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.
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 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!).
IN MORE DETAIL:
“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!!!
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!!!
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!”
As Christians, as missionaries, we cannot watch calmly from our windows as the global economic system evolves, putting at risk food security and the effective rights of more and more populations. Faced with the complexity of this terrain, we need a minimum of training in these issues.
The Comboni Missionary Giulio Albanese, a journalist specializing in the field of economics, led the reflection on Economy: Land of Mission, at the meeting of the Comboni Lay Movement of Europe, which was attended last Saturday by participants from Poland, Germany, Portugal, Italy and Spain, as well as the CLM coordinator of Brazil, Flavio Schmidt. The anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers, which reshaped geopolitics, and the Time of Creation, in which the Christian confessions unite every year to pray, celebrate and act for the Common Home, were the framework for this initiative.
Albanese started from the recent historical process that has shaped the current landscape of the global economic system, initiated at the Breton Woods conference at the end of World War II. Along the way, the financial economy has progressively grown and distanced itself from the real economy. The latter is based on the fact that human labor creates wealth, while the financial economy is based on the fact that money itself generates wealth. The crisis that began in 2008 revealed the consequences of an economic system in which speculative financial products, such as derivatives, represent an economic flow of between 10 and 15 times the global GDP. Another worrying element is that the debt of the states, which is weighing down the economies of the southern communities in particular, is financialized and therefore subject to the uncertainties of the market. Government debt has become a financial product that is bought and sold, generating profits for other investors.
As a proposal to combat the flagrant issue of international debt, a legal document was launched from Italy at the end of the last century, within the framework of the Jubilee 2000, supported by the UN Commission on Human Rights, to argue that the international debt mechanism is contrary to human rights, so that its agreements could be denounced before the Court of the Hague.
The speaker shared from his missionary experience in Ethiopia how, while famine threatens the population, the state accumulates grain in warehouses to offer it to global agribusiness (which fixes its price on the Chicago Stock Exchange) and thus pay the interest on its debt. In another example, he denounced the risk of common goods, such as health, being controlled only by the market, which means that while in the North we are moving towards the third dose of the COVID19 vaccine, in Africa only 1% of the population has the second dose.
The Church has generated abundant reflection in the various social encyclicals, since Rerum Novarum at the end of the 19th century, and the magisterium of Pope Francis stands out for placing the poor and discarded person at the center, not as a pastoral object, but as a theological subject: God is incarnated in the poor. The concept of development, linked to technology and profit, must be replaced by that of progress, which refers to the person and his or her social aspect. In the face of a complex issue, such as the economic system, it is not possible to give a magic answer but, as Francis insists, to participate and initiate transformative processes.
In this context, Albanese proposed not to demonize the market, but to coexist with it and promote alternative economies from within, as the Vatican initiative of the Economy of Francis and Clare has been promoting. Not to promote a mystique of misery, which only promotes sharing the suffering of communities without taking another step. The Social Economy is a field with great development, in which companies arise whose objective is not to generate profits, but to solve people’s problems. The microcredits promoted by the Nobel Prize winner M. Yunus are a tool, as well as Ethical Banking (Fiare, Coop 57, Triodos…). We must also promote laws that can redirect business actions, because the deregulation promoted by liberalism leaves communities in the hands of unscrupulous companies. The European alliance of ecclesial entities CIDSE is working on this corporate regulation.
For religious congregations there is the task of responsibly reviewing in which initiatives they invest their resources. We currently have two divestment campaigns underway. The Laudato Si’ movement promotes divestment from companies that favor fossil fuels, while the Churches and Mining network, in which the CLM and the Comboni Missionaries of Brazil participate, seeks divestment from mega-mining companies, which threaten populations and the environment. And to bet on an integral evangelization in which the promotion of social transformation is present. The recent Map of Comboni social ministries presents examples of this type.
For the Comboni lay movement there would be the task of deepening how our lifestyles contribute to underpinning the global financial system or to come up with alternatives. The CLM in Italy has been working in this direction with an important prophetic component. In Spain, the platform Connected Yourself for Justice, in which the Comboni NGO AMANI participates, has also proposed to reflect in this sense. It is also necessary that we feel that we can influence the policies that can control the economic-financial system, from our closest family and parish environments, to the decision-making bodies, participating in actions together with organized platforms. In this sense, last year several CLM participated in a training on political advocacy promoted by the REDES platform.
The meeting concluded with a dialogue among the participants to advance in our formation as CLM and to strengthen ties with the rest of the Comboni Family in this area.
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