1. Convocation of the XVIII General Chapter. During the June Consulta, the General Council focused on the coming XVIII General Chapter. The letter convoking the Chapter was sent out along with the list of the personnel of each Province in order to start the process of electing the Chapter Delegates. The lists of the Electoral College for the election of Brothers were also brought up to date.
2. Towards the XVIII General Chapter. The next General Chapter will run from 29 August to 4 October, 2015. The theme chosen is: "Comboni missionary disciples, called to live the joy of the Gospel in the world of today". The General Council has prepared a brief document to be sent to all the confreres to assist preparation for the Chapter and the respective provincial reports.
3. Letter of the GC on the 150th anniversary of Comboni's "Plan". A meeting was held with the GC of the Comboni Sisters to discuss the drafting of a letter to be addressed to the whole Comboni family and to be sent out in September.
4. Hospitality at the Generalate. Due to the numerous meetings and courses to be held in the Generalate in September & October, 2014, it will not be possible to offer hospitality either to other confreres or their guests during these two months.
5. Ongoing Formation Courses in Rome. The names of those participating in the January to May Renewal Course are to be sent to Fr Siro Stocchetti; the names of confreres who are to take part in the Comboni Year, which will start after the Chapter in October, 2015 are also to be sent to Fr. Siro Stocchetti before the 1st first of January, 2015, so that the list of participants may be finalised.
Comboni Sisters' News:
1. 80th. Anniversary of Comboni Sisters' Magazine. On the occasion of the 80th. anniversary of the Comboni Sisters' magazine 'Combonifem', known until a few years ago as 'Raggio', the Superior General has sent them a message of appreciation and good wishes.
2. Venerable Servant of God Maria Giuseppa Scandola. On 12 June, the Holy Father received in private audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, and authorised the Congregation to promulgate a number of Decrees, one of which concerned our sister Maria Giuseppa Scandola who was made 'Venerable'.
First professions (34): Benin - 1, Brazil - 2, Chad - 3, D.R. Congo - 5, Ethiopia - 1, Ghana - 1, Italy - 3, Kenya - 3, Malawi - 2, mexico - 2, Mozambique - 2, Peru - 1, Togo - 3, Uganda - 3, Zambia - 2.
Perpetual professions (3): Togo - 2, Uganda - 1.
Ordinations to the priesthood (3): Ecuador - 1, Chad - 1, Kenya - 1.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REBUBLIC
Notre Dame de Fatima parish attacked: The parish has been home to more than 5,000 displaced people from Bangui (women, men, children and elderly) since 5 December, 2013. Recently, it experienced one of the most painful weeks in its history. The story begins on the evening of Saturday, 24 May, when a boy of eleven was wounded in the right arm. It was initially thought to have been a matter of a stray bullet but the child was the first of many victims during that terrible week. The worst day was 28 May. Indiscriminate shooting started at about three in the afternoon and at around four o'clock, the attackers broke into the camp. After another half an hour of killing and terror, they left but not before rounding up a number of people and loading them onto trucks. Seven people were left dead, one of which was a visiting priest, and about forty were wounded. The number of dead soon rose to fifteen. After an hour and a half, the International Forces arrived, provoking outbursts of anger by people who felt they had been abandoned by them. Ambulances found it difficult to enter and the work of evacuating the wounded went on until seven in the evening. Now the camp (and parish) is totally deserted.
Superiors of the Andean Region (Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia) gathered for the first time from 20 to 23 May, 2014, in Bogota, Colombia. The aim of the meeting was to exchange experiences and ideas in an atmosphere of collaboration, communion and brotherhood.
The confreres of the German Speaking Province (DSP) held their annual Provincial Assembly from 9 to 13 June, 2014, at Ellwangen-Josefstal. Comboni's 'Plan' was discussed stressing the fact that the Plan, updated as it was 4 times by Comboni, needs to be constantly updated, maintaining of course, the features that are key.The provincial gave a report concerning our communities and Fr. Gregor Schmidt reported on the situation in South Sudan and the enduring presence of the Comboni missionaries in spite of the violence and war there.
Ecuadorian missionary to Brazil. On Saturday, 14 June, in the city of El Carmen (Manabí), Orlando René Vera Coello was ordained priest. Fr. Rene has been appointed to one of the Comboni missions in Brazil.
From 28 April to 2 May, at the community of Granada, the European meeting of Combonis under forty held their annual meeting. There were 8 of them, working in the provinces of Europe.
Scholastic Ketema Dagne Tadesse, a radical member of the Province of Ethiopia, was assigned to the Province of South Sudan two years ago for his missionary experience, after completing his scholasticate in Nairobi. Due to the sad events which led to the closing of his mission of Old-Fangak, Ketema returned to his home Province where he joined his fellow scholastic Endrias Shamena Keriba for a common celebration of their diaconate. Endrias, who studied theology in Pietermaritzburg, came to Ethiopia for his missionary service. He was assigned to the community of Gublak, among the Gumuz people, the latest of the communities to be opened in our Province. This was where the ordination took place at the hands of Abune Lisane-Christos Matteos, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Addis Ababa. The priestly ordinations are scheduled for November, 2014.
The Class of 1964 - 50 years of priesthood: The confreres ordained in 1964 numbered 62 i.e. 56 FSCJ plus 6 MFSCJ - and they hailed from Austria, Egypt, England, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Sudan. Of these, 17 have died (including Fr. Egidio Ferracin, who was martyred) and 14 have left the Institute (2 of whom are still priests). Thus 32 confreres are alive and active today. From 19 to 23 June, 25 of the 32 (and some had not met since the day of their ordination) gathered at Limone, Verona and Bressanone for celebrations. The festivities culminated in a shared Eucharist on 22 June at the Votive Temple in Verona where 54 of the 62 were ordained on 28 June, 1964, by Cardinal Agagianian, the then Prefect of Propaganda Fide. The Superior General presided over the jubilee Mass and the Provincial of Italy was also present. The press, radio and TV of Verona covered the event amply. Each of the 32 will celebrate the event in their own parishes or mission. Ad multos annos.
Assembly for Mass Media. Confreres responsible for our media work in Europe - Germany (DSP), Spain, Italy, Poland, Portugal, the UK and Ireland (LP) - held their Assembly from May 26 to 30 in London. The key-note speaker was Bro. Enzo Biemmi, a Religious from the Institute of the Brothers of the Holy Family. The Vicar-General, the Provincial Superiors of Portugal and the LP, and 2 Comboni Sisters representing the Italian magazine "Combonifem" also participated in the meeting. Unfortunately the General Secretary for Missionary Animation, was unable to attend. Reports were given including a word on the Missionary News Agency (MISNA) and the on-line web magazine in English, "SouthWorld", a four-year-old initiative of the Provinces of Europe. The Vicar-General asked the participants, in view of the forthcoming General Chapter, to reflect on 3 points: what relationship exists between our Media and Mission promotion; what vision of Mission do we communicate in our publications, and how kerygmatic was our output given the social, economic, cultural and ecclesial Europe of today.
Spiritual exercises. The Confreres of the North American Province (NAP) - the USA & Canada - this year celebrate 75 years of missionary service here. The celebrations included the spiritual exercises preached by one of the Assistants General in Cincinnati (5-10 May) and in Los Angeles (19-23 May).
Award for Comboni Missions magazine. Every year the Catholic Press Association of the US and Canada holds a convention at which awards are given to different publications. Comboni Missions has received awards on and off for years, the last being in 2011. This year once again we have been recognized with a 3rd Prize for General Excellence, "This magazine contains powerful images and excellent critical thinking. A must-read for those interested in diverse missions around the world." This year, Comboni Missions is making a special effort to publicize the missionary vision of Pope Francis.
First religious vows. On 24 May, the five second-year novices - 3 Italians and 2 Mozambicans - took first vows at the novitiate of Santarem. The Eucharist was presided over by the Provincial of Italy while a Portuguese confrere represented the Provincial of Mozambique and received the vows of the Mozambican candidates.The Provincial of the DSP, in charge of formation at the European level, was also present. To conclude the celebration, the Novice Master read a brief message to the newly-professed, signed by Pope Francis.
Meeting. The first encounter of the 23 confreres, representing 10 communities in Spain and Portugal that are engaged in evangelisation and missionary animation, met from 6 to 8 June at the Claretians house in Fatima. The confreres prayed the Via Crucis together along the streets of Fatima and participated at the official Eucharist in the Chapel of the Apparitions. They also visited the European Novitiate of Santarem and ended their meeting by celebrating the feast of Pentecost in the Shrine of Fatima. The next encounter is scheduled for June, 2015, in Spain.
Honour conferred on Comboni Missionary. A Portuguese confrere was honoured - together with some Portuguese communities and foreign citizens - with the grade of Commander of the Order of Merit by the President of the Republic of Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, on the occasion of "Dia do Portugal" (Portugal Day), on 10 June. Bro. José Manuel Duartel, who has worked in Colombia in since 2002 was given this award as one of the founders of a group of volunteers who assist 180 prisoners, 300 homeless and 3500 families displaced due to the FARC conflict in Medellín, the second largest city of Colombia, giving them spiritual and medical help.
Weekend on Comboni spirituality. The Province organised another weekend on Comboni spirituality, 20-22 June, in Maia. The meeting, discussing slavery past and present, was attended by 40 members of the Comboni Family and received inputs from a number of qualified (biblical, historical, psychological, pastoral, technical, and organizational) speakers.
First CD of Missio Band. After four years of concerts, the Missio Band has launched its first CD of original music. ConTigo consists of 13 pieces composed by Fr. Leonel Claro, who founded the group in Maia in May, 2009, as a means of vocations ministry among the youth. A successful concert launching the CD was held in the Oporto House of Music. The CD is published by Salesian Publications. The Missio Band is made up of seven musicians and has already given 50 performances in diocesan and parish youth scenes, including concerts of prayer and fund-raising.
Ninety years of Comboni presence. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Plan of Comboni and 90 years of our presence in South Africa, the Province organised a retreat directed by Fr. David Glenday and two conferences on the Plan of our Founder. The retreat, from 8 to 13 June, was held at Maria Trost where the Comboni presence began in 1924. Many confreres who worked in South Africa during these years lie buried in the cemetery of this mission. The retreat, focusing on the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, and on the Plan of Comboni, was attended by 23 confreres. The two conferences - one in Johannesburg on 7 June and the other in Pretoria on 14 June - were open to priests, religious and friends of the Comboni Missionaries.
The situation improves. After five months of war, a peace agreement was signed on 9 May, 2014. There are now fewer clashes and the country is on the way to a complete cease-fire. The Provincial Superior accompanied by another confrere visited the mission of Leer (16-18 June) to assess the situation and to see if it could be re-opened. The house of the missionaries, one of the few still standing, though partly destroyed, had been occupied by catechists and their families as well as UN workers and other humanitarian organisations. The school, youth centre and the catechetical centre had been taken over by families that lost their homes due to the war. To date, the area has been free of conflict and people are returning to the city. The Comboni community is organising aid for the stricken families. A Brother will stay until mid-July and it is hoped the mission may be reopened within six months. When the Provincial came to visit, the population of Leer expressed its appreciation for the presence of the missionaries and the hope that they would soon return to the area.
Silver Jubilee of the Diocese of Doba and its first Pastor. On 21 May, 1989, Mgr. Michele Russo, MCCJ, was consecrated Bishop of Doba and became the first pastor of the diocese. This year, from 21 to 25 May, there was a gathering to celebrate 25 years of history. Sunday, 25 May, was the day of the great Eucharistic celebration: all the dioceses of Chad were represented by their bishops, priests, men and women religious and a multitude of the faithful. On the previous 30 January the Holy See had accepted the resignation of Mgr. Michele Russo and, from that moment, Mgr. Miguel Angel Sebastián Martínez, also a Comboni Missionary and the present Bishop of Lai, became the Apostolic Administrator.
Perpetual vows and ordination to diaconate. At Fidjirossé (Cotonou) on the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity two young Comboni students made their perpetual profession in a packed church in the parish of St. Francis of Assisi. This celebration was part of the Silver Jubilee of the Comboni parish of Cotonou. The main Jubilee celebration will take place on 30 November next. The Golden Jubilee of the Province is also celebrated through this same event which sees its membership grow to 85 confreres. On Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, Raoul and Léopold were ordained deacons in Ouidah, at the Grand Séminaire St. Gall, which is celebrating its centenary, at the hands of Mgr. Antoine Sabi Bio, the new Bishop Natitingou (Benin).
Episcopal consecration. On Saturday 24 May, 2014, Mgr. Damiano Guzzetti, MCCJ, was consecrated Bishop of the Ugandan diocese of Moroto, in Karamoja. Mgr. Guzzetti is the fourth bishop of the diocese since its erection in 1967. The ordination, presided over by the Metropolitan of Totoro with the Apostolic Nunzio and the outgoing Bishop co-ordaining, was attended by 20 bishops from all over Uganda, among whom were two Comboni Missionaries. Mgr. Guzzetti studied theology at the Comboni scholasticates of Kampala and Nairobi from 1986 to 1989. After a period of apostolate in Italy, he worked as a missionary in Karamoja from 1994 to 2009. From 2008 to last year, 2013, he was formator at the postulancy of Jinja, Uganda. He had just begun to serve in the community of Venegono when the unexpected news came of his appointment as Bishop of Moroto.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Fr. Antonio Mario Imperial
Fr. Antonio Zagotto
Bro. Salvador Orozco Madrigal
Fr. Marco De Angelis
Bro. Kaspar Hauber
Srs. M Simonetta Martignoni; Irene Feliza Quiñonez Estacio; M.Nazzarena Zecchini.