On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the founding of our Institute, a Symposium was held in Rome, from 26 May to 1 June, at the General Curia. This is an outline of the Programme.
Friday 26 May: Opening of the Symposium (Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse mccj, Father General); History of the Comboni Institute (a conference by Fr. Fidel González mccj).
Saturday, 27 May: The reconfiguration of the Institute in the light of our history (a conference by Fr. Manuel Augusto Lopes Ferreira mccj); Pope Francis’ vision of mission (a conference by Fr. Diego Farés SJ).
Sunday 28 May: Visit to the ‘Combonian’ places in Rome; Eucharistic Celebration (Urbanian College); Participation in the Regina Coeli with Pope Francis; continuation of the visit to Rome.
Monday 29 May: The Institute, a new message of God to the missionary Church (a conference by Fr. Teresino Serra mccj); Belonging with gratitude (a conference by Fr. David Glenday mccj).
Tuesday 30 May: The Comboni Missionaries and the challenges of the XXI century (a conference by Fr. Enrique Sánchez mccj); the social dimension of the Comboni mission (a conference by Fr. Francesco Pierli mccj).
Wednesday 31 May: General Audience with Pope Francis; Comboni Missionary Sisters (a conference by M. Luigia Coccia CMS); “Panorama” of the Comboni Family.
Thursday 1 June: Solemn Eucharistic Celebration presided by Cardinal Fernando Filoni (11am); Lunch.
The conferences will be published later on.
First Professions Lusaka (MZ) 6 May 2017 (12 professions)
Bro. Valverde Paredes José Jean (PE) Holy Redeemer Guild
June 01 – 07 ER 08 – 15 LP 16 – 30 P
July 01 – 15 KE 16 – 31 M
June – That the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute may help the Comboni Missionaries to remain faithful to the inspiration of the Founder and give themselves entirely, until their last breath, for the evangelisation of the world. Lord hear us.
July – That, as members of the Comboni Family, we may be faithful to Comboni’s dream of a collaboration network with the mission at its centre, serving the poorest and most abandoned. Lord hear us. Publications
Fr. James Kasitomu.Matama a Bulu, Balaka (Malawi) 2015. The book has 24 homilies that contain different narrations of Fr. James’s personal experiences acquired in different places where he has been working. It has a number of legendary stories, analogies and real experiences, rich in their meaning, which Fr. James has decided to publish, as they have touched the real lives of the people. For this reason, at the end of each homily, he has proposed suggestions on which the reader may reflect in the desire to change one’s life. The book is written in Chichewa, the national language of Malawi.
Fr. Bruno Gilli, Un culte du Vodu Hebiesso. Approche d’une religion africaine chez les Ouatchi du Sud-Togo, Ed. Haho, Lomé 2016. The result of research lasting many years – as is stated in the preface – this book proposes a historical, thematic and symbolic analysis of the ouatchi practices that are found in Togo, Benin and Ghana. It involves a “hidden and revealed treasure” by one who has been teaching for many years, forming generations of students of anthropology, ecclesiology, missiology and “African” theologies, with the intention of instructing, informing and forming!”.
Comboni Missionaries Sisters and Comboni Missionaries: “Evangelizing in time”: New models of mission in the Ethiopian context. 2015, St. Michael Pastoral Centre, Addis Ababa. The Conference was intended as a platform to provide an update on the new perspective of mission especially with regard to Ethiopia (context, changes and challenges, possible new models).
St Daniel Comboni Chapel, produced by the Italian Province of the Comboni Missionaries, Bologna, April 2017. A readable guide for an easy approach to the figure of St Daniel Comboni and the main events of his with a useful map of the Comboni Places in Verona.
Chorus of Anniversaries
From 8 to 13 May, the Assembly of the Delegation was held for the first time in Taiwan.
Using the reports of the different sectors (evangelisation, formation, vocations and missions promotion) the past was reviewed; despite being a small Comboni group (with about twenty members) the work done was of high quality and significance and this gives us reason to be forever grateful. The future is contained within the Six-Year Plan that was drafted during the Assembly. The best part of the experience was, however, the joy of the present moment: communion, fraternity and the enthusiastic desire to be together once again. The present challenges of the mission in Asia were illustrated by Fr. Willie, CICM, a missionary with many years of experience in the Chinese world.
The Assembly was particularly marked by the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the arrival of the Comboni Missionaries in Taipei, Taiwan (1997) and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Comboni presence in Macao (1992). It was nice to see the old photos of our beginnings and to find that most of the Comboni ‘pioneers’ are still young and with the benefit of years of experience. The celebration of the two anniversaries will be held in both places with their respective parishioners.
Our short stay in Taipei was crowned with an enjoyable excursion that included visits to historical and other places of interest.
About thirty Combonians met in Sao Paolo for the Mission Assembly. The process of unification requires a renewed commitment to renewing and harmonising the concept of mission and evangelisation in which each individual and each community has their place.
Over two days’ debate, there was an effort to reinterpret the role of the Christian and missionary communities inserted in the urban peripheries, especially through the parishes but also through the commitment to specific pastorals such as those of the prisons and minors.
Moved by the growing challenge of urban violence, answers are being sought by reintegrating the commitment of the faith communities with the numerous sectors of organised civil society dedicated to the defence and promotion of human rights.
The Assembly provided an occasion to go ahead with a reply to the Chapter (n. 45), which demands the requalification of specific pastorals, networking and a local plan for specialisations.
Feast of friends and benefactors at the General House in Rome
On 7 May, the Good Shepherd Sunday, friends and benefactors of the Comboni missionaries of the Curia in Rome met in the General House to share and joyously celebrate with the community half a day on the theme of the mission. The most significant moments of the day were the testimony of Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla, general assistant, who talked about his life and missionary work, especially in Chad, and then the Eucharistic celebration presided over by Fr. Peter.
He recalled some events of Chad’s political and ecclesial social history, the life of the people and of the Comboni missionaries. During the homily of the Holy Mass, concelebrated with about twenty other Comboni priests, Fr. Pietro, referring to the Sunday readings, to the Good Shepherd Sunday and the Day of Prayer for Vocations, emphasised in particular that we are all called to be missionaries and to announce and witness the Gospel to all creatures, following the footsteps of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and of our founder, St. Daniel Comboni.
The celebration ended in the dining room by sharing in a fraternal meal.
Visiting our roots
One hundred and fifty years ago, in 1867, in Verona, Daniel Comboni founded the Institute for the African Missions. The DSP decided to celebrate this event with a pilgrimage – from 2 to 5 May – to the communities of Milland, Limone, Verona and Castel d’Azzano. Twenty-two confreres took part.
Comboni went a number of times to Bressanone, also because it was there that his great benefactor and protector, Johannes C. Mitterrutzner lived. We visited our community and the graves of our deceased confreres interred in the cemetery of Milland.
The next stage, Limone sul Garda (the birthplace of the Founder) began with a half-day retreat directed by the community Superior, Fr. Pierpaolo Monella, who invited us to remember our history with profound gratitude: “Only those who contemplate history without prejudice will see in it the footsteps of God”.
The following day we left for Verona where both the landscape and our own horizons were widened. We visited the magnificently arranged African Museum with its numerous graphic illustrations in the corridors, the Comboni Chapel with some reliquaries and the images of some confreres immortalised in the stained glass windows, who spoke to us of the worldwide dimension of our mission.
This vision of ours was also reinforced by a visit to the new community of Castel d´Azzano, where around sixty confreres were expecting us. The mission is still very much alive among them. Our sharing with so many confreres who worked for many years in Africa and America went on so long that we had no time to visit the houses of the other ‘Comboni Places’.
We greatly appreciated the hospitality shown us by our Italian confreres and the opportunity, for many of us, to meet again confreres with whom we had worked in the mission and whom we had not seen for many years.
We wish to thank the communities of Milland, Limone, Verona and Castel d´Azzano for their warm and fraternal welcome that made us feel and experience in a new way our belonging to the “Comboni Family””. (Fr. Karl Peinhopf)
The Comboni Missionaries working in the media sector in Europe from Portugal, Spain, Italy, the London Province and Poland, together with lay collaborators for a total of 26 persons, met from 23 to 25 May 2017, in Madrid, at the provincial house. Bro. Alberto Lamana, Assistant General, and Fr. Arlindo Pinto, member of the Secretariat for the Mission and director of the ‘Comboni.org’ website also attended. For the first time, the Combonis responsible for the administration of publications in Africa: “New People” in Kenya, “Afriquespoir” in the DR of Congo, “Vida Nova” in Mozambique and “Leadership” in Uganda. The director of the magazine “Worldwide”, published in South Africa, was unable to attend.
The meeting was opened by Fr. Pedro Andrés Miguel, the Provincial of Spain. He spoke of how important it is to “stir up emotions and transmit to others”, and, in reference to the message of the Pope for Social Communications Day, he emphasised that information and communications must “foster the encounter”. He also reminded the gathering that Daniel Comboni attributed great importance to communications, this being why he founded the magazine “Annals of the Good Shepherd” which had as its objective to “promote prayer, economic means and vocations for the mission”.
Fr. Arlindo Pinto then briefly presented the official website of the Institute and the new element “Communications Sector” inserted into the section of the General Administration in Rome.
The afternoon of 24 May and the morning of the 25th were dedicated to the presentation of the first draft of the “Communications Plan of the Comboni Circumscriptions in Europe”, which defines, among other things, the vision, the mission, the objectives and the readership. This work was monitored by Bro. Alberto Lamana and Fr. Arlindo Pinto.
XI Limone Symposium
Once again this year, about forty members of the Comboni Family met from 18 to 22 April at the birthplace of St. Daniel Comboni in Limone sul Garda, to hold the XI Limone Symposium on the theme “Migration and Mission. Towards a new Europe: from migrants to citizens”.
On the morning of the first day of the work, Wednesday 19, Fr. Benito De Marchi launched the Symposium referring to the conclusions of the 2016 Symposium – on Migration and Mission – and the progress made on the theme of migration and the GERT reflections. In the afternoon, the accounts of three experiences with and between migrants were followed by a brief ‘question time’ with questions and comments by the participants.
On the morning of 20 April, Camillo Ripamonti, a Jesuit priest, presented the work of the Centro Astalli Foundation, of which he is the Director, and gave a theological-pastoral reflection on presence among and service of migrants, carried on by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) whose mission is basically to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and other forced migrants. After lunch, the Biblical scholar Felice Tenero and Maria Soave presented a reflection on the “Migratory Processes in the Bible”.
The final day began with a conference given by Senator Prof. Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, “Politics and society: migrants and civil rights, challenges and pathways”, which developed the theme of migrations centred on the concepts of needs (workers, for instance), selection and integration.
Lastly, the participants decided to write a letter to the Comboni communities of Europe as a small sign of communion and sharing. The account of the Symposium, together with its conferences, experiences and group work will be published within the next few months.
Annual Brothers’ Meeting
The Comboni Brothers of the Italian Province met in Pesaro for their annual meeting entitled “One hundred and fifty years since the birth of the Institute – Comboni Brothers for mission today”. The meeting began on the evening of 30 April and concluded on 3 May. About thirty Brothers took part, coming from the communities of the Province and also from the General Curia and other European Provinces. The encounter had two purposes: to renew awareness of one’s vocation in the light of the last General Chapter and ongoing events and to examine together one of the final steps in the six-year planning that the Italian Province is now engaged in.
The schedule of the meeting included a historical review from the foundational moment, proposed by Fr. Fidel González Fernández, and a study of the challenge presented by the phenomenon of migration, guided by two young people involved in receiving people seeking political asylum (Alessandro Lorato and Giulio Farronato) and by Comboni Father Alessandro Bedin, lived as a time of staying together and mutual witness.
On the third day, Fr. Giovanni Munari, Provincial Superior in Italy, was given time to present the draft of the Six-year Plan and to hear comments and suggestions from the Brothers.
The testimonies, during which about ten Brothers recounted key episodes in the evolution of their understanding of their vocation and the outing-cum-pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Loreto added a note of profound gratitude and thanksgiving to the encounter for the abundance of gifts received. At Loreto sanctuary, the group offered special prayers for some seriously ill confreres, entrusting them to the loving care of the Blessed Virgin and St. Daniel Comboni.
A Street named after St. Daniel Comboni
On 20 May, in Valeggio sul Mincio, in the presence of local civic and religious authorities and a considerable group of people, a street was named after St. Daniel Comboni. On the part of the Combonis, Fr. Teresino Serra and Fr. Venanzio Milani as well as the Mother General of the Comboni Sister Luigina Coccia and the Provincial Sr. Dorina Tadiello, also attended. Valeggio is the home of many missionaries. Most famous of these is Don Giovanni Beltrame, and then the deceased Comboni Missionaries Frs. Venturelli and Giacomelli and Sr. Venturelli; among the living it also counts Fr. Enrico Cordioli and Sisters Lucia Giacomelli and Giovanna Valbusa.
Our Padua community has organised a celebration for 11 June, on the ninetieth birthday anniversary of PM with games, music, workshops, foods of the world, clowns etc. planned for the day. New subscriptions to the magazine will also be promoted.
Celebrating the 150th in Verona
In Verona, on 18 June, the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Comboni Institute will take place with a Eucharist celebrated in the Basilica of St. Zeno, presided over by the Bishop of Verona Mons. Giuseppe Zenti with the participation of Superior General Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse. The clergy, Institutes, friends and well-wishers are all invited.
Visit of the Superior General
During his visit to the Province, Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse visited the Social Ministry Institute at Tangaza University College. The ISMM was founded in 1994 by Fr. Francesco Pierli. That was the year when the first Synod of Bishops dedicated to Africa was held and also the year of the genocide in Ruanda. Those were events of despair and hope that brought the continent into the media spotlight, giving different impressions. Africa was emerging from a dark moment made up of civil wars, attempts at democracy and apartheid. It was also a time, when, in many countries, civil society was taking shape, offering some hope. Right from the start, the ISMM presented itself as a centre for the preparation of agents of social transformation in line with the social magisterium of the Church’
During his visit, Fr. Tesfaye met with the academic staff, the present director Brother Jonas Dzinekou and Fr. Giuseppe Caramazza who works in the Institute. Fr. Pierli presented the activities and the people who direct them. Fr. Tesfaye, on his part, showed his interest in the formation work carried out by the ISMM, underlining the correspondence between the charism of the university Institute and the dream of Comboni: to prepare African agents of transformation to impart new drive to the continent.
Twelve Newly Professed Comboni Missionaries
The sixth of May 2017 was a great day for the Comboni novitiate of Lusaka, Zambia. Twelve novices from five countries took their first vows: four from Kenya, four from Uganda, two from EGSD, one from Malawi and one from Ethiopia. One of them is a Brother candidate from the hosting province. They have finished the novitiate and on this day they committed themselves to the Lord through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, in the Institute of the Comboni Missionaries.
The Chapel of the novitiate was small for the people who came to participate in the celebration: the Provincial Superiors of the novices, the Comboni Missionaries, priests and brothers, present in Lusaka, the Comboni Sisters, some priest friends of the novices, many friends and relatives. The mass was animated by the choir of St. Kizito, a Comboni parish in Lusaka. They gave a joyful and prayerful tone to the whole celebration.
It was beautiful to participate in the celebration and in silence to listen to the formulas of the vows, simple and at the same time deep in their theological meaning. One by one, before their respective Provincial Superiors, the novices took their vows and officially entered the Comboni Family.
Bro. Alberto Lamana and Fr. Jeremias, Assistants General, were present at the celebration. Fr. Jeremias presided over the Eucharist. In his homily, he underlined the centrality of Christ and the personal encounter with him as the only reason for our consecration. Thus, the need of always keeping our eyes fixed in the Pierced Heart of the Good Shepherd and not to lose track of the meaning of the Comboni Missionary consecration. Bro. Alberto addressed the novices with some references to the richness of our institute, present in so many countries in the world and made up of a great variety of languages, cultures and nations.
At the end of the mass, Fr. Edward Kanyike spoke on behalf of the Provincials, one novice addressed the assembly on behalf of the newly-professed and Fr. Dawit W. Teklewold, the novice master, announced to the Assembly the places where the newly-professed were appointed to continue with their formation: Pietermaritzburg, SA (2), Bogota, Colombia (1), Sao Paulo, Brazil (2), Nairobi, Kenya (2), Lima, Peru (4) and Napoli, Italy (1). After some holidays at home with their own families they will start moving to their new destination.
We are grateful to the Lord and to the formators and all those who contributed to the formation of our young brothers. May they remain faithful to the Lord who called them and who is Himself faithful.
The Comboni Missionaries of the Province gathered at the St. Daniel Comboni catechetical Centre from 24 to 28 April to take part in their Annual Provincial Assembly. Twenty-nine confreres attended. The purpose of the Assembly was to reflect upon, discuss and prepare the Six-Year Plan. “It was an ideal occasion to grow in fraternity and communion in view of a renewed missionary service. With the motto: ‘To live with joy and hope the inheritance of St. Daniel Comboni in Mozambique’, we are all committed to serving with fidelity and to promoting the values of the Kingdom of God”, said Fr. José Júlio Martins Marques.
European Bursars’ Assembly
The Comboni community of Krakow hosted the European Bursars’ Assembly from 24 to 28 April. Fr. Pietro Ciuciulla, Assistant general, the representative of the Vicar General in Poland, Fr. Tomasz Marek, and Fr. Claudio Lurati, General Treasurer, also participated. All the European Comboni Provinces were represented.
The meeting was carried out according to the programme of pre-established themes and each Bursar described the present economic situation of his own Province. This sincere and fraternal exchange on the joys and sorrows of the economic life of the Institute was found to be of great benefit to all. The meeting ended with some concrete proposals to be carried out in the near future.
The Bursars enjoyed a half-day break that allowed them time to visit the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Krakow.
Celebrating seventy years of Comboni Presence
The official date of the arrival of the first Comboni Missionary in Portugal is 22 April 1947. On that day, Fr. Giovanni Cotta took up residence in Viseu and, from there he commenced a period of history that has lasted seventy years to date. To celebrate this event, the Portuguese Combonis organised, from 24 to 30 April, a week full of activities at the Mission seminary in Viseu and in some schools and parishes of the diocese.
The culmination of the commemorations was the solemn Eucharistic celebration on Sunday, 30 April, presided over by Mons. Ilídio Pinto Leandro, Bishop of Viseu, and concelebrated by Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse G., Father General, as well as other Combonis and priests. Many benefactors, friends and some celebrities were invited whose presence testified to their appreciation of the work of the Comboni Missionaries. Among these was the President of the City Council, António Joaquim Almeida Henriques. The chapel was packed.
During the week, Fr. Manuel Augusto Lopes Ferreira presented his book “Missionários Combonianos em Portugal – Uma história singular” (Comboni Missionaries in Portugal – a special story), of almost 400 pages of great historical interest in discovering the roots of the Comboni presence in Portugal.
We urgently need to conjugate the verb ‘innovate’
Fr. José da Silva Vieira, Provincial Superior, was re-elected president for a second mandate of three years of the Conference of Religious Institutes in Portugal (CIRP), during the course of the XXIV General Assembly of the institution, which took place on 2 and 3 May, at the House of Our Lady of Carmel, Fatima.
Communications in the digital age was one of the themes for ongoing formation chosen for this Assembly. In his opening address, Fr. José Vieira, who has vast experience in this field, said: “we urgently need to conjugate the verb ‘innovate’”.
Forty years of Comboni presence
The year 2017 is of special importance to the Combonis in Chad since, besides being the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute, it also marks forty years of presence in the Province. It was on 15 August 1977 that three young Comboni Missionaries, Fr. Claudio Gasbarro, Fr. José Delgado and Fr. Miguel Ángel Sebastian – now Bishop of Laï – were introduced to the Christian community of Moïssala, the first Comboni mission.
The presence of the Comboni Missionaries in Chad began with the expulsion of the missionaries from Sudan in 1964. A group of these followed the Sudanese refugees who fled to the Central African Republic and from there the missionaries moved to Chad at the request of the bishops who sought a Comboni presence in that poor country, considered an area of first evangelisation. In fact, the Church in Chad is one of the youngest on the continent. For forty years now, many missionaries passed through the various missions of the Province; some of them, like Fr. Celestino Celi and Fr. Francesco Tomasoni, died there.
All of this leads us to thank God for the many gifts he has given to the province, especially by way of vocations. Today, seven young men from Chad became Combonians, three young women entered the Institute of the Comboni Missionary Sisters and there is already a small group of Lay Comboni Missionaries. There are also people in formation. We do well to remember that the first parish in the world dedicated to St. Daniel Comboni – just a few days after his beatification – is in Chad.
Celebrations of these events will take place next August in Moïssala, the first mission.
The Comboni circumscriptions of Francophone Africa joyfully celebrated, on Saturday, 13 May, at Cotonou (Benin), the first religious profession of sixteen novices from Congo, Central Africa, Chad and Togo. After two years of formation in the novitiate and due preparation, these young men, ten of whom are Congolese, four Togolese, one a Chadian and one a Central African, consecrated their lives to God and the mission. The Eucharistic celebration, presided over by Fr. Médard Longba, Delegate Superior of Central Africa, who was celebrating that same day his eleventh anniversary of ordination, and concelebrated by about thirty priests, both religious and diocesan, was very lively and well participated. In his homily, Fr. Victor Kouande, Provincial of TGB, invited the newly-professed to fill their lives with the love of God, who alone is able to transform the world and nourish the people of God with hope.
At the end of the celebration, Fr. Joseph Mumbere, Provincial of the DRC, presented the missionary work that is being carried out in the field of formation and mission promotion. He availed of the opportunity to thank the formators of the novitiate for their service rendered with great dedication and sincere firmness. Soon afterwards, the Provincial of TGB read out the destinations of the newly-professed, to the boundless joy of all concerned.
Among those present at the Mass were the Comboni Missionary Sisters who had come from Lomé, men and women religious serving the Archdiocese of Cotonou, the families and friends of the Togolese novices and the faithful of the parish of St Francis of Assisi of Fidjrosse.
We thank the Lord who continues to call to Himself young men drawn by the love of Christ, the Comboni charism and the testimony of the lives of the missionaries. The next group of novices is expected in Cotonou on 9 September 2017.
Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Institute
In the context of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Institute, the Combonis on mission in the Archdiocese of Cotonou organised a missionary week-end for young people on 26, 27 and 28 May. Thus, contemporaneously with the opening of the Symposium in Rome, the celebrations in Cotonou witnessed the arrival of about a hundred young people from the different parishes of the Archdiocese who gathered on the evening of Friday, 26 May, for a period of preparation and Eucharistic adoration at the parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Fidjrossé.
The following day, the young people set out from that parish on a “missionary march” of about 30 kilometres along the Atlantic coast from Fidjrossé to Djegbadji. At mid-day, Mass was celebrated at Avlékété Plage.
On Sunday morning, all joyfully took part in the Mass presided over by Fr. Benjamin Guivi, the first Beninese Comboni Missionary, now working in Mozambique, concelebrated by Fr. Canisius Metin with the Comboni deacon Prosper Tehou assisting.
The jubilee of 150 years will continue until 1 June, 2018.
Annual Assembly of the Uganda Province
The Comboni Missionaries of the Uganda Province gathered from the 24th to 28th April 2017 for their Annual Assembly at St. Daniel Comboni Spirituality Centre in Layibi. As a preparation for the celebration of the 150 years of the Institute’s foundation, an input about the theological meaning of the memory was given by Fr. Cosimo De Iaco. In the same respect some important dates and periods in the history of the Institute and the province were presented. The thread that holds all the historical moments together is the devotion to the Sacred Heart as the centre of our missionary spirituality.
The participants (51 confreres and 1 Lay Missionary) shared their experiences in groups about some Comboni Missionaries who inspired them for various reasons. The result was a “cluster of witnesses” who really loved the people to whom they were sent. Their example, especially in making common cause with the people, challenges us all to keep the fire burning for mission among the poorest and abandoned of our time. The participants, among other topics, identified the areas of strength which will be reflected in the Six-Year Plan of the Province.
IN PACE CHRISTI
Bro. Seibold Adolf (30.01.1935 – 26.03. 2017)
Bro. Adolf passed away on the night of 26 March at Ellwangen hospital. He had not been well for some time. His health problems had visibly worsened and his stays in hospital became more frequent and longer. The last time he was taken to hospital, a week before he died, he had understood – and showed it – that he was nearing the end of his earthly life and that eternal life was approaching. He accepted his situation peacefully, with faith and lucidity, with neither complaints nor fears.
Bro. Adolf was born at Zirndorf in central Franconia (Bavaria, in the diocese of Eichstätt) on 30 January, 1935. That area provided the DSP with a dozen good confreres and missionaries. One of them was the Bishop of Tarma (Peru), Mons. Lorenz Unfried.
On 1 March 1950, at the age of fifteen, Bro. Adolf entered the house of Josefstal as an aspiring Brother. On 21 August 1952 he was admitted to the Postulancy and on 2 February 1953, he began the novitiate at Josefstal. The years before the novitiate were spent in professional preparation. On 2 February 1955, he made his first profession and, on 2 February 1961, he made his perpetual profession.
After the novitiate, he began work on the farm at Mellatz. He dedicated many years of his life to this type of work, first in the DSP and then in South Africa where the farms were very extensive and a large number of workers was required. The work of the Brother was largely administrative and relations with the workers were not always harmonious. For many years, Bro. Adolf did this work in the missions of Belfast, Maria Trost, Glen Cowie and Barberton.
In the eighties, the time came in South Africa to get rid of the farms. One of the reasons for this was the lack of Brothers for this sort of work. Bro. Adolf was therefore assigned to work at the mission of Luckau to run a powerful mill that had been in use for many years, providing an important service to the small farmers of the area: he was in charge of the mill for six years.
After that he collaborated for three years in a gardening project in the mission of Elukwatini where, some years previously, the parish priest had built a nursing home for the elderly that is today run by German Benedictine Nuns. In his later years, before being assigned to the DSP, Bro. Adolf worked in various missions, taking charge of the houses and gardens. In 1997 he was assigned to the DSP. After three years in the communities of Neumarkt and Josefstal, he moved to Bamberg.
In 2011 he was assigned to the community of the Ellwangen Centre for elderly and sick confreres. At Bamberg he had had cardiac problems and underwent surgery on a heart valve. He often had to go to hospital during his final years. Despite this, he continued to work in the small grounds in front of the house for as long as his state of health allowed.
Bro. Adolf was a man of few words. It was not easy to engage him in conversation and this did nothing to facilitate community life. However, during his frequent bouts in hospital, he seemed a different person: he enjoyed visitors and chatted happily with them. He was kind and appreciative. He now reposes in the Ellwangen cemetery alongside the thirty-nine fathers and twenty-eight Brothers who predeceased him. (Fr. Alois Eder)
Michelangelo Peroni was born in Verona on 27 November 1929. He entered the novitiate in Florence in 1947 and there took the cassock, making his first profession in 1949. He then moved to Gozzano for the Brothers’ formation programme and, on 9 September 1955, he took final vows.
Always ready to serve the confreres, he succeeded in completing a course in tailoring in Verona and remained there as a tailor, preparing the linen and cassocks for the confreres, at the Mother House, from 1949 to 1963. “He was exact and disciplined in his work – wrote Fr. Santangelo – and took the necessary measurements. He never failed to give some playful advice to those whose belts were wider than the acceptable: ‘Brother, you will have to do some penance to get rid of that fat belly: cloth is too expensive’”. Fr. Francesco Lenzi also recalls: “When he was the tailor in Verona, he made my first cassock for the Liceo, the novitiate and when I took first vows. My lasting impression was of a brother who was attentive, available and competent in his work”.
In 1963 Bro. Michelangelo was assigned for a year to Portugal, in charge of the house of Lisbon and then the house of Moncada, in Spain (1964-1970), in charge of the tailoring and as local bursar; he looked after immigrants and sick confreres. Always on time for community meetings and morning prayer, he showed humility and friendliness towards all.
In 1971 he was sent to Brazil where he stayed until 1981. In 1976 he was also elected to represent the Brothers on the Provincial Council.
Referring to this first period in Brazil, Fr. Aldo Gerna, later to become Bishop, wrote: “I well remember when he was in the diocese of São Mateus; he was very active and capable in his work. He was a good religious and a sincere confrere; he lived happily with us. He also took part in the pastoral and the practical activities followed by the Brothers. Ours was a simple diocese, poor and austere. The figure of Bro. Michelangelo reminds us of the not insignificant contribution of the Comboni Brothers to the progress of this diocese, now almost completely handed over to the diocesan clergy”.
In 1982 Bro. Michelangelo was again appointed to Lisbon (until 1988) and then to various places in Brazil (1988-1997), in charge of houses. Fr. Candido Poli remembers him as “quite shy but very kind, sensitive and always available”.
Again, Fr. Lenzi recalls: “In 1988, when I was Provincial in Brazil, Bro. Michelangelo was appointed to this country and, at the request of Fr. Aldo for a Comboni presence at the Bishop’s House, he was sent to live with the Bishop. There, even in the Bishop’s House, he continued in his discreet way, attentive in his service to the house and the people. He leaves us with happy memories”.
In 1997 he returned to Italy where he stayed until 2004, at the Curia in Roma, as assistant local bursar and managing the house.
He stayed in Arco from 2005 to 2013 as local bursar and taking care of elderly confreres. “He was always peaceful, busy, respectful towards personnel and treated the confreres with love”, Fr. Renzo Piazza said, among other things, during the funeral homily.
He spent his final years in Verona, at the centre for Elderly and Sick Confreres where he died on 7 April, 2017.
Fr. Salvatore Coppo (17.09.1933 – 20.04.2017)
Fr. Salvatore Coppo was born in Serdiana, a village in Sardinia (Italy), on 17 September, 1933. The parish of that city is consecrated to Christ the Saviour, the name he was given by his parents.
In Cagliari, the capital of the island, Fr. Coppo entered the diocesan seminary where he studied philosophy and theology. However, after meeting the Combonians, who had no house on the island, he felt the call to the “ad gentes” mission.
He was ordained on 9 July 1961 by Mons. Edoardo Mason, appointed Bishop of the new Apostolic Vicariate of El Obeid. This new portion of the people of God had been separated from that of Khartoum and became a vicariate on 3 December 1960. Fr. Coppo was incardinated in El Obeid since he was ordained priest before his final religious profession: thus he became the first priest of the new vicariate.
Two months later, Fr. Salvatore took perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the Comboni Missionaries.
In 1963 he was sent to Sunningdale to study English. Once he learned the language he was sent to Uganda where he stayed until 1978. There he worked in the pastoral field and also as a teacher in the Minor Seminary of the Diocese in Nadiket.
In 1979 he was sent to Malawi where he was known as Father Mpulumutsi – “Saviour” form his name “Salvatore” – in the local Chichewa language. In 1983 he took a break from pastoral service to complete his doctorate in Canon Law at the Lateran University.
In 1987 he was sent to teach in the national seminary of the Episcopal Conference of Sudan, first at Juba (1987-1991) and then at Khartoum where it had to be transferred due to the war in the South. He taught at the National Seminary until 1996. He then went to Cairo to study Arabic. He was already 63 years old and could not become very proficient in that language. Despite this, he went to El Fasher (Darfur) where he served the Christian community until the year 2000. After that, he worked in the parish of Wad Medani until he returned to Khartoum to resume teaching at the National Seminary. He continued this service until the transfer of the seminary to Juba. He then had to face up to his new status as a retired teacher. Besides, since he found Arabic difficult, his pastoral possibilities were limited and, at the age of seventy, it was not easy for him to fulfil a permanent commitment teaching at Comboni College, Khartoum. He wanted to continue teaching and serving the Christian community but, on the other hand, he was aware of his limits.
Despite all this, he was able to communicate joy to all he met. This is certainly one of the ways people remember him. He loved to embrace people and this physical openness of his arms was also the reflection of his heart. Fr. Salvatore was always happy to collaborate with the Focolarini, the Charismatic Movement, the neo-Catechumenates and the Salesians.
Last January, he complained of abdominal pain. At first, the doctors thought it might be an inflammation of the prostate but when he reached Milan, cancer was diagnosed. It was not possible to operate since it had spread and had already invaded essential organs.
“We said our goodbyes in Khartoum, the night of New Year’s Day … and all was well, just a slight pain but then there was a total emergency and a hasty return to Italy for treatment – writes Pietro Roncari, a volunteer at Khartoum Comboni College, in his testimony –. He passes his rosary through his fingers, a Rosary well worn by the countless Hail Marys that marked the long African days. Even as a hospital patient, he was still the old Fr. Coppo: simple, charming, attached to the faith and to prayer like one shipwrecked escaping from the storm... The hidden, silent disease was soon to take him to his end”. He arrived at the beginning of Lent and died immediately after Easter, on 20 April 2017.
The funeral took place in the community of Milan. Besides family members, the Comboni community also attended, together with various confreres who had been his companions in mission. The celebration was presided over by his fellow Sardinian Fr. Teresino Serra who said: “Fr. Salvatore knew how to cultivate friendships. This is also shown by the messages of condolence that we have received: from the Apostolic Nuncio of Khartoum, from Cardinal Zubeir, from the Auxiliary Bishop of Khartoum, the Salesian Missionaries, some of his former students and many others. I was always struck by his humanity, a humanity that was affable, simple and intelligent”.
Fr. Gilmar Santos De Sousa (17.05.1964 – 13.04.2017)
Fr. Gilmar Santos de Sousa was born at Salvador in Brazil in 1961. He took first vows in 1989 and perpetual vows in 1993. He was ordained on 19 February 1994.
Fr. Gilmar takes me back to a time in my life that affected me deeply. When I came to know him, he was leading the youth group in the parish of Castelo Branco which we had chosen as a way of entering into the Afro-Brazilian world, at Salvador-Bahia. Gilmar seemed to identify well with our pastoral proposals and to appreciate the sensitivity towards Afro-Brazilian expressions that was beginning to emerge in our Institute.
I followed with interest his personal growth, both human and vocational, his entry into our formation structures, his ordination and his first missionary work in Congo and Ecuador. I tried to understand the reason for his return to Brazil. It seemed to me that his journey through life was marked by unease. On the one hand, he failed to express fully his countless talents and, on the other, he always ended up with increasing resistance and excuses.
I remember having spoken about him to Fr. Ettore Frisotti, a mutual friend. We recognised in Gilmar many elements of the Bahian soul. Both of us felt that Gilmar continually tended to clash with something greater than himself in the way he spoke of God, the means to encounter him, the manifestations of faith and life and his ability to appreciate popular devotions. It seemed as if theology and ecclesial (and ecclesiastic) structures were too narrow for him, crushing his apostolic zeal and his missionary ardour. Nevertheless, he reached the hearts of people more than all the rest of us. This was shown by the friendships and deep relationships he established. His relationship with the Comboni Missionaries was not an easy one. Though there was agreement regarding ideals, there were always difficulties in making them concrete. I believe that the decision to be incardinated in the diocese of Salvador may be seen as the outcome of this long and difficult process of understanding that never really became an authentic encounter.
His death, therefore, is a double loss: the loss of a person to whom I owe much as regards the understanding of Brazil and also the loss of an opportunity to welcome among us some of that Afro-Brazilian spirit that knocked on the door of our Institute but, for a thousand different reasons, never managed to step over the threshold. (Fr. Giovanni Munari)
Fr. Bernardo Bonazzi (13.11.1935 – 04.05.2017)
Fr. Bernardo Bonazzi was born at Gandino, in the Province of Bergamo, on 13 November 1935. After joining the diocesan seminary, he completed secondary school. He took first vows at Gozzano novitiate on 9 September 1958. After his scholasticate in Venegono, he was ordained priest in Milan on 30 March 1963.
His first appointment was to Ecuador where he worked in Quinindé and Esmeraldas, in the parish of Santa Marianita, among people of African ancestry.
Fr. Mario Mazzoni writes: “When Fr. Dino, as we always called him, was first appointed to Esmeraldas, I had not yet met him personally but when he came to join me in the mission of Quinindé, we became close friends and our friendship lasted all our lives. The first years of mission require much adaptation but, with the enthusiasm he brought, it was not hard for him to adapt to the requirements of the new life. We spent three wonderful years together working as missionaries. When I was assigned to Peru, it was not possible for us to keep in touch. It was only after many years – more than fifty – that we again met to share these last years in Rebbio and Como. Despite his poor health and his continual need of oxygen, he lived these years with his usual enthusiasm”.
In 1968, he began a four-year assignment to Spain, first at the Provincial House as vocations promoter and then at San Sebastian as local superior.
From 1972 to 1980 he again worked in Ecuador: at Esmeraldas, at the Bishop’s House as missionary animator and at Quito as procurator. He was then assigned to Italy where he worked in missionary animation for six years.
From 1986 to 2010, he again worked in Ecuador, mainly involved in parish ministry: first at Guayaquil, then at Esmeraldas and Quinindé, again at Guayaquil and then at the parish of El Carmen.
When, in 2004, he joined the community of Las Malvinas (Guayaquil), together with Fr. Ramón Vargas and, later on, with Fr. Joaquín Luis Pedro, “for Dino it was a homecoming”, Fr. Ramón recalls. In fact, “he had practically founded the parish of El Buen Pastor, at las Malvinas, when, during his first years, he would come from the parish of La Fragata to visit and evangelise the people of the area who had no one to care for them pastorally. Fr. Dino was a man of prayer and every morning he would go to the church before 6.30. At 7pm he was again in church to recite the Rosary – he was very much devoted to Our Lady – Vespers and Mass. His constant presence was a great help since it made it easy for people to avail of the sacrament of penance.
Each day, including Sundays, he would lead the Mass; his homilies were greatly liked as they were concrete and practical. He accompanied the basic communities and the parish movements, especially the Legion of Mary where he was greatly appreciated for his wise guidance and the promotion of the movement”.
In 2010 Fr. Dino returned to Italy and, after a short period in Verona, was sent to Rebbio where he died on 4 May, 2017.
“I met Fr. Dino when I arrived in Rebbio in October 2012 – Fr. Piercarlo Mazza writes – and I was immediately struck by the fact that, even though he had breathing difficulties, he was appointed to choose and intone the hymns for the community liturgy. It was the only service his poor health allowed him to render to the community and he carried out this task with enthusiasm. More recently, when his sickness worsened, he found it very difficult to sing and sometimes his voice faded: everyone expected him to give up but he continued to sing despite everything and always succeeded in finishing the hymns he had intoned.
Another way in which he helped the community was to make us laugh with his jokes that he told during meals. He would cut out cartoons from magazines and display them on the notice board of the coffee room. That was another surprise. Despite his great suffering, he was still able to make us laugh.
His breathing problems meant he could not speak for long but, when he spoke during meetings, we admired how he wanted to continue following community life and to give his contribution to our reflections. To those of us who are younger and in better health, he leaves a wonderful example for us to follow”.
Let us pray for our beloved dead
THE BROTHERS: Komi Eric, of Fr. Antoine Kondo Komivi (T); Amanuel Ghebrechristos (O.F.M. Cap.), of Fr. Tesfamariam Ghebrecristos Woldeghebriel (ET); Ambrogio, of Fr. Giovanni Baccanelli (ET).
THE SISTERS: Leonilde, of Fr. Tiziano Laurenti (LP); Sofia, of Fr. Riccardo Mele (†); Dorinda, of Fr. Feliz da Costa Martins (EGSD).
THE COMBONI MISSIONARY SISTERS: Sr. M. Pasqualina Ghilardi; Sr. M. Bernardina Cerea; Sr. M. Gabriella Ghidei Alawi.