Comboni Lay Missionaries

Be Afrique = Heart of Africa

Élia Gomes

“Where I once left my heart”

Élia Gomes

After seven years in Portugal, five of which were spent supporting the family and working in elderly people’s homes (at the Missionary Sisters of Charity in Faro and at the Parish Center in Paderne) and another two years on mission in the parish of Camarate, I’m leaving to return to the CAR, where I’ve already been for five years.

It won’t be easy, but I know that this is the path God has for me.

The Central African Republic (CAR) is the place where I feel I have been called to serve God and people with joy, in the hope of bringing the message of the Gospel and helping to build a better and fairer world, together with the poorest and most abandoned according to Comboni’s missionary style.

I will face new challenges and difficulties, but I am confident that, with God’s help and the protection of Our Lady of Hope, I will be able to overcome them.

I thank my family and friends for supporting me in this decision.

I thank my parish of Paderne and the Parish Center for always welcoming me with affection despite my long absences.

I thank my community in Fetais and all those who helped me during my time in Camarate.

Finally, I thank the CLM Movement and the Comboni Family for transmitting to me the essence that inspires me to go.

“If I had a thousand lives, I would give a thousand lives for Africa”

Elia LMC

Élia Gomes CLM – Portugal

André the boy who likes to dream…!!!


His eyes shine crystal clear with desire.

Eyes that seek the horizon in the dense forest.

With the same intensity as yesterday, his smile is full of hope and joy.

Today school days are part of a near but long past.

He plays at survival with his family

He dreams of one day being a passenger, a driver or simply an observer of the beautiful car that passes by his house.

He dreams of clean clothes, whenever the white man shines.

He dreams of the simple touch of his hand, of the lingering greeting

This barefoot boy with his easy smile wants one day to be like “You”.

Inside his house made of green paper and red glue is the small fire that insists on warming the cold that is felt.

The red mantle of this land consumed by the sun, is now painted with the incandescent heat of the bodies that curl up with each other forming a large canvas, made of human paint

This boy wants one day to be like “You”.

He dreams of one day being able to have a tree all to himself full of fruits to eat and share

He dreams of being able to understand what books say.

The sun is peeking through the morning mist, it’s time to get up and listen to what the wind says.

The day is marked by the laziness of the daily and repetitive routine.

Today little André is leaving for the deep forest

He is going to meet the majestic and ancient trees, they are the masters of his world.

At this time of year, they are dressed in their most beautiful and delicious butterflies.


The family is happy, the scent of the flowers speaks of abundance.

In a little act everything is ready for the journey

Mama with a baby tied to her chest, with a basket on her back and on her head whatever was forgotten, winds her way along the path already traced by time.

Papa, machete in hand, makes way, for the trees insist on covering what is theirs.

André imitates his father with the small knife without a handle, tears the dense leaves like a true boy of the forest, makes life with his joy, he can dream of things that are not his, but his sweaty skin shines with pride and honor of being pygmy.

Cristina Sousa, Comboni Lay Missionary

Bangui, Central African Republic

A Piece of Heart

Cristina Mongoumba
Cristina Mongoumba

“Love is fire that burns without being seen…”

I have in me this fire that suffocates but gives life!

Fire that in lava flows and sprouts in the most hidden place of my being.

He gave us to eat His Bread and drink His Wine …!

And in this simplicity He made us His most loved and desired Sons by All those who seek Him to Live…!

To live of, with and for His Love…

He is in me, and I in Him.

My heart is the Tabernacle, the Temple of Resurrection.

He is reborn in the deepest wounds of this Brother People.

People who suffer from a Tabernacle open to All.

People who silently scream to ears sickened by ambition.

People with bare feet, feet cracked by the dry and muddy earth.

Thin, dry, strong, well-defined bodies, covered by throbbing veins charged with the same lava that sustains me.

The difference between us is none, the tears, the smiles, the pains, the sighs muffled in hands filled with hope and desire for Love. They are equal, the same, authentically the same.

There are many times that I see you in the red and warm flesh of the wounds that I try to care for with the touch of my hands.

With tenderness and delicacy I tuck your pain in my breast and let my heart cry, for it is You who present yourself to me in the faces of the daddy, mama, children…

Inequality, indifference, selfishness, mutilated human rights leave me completely disintegrated…!!!

The weight of my reality increases my capacity for discernment and resilience.

With much affection I wrap with white cloth impregnated with your balm of love, your wounds that are also mine…!

There are many times that in my consciousness I have present the “No” to your call.

But here I am, Lord, at your disposal, give me the tools to work in the harvest of your vast and great Love…”.

The mission is done in “All” the Places where “You” are…!!!

Cristina Sousa, Comboni Lay Missionary in Mongoumba

The APAC Project and the promises of prisoner reintegration


We leave you here a very interesting interview with Valdeci Ferreira, Brazilian CLM who has 39 years dedicated to recovering people who have failed in their lives and have been imprisoned.

He explains to us the APAC method where the recuperandos (prisoners) themselves hold the keys to the prison, help each other and where the person is recovered for society. “No one is impossible to recover” is one of the slogans of APACs and that make possible this dream of giving a new possibility to those who one day made a mistake.

PS. It is in Portuguese but subtitles can be added.

Dreaming the mission

LMC Portugal

In September 2021, we arrived in Camarate, more precisely in the neighborhood of Fetais, full of expectations about the work that we would develop with the local community. We knew there was a lot to do, but we didn’t know the needs. Not everything went as we expected, but as God wanted, and despite the difficulties encountered, we “felt” that we should continue in this mission.

With the departure of Pedro Nascimento new challenges are posed, since only two of us remain, Maria Augusta and Élia, and we continue to dream that it is possible to make Fetais a mission land where the CLM presence is a reality and not just a place of passage. We ask the Lord of the harvest to guide our steps so that, with humility and wisdom, we can be messengers of the Gospel to these people who come from such distant and different places, in search of a better world that they have difficulty in finding.

Dreaming of more mission in the parish of Camarate passes through what has been our experience over this time, what we have received without giving anything, which encourages us to continue this path, sometimes not easy. We want to be more in this mission because

… it warms our hearts the tight embrace of a child; the smiling good morning of an elderly person, hearing our name shouted from the playground of a school; a mother who tells her three-year-old daughter to give a kiss to her “aunt” (whom she met on the bus) …

… our hearts are warmed by the neighbors on the “slope” who already call us for two fingers of conversation; the pomegranates offered with the taste of friendship; the cat next door who lets himself be stroked, and the owner of the cat who already says good night when we cross paths on the street …

… our hearts are warmed by the people who ask about Pedro and talk about him with gratitude and affection for the moments he dedicated to them…

… and our hearts are also warmed by the small/large victories we achieve with the children who attend the Young Awakening where we have already spent “cold days”, but where there is warmth and joy and, because “the best in the world are the children”, everything we do for them and with them will always be small.

If God calls us to make a difference, to be a presence in different communities, with simplicity we can only say: “Lord we are here to serve you, light our way”.

In the certainty that we are not alone in this mission.

Embrace in Christ

Maria Augusta and Élia- CLM in Camarate