Comboni Lay Missionaries

Sharing the calling of a missionary marriage

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On November 29th, we had the opportunity to be part of the formative sessions of the young people who will participate in the missionary work of the Archdiocese of León during the month of December (Misiones PROJUV, León, Guanajuato). We were invited to share a lecture in which we talked about the main qualities that we should have as missionaries. In it, we shared some ideas and examples on how the virtues like humbleness, coherence, purity and generosity can help us to surrender ourselves fully to the service of God and of our brothers and sisters.

For us it was a very special experience, because it was the first activity that we have had representing the Comboni Lay Missionaries. We are in our period of formation, in which we prepare ourselves spiritually and intellectually to respond to the missionary call that God has placed in our hearts. Therefore, having the opportunity to share a little of what we have received filled us with joy and hope.

The interaction with teenagers and young adults was very enriching. In addition to the content of our conference, the dialogue with them made us realize that the mere fact of presenting ourselves as a couple of lay missionaries is already an example that can inspire them to fully commit to the vocation of sharing the Gospel. Many came to share their vocational concerns, and for us it was an honour to show them how it is possible to be committed lay people, working in the world with our eyes towards the Kingdom of Heaven.

This experience helped us to confirm that the Lord calls us at any moment of our existence and from any path of life. We, as a married couple, know that this calling acquires a deep meaning in knowing that our conjugal love can and should be lived as a witnessing to make God’s love known everywhere. Let us dare to answer to this calling!

Kasia Ludwin & Adán Aguilar

National reflection meeting of Comboni Lay Missionaries in Mexico

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On Saturday August 1, 2020, solemnity of Saint Alfonso María de Ligorio, the Laity from different parts of the country of Mexico, we held a national meeting, to share our experience in the pandemic. Lay people from: Michoacán, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Morelos and Mexico City participated, accompanied by our national advisor: Gustavo Covarrubias MCCJ. We started with prayers to promote the missionary spirit, starting with the prophet Naum 1, 7. Then, we share the way in which we are living our vocation as Comboni Lay Missionaries.

We were enlightened by reality, meditating on the different social, political and family scenarios that we face and the way in which we can live them just as Saint Daniel Comboni would have done. Taking three strategies: Prayer, solidarity and cooperation and being signs of Hope in the world. Subsequently, we meditate on the Word of God to translate into concrete commitments in our missionary work: Prayer, meeting the other, working little by little in different missionary days, always giving priority to health, taking as reference the valuable and worthy which is human life.

Lastly, we share the panorama of mission at the international level and close with a moment of prayer to invoke the maternal protection of Our Mother Mary of Guadalupe, committing ourselves to remain consolidated as a single Comboni missionary family.

“Without the laity the mission work is sterile” (EC 1219).

Juan José Mendoza Buenrostro

Comboni Ladies Auxiliary and Benefactors

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LMC Mexico

Extraordinary in your actions, baptized and sent

Echoing the message of Pope Francis to live in an extraordinary way the month of October, during which we celebrate World Mission Sunday, the Comboni seminary of San Francisco del Rincón, Gto., held the yearly meeting of the Comboni Ladies Auxiliary (known as Damas Combonianas in Mexico) and Benefactors.

Starting very early in the day, about 350 people arrived from several areas of the States of Guanajuato and Jalisco to share a day of fun, prayer and meetings. In attendance were Comboni priests and brothers, seminarians, religious and lay people and, above all, friends who share the same filial relationship with God as an ecclesial act, which is communion and source of a new life together with many other brothers and sisters. (From the message of Pope Francis for World Mission Sunday 2019). As one of the Comboni women said: “Coming here, I feel at home.”

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They are, in the words of Pope Francis, “a Church going out to the farthest borders, requiring a constant and permanent missionary conversion.” Perhaps they do not leave their country to proclaim mission, Christ’s Great Work of Mercy, but they are always going out to meet others and to ask for support for those who have been chosen to witness to the prophetic vision of the Church in faraway lands.

Mrs. Macaria Bendita, a Comboni dama of the Dolores Hidalgo, Gto. group, is a great example of this Church going out, of constant and permanent conversion. For about 50 years she has been sending literature to friends and acquaintances inviting them to support the missions by prayer and financial help. She commented that engaging in this activity has been a source of great joy for herself and for her family.

Later, during the welcoming and coffee session, everyone was invited to listen to presentations and take part in missionary activities and songs. “How beautiful it is to see over the mountains the messenger announcing peace.” (Isa 52:7) These words seemed to come alive looking at the Comboni women and other benefactors as they listened attentively and with enthusiasm to the Comboni Missionary Fathers Mario Alberto Pacheco Zamora and José Arellano. Both of them had a lot to share from their experiences in the Philippines and in Egypt respectively.

Mrs. Macaria herself commented on how these witnesses are a source of joy and increase the desire to keep on working for the missions.

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In the course of the Eucharist, Fr. Enrique Sánchez recognized, thanked and encouraged the work of the women and other benefactors, saying: “With your prayers, sacrifices, work and affection and with the collections you do for the missions, you are like the wheels of a car, like little ants who with anonymous and discrete work, you are not even aware the good you do for the missionaries, allowing them to realize their vocation without having to worry about tomorrow. You are the people who make it possible for the Comboni Missionaries to continue to bring the good news to many nations of the world.”

The Eucharist was followed by a meal, the cutting of a cake, a raffle and music. In this context it was possible to notice the communion and festivity generated by the gathering. It makes the participants feel important and recognized in their work and, as Mr. Armenta, a benefactor of the San Felipe group added, makes them feel at home.

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The example of these women and benefactors invites us to think about the meaning of ourselves as being baptized and sent. That very important message that Pope Benedict XV gave us in the encyclical Maximum Illud, 100 years ago, referring to the missionary mandate to go into the whole world and freely proclaim the message you received without excluding anyone, is still relevant in today’s society. We are not called to proclaim the gospel in order to “conquer,” like in the days of colonization, but with the conviction that our belief in Christ, alive and risen, is a richness to be shared, communicated and announced.

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Maricruz Torres Armenta

CLM San Francisco del Rincón

October 2019

New Comboni Lay Missionaries

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LMC Mexico

On last August 17 and 18 a retreat of information was held to help new people get to know the Comboni charism as Lay Missionaries. About 30 people attended coming from Tabasco, Michoacán, Jalisco and Guanajuato. We started with some integration activities and animation, then we moved to our first workshop given by the CLM José Dolores (Lolo), who gave us seven tips to reach interior peace. After that we greatly enjoyed a holy hour where we strongly experienced the presence of God. To end the first phase, we moved on to supper and a camp fire, to spend some time together and tell some of the stories that have left a sign in our lives and hearts as missionaries.

The next days, we started with a community prayer to offer to God our family and our mission. It was followed by a workshop given by the CLM Juan José, who spoke on Comboni spirituality.

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The Eucharist followed, celebrated by the Fr. Lalo, who currently works in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which filled us with emotions and joy. During his homily he told us something about his experience there and moved us with his message. Following that, we had a short presentation on the work, formation, promotion, mission, etc of the Comboni Lay Missionaries at the international level, given by the CLM Daniela Becerra, who also gave us a little tour of Kenya, Africa. The CLM Lolo and Maricruz spoke about this experience and taught us something about the Swahili language. Before that, however, the CLM Verito Arenas, coordinator of the CLM in San Francisco del Rincón, spoke on the work they do locally.

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Following all that, the group was divided into two in order to write a letter of commitment. One group was guided by the CLM Beatriz, of the National Formation Team, and it was made up of CLM who have already finished two years of basic formation. They wrote their petition to the coordinating team of Mexico to be allowed to continue to work permanently one more year in the community. The other group, made up of those who had been newly invited to become CLM, listened to the witness of CLM Adriana, the National Coordinator, who spoke of her life and experience in Peru. After writing their letters, the two groups joined again so that the new ones could witness the commitment of each CLM. The joy and emotion were such that several were deeply moved by this. After hugs and congratulations to the new CLM, we closed our retreat with some time of celebration where we could share the joy we had experienced during these days. We wish to thank all the participants and are grateful for the support we received from some benefactors. We will keep praying for you, for the new Lay people and for missionary vocations…

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“I die, but my work will not die”

St. Daniel Comboni

“God invites me to discover my missionary vocation”

Monica Mexico

I am Monica Cervantes Suarez, I am 18, and I was born in the city of Sahuayo, Michoacán. I am about to start my university studies majoring in integrative medicine. I wish to share with you my experience in this missionary journey. Beginning when I was denied access to the career I wanted, I started looking for something else that would fill this void I felt, because I was far removed from God, and even though my parents are active in Church family movements, I kept a distance from all that.

I must confess that, if I had any missionary inclination, it was more out of curiosity about knowing different cultures and traditions, above all for the adventure, for seeing new places, etc. I had the opportunity to attend a national mission congress for children and adolescents with the them: “WITH JOSELITO IN THE MISSIONARY HEART OF VOCATION.” I really did not know what I was doing there and at the beginning I felt out of place, but everything changed within me when I realized that I needed to discover my life’s mission.

After this experience, I decided to get in touch with the CLM Beatriz, who had spoken on the Missionary Vocation and given an account of her life at the Congress, to ask her to let me attend the mission camp. Having received a positive answer, I started with my formation to attend the Holy Week Mission Camp. I was waiting for my departure day with much enthusiasm but, when the time came, I felt both a lot of fear and at times joy, because what I had been awaiting for so many years was about to come.

We arrived at the parish of Metlatonoc, a community of Vicente Guerrero, where I stayed for a week. We faced several difficulties to get there, including a long journey, and steep uphill roads where we had to leave the car and walk to the place. But staying in the community I had the chance to discover that there is greater joy in giving than in receiving and also that a missionary learns from the community that accepted us with joy and enthusiasm. We worked as a team. We worked with the girls, forming three teams to share the themes and the eucharistic celebrations. Because we had no priests, we did not have the Eucharist, but we had the celebration of the Word in which I was chosen to lead the Easter Vigil. I felt a great responsibility and, wanting everything to turn out well, I was very nervous. Just the same, by the end I felt the peace and joy of having lived this great experience. Without a doubt, the Lord was able to seduce and trap me so that I may continue to serve. Coming back, I could look at life differently, trying to see always the positive side of things. I continued to follow the missionary activities and the meetings that have helped me to discover my vocation.

I just finished attending another National Youth Missionary Congress in July, in Villa Hermosa, Tabasco. The theme invited me to go beyond myself: CHRISTIAN YOUTH AT THE PERIPHERIES OF THE WORLD. There I could share experiences with people of my age who, just like myself, have questions as they try to discover their journey in a life of service in mission.

Now I am anxiously waiting for the formation retreat that will take place at the Comboni Seminary of San Francisco del Rincón, Gto. There I will start the process of formation as a Comboni Lay Missionary, since I feel that I identify with the missionary charism of St. Daniel Comboni.

Mónica Cervantes Suarez