Comboni Lay Missionaries

… It was her third time back


Wrapped up in her mother’s lap, the cloths covered a little heartbeat!!!

Her body was thin, almost transparent, and you could see the cry coming from her tiny breasts.

Her mother, with a serene, delicate smile, was silently asking for help!

A few days earlier, hope had won the fight against a barely cured malaria and Annie had returned home.

But in this war of unequal combat, equity and inequality of completely irrational values, Annie couldn’t resist!

At her side, Jean Luca, with all the resources possible, in this remote part of Africa, is fighting the fight of his life!

There are no losers or winners here.

Heroes, yes! Many of them!

The hospital in Mongoumba in the Central African Republic is currently seeing many cases of malaria.

I suppose that perhaps because of the floods during the rainy season last year, the malaria mosquitoes have tripled in number and resistance to drugs has also increased.

My Easter was spent here:

Between the Sigh of Hope of Dying or Living!!!

My God! My belly bursts into tears at the sight of the breath evaporating from these fragile bodies!

Bodies so “Jesús”!

When will I cry these tears?

I don’t know, only He knows!

Because now what I see are the smiles of the children passing by on the street…!!!

And “He” once again makes me Believe…!!!

Cristina Souza, LMC Mongoumba

Between Palms and Songs

Domingo de Ramos

A day of faith and reflection

Still in the Easter mood, an invitation to revisit the intense days leading up to Resurrection Day, a unique week in which we tried to recreate with fervor the last steps of Christ as Man.

At the entrance to the village, under the welcoming shade of the mango trees, children and adults, men and women gathered in faith to begin the celebration of Palm Sunday. Everyone had their own palm, some of them beautifully decorated.

To the vibrant sound of the songs of “Hossana”, the community walked down the main street in procession, a sea of palms waving in the air, a unison chant that echoed the joy of faith.

In the church, the celebration went on for more than two hours.

Thus began Holy Week, paving the way for a time of reflection, a time to meditate on Christ’s sacrifice and the promise of redemption.

On this journey we are invited: to relive the footsteps of Jesus, to meditate on the meaning of his surrender and to reflect on the meaning of our own lives.

A unique opportunity to strengthen our faith and renew our hope.

Élia Gomes, CLM RCA

Celebrating Easter in the five Villas

Pascua LMC España

This Holy Week we have been fortunate to get together again to celebrate the Easter Triduum of the CLM of Spain.

This year we were hosted by the parish unit of the five Villas in the Sierra de Gredos.

We were fortunate to “premiere” the parish house of Villarejo del Valle, recently renovated.

As we have been doing in recent years, we have chosen to celebrate Easter with a community where some animation and collaboration with the local parish priest who has to attend to several distant communities would come in handy. In this sense we were in charge of animating some community and together with the same community to celebrate together both the services and some activities.

This year there were only 11 of us because for various reasons at the last minute some of us could not participate so we have experienced a more familiar atmosphere if possible.

We have felt very well received by the community with whom we have been walking these days and we have engaged in many conversations and sharing our faith, learning a lot from them.

Most of the time we have been in San Esteban del Valle. On Thursday we started with the celebration of fraternal love. A lot of participation and a very simple Eucharist where we could enter into these important days.

Then we went to the monument that was in the hermitage in the center of the village. As in all these days, the blessed rain has been accompanying us and it was not going to be less, so the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament was done as quickly as possible.

Then we returned in the evening for the prayer in the garden of Gethsemani. It was a simple moment where we were able to accompany the Lord with the different passages of the Gospel. Reviewing similar moments of our life. We were able to delve into them and even share them with each other.

Good Friday was also a very important day. Every morning we started with a moment of prayer in the church of Villarejo, in front of the house. In a simple way and with some neighbors with whom we gathered every morning.

Then we go to San Esteban for the Stations of the Cross organized by the community. It was a very simple and emotional moment, full of tradition with the carraca and a traditional song that counted each station. Accompanying the Lord on the way of the Cross….

Later in the afternoon, the celebration of the Passion and Death. Austere and simple, which helped us to enter into those moments so difficult to assume and understand.

We ended the night in Santa Cruz, where we shared the adoration of the cross with the neighbors and with the group of young people from the five Villas who were celebrating a youth Easter. A moment that they prepared very well and through songs and gestures of adoration helped us to accompany the death of the Lord.

On Saturday morning we had another time of prayer in Villarejo. It was always nice and it also allowed us to talk about the reality of the pastoral unity that is being carried out in the five Villas, the difficulties and challenges that the Church is facing, the changes and the responsibility of the laity in this journey.

We immediately went to San Esteban where we met, in addition to the people of the local community, two other groups that were celebrating Easter in the area. We shared the Path to Emmaus. We listened to the testimonies of the disciples of Emmaus, Peter, Thomas or the Magdalene in those first moments of uncertainty before the Resurrection. Of joy and almost of unbelief….

An intense moment where we learned from each other and were enriched by sharing our lives.

At the end of the day we went to Monbeltran where we were invited to a magnificent rice with chicken to finish the morning.

On Saturday afternoon we organized a missionary testimony. After several days with the people of the town, many of them wondered who we were, the Comboni Lay Missionaries. So we took advantage of the afternoon to have a sharing. Isabel and Gonzalo told us about their years in Arequipa (Peru), and then we had a nice discussion about the lay missionary vocation and its challenges.

Afterwards we rushed back to have an early dinner and leave for Monbeltran where we celebrated Easter with people from the five Villas. The parish priest wanted to make a single celebration that night so important for all together to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord.

It was a very beautiful celebration. The moment of the fire had to be quick because the rain was present as all these days, and then we went to the temple where each one had prepared a part of the celebration. We finished with a small party and sharing.

On Sunday morning some of us had to return and others ended up celebrating the Mass of Resurrection with the community of St. Stephen. This time the rain held off and we were able to bring out the Risen Lord and his Mother.

We would like to thank Don Alvaro and all the communities of the five Villas for the welcoming we received. At all times we felt very well received. Each one of us accompanied and animated different moments and together we were able to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord.

May the Risen Lord accompany us all always. May we know how to be witnesses and bring his light to all the peoples of the Earth. Alleluia, Alleluia

Alberto de la Portilla. CLM.

GUARDIÕES: The fight for the land

LMC Brasil


Even today, after a morning of pouring sun, the rain visited us, half an hour of a powerful storm that dissolved in a few seconds, like the rapid passage of a plane. The rainy season has become this, a short cold shower, everyone wonders if it is a coincidence that it no longer rains for entire weeks as it happened in the past, but it is clear that climate change is screaming loudly here too.

You don’t reach these levels overnight, there is always a path and a story behind it, and the history of this land has very deep roots.

It all started a long time ago. In fact, from the time of the colonial invasion to today, Brazil has never implemented a popular agrarian reform. Consider that in a huge area like that of Brazil, only 1% of landowners own almost 50% of the total cultivable area in the country, and half of these large properties are totally unproductive and could therefore be expropriated for agrarian reform. Brazil is also the largest territory in the world in terms of possible arable land. It is for this reason that for decades the right to land has been conquered and not received by right, it is a fight against the system that has seen the birth of large movements such as that of the LANDLESS (MST), movements that fight to be able to live there where many, with roots in the land and fields, have always wanted and would like to continue to live.

Thus the idea of an occupation was born: hundreds of families reunited, organized themselves, occupying large plots of land to attract the attention of the federal government. Raimunda, waiting to receive this land, lived camped with her family for years, in tents made up of plastic sheets and 4 sticks, inside which there were pots and coal for cooking, clothes, hammocks to hook between a tree and the other, and then children born in the middle of the woods, raised far from life in the city. All in a true sense of community, of struggle, of life shared with little, waiting for the big day when we can finally receive a piece of land to build our own homes, surrounded by trees and fields to cultivate.

The inhabitants of the Francisco Romao Assentation have won the right to the land after 10 years of living in camp.

When they arrived in that territory they discovered that it was Government land, which had been occupied by a landowner illegally, the whole area had already been deforested to create an immense pasture of dairy cows, destroying the surrounding vegetation.

This phenomenon of illegitimate land appropriation is known as “Grillagem”, a practice of forced aging of false documents that are placed in a box with crickets, making them yellowed and gnawed, giving them an ancient and more credible appearance, a phenomenon of forgery to illegally take possession of vacant or third-party land. The families denounced this illegality to ask the government for the possibility of having part of that land and being able to cultivate and reforest it. After years of struggle and reclaiming the land, each family managed to have a property where they could do what they had always dreamed of: living off the land in a sustainable way. It’s an incredible story that of the assentamentos, places where life flows to the rhythm of the countryside.

You enter the settlement on dirt roads, a bright red earth, and you are immediately surrounded by houses and courtyards full of fruit trees and medicinal plants of all kinds, of which the families know every benefit and valorize them for purposes to the last sheet. When we go to visit them they tell us with great nostalgia about those times gone by: the times of precariousness, but also of union, happiness and sharing. The houses were initially made of mud and straw, people lived very little. Life in absence was a constant sharing of one’s possessions, the goal was for everyone to be able to live off that land and for issues to be resolved together, under the canopy in the center of the town, a space dedicated to community meetings. Together we decided what to grow (corn, beans, castanha), we decided where to build the school, together we fought to get tractors, we fought to have a public health building. These were the foundations for allowing a dignified life, and they were built together. A dignified life that allowed for at least 3 meals a day, with rice, beans and cassava, basic elements of Brazilian cuisine. Throughout this process, women were the true protagonists, taking care of the house, taking care of the children and helping the men in the fields, a true example of strength and leadership.

Community, solidarity and doing together, this is the common thread that has made it possible to win many battles and with which the assentamentos were built and still resist, places of life, struggle and defense of peasant life. Farming families have always had one great goal: to plant and harvest food, but also to reforest and protect native vegetation. This is why we called them Guardioes: the guardians. Guardians of nature, guardians of the well-being of the soil and of that piece of the Amazon that has been entrusted to them. Guardians of the community and of peasant life, of the fight against a system that wants to take away the life of the least and give strength to the powerful. Guardians of that land which has now been completely destroyed.

In the next episode you will know other stories of women who have chosen to fight in the face of all this. We wish you a good continuation and a happy and peaceful Easter and resurrection in the Lord.

Anna and Gabrielle, CLM in Brazil

Prayer Intentions of the Comboni Family April 2024

Oración 2024
Oración 2024

That the Lord may grant all missionaries a share in the Paschal Mystery of Christ – the mystery of that life which is stronger than death – that they may learn to strip themselves of the old man and put on the sentiments of Christ: tenderness, goodness, humility, patience, magnanimity, and closeness to the least in history. Let us pray.