The Osservatore Romano publishes Fr. General's letter: On Friday, 31 January, the Osservatore Romano published large extracts from the letter of Fr. Enrique Sánchez, Superior General, written on the occasion of the "150th anniversary of the original drafting of Comboni's now famous "Plan for the Regeneration of Africa". This is not the first time that the Vatican newspaper has devoted space to a letter of our General Superior.
Meeting of Regional Superiors: The meeting opened on 9 February, 2014. During the opening Eucharist, the Superior General prayed especially for the Comboni Missionaries working in the war-torn areas of South Sudan and the Central African Republic. The conference ended on Saturday, 22 February with Mass.
Priestly ordination: On Saturday, 22 February, in his home parish (Curitiba, Paraná), Rafael Gemelli Vigolo, a Brazilian confrere, was ordained to the priesthood by Mgr. Celso Antônio Marchiori, Bishop of Apucarana. The Combonis have been present in the region for 39 years and Rafael is the first priestly vocation and the first Comboni from these parts. Fr. Rafael will continue his missionary service at the community of Porto Velho, in Rondonia, and will also be involved in pastoral work among the people living along the banks of the Rio Madeira.
Service: The Delegation is sending Fr. Jorge A. Benavides Orjuela to the community of Porto Velho, in Brazilian Amazonia where he will exercise his apostolate among the Indios alongside the newly ordained Fr. Vigolo.
Assembly: The Assembly held in January 2014 gave its backing to a new 'continental' approach to missionary service and, at the same time, gave an undertaking to face with courage and openness the process for the setting up of the new Andean administrative region.
The year-long Golden Jubilee celebration marking the arrival of our confreres in the Congo began on 8th. December, 2013, and will end on Sunday, 23 November, 2014, at Isiro, with a Mass at the parish of St. Anna, followed by a pilgrimage to Magambe to inaugurate a commemorative monument at the spot where four confreres were killed in 1964.
150th Anniversary of the Plan of Comboni: From 15 to 19 September, 2014, at the Generalate in Rome, a workshop will be held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Plan of Comboni. Discussions will focus on the Institute's understanding of today's most urgent issues in mission.
APDESAM: The Superiors of Anglophone Africa and Mozambique (APDESAM) met for their annual meeting from 5 to 7 February, 2014 in Rome. The various missionary situations within the African continent - especially in Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa and Mozambique - were reported on and plans made for the coming year.
Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrechristos Woldeghebriel has been appointed President of the Conference of Major Superiors in Eritrea for the next two years.
The XXVI Meeting on Anthropology and Mission: On 1 and 2 February 2014, at our house in Madrid, the annual "Meeting on Anthropology and Mission", sponsored by Mundo Negro took place. This year's assembly, the XXVI, focused on Refugees and the virtue of hope. There were speeches by representatives from NGO's, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and an expert on issues related to the area of Africa's Great Lakes. There was also a round table event attended by an aid worker, a freelance journalist, a social mediator of the Karibu Association based in Madrid, and a journalist for Spanish TV. At the end of the meeting, Mundo Negro's Fraternity Award 2013 was presented to Sr. Angélique Namaika, an Augustinian of the Diocese of Dungu-Doruma (DR Congo), who set up a Centre for the Reintegration and Development of Women and Children, victims of the violence of the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army). Late last year Sr. Angélique received the Nansen Award, bestowed on her by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Her work has also been recognised by Pope Francis. Sr Angélique later visited the Comboni communities of Barcelona and Granada where she spoke again of the work she does in Dungu.
Limone: A group of 25 confreres, who once served in the Congo but are now in Italy for reasons of health or for some other commitment, met at the house of the Founder in Limone (at the invitation of the Provincial Council of the Congo) to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Institute's presence there. The celebration was also attended by Daniele Armani, a grand-nephew of Fr. Remo Armani, the first Superior of the first group in the Congo and the first to be killed on 24 November, 1964. Daniele, who has visited the places where his uncle worked, has written a thesis on his life and will himself be ordained priest in a matter of a few months.
Events marking the 10th anniversary of Comboni's canonisation:
" The Trento community organised four meetings. Two took place in February - a round table event and a Eucharistic celebration at the Duomo. A third event, another round table, is planned for 11th. April and on 23rd. May there will be a conference with Fr. Alex Zanotelli.
" The Cordenons community has organised a round-table event for 6th. March at Pordenone and a Eucharistic celebration on 9th. March at the Duomo.
" The Palermo community has organised a round table event for 13th. March.
For peace and disarmament: An Association called "Arena of Peace and Disarmament" has recently been founded in preparation for the peace and disarmament demonstration planned for 25 April, 2014 in Verona. Its President is Fr. Venanzio Milani and a further 15 Associations and Institutions are affiliated to it including: Fondazione Nigrizia, Combonifem, Istituto Don Calabria, Mlal, Pax Christi, Emi, Movimento Nonviolento, Emmaus, Banca Etica, Emergency, and Libera. It has been joined by more than 50 other organisations and many public figures. The demonstration is open to all and will begin at the Arena in Verona at 11a.m. and will end around 5p.m.. Information is available from the Fondazione Nigrizia Onlus.
Land grabbing and global conflicts: On 7 February, 2014, Fr. Gian Paolo Pezzi, on behalf of VIVAT International, submitted to the UN's 8th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals a statement on the link between land grabs and global conflict. The statement claims that there are currently over 200 local conflicts taking place in Central and South America that have been sparked off by mining activities (e.g. in Peru, Colombia, Guatemala, and Ecuador). Blood is being shed needlessly in the 'rush for land' and land grabbing continues to take place on all continents. It is believed that 60% occurs in Africa where investment in land is hardly ever conflict-neutral. In the Horn of Africa there is potential for localized political grievances linked to land issues to turn into wider regional conflicts. In many parts of the world then, land grabbing is already leading to social conflict, massive internal displacement as well as loss of cultural identity, systematic human rights violations, the destruction of livelihoods, poverty, permanent environmental damage, pollution and the loss of biodiversity. Indigenous people's leaders, community leaders and human rights activists who speak out on behalf of those affected by land grabs are frequently persecuted, often becoming themselves victims of torture or arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and even assassination.
75 years of Comboni service: The celebrations for the 75th. Anniversary of the arrival of the Comboni Missionaries in Peru and on the American continent were concluded at the Provincial Assembly held in January (14-17), 2014. The three pioneers who arrived at Pozuzo (Huánuco) in September, 1938, were Fr. Luis Ipfelkofer, Fr. Andrés Riedl and Fr. Miguel Wagner. Confreres from 13 nations and four continents took part - this internationality shows that the dream of Comboni for a "Catholic" mission has, for the most part, become a reality. This is one of the many graces we experienced during this Jubilee Year.
Course for scholastics: From 27 to 31 January, in line with the requirements of the 2009 General Chapter, the second Course, organised by the Treasurer General for the formation of scholastics and brothers, was held at the International Scholasticate of Pietermaritzburg, in the region of Kwazulu-Natal, in South Africa.
The war continues: The war continues in South Sudan. Three States (Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei) have suffered most in the fighting between the official SPLA army and the Nuer rebels. It seems that more than 10.000 people have already died and an estimated 700,000 people are displaced inside South Sudan. Aid Agencies have so far managed to reach only about 300,000 people. A further 150,000 people are estimated to have fled to nearby countries. The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, declared the crisis in South Sudan to have reached level 3.
The power struggle between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Riek Machar plunged the world's newest state into crisis in mid-December. Though the international community has brought the warring parties to the negotiating table in Addis Ababa, South Sudan right now seems to be sliding toward open civil war with the two armies carrying on their fight in Unity State and in the town of Malakal, capital city of Upper Nile State. Currently hopes for peace are not very high.
Confreres and Comboni Sisters are safely back to their missions: After more than two weeks with no communication following their escape from the mission of Leer into the bush because of the fierce fighting between the SPLA and the rebels of Machar, our five confreres and four Comboni Sisters have finally managed to return safely to their heavily looted and partially destroyed mission. All nine of them have now been taken to Juba for a few days rest and recovery. Fr. Francis Chemello, the superior of the community, also arrived safely in Juba from Ganylielm after three months of bush and swamp life. He had been in a different area of Unity State when the fighting broke out in Leer. Fr. Michael Barton - who was alone in Leer and witnessed at first hand the looting and the destruction of the mission, the violence against ordinary people, and the ill-discipline of the rebels and the SPLA soldiers - safely reached our community in Old Fangak after an adventurous and dangerous journey.
Pastoral Letter and urgent appeal from the Bishops: A Pastoral Letter entitled "Let us re-found our nation on a new covenant" was written and released after the Plenary meeting of SCBC (Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference) held in Juba from 21 to 31 January 2014. This pastoral exhortation of the Bishops - addressed to the peoples of South Sudan, Sudan and all people of good will - examines the difficulties and failures of the country and, as a sign of the Catholic Church's offer of mediation and its tireless effort in search of true reconciliation and a peaceful resolution to the conflict, proposes some responses . They also appealed to missionaries and Religious Institutes not to abandon the Diocese of Malakal which has had all its parish communities and structures totally destroyed and its Church personnel dispersed.
Another Comboni Bishop for Karamoja: Pope Francis has appointed a new bishop in the Diocese of Moroto, Uganda, following the statutory retirement of Mgr. Henry Apaloryamam Ssentongo, who had reached 75 years of age. The new bishop is Fr. Damiano Giulio Guzzetti. who was born in 1959 at Turate in the Archdiocese of Milan. He studied philosophy in Uganda at Ggaba Major Seminary, Kampala (1986-1988), and theology in Kenya at Tangaza College, Nairobi (1988-1989). He was ordained priest in September, 1989. After ordination he worked in Italy (in mission and vocation promotion) returning to Moroto, Uganda, in 1994.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Bro. Jerome Clifford Charbonneau (11/07/1929 - 01/28/2014)
Fr. Euro Casale (08.07.1938 - 05.02.2014)
Sr. M. Martina Meotti
Sr. Rosa Gaioni