Comboni Lay Missionaries

Little by little


Yes, little by little, our province is moving on. Some years back, a lay person, to move on the footstep of Comboni, could only choose to be a religious. If not, you could only journey in the group named Friends of Comboni. But thank God, since 2011, after the first CLM African Assembly in Uganda, things have changed. The first meeting held officially as CLM candidate’s group was in May, 2013. Bit by bit, we are moving on. On the 10th October, 2022, three (3) candidates were accepted and made their promise as CLM. The first pioneer group in the province (Togo-Ghana-Benin) is in Ghana. But as a province constituted of three countries, it won’t be representative enough to have such group in only one country.

By God’s grace, zealous lay men in Togo with the guidance of Rev. Sister Elisabeth, SMC, came up to start a same journey, to become CLM. More than 20 in the beginning, seven of the group at Adidogome, with determination, maintained their expectation and kept on undergoing the training required for CLM candidates according to our International Formation Guide. Monthly basis, they meet for a formation which the Rev. Sister takes so seriously by inviting resource persons. Last 15th October, they met in the Comboni Sisters’ House to receive a formation on the topic “Affectivity and Human Maturity” delivered by Rev. Sister Cecilia of the Congregation of “Les Petites Soeurs de la Sainte Famille”. The Sister let them understand that affectivity engaged the totality of human life.

MCCJ are in the three countries and so should CLM candidates. Since some months, new CLM candidates are arising in Benin. Our friends Lucien and Ulrich, (CLM candidates) have started having a training too. With the help of Brother Pascal, MCCJ, training is ongoing at St. Francis of Assisi parish of Fidzrosse. On the 8th October, they met again to receive a training from Father Francisco, MCCJ. Father shared with them the “Evangelic Counsel of Chastity in the life of a Christian”. Brother Pascal is committed to give a solid foundation to our CLM candidates. Last week, through the guidance of Sister Elisabeth, a new female candidate, Rita Kebi, from Houegbo, joined the two candidates in Benin. She will soon be inserted in the group to continue with Lucien and Ulrich the journey.

In Ghana, we had the grace to rejoice with Father Shane, MCCJ, his 25th priestly anniversary at St. Theresa of the Child Jesus’ parish of Abor. It was a great celebration attended by faithful from the three countries of the province. Bishop Gabriel, SVD (Bishop of Keta-Akatsi Diocese), Bishop Anthony (Bishop emeritus of the diocese), Father Timothy, Provincial of MCCJ in the Province, religious and lay people, all came to thank God with Father Shane for the wonders and care He took the blessed of the day through. At the end of the celebration, we took the opportunity to greet the Provincial and interacted with Brother Pascal and some other MCCJ.

Justin Nougnui, CLM coordinator.

The beginning of a vocation

Candidatos Benin

The desire to belong to the Comboni Family motivated Lucien and Ulrich- in Benin_ to contact Alberto through the blog. Alberto led them to the Coordinator in the Province who contacted the two friends. They started thinking together on the best way forward. The chaplain was contacted and Brother Pascal who accompanies the group of Friends of Comboni in Benin was informed.

To bring together all the friend candidates in the province Togo-Ghana-Benin, a WhatsApp platform was created. Online meetings started for us to know one another and to help each one to have an idea about CLM realities in the world. Through this platform, communication was established and necessary information shared. Some CLM resolutions were also shared for each candidate to have an idea on the vocation and mission of CLM.

For a while, the two friends far from each other, couldn’t communicate if not via phone calls and online meetings. But the ardent desire to journey together burning in them prompted Lucien to move from Bohicon to Cotonou -about 125km- to visit Ulrich. This encounter was so wished by each one and the visit was a success and Lucien was received warmly according to his testimony. Now that they met, it is left with the formation to start. By God’s grace, this 17th September, 2023 at St. Francis of Assisi Parish of Fidzrosse (Republic of Benin), at Bakandja Catechetical Center, the first formative gathering was carried out. Together with two members of the group of Friends of Comboni, Lucien and Ulrich heard the sharing of Father Eugenio about “Obedience”. In the sharing, Father Eugenio has presented the life of Jesus Christ as the perfect example of obedience. Jesus, indeed, was obedient till death, death on the Cross. The second example, continued Father, was St. Daniel Comboni who followed on the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Comboni didn’t hesitate when his vocation for the mission in Africa was confirmed to him by Father Marani (W.13). We are called to do the same.

The two friends, Lucien and Ulrich were so impressed by the sharing, because Father Eugenio, they said, went into depth with some concrete realities of this evangelical counsel.

They are, thenceforth, determined to continue the journey and wait impatiently for the second formative sharing.

Justin Nougnui, CLM coordinator.

“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” (Mk 16, 15)

LMC Ghana

It is driven by this call that six of our members left their houses and gathered at Immaculate Center in the Sacred Heart Parish of Bakpa-Avedo in the Volta Region, Ghana.

The gathering started this Thursday evening. Justin Nougnui, Benjamin Amekor and Gifty Aziedu joined Christian Wotormenyo at the Center. They were joined the following day by Frank Amenyo and Valentine Sewovi.

During the Eucharistic Celebration Thursday evening, commemorating the feast of the Apostle Matthew, our group was welcomed by the church and Father Senyo the parish priest. Father Senyo met us later to guide us for our evangelizing activity. The experience was in three folds.

  • Community life

We were six for this experience. It was an opportunity to live together. We prayed together, ate at the same table, participated in the Eucharistic Celebration with other faithful of the parish, thought and planned together. Living together as brothers and sister was really “sweet” (Ps. 133,1). The sweetness and happiness were enhanced with some funny stories from our elderly members Christian and mostly Benjamin and also by recalling some past experience from Cape Coast, Esse-Ana and Cotonou. Each one of us contributed in various ways for the success of our presence.

  • Formation

We gathered also to form ourselves. “Mission of CLM in the church and the society” was shared by the coordinator. After explaining the concept of “Lay person” in general and “CLM” in particular, he laid emphasis on our responsibilities as CLM. The main aspects of our mission are Evangelization, Mission Animation, Vocation promotion and Justice, Peace and Integrity of the Creation (JPIC). The JPIC supposes also our knowledge of the Social Teaching of the Church. This aspect, though part of Evangelization, is a great horizon for us CLM to explore and develop as living in the society. The Encyclical Letter, Laudato si of the Holy Father Francis will be of great help.

The second topic was shared by Christian who is the Principal of Immaculate Vocational and Technical Institute, a place we are dreaming to own one day. He shared with us on the Center, what work and training are done and the challenges the Center was facing.

  • Pastoral activities

At Avedo itself, we moved from house to house indiscriminately. We greeted our brothers and sisters, wished them well and invited those that are not Christians to join us. We met healthy and sick people, prayed for the sick and recommended in our report to the parish priest a continual visitation to all but especially to the sick.

We also did house visitation at Agortakpo an outstation. But, contrary to how it was done at Avedo, we went purposely to those that have stopped coming to church. Some promised us to re-start.

In the outstation, we interacted with the faithful. It is an old station but full of young people. With a zealous leadership of the catechist Julius Kotoku, the head-christian Foster Agbanyo and the choir leader Veronica, the station is doing well. We encouraged them to meet often not only on Sundays. We also showed them a film “Jesus of Nazareth” in Ewe (local language).

We couldn’t reach two other stations assigned to us by the parish priest for the bad state of the road during this rainy season. We tried one but return on the way.

We are grateful to the Master of the Vineyard whose call we are trying to respond generously. May He strengthen us in our CLM journey. We are also grateful to each and every one who in one way or the other facilitated this experience of ours.

Justin Nougnui, CLM.

Pastoral service at Gborxoxome and Fiave-sanyi stations

LMC Ghana

It was a great joy when our Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Steven Avinu assigned me to start a new station at Gborxoxome. The faithful there were already well organized under the Mother Station St. Anthony of Ave-Afiadenyigba. Gborxoxome is some kilometers away from my residence, I moved in with a motor.

The service started with the Celebration of the Word this 6th December, 2020 which I presided. Just after the service, we nominated some leaders to run temporarily the business of the station. With Comboni spirit, it was necessary to engage and prepare some native as catechists with whom I can collaborate. Currently, the catechists are well equipped due to also the training organized at diocesan and parish levels. We share the services and weeks: a team in charge of the sick, projects and Seva (another station) visitation, another team in charge of evangelization and recollection. We carried out an evangelizing activity during which we proclaimed the Good News at Kpota (a nearby village) from house to house.

Other service was to visit the sick and aged brothers and sisters. With God’s grace, the Deacon Godsway Alato (currently priest) helped by taking the Holy Communion to some of the sick. Later, the Acolyte Elikem Akakpo was sent to the station for five weeks pastoral. He continued paying visit to the sick and aged, shared the Word of God with them and distributed the Holy Communion to those who were prepared. On the 28th October 2021, at the Feast of Sts. Jude and Simon, Rev. Fr. Avinu administered the Sacrament of Baptism to 22 faithfuls among which 10 received the First Communion. On the 8th October 2022, Bishop Gabriel Kumordji, SVD (Bishop of the diocese) during his annual pastoral visit to Parishes, paid a visit to our station. On the 9th October, ten (10) of our children were confirmed.

The station has its program of spirituality and liturgical celebrations: Wednesdays and Fridays at 6am, we have celebration of the Word. Second Fridays of the month at 5pm, we meditate on the Way of Cross. During Advent and Lenten seasons, we have recollection which many of the faithfuls attend. Vocational and missionary promotion is carried out sometimes during liturgical celebrations. Three of the catechists (we are five in all at the station), witnessed our promise as CLM on the 10th October last year. I was also selected at the Parish Council Meeting to be a member of Justice and Peace Commission.

Some months ago, the current Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Harry Barawusu asked me to start preparing some faithful at a new station of Fiave-Sanyi, villages located at some kilometers away from me. A catechist of Xevi, Catechist Linsford Atikpo accompanied me to the place to meet some members and plan for the start of the station. The first liturgical celebration took place on the 27th November, 2022 which was attended by about ten people, children and adults included. Catechist John Agbalekpor, collaborator of Catechist Linsford, replaced me at the station during the Assembly in Benin. Back from the Assembly, services on the two stations, St. Michael of Gborxoxome and Fiave -Sanyi, continued.

I must say, the service at Sanyi is a bit challenging. The faithful are currently either old or kids. Some are irregular at gatherings. I must take the readings and tune up the songs alone. I invited an active member of Xevi, Mad. Matilda to assist for a while. Soon, another one will help me, Sarah Gogo. But with all this challenge, the words of our Founder sound again in my ears: “Great works begin and grow at the foot of the Cross” so I will not stop. Also with the help of Catechist John, we are planning some pastoral activities to revive the station. Two faithfuls are mostly in my heart: Mary and Stephen, two blind persons who are always ready to attend gatherings. Sister Mary is even very good at singing. We must accompany them to our gatherings by carrying them on motor or walking with them. Acolyte David Tay went to the station for the Ceremony of the Imposition of ash and Rev. Fr. Harry for the sacramental celebration of Confession this year. Per the pastoral Program of the Parish, the Parish Priest should be at Sanyi on the 3rd September where he could baptize.

Slowly but surely, the two stations which I serve are growing with the help of each other. May the Lord “give us the clear vision of what we should do, the strength and the means to accomplish it“.

Justin, CLM.

Send Lord workers to your vineyard

LMC Togo Ghana Benin

For a long time, our group existed with same members. Worse, the number kept on reducing. About twenty, we dropped to ten and for a while just five. The discouragement came out of the various challenges we were facing during the formation process. But, by God’s grace, a new dynamism came with the Superior Provincial Father Timothy and the chaplain Leopold. After the promise of three members on the 10th October last year and after the African Assembly in Benin, we had the joy to see new arrival for the CLM journey.

1. In Ghana :

LMC Togo Ghana Benin

With the zeal of Mr. Wotormenyo Christian, an old member of the group, have started the CLM formation Ladies Grace Dzokoto and Gifty Aziedu and the Misters Valentine Sewovi, Emmanuel Aniewu, Daniel Gbekie and Peter Kofitio. With the long distance that separates us from one another, in addition to the monthly meeting which requires a physical presence, we plan some online meetings to share some information. Some candidates started attending the monthly meeting already. And to solve in a way the problem of distance between us, we are thinking of having some days formation during vacation. This will at the same time consolidate our community life.

2. In Togo

LMC Togo Ghana Benin

Seven (7) are the candidates in Lome, Togo at Mary Mother of the Redeemer Parish. The zeal of these committed faithful is remarkable. The group has been in existence for a while. They have some commitments at the Parish and collaborate actively with the Comboni Sisters of Adidogome. Sister Elisabeth, SMC and Father Augustine, MCCJ accompany the group. Misters Botri Ernest, Adjogble Benjamin, Akitibi Jean, Gnimassoun Jean Baptiste and the ladies Emilienne Avotonou, Keto Dorothy and Maria Dong are the candidates in formation. The formation has formally started already. CLM in the Province and the Chaplain are in touch with the group for the growth of the members. We (CLM) will organize from time to time some visits to them for sharing of experience. Visits in that sense have started already: Alberto (CC coordinator) and Justin (coordinator in the province) paid a visit to the group in November 2022. Another visit was paid on the 20th August 2023 on Sister Elisabeth’s invitation. The sharing was about The mission of CLM in the church and the society which went on wonderfully with the contribution of each one including Sister Elisabeth.

LMC Togo Ghana Benin

3. In Benin

In Benin, two aspirants manifested their desire to start the CLM journey via the CLM blog: Misters Ulrich Coffi and Aboe Lucien. Chats with them is conducted for now online. They will soon meet Brother Pascal, MCCJ who will plan, with them, the Chaplain and the CLM, the formation process.

LMC Togo Ghana Benin

We are grateful to the Lord who continues to sow in the heart of the faithful « a strong missionary drive for Christ to be witnessed and announced to those who do not know him yet ».

Justin, CLM.