Thirtieth anniversary of the death of Fr. Ezechiele Ramin
In the past few days we have gone through emotional times with the presence of many people coming to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Fr. Ezechiele Ramin in Rondonia, Brazil.
His life, his death and his love for the poorest were the theme of a recent documentary called “Ezechiele Ramin, martyr for the option for the poor”, broadcast nationwide by two Catholic TV networks.
The documentary is in Portuguese
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7s0_qFyGQAI) with subtitles in Italian (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCVYDAT4SuE). Versions with English and Spanish subtitles will soon be published.
For several days leading up to the celebrations at Cacoal, five Combonians – two Sisters and three priests – visited fifteen parishes of the diocese of Ji Parana, where they realised that the memory of Fr. Ezechiele is still fresh among the people, especially the poor.
At Cacoal, celebrations began on 21 July with a round table discussion on the legacy that Fr. Ezechiele left us, emphasising especially the social dimension, justice and peace, indigenous pastoral and the pastoral of the land. A triduum of preparation was held from 22 to 24 July in the 84 communities of Cacoal. From 24 July we were joined by forty Italian people, including the brother of Fr. Ezechiele, Antonio Ramin, who in the preceding days had been in many cities of the Rondonia State. On the evening of the 24th, a vocational evening was held with songs and entertainment. On the following day a march for peace was held and a Mass to mark the thirtieth anniversary of Fr. Ezechiele’s death with the participation of many people. On Sunday 26, together with the peasants and the people of the small communities of Rondolandia, MT, Mass was celebrated for the first time on the spot where Fr. Ezechiele was murdered. This became possible only now because, up to recently, foreigners were mostly prohibited on this land because of the situation of violence and intimidation created by the “pistoleiros”, the guards of the landowners. On the same day, the crucifix and chapel built on the spot with the contributions of the poor were blessed.
During the ceremony and also during an interview with the TV network Globo, Mgr. Bruno Pedron, Bishop of Ji Parana expressed his desire that the process of beatification of Fr. Ezechiele be initiated.
Degree in philosophy
In July, Fr. Mennas Mukaka, who hails from the province of Malawi/Zambia, completed his philosophical studies at the faculty of theology in Graz, Austria, and was awarded a degree Summa cum Laude. Fr. Mennas will teach philosophy to our candidates at the Balaka Postulancy, Malawi. His thesis was: “The Meaning of Umunthu - Community spirit for the building of the Human Community on the example of the socio-political situation of Malawi”. Umunthu is an African philosophy which holds that we are all part of a whole: “I exist because you (plural) exist and you exist because I exist”. Congratulations!
Activities during the summer months
During the summer months, a number of confreres worked hard at distributing our missionary calendar called “Werk des Erlösers”. About 110,000 copies are distributed in Germany, Austria e South Tyrol. A further 3,000 were also distributed to young people, altar servers, students and others. The Calendar is a valid instrument of mission promotion as it informs the people about the work of our missionaries. The Holy Redeemer Guild is the largest source of income in the province.
Sixty-five years of Priestly Life
On 30 July, our eldest confrere Fr. Karl Wetzel celebrated the sixty-fifth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. It was a historical event since this was the first time a member of the Province reached sixty five years of priesthood. Fr. Karl himself presided at the Eucharist. Fr. Andreas Thorwarth who, as a young seminarian, attended Fr. Karl’s first Mass and later worked with him in Peru, gave the homily. Various confreres gathered around Fr. Karl to thank God for his long life and missionary work.
Following the visit of Pope Francis
Fr. Rafael González Ponce, Provincial Superior and President of the Conference of Religious of Ecuador, following the visit of Pope Francis to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay in July, 2015, prepared a short text to assist the communities to make use of the fruits of the visit and to make the message of the Pontiff become life and mission.
“In the Year of Consecrated Life and with the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy on the horizon, with the Latin-American Congress of Consecrated Life that was held in Bogota (18-21 June) and the visit of Pope Francis, we have before us a resurrection kairos”, wrote Fr. Rafael, exhorting the missionary men and women to nourish “passion and creativity to profit by such an abundance of blessings! To realise this task of discernment, he emphasised, it is necessary that each person, each community answers the question: how am I now and what have I received from it all?”
Cultural season at CCST
The Comboni College of Science and Technology (CCST) celebrated a Cultural season from 4th August to 20th August 2015. The activities were spread over two weeks. The first day started with an opening celebration where the students expressed their cultural diversity through song, dance and poetry. The second day consisted of a Symposium on the scientific work of Fr. Giovanni Vantini and the continuity of Nubian Studies. On the third day, Sudan Film Factory presented three short films produced after a long intensive workshop held at Goethe Institute Sudan in 2010. The Sudanese filmmakers, pioneers in the reactivation of film industry in the country, were present during the projections and discussed them with the audience. The fourth day instead was organized by the Italian Embassy that proposed the film “The Son’s Room” by Nanni Moretti.
During the second week, from 17th to 20th August, the students prepared an exhibition with ten stands that displayed to the visitors the different programmes of the College, some aspects of their original cultures and the histories of Sudan and the College. The Cultural season ended with a concert in the courtyard of the Secondary School. The exhibition and the final concert were sponsored by two local companies. All these activities have strengthened the links between the College and Sudanese society and have expressed the role of a university as a mediator of culture with the society in which it is inserted.
Perpetual vows and diaconate
The Delegation of Eritrea has been blessed with the celebration of the perpetual vows and the ordination to the diaconate of scholastic Russom Qurban Oqbamariam.
The perpetual vows ceremony was held in the chapel of the delegation house on 15 August, 2015, and the ordination to the diaconate took place at Kidane Mehret Parish (Sembel) the day after, 16 August, where Russom did his pastoral work for the last four years.
The ordination to the diaconate was presided over by Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam of the Archeparchy of Asmara. Both events were celebrated with great joy in the presence of almost all the Comboni confreres, the Comboni Sisters, Russom’s parents and relatives, many religious men and women, diocesan priests and lay people.
The celebration concluded with lunch at the Delegation house with the Comboni family, Russom’s parents and the invited guests. We wish deacon Russom a fruitful ministry in the community of Delle, which serves our two mission parishes in the Eparchy of Barentu.
Golden Jubilees of Priesthood
On Sunday, 28 June, Fr. Claudio Altieri, originally from the diocese of Rovigo, celebrated his Golden Jubilee of priesthood at the Commenda parish church, Rovigo. Ten priests concelebrated at the Mass, including three Comboni confreres. After the sung Mass, at 11.30, a meal was joyfully shared in the adjoining halls. The celebration was preceded by three days of prayer and testimonies on the missionary and priestly life.
Fr. Tonino Falaguasta Nyabenda also celebrated his Golden Jubilee of priesthood. On the evening of 26 June, Mass was celebrated at Brenta dell'Abbà (Padua), his native parish, with the participation of numerous priests, relatives and friends. On 16 July, the feast of the Madonna del Carmine, at around 9pm, there was a solemn Mass at Civé (Padua), with a procession carrying the statue of Our Lady: it was exactly on the 50th anniversary of the first Mass of Fr. Tonino in that parish. However, the main celebration was reserved for Sunday, 19 July, at Brenta dell'Abbà, in the parish where Fr. Tonino was baptised, confirmed and celebrated his first Mass on 11 July, 1965.
The celebration was preceded by a prayer vigil organised by Fr. Tonino’s sister, Sr Adriana. The church was packed full with the entire community of Brenta, a parish with no resident priest at present. The lay people arranged everything, having organised a celebrations committee. Also present were confreres from Bologna, Verona, Padua and Trent. After the Mass, an excellent meal was served that lasted until late afternoon. It was indeed a memorable day. Fr. Tonino had also prepared for the occasion a booklet entitled Fifty Years as a Priest, which was read and appreciated by many. Let us give glory to God!
Award for the quarterly magazine
“Comboni Mission Magazine”, the quarterly magazine of the North American Province, has received an important award, for the year 2014, from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada. Indeed, among all the Catholic magazines – not just the mission ones – it was awarded second place for its attention to the problem of immigration.
Since the previous Comboni Youth Congress that was held in 2013 at the parish of Lima-Chorrillos, we held the IV Comboni Youth Congress in the city of Arequipa. About 450 young men and women from our seven parishes attended. The theme of the Congress was: Young people, the Mission is a Passion for Jesus – Proclaim Him! (cf. Evangelii Gaudium by Pope Francis). We thank especially the Good Shepherd parish and Fr. Serafino Aparecido Rodrigues da Costa and his team for their wonderful welcome and for organising this event. We hope these days of meeting together with enthusiasm and the presentation of themes, workshops and religious celebrations (Daily Mass and Missionary Rosary, the Marian festival and procession of the Blessed Sacrament with a sort of pope-mobile through the streets of the parish) may bear fruit within the programme of the Province of Peru/Chile for a Comboni youth pastoral in view of possible vocations. The proposal of “Missionary America” that we share with the other provinces of Latin-America presents us with a model for a pastoral in this matter.
Feast of the Families of the Confreres
On Saturday, 4 July, 2015, the parish of St. Francis of Assisi, Cotonou, welcomed the families of the Beninese confreres to a celebration that has become an annual event. More than sixty relatives attended from all parts, despite the rain.
The day began with the presentation of the participants. Then the newly-professed, the scholastics who were there on holiday and the priests who were present shared their experiences. This was followed by a Mass at which Fr. Raoul Sohouénou, ordained in October, 2014, was the main celebrant.
One of the more important elements of the day was the launching of the Beninese Comboni Parents Union, an initiative suggested last year by Fr. Canisius Metin who is in charge of Mission promotion and welcomed by the parents. The Union aims at promoting a spirit of solidarity among the parents and creating a network of support for the confreres working in the missions. Copies of the Statutes and Rules were given to the families.
Priestly Ordination of Fr. Jean Michel Adom
On Saturday, 8 August, 2015, Fr. Jean Michel Adom was ordained priest by Mgr. Denis Amuzu Dzakpah, Archbishop of Lome. The celebration took place at the Salesian parish of “Maria Auxiliadora” in the Gbenyedzi quarter. Together with Fr. Jean Michel, a further 19 religious were also ordained priests. “For some years now, the religious have been celebrating together their ordinations: a beautiful testimony for the local Church as it sees the flourishing of so many vocations with their various charisms at the service of humanity and of the Mission. The majority of those ordained will, in the coming months, depart for other countries, mostly in Africa, to be witnesses to the Gospel”, said Fr. Girolamo Miante, Provincial Superior.
Let us pray for our beloved dead:
THE MOTHERS: Charlotte, of Fr. Godwin Kornu Kwame (T); Jeanne, of the Sc. Armel Atohoun C. A. (Benin).
THE BROTHERS: Antonio, of Bro. Giuseppe Zamboni (I); Julian, of Fr. Juan José Tenias (Benin).
THE SISTERS: Rosa, of Fr. Gino Melato (I); Odete, of Fr. José Augusto (†) and Fr. Ivo Martins do Vale (†); Etelvina, of Bro. António Almeida Borges (P).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. Miriam Simoni; Sr. Mary Gilda Zanchetta.