The primary aim of the Comboni Missionaries/Verona Fathers is to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ to people who have not yet heard it. Our Missionaries approach such people, study their language and customs, and help them lead lives worthy of their human dignity by promoting health-care, education and socio-economic development. Through these activities we learn how to express the Gospel message in terms that the people can grasp and be comfortable with, while their example of compassion and concern causes the message of Christ to be heard in a context of "love God and love your neighbour as yourself'.
People who are baptised are usually the first to spread the Gospel in the wider area around the Mission. Other groups form, with a Church teacher or Catechist as leader and guide. As the Christian Community grows and develops, the Catechists are given formal training, and groups of Catholics in particular areas elect leaders and form 'Chapel Councils'. Pastoral visits for instruction in the faith and the celebration of the Sacraments are continuously programmed to the out-lying Chapels, while a centre will be built in the Mission for the catechumens who are in their final stages of instruction for Baptism. The newly-baptised are then gradually introduced into the Christian way of life through preparation for the Sacraments of Reconciliation, the Eucharist, Confirmation and Marriage.
Young people who show signs of wanting to be priests, brothers or sisters are encouraged to study for their chosen vocation. Seminaries and other training centres appear, and eventually local priests take over the pastoral care of their people, while local Sisters work in the schools and hospitals. Finally the missionary bishop gives way to a local Bishop. Our Missionaries know that their ultimate aim in life is to "work themselves out of a job"! With the help of the Holy Spirit, the Local Church gradually reaches self-sufficiency when it is self-supporting, self-ministering and self-propagating, and the successors of the first Comboni Missionaries move on to other peoples who still await the proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom.
The Comboni Missionaries/Verona Fathers are deeply committed to improving the quality of life of the peoples among whom they work. One can appreciate the difficulty of preaching the Good News to people who are diseased and dying, who cannot read the Gospel in their own language or even write their own name, whose lives are blighted by the most terrible poverty and deprivation imaginable. More often than not, the church is not built until well after the dispensary and school are up and running.
Our Missionaries have pioneered primary health-care, and particularly the provision of clean and safe drinking water, in many parts of the world. Many clinics, health-centres and hospitals have been built, and are maintained, with funds collected from our friends and benefactors in Europe and North America. Treatment is universally based on clinical need rather than on a patient's religious affiliation or ability to pay. While retaining responsibility for staffing such structures with medical and technical personnel, we strive wherever possible to train up local people to take over such responsibilities so as to guarantee a certain continuity in the future provision of such vital services.
From the earliest beginnings of our work in modern-day Sudan, the Comboni Missionaries have been actively engaged in providing education to the peoples we are privileged to serve, establishing and running a wide variety of educational establishments, from primary and secondary schools, to vocational and technical institutes, to teacher-training colleges and universities.
Workshops, courses and the like are an important feature of our ministry in the parish-setting, particularly in promoting the development of women, for as an old African proverb so aptly puts it: educate a woman and you educate the tribe.
THE MASS MEDIA
The Comboni Missionaries/Verona Fathers are very much involved in the production of missionary publications in the form of magazines and books, and of television and radio programmes, to promote the truths and the values of the Kingdom in whatever country or region we are present. We publish twenty-five magazines and periodicals in as many countries (and languages!) dedicated to a wide variety of interests and concerns, from fund-raising and the recruitment of vocations to the missionary life, to socio-political and anthropological issues.
Studies of the language and customs of different ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa have led to some of our Missionaries becoming national and international experts in the fields of anthropology and sociology, and the publication of innumerable grammars, dictionaries and ethnological studies.
YOUTH MINISTRY (www.comboniyouth.org.uk)
It offers the chance of sharing, in a dialogical way through this website, our missionary experience with young people of secondary schools, universities, beyond school, Lay People (Comboni Out-Reach) and Vocations. It is a way of raising awareness, responsibility and participation in the Mission. It helps young people to get ready to "reach out" where the needs of Jesus and his Gospel, with all its implications, are most needed.
JUSTICE & PEACE & INTEGRITY OF CREATION (www.standup.comboniyouth.org.uk)
Stand-Up is the on-line version of the Newsletter, with the same provocative title, being circulated in all Comboni Communities. It keeps the Province abreast of developments in the field of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. It tells of conferences, events and initiatives taking place in our province and especially in Scotland. You find documentation, campaign material, reflections, links with other organizations dealing with Justice and Peace, a calendar and the contact-E-mail for sharing your ideas and suggestions.