Comboni Lay Missionaries

Presentation of the book “Africa, cradle of social transformation” in Verona


The book “Africa, Cradle of Social Transformation” written by Domenico Agasso, which reconstructs the missionary journey and vision of Fr. Francesco Pierli [right in photo], was presented in Verona on Saturday, April 1. The volume traces the stages of Fr. Francesco’s life highlighting his vital experiences and the historical processes from which his research and praxis of social transformation developed.

What emerges is a profoundly Combonian journey, reflecting the ideas, values and style of St. Daniel Comboni’s Plan for the Regeneration of Africa with Africa. Continuity and discontinuity at the same time, as often emerges in Fr. Pierli’s own reflection. Discontinuity in that times have changed a great deal, with a quite different mentality and socio-economic structures. We thus encounter a thought that critically confronts the great social and cultural transformations of our time and operates a discernment in order to respond to the epochal challenges that arise according to God’s dream.

It can be understood then how from his origins in post-World War I Umbria, marked by strong tensions and demands for social justice, Fr. Pierli developed a particular sensitivity and interest in the social doctrine of the Church and the vocation to social and “political” responsibility of Christians. He lived the season of the Second Vatican Council and put it to good use, inspired by the vision of Gaudium et spes and Lumen gentium. He becomes involved with both the magisterium and the social praxis of the Church, and when, at the end of his term as Superior General of the Comboni Missionaries, he landed in Kenya, he founded the Institute of Social Ministry in Mission (now the Institute for Social Transformation) at Tangaza College (in the Catholic University of East Africa). It was 1994, a year full of events: that of the first synod for Africa, in which he participated as an expert; the first democratic elections in South Africa, sanctioning the transition after apartheid; but also the genocide in Rwanda, a predominantly Catholic country. The African Synod called on the Church to embrace the social mission of the church in response to the major challenges on the continent. The Institute founded by Fr. Pierli was the first response to that invitation: to form social ministers equal to such great challenges.

A living testimony of the impact of the Institute’s work came from Dr. Judith Pete, a former student of Fr. Pierli’s, who now teaches at the same university and is in charge of the UNESCO Universities in Africa program, which promotes the synergy between learning and service on the ground. In addition to recounting how her encounter with Fr. Pierli profoundly marked her life, she emphasized the importance of the pedagogy used in the Institute, which harmonizes theory and practice, professional preparation and attitude of service and integrity. Most importantly, he emphasized how the Institute for Social Transformation’s programs contribute to the formation of leaders dedicated to social transformation in Africa.

Prof. Mario Molteni, from the Catholic University of Milan, spoke, recounting the fruitful collaboration with Fr. Pierli and the Institute he founded. A collaboration that launched a master’s program for the training of social entrepreneurs, with a direct slant on start-ups with social impact. A program that was only possible to start because of Fr. Pierli’s courage and vision that made it possible to have an effective, open and creative counterpart in Africa. Today that program has spread to 20 African countries and in the next few years it will come to 5 more. It is not just an academic program in partnership with African universities, but a network of entrepreneurs and local business services for significant social impact, organized under an organization called E4Impact. Recently, this initiative was visited by President Mattarella during his official visit to Kenya, selected for its innovation and significance. Indeed, to overcome the socio-economic injustices and environmental unsustainability that are leading the planet toward catastrophic scenarios, we need a new model of development, as Pope Francis also often insists, for example in Laudato si‘ and with the Economy of Francis movement.

At the end of the event, Fr. Pierli was asked what has been the most difficult challenge of all these years. Without hesitation, he emphasized the difficulty of changing mindsets and attitudes, and power relations, that induce dependence rather than autonomy and interdependence in Africa. We still have not overcome the heavy colonial legacy. The journey for social transformation continues.


Here is the video of the book presentation with speeches by, among others, the author and Fr. Pierli himself.

LA ZATTERA (THE RAFT)- Comboni Lay Missionaries in Palermo


We present the experience of La Zattera (The Raft) community in Palermo, created by some families of Comboni Lay Missionaries, for thirteen years it has been playing a welcoming role for foreign migrants, through paths of support and sharing.

“A free port, safe,” a community that involves many people who contribute to the creation of many activities, and who support this experience of fellowship and understanding for a better world.

¡”Ma Kitelakapel”!

LMC Kenia

Tragicomic chronicle from West Pokot, Kenya: first episode!!!!

Why “tragicomic?” Because, even without meaning to, I already know that it’s going to be a bit like that…and so, here, I would like to share with you the joys and sorrows of my being here!


– the Kenya Comboni Lay Missioners (CLM) group is a lively and welcoming group, I am glad to be a part of it.

(Father Maciek and some Kenyan LMCs, my first Sunday in Nairobi)

– For about 3 months I will be a guest of the Comboni Fathers in Kacheliba. I need to learn the local language, Pokot (I will have class every morning), and try to get a good understanding of how things work here. Later on, together with another Kenyan LMC, Josephine (who is also already here), I will move to the new house in Kitelakapel, 15 km from here, to start our full-time activities.

Our house is almost ready.

– During this time we will also be engaged in these activities:

1) Tamarind juice production: there are many tamarind trees in this area. We have put some ladies from Kitelakapel Chapel to work to collect these fruits. A small amount we have already sold in Nairobi, now we have to prepare everything so we can then continue to produce the juice. It will be a way to self-finance ourselves a little bit as a group of Kenyan Comboni Lay Missionaries.

(our tamarind!)

(our lay people selling tamarind juice, peanut butter and honey after Mass in Nairobi)

2) Participation in jumuiyya/parish groups/associations: we will go around among the various groups in the parish, especially in the Kitelakapel area, to get to know people, make connections, get a good understanding of the various realities of the parish, and see what needs there are, so that we can also understand what kind of activities we can fit in, or possibly what new activities to propose, especially in the pastoral area.

3) Activities in schools: we will meet with the directors of some schools near Kitelakapel, to see if the possibility of giving some part-time classes can be materialized, perhaps in exchange of a small contribution (so that we have a little something extra to self-support ourselves)

4) To establish the foundations of our community, preparing our ” charter” and other necessary documents.

We may become three! Another Ugandan Comboni Lay Missionary may join us in July. For this in particular, we rely on your prayers (because it would be a huge help, given the mountain of work ahead!).


Polepole ndio mwendo” say the Waswahili (Swahili speakers). It means, more or less, “he who goes slow, goes steady and goes far…” And so, I wish I had great achievements already to list, but unfortunately, or fortunately, things move very, but very slowly here. I have just arrived and I am asked, rightly, to tiptoe into this reality, polepole, because no matter how much experience one already may have–and I have very little–every reality is different, and here, by the way, everyone is rightly very busy, so I really cannot expect everything to be explained to me right away, or to be immediately involved in every possible and imaginable activity.

Upon my arrival, I was greeted with great affection and enthusiasm by the Kenyan Comboni Laity, who immediately made me feel at home. It is good to feel that I am not alone, but that, together, we are walking toward a common goal.

From Nairobi I moved to Kacheliba, about 15 km away from where I am going to live, Kitelakapel. This is how it works here: the main parish office is located in Kacheliba, but the parish covers a very large area full of outstations, that is, small chapels (sometimes they look like tiny houses, and they are actually “churches”!), often far away. There are currently two fathers, and one deacon. And they cannot be multiplied like the five loaves and two fish (unless the Holy Spirit intervenes…) so the work is really a lot. Kitelakapel is one of these outstations, but the fathers would like it to become, sooner or later, a parish, and so, in addition to the little church (larger than the little chapels I mentioned above), there is a house where the fathers stop to sleep sometimes, if necessary, and which could become, in the future, the home of the fathers of the new parish. Not far away, on the same “road” (if you can call it that) the construction of another house is now almost finished, where we Comboni lay people will stay. It’s quite a big house (we trust in the arrival of new lay missionaries!), with lots of space around it, to build a hospital as well (and, I hope, on the other side, also a playground to organize activities with the kids. How to deny my Salesian origins?).

(our little church in Kitelakapel)

(Mass in the chapel in Mtembur)

(Our house inside and out, almost finished! It looks like a Grand Hotel, but then thankfully inside is much more sober than it looks heheheh!)

Joining me on this adventure will be Josephine, the Kenyan Comboni laywoman who, like me, has given her availability for this mission, and so together, on April 29, we practically founded this new international community of Comboni Lay Missionaries. She is just originally from these parts, and she speaks Pokot, and for that I am really grateful, for the help she will be able to give me in understanding not only the language, but also to avoid possible mistakes or misunderstandings or figureheads related to my ignorance of the local culture.

(Josephine in traditional Pokot skirt, the “loruà”)

(the new LMC international community in Kitelakapel!)

When the construction of the house is fully completed, Josephine and I will move to Kitelakapel for good. At the moment, however, we are in Kacheliba, both because the house is not yet ready and because we need to take the Pokot course (in my case) and experience some community life here with the fathers.

Hoping I have not bored you, I send everyone a big hug and warm greetings.

Ah, important: THANK YOU!!!!!   

I sincerely thank all those who have contributed with their donations to start this new community. It is very embarrassing to find ourselves living off the charity of others, it is a new situation for me, but for anything, our own survival, expenses to start the community and any projects/activities with people, we now depend on Providence. The “beautiful” aspect of this is the fact that this somehow means that the flourishing of this new Christian community in Kitelakapel will be the fruit of a shared effort: by me and Josephine, with our direct presence, and by those who support us, through their indirect contributions. It becomes a team effort! Thank you very much!!!


Castel Volturno: here too there is a MISSION!!!


Hi, I’m Simone and I’m a Comboni Lay Missionary (CLM). I returned on September 10, 2020, after 1300 days of missionary experience in Mongoumba in Central African Republic with the pygmy people, supported by “my” CLM territorial group of Venegono Superiore, in agreement with the national coordination of the LMC, the Comboni provincial council of Italy and the Comboni community present, on January 21, 2022 I arrived in Castel Volturno and… here too there is a MISSION!!!

The parish of the Comboni Missionaries in Castel Volturno has been stable for 25 years now, started back on January 1, 1997 with Fr. Giorgio Poletti, now there are Fr. Daniele Moschetti and Fr. Sergio Agustoni who are introducing me to the life of the mission with patience and calm, telling me the history of the community and introducing me to the people who work with them. It is a new experience the presence of an LMC in a community of Comboni Fathers, but even more, it is a new opportunity to be on a mission within the geographical boundaries of Italy, because, as Pope Francis often repeats, the mission is no longer to be understood in a geographical sense, but it is to go out into the existential peripheries of humanity so … here too there is a MISSION!!!

Because of the short amount of time that has passed, I cannot say much, but the reality of Castel Volturno is complex and presents dynamics that are typical of Africa, due to the strong presence in the area of men and women from that continent, as well as Afro-descendant boys and girls, born in Italy, not recognized by the law, who go to local schools and speak Italian, albeit with a typical Neapolitan cadence, to which are added all the difficulties of an area wounded by the illegality of the Camorra, by social and environmental degradation. The morning begins with Mass in the parish at 7:00 am with the 3 Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart: Sr. Liberty, Sr. Nelly and Sr. Joselyn who come from the Philippines and carry out their service in the Migrantes Center with the guests welcomed. If the morning sometimes has a bland pace, the afternoon, as they say, flies by!!! Every day, I spend it at the Black & White Center in Destra Volturno with the 50 or so children who come for after-school tutoring from 3-7pm. We don’t just do homework, because on Tuesdays we are supposed to start theater, on Wednesdays we already do sports, on Thursdays art with Dory and on Fridays we see a movie. In just a few weeks, I have already met many people who gravitate around the Comboni community of Castel Volturno: the Black & White educators, the team of the Diocesan Missionary Center of Capua, the director of the Migrantes Center and the hosted kids, the youth and teenagers of the Santa Maria dell’Aiuto parish, the SUAM group of Campania, the boys and girls of the INFORMARE magazine editorial staff, the Ukrainian community that celebrates Sunday Mass with their rite, the priests of the Forania of Lower Volturno, the scholastics Daniel and Jerry who come from Casavatore on weekends, the volunteers of the parish of the Food Bank, the young people of the Civil Service… all this myriad of people gives you an idea of the great ferment in Castel Volturno, because . … here too is MISSION!!!

I thought of telling this missionary experience in Castel Volturno with some short films called VOLT CAST, the name reminds us of the famous podcasts to listen to that are gaining ground in the world of communication, but VOLT CAST are to be seen, watched and looked at, the intent is to show the faces of this reality, because behind a face there is a story, there is the person, there is the whole life, with all its joys and difficulties, to tell and show this reality of existential periphery of humanity, because … here too is MISSION!!!

Simone, CLM Italy

Sending celebration for Linda, destination: Kenya!

LMC Linda

On Saturday, the 23rd October, during the Mission Sunday Vigil prayer in the Cathedral of Bologna, Linda officially received the blessing and mandate as a Lay Comboni Missionary in Kenya from the Cardinal Archbishop of Bologna Matteo Zuppi, the director of the Diocesan Missionary Centre fr. Francesco Ondedei and the whole diocese of Bologna. With her, Katia, a missionary of the Immaculate-Father Kolbe, also received her mandate for Brasil.

With Linda and Katia, today, “we all receive a mandate”, said the cardinal, thanking them for their brave choice, which “encourages us, in turn, to take action, showing us that indeed it is possible, that we all can give our lives so that the Gospel may reach all corners of the earth, with no boundaries”.

It was a very intense moment, not only for Linda but for the whole group of Bologna, which has accompanied her during these months of preparation and discernment. Significantly, our friends the missionaries of Villaregia, the community where Linda lived for a few months this year, were also present and took an active part in organising the same Vigil Prayer. And the words of the cardinal well reflected our own feelings and visions, as he continued: “Mission is all about being concerned not with my own sake, but OUR sake, caring for others, even those I haven’t met yet (…) Mission starts when, full of His Love, I can feel the scandal of too much suffering and injustice, and I testify Jesus’s love by living it myself and talking about Him.”

And also: “At the heart of every missionary’s life is brotherhood”… the exact opposite of what we experience in our daily life: individualism, everybody thinking only for ourselves and their own needs and fears… However, continued Zuppi, “if we are waiting to find all the necessary reassurances, the most right, undeniable truths, the tools to understand ourselves and to understand each other, these will never be enough”…

The cardinal reminded us that our mission does not begin only after we have found all the answers, but when Jesus’s Love, which we have seen and experienced, does not let us remain silent or quiet in the face of all the suffering and injustice we see!

Linda, too, in front of the assembly, explained in a few words what motivated her to make her choice to become a Lay Comboni Missionary, in spite of the fears that often hindered her path towards discovering her missionary vocation. She recalled some significant moments in her journey of discernment, like when, in the capital of Sudan, Khartoum – where she was working as an English teacher – in her free time she used to give literacy lessons to a group of young refugees from South Sudan, as a volunteer in a parish that was run by the Comboni fathers. Seeing these adult students slowly becoming able to read and write, and getting better jobs as a result, was a source of great joy and satisfaction.

Through Linda’s words and enthusiasm, we could almost feel that very joy that she said she experienced when she came to realise, at some point, how immense Jesus’s love for her was. And this joy was so extreme and overwhelming that it slowly melted all fears and finally gave her the courage to decide that she wanted to donate all her time and serve the Lord totally. This, and the strength she finds in the Lay Comboni Missionaries as well as the whole diocesan community, through the mandate she was given today, is what will keep motivating her in this vocation.

As we rejoice for Linda’s decision to leave her home and family for a greater good, we hope that, through her, new common projects may develop, projects that may unite our community in Bologna and her community in Kenya, building new bridges of hope.

In the words of Saint Daniel Comboni: “Courage for the present, and especially for the future!”

CLM Bologna