. Sarah and they allowed us to take up this nutrition program. Then several of us went to learn about the program to implement it at la Salvadora.

At first they lent us the scale to weigh the children and the ruler to measure their stature. After that and with the help of the parish of Santa Catarina Pínula, we were able to buy the equipment for our children.

On July, 8, 2017, for the first time we brought in the Chispuditos. On that same day we weighed 40 children, several of them healthy, while in others with malnutrition visible through their frail state and others too fat. By then we had already learned that this, too, was a sign of malnutrition.

We kept up the visits on the first Saturday of each month to measure and weigh the children, give them the Chispuditos, and giving encouragement to the mothers, besides teaching them some recipes to include protein and other ingredients that children need in order to grow.

Tania and Fabián:

Three months into the program, on October 2017, Fabián died. It was very tough because in all possible ways we were fighting to help these children escape malnutrition. They say that he gave a deep sigh and died. This was certainly due to the general weakness of his body and the heart gave up beating. We stayed close to María Mercedes and her family. She went to live with her mother and on various occasions we brought her the Chispuditos so that Tania would not stop taking it. Between the Chispuditos, the increased attention, the support of her grandmother and uncles, after two months we could already see the difference. She was a different girl, had a good color! She was a dark girl, with black hair, a great smile and a lot of energy! She was sitting up and was beginning to take her first steps. On that day I cried to see the mercy of God through this little girl. Unfortunately, her brother had to die, but it was not in vain. Today it gives us great joy to see the attention given to Tania, to be a different girl, that she may walk and grow.

As CLM we make every possible effort to help these women to grow spiritually and to better feed their families, and also that the children may escape malnutrition and have a better life. It involves years of work, but we know that already today we are beginning to see some fruit.”

Currently the program still works in the village la Salvadora, after one year and eight months, even though, having started with 40 children, we only have 12 still in it. Last Saturday, March 2, 2019, 11 new ones arrived. We rejoiced in our hearts, thanking God for all this. We have earned the trust of our community, and we hope these children will persevere and that the number of children benefiting from the Chispuditos will increase.

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

St. Daniel Comboni

LMC Guatemala

Lily Portillo

CLM-PCA, Guatemala

Comboni Lay Missionaries PCA, Yearly Silent Retreat

LMC Guatemala

LMC Guatemala

Last weekend, February 9-10, the CLM of the PCA in Guatemala enjoyed the gift of the annual retreat. It took place at Casa Comboni in Guatemala City.

The lay participants were 18 and it was organized by Bro. Humberto Rua, our moderator, and by Fr. Victor Hugo Castillo, who kindly prepared the topic for the meditations of the two days.

The objective of the retreat: to take a spiritual time out in order to recollect within ourselves the essentials of missionary life and gather strength to face the activities of this year.

On Saturday, scrutinizing the Word of God in the Gospel of Mark, we reflected on Jesus as the Son of God:

* The Good News is Jesus of Nazareth, man and God, crucified and resurrected, Jesus as the Lord of History. Starting from this truth, the mission of the Church consists in speaking of God, not only creating communities, but also leading people to make a profession of faith. It is to re-establish hope which is so fragile in our days, and return dignity to those who do not believe they have it.

* The Baptism of Jesus and ours, that makes us Children of God, even though it gives us the Spirit, nonetheless it does not exempt us from temptations, hence we must defend us with the Word and here the proclamation begins.

* In the temptations in the desert Jesus defeated the Devil by the strength of the Spirit. The missionary is not super-man or super-woman, but it is their human experience that makes them able to help others. Vocation is a daily struggle and conquest, a pathway between temptations and victories.

Following, we had confessions, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and a time for meditation and silence. We did not forget about a time of enjoyment which is only possible in Godly endeavors.

Sunday, “the Mission,” the great gift of God to us without our deserving it.

* Mission is born when the disciple feels called by the Father. He then goes looking for his brothers everywhere. This love is not selfish. The mission of the disciples is exactly the same as the mission of Jesus.

* Apostolic life does not consist in doing a lot of things, because Jesus already saved the world, nor by starting from what he did, but only starting from one point: the cross.

* The greatest wisdom: “Mission consists in teaching the Word of God, the Good News. Mission is not in giving things, because giving the Word is much more than anything.”

* The activity of God is to be adored in spirit and truth. The missionary is a worker, cooperator of God, and proclaiming the Gospel is the proclamation of the truth that sets us free.

These were some of the points of the retreat. I could write much more, but in general terms, for in these topics we meditate starting for the Word.

We ended with a delicious lunch.

Blessed be God who has called us and gives us the ability to “go to the world and proclaim the Good News to all of creation” (Mk 16:15)

“Holy and able making common cause with the poorest and most abandoned”

(St. Daniel Comboni)

LMC Guatemala

Lily Portillo, CLM-PCA

Visitors from Rome

LMC Guatemala

LMC Guatemala

Fraternal greetings from Guatemala!

We, the Comboni Lay Missionaries in the province of Central America, Guatemala, feel happy for the forward progress Jesus has guided us on in order to offer and grow in the love and missionary service in the style of Comboni.

In early January the MCCJ of the PCA held their yearly assembly. This year was special because it included the presence of their superior general, Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse, and of Fr. Alcides Costa, assistant general.

As part of their agenda, they included a time with us, the CLM of the Province of Central America (CLM-PCA).

On Wednesday, January 9, to be exact, we accepted the invitation that Fr. Victor Hugo Castillo, Provincial Superior, and Bro. Humberto Rua, our moderator (who also attended the meeting) had extended a few days earlier.

Nine of us, CLM, attended and we had the opportunity to talk with them, to tell them about our activities during these last four years concerning formation, mission experiences, mission promotion, together with our projects for the future. They listened attentively and gave us time to expand on anything, if we wanted to. In the end, Fr. Tesfaye told us how he appreciated the answer we have given to Jesus and also our availability to proclaim the Kingdom in the style of Daniel Comboni. He encouraged us to move forward and assured us of his support.

We, the CLM-PCA, thank the MCCJ provincial Council of Central America, who wholly supported us during these four years. They did it in our formation, in our organization, by including us in their six year planning of two years ago and with their availability to help us at any time.

We thank Fr. Tesfaye and Fr. Alcides, for the time they gave us. We have felt motivated to continue in this loving madness for Christ, in this passion for mission.

Lily Portillo, Guatemala

LMC Guatemala

Holy and able making common cause with the poorest and most abandoned

St. Daniel Comboni


Happy New Year from Brazil

LMC Brasil

LMC Brasil

For the Glory of God we have been here a month and a half. We thank ALL the people we know, who consequently are a part of our lives and of this project of life, whom we constantly place in the Lord’s hands.

By the grace of God we have been adapting within the Brazilian community, especially in Ipê Amarelo. Above all, it never ceases to surprise us how God already was here, namely, God always takes the initiative and no one is ever excluded from him, as we realize it over and over just by our being here, so far from the earthly place where we were born and lived, but where others live: my brother, my brothers.

During this time we joyfully celebrated the 60th birthday of Lourdes Viera. She has been a tireless CLM and charter founder of the CLM in Brazil for about 20 years ago.

For us as a family having her is a great blessing, she is our Vovó, especially to the children. She has been introducing us with great energy and with great charity to this community and to mission life in general.

We also celebrated Christmas (Natal in Portuguese) with great joy and enthusiasm because it was our first Christmas away from our home and our family. By God’s grace our children spent it in a normal and happy way. God’s gift is the fact that our being together is our greatest strength.

Gratefully, the CLM family of Alejo and Tere de Ramirez, who have provided a lot of inspiration for us over the years, decided to spend Christmas here at home. In fact, we had not known them up to now, because we had only seen a picture of them four years ago. They, too, have been part of the CLM for about 20 years, and even though they could never leave their country, they did it in the way God asks us to do it on a daily basis: moving from within themselves towards the others and for the others as a family, like many others who have not been able or have chosen not to leave. They are a beautiful couple with three daughters, and they have worked in the spiritual formation of many CLM and are an example of Christian life to be followed.

LMC BrasilWe are grateful to God for the coming of the New Year when we had the opportunity to spend it at home as a family, which is what we personally like to do. It gave us time to talk about all the blessings we have received from God our Father during the year that just ended. The best moment was to be able to exchange blessings, each one of us personally to recognize ourselves as a united family blessed by God now and forever. You may ask? Are the children aware of what is happening and of what they are doing? As it is for many things in life, this is not an exact science, but we are together and, from Lucia, the smallest, to Esteban, who is the most aware, each one is valuable, important, worthy, loved, and they know it and this is how we feel towards them: Our most cherished treasure!

Our local pastor here in Brazil, Fr. Agustinho, already said it during the last Sunday of the year, dedicated to the Holy Family: “the family is the best hospital, the best doctor, the best school, the place where we live in love, a place we have in common.”

We wish you all a Blessed Beginning of this Year of Humankind and a blessed life, as we entrust ourselves to the hand of God and to your prayers. We say good-bye to you with the blessing that our Father gives us through the Church every year to enable us to start anew:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up his face upon you and give you peace.” (Num 6:24-26)

The Camey Family, CLM in Brazil


Our Arrival in Brazil

Familia LMC a Brasil

Familia LMC a Brasil

 Our heart pulsating with love, fills up to overflowing with happiness!

On Thursday, November 22, we left Guatemala very enthused, with a lot of joy and hope. With a touch of homesickness we said good-bye to family and friends and started the much awaited journey to Brazil, exhausted by its length, but with the children happy to board the plane. Also with strong feelings over the blessing of being able to come.

Lourdes was happily waiting to receive us and we were just as happy to see her, amazed by the scenery and in a hurry to get home. We boarded a bus and then the MCCJ were waiting at the station to take us home. Quite an adventure, with 13 vehicles to take everybody. When we arrived we felt at home. I was thinking that, even had we left a lot behind in Guatemala, here we were getting twice as much. Simply put, the Lord is not stingy.

We rested some days after the journey and got ready for Sunday Mass. It was a beautiful celebration that filled our hearts with joy beyond description. This day, the Feast of Christ the King, reminded us of our short mission experience in San Luis Petén, where the Lord got hold of us in a deep way, and where we discovered that we wanted to be Comboni Lay Missionaries, because when we were there, we ended our mission experience on the feast of Christ the King. How joyful to know that the Lord spares no effort to win our hearts! This is how in the depth of our being the fire of love is born and generates a strength that cannot be silenced, a most pure love that gets into your very bones and makes you move out from where we are. During this beautiful Eucharist we were well received, the children did a dance representing Brazil, and we felt welcomed by the whole community where providence and the generosity of people certainly are not lacking.

After Mass we returned home for lunch, where Lourdes had prepared a banquet which we shared with Alejo, Tere and their family. With them we also shared many of our desires and aspirations of being missionaries out of our reality, as a family. We also met Neuza, a neighbor, laughed and started making acquaintances. How close one feels to Brazilians! The openness of the people here is quite impressive and especially in this little corner of Brazil.

We have been here a week and in truth it went by fast, between long trips to change money, to know the neighborhood and three-hour long shopping trips, it has been quite an experience. Many people approach us to talk to us, because the children draw a lot of attention and so does our poor Portuguese, which is improving by the day. Lourdes has been our strength and joy, takes us everywhere, teaching us, explaining and showing us everything, solving our doubts and loving our children.  By now she is already officially our Brazilian grand-mother: Vovó! Even though we did not know her, she opened to us the doors of her house and of her heart. It is so comforting to know that as CLM we are one in Christ, one in love.

Familia LMC a BrasilWith a lot of anxiety we took the first round of formation with Alejo. Blessed are the eyes and ears that are attentive to the word of the Lord! It was an oasis in the midst of confusion, a pause that refreshed the soul. We sang missionary songs, and does the soul vibrates when you sing about the call God has given you! We scrutinized the words of Genesis 12:1-4, Leave your land, leave your father and your mother, your family, your country and go to the land I will show you… I will make of you a fount of blessing…

At different times the Lord makes himself known in small things, in greater things, in simple events, in something personal. This reading, that had been the main theme of a retreat given by the MCCJ provincial Fr. Victor Hugo Castillo, reminded us of the moment that defined our discernment about three years ago, when we decided to leave everything and join the CLM, the moment when we made ourselves available to mission as a family. And today, as we start in it the Lord repeats to us: “I know you, I love you and you are here because it is my will.”

How great is the love of God! There is no measure and our mind is so limited that we can only allow ourselves to be loved.

Today our hearts are full of love and want to share all these details of His dealing with us. You cannot say no to God. How could we be so blind as we face the sweetness of his love? Only by living it we can know it and by giving of ourselves we can feel it.

Our hope is based in our faith in Him and, because we feel so loved, we are here. We hope that our life may be a source of animation and hope in the face of desolation, of purification for our souls and of light for those who do not know true love.

Pray for us, that we may be useful instruments of God.

Greetings from Ipê Amarelo, Brazil

Ana Cris de Camey