Comboni Lay Missionaries

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.

Missionary vocation

Campaña Manos Unidas

As every year the NGO of the Spanish Church Manos Unidas organizes various activities to raise awareness and involve Spanish society in development aid. In this case it was a march against hunger where children and adults ran to finance several of the projects of this NGO.

Manos Unidas has been supporting the missionary work of the Church in the world for many years. And we, as Comboni Lay Missionaries, also collaborate with it by contributing through our witness in the places of mission in various acts of this campaign as in the marches, in the hunger dinners or in the parishes where the campaign is carried out.

In this case also the program Witnesses Today of the regional television (Canal Sur) was present and took the opportunity to spread the event and make an interview with us that was broadcasted last Sunday.

We leave you today with this interview where we do a little tour on our vocation and missionary trajectory. (The interview is in Spanish)

Greetings to all of you

Alberto de la Portilla, CLM

Celebrating our Missionary Vocation

LMC España

Last weekend took place in Granada the national meeting of the CLM of Spain. It has been a very rich meeting in which we have had the opportunity to do missionary animation in many parishes of Granada and the province presenting the CLM Movement and our missionary vocation.

Moreover, this year our meeting had a special color since, besides celebrating our missionary vocation, we have celebrated as Comboni Family the missionary life of one of our most veteran companions of the Movement: Mª Carmen Polanco. Throughout her missionary life, Maria Carmen has always been a gift from God for all of us. We are fortunate because Mª Carmen began her life journey a few years ahead of us and so, we have someone to look up to. We are grateful for the value of having her as a reference in our own journey as CLM and we thank God for her shared life and dedication to the mission.

Mª Carmen, may the Lord continue to take care of you and bless you every day as He has done so far.

CLM Spain

Memory of Africa Project: María del Prado Fernández Martín

Hermana Prado

We continue this series of testimonies with the Comboni Sister María del Prado Fernández Martín.

Sister Prado Fernández, a Comboni Missionary, arrived in Africa in 1986 and lived for 30 years in different countries of the continent such as the Central African Republic, Chad or Congo until 2016.

In this interview, Prado tells us about her work as a missionary in areas such as health, education and pastoral care, making her work known through her journey. Above all, participating in the realities of the communities and what it has meant to her to share with the people.

(video in Spanish)

The Pygmy people, guardians of the Common Home

Laudato Si

Jesús Ruíz, Bishop of Mbaïki (Central African Republic) tells us how his communities of the Aka (Pygmies) people celebrated Laudato Si’ Week. Jesus, who inspired the CLM movement in Spain, is visiting Spain these days and we had the joy of sharing an afternoon with him, in which his love for his communities shines through.

The Congo Basin is the second lung of the planet, and sadly the scene of similar environmental crimes to those we usually hear about in the Amazon. Only fewer voices tell us about this scenario of massive destruction of the equatorial rainforest. Jesús Ruíz promotes the integral evangelization of the peoples, in which the Easter of the Lord translates into the Aka people standing up against centuries of discrimination not only from the colonizers but also from the rest of the majority peoples of Central Africa.

The Aka are used to taking blows and bowing their heads. That is why leading a march with the slogan We are the guardians of the forest is of great value. It is a clear sign of the Comboni charisma. Like the rest of the native peoples in America, Asia, Oceania… the Aka are aware that they have guarded the Common House for centuries, in invisibility, and now their testimony shines because their environment is at serious risk of disappearing. We are indebted to all these communities.

Comboni Sisters Lucia Font (Spanish) and Lucia Premoli (Brazilian) are currently working with Bishop Ruiz and the Aka peoples, the latter as the Episcopal leader of the Laudato Si’ Commission. The experience in Amazonia has prompted the latter to concretize in Africa all the work that has been developed in Latin America. In nearby Mongoumba, the CLM community has been accompanying this people for more than 20 years. Our CLM Tere Monzón, who participated in this mission for 10 years, returns to Spain on the 9th.

Laudato SI

The momentum of the encyclical Laudato Si’ is mobilizing around the world for a change of system, because the current development model respects neither people nor the rest of Creation. “We need organizations to help us document everything that is happening in our territory, so that it becomes known.” The level of mercury pollution in the rivers, the loss of native species, the savage enrichment of a few minorities thanks to the national resources of this “poor country”. This is the direct request that Monsignor Ruiz makes to us.

CLM Spain