RENEWING THE CHOICE TO LIVE AS A SIGN OF CONTRADICTION IN A LARGELY ANTI-RELIGIOUS SOCIETY.

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As it has traditionally been done, when circumstances favour, this year, on the 01/May/ 2018, the feast of St Joseph the Worker, so dear to the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, who, like St Joseph, see themselves being called to speak less and preach the gospel by the example of their lives in the concrete situations through the various services they carry out among their brothers and sisters, among whom they live as brothers, companions and servants in a world that is becoming more consumeristic with an ever increasing degradation of moral and anthropological values defended with a wrong understanding of freedom; in such an environment, the scholastics here at St Daniel Comboni scholasticate, in a joyful and gratuitous mood renewed their commitment to witness to the gospel of Jesus, Poor, Chaste and Obedient, in the footsteps of St Daniel Comboni.

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One needs only to live in the geographical space surrounding this scholasticate, and to encounter the people in their day to day lives to understand the radicality of the choice to live poor, chaste and obedient in such an environment.

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Quite a respectable number of invited guests turned up for the celebration, although, perhaps due to other duties, many arrived when the mass had already started. But even among those who attended the mass, it was easy to see that a majority seemed not to understand exactly what was happening as the language, particularly at the very moment of the renewal of the vows, was unlike the language of the contemporary world. This paused a challenge to us, and perhaps to all religious out there, to try as much as possible to explain our identity to the people we minister to.

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It is possible that in the name of living a simple life, we religious and missionaries do not make our identity intelligible to the people, and yet, in my view, this is important particularly in vocation promotion, in which many young people ask questions that need answers, not just by seeing the life of priests and religious, but by having this life explained to them in dialogue. St Francis would say, ‘Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words’. I think the sign of our time demands that we not only live a Josephite example of preaching by our life while doing little to use words to explain who we are to people. In our time, this only leaves people wondering at how able-bodied young men and women, capable of being ‘productive’ to the world, can choose to live all their lives without children of their own (chastity/celibacy), choosing poverty rather than riches, and worse still, giving their will to the ‘direction’ of other people (obedience) when in fact they are free to do whatever they wish with their lives.

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Making the vocation to the priesthood and religious life intelligible to people is even more important in explaining the inevitability of the scandals that priests and religious sometimes are involved in because of human weakness. Such a thing cannot be explained in any way except in words, and this, today, is one of the frequently asked questions by young people in the vocation promotion ministry, just as much as it is a common question asked by people generally.

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Coming back to the celebration, the gratuity of our ceremony was even increased by the fact that the community participated in giving thanks to God for a gift that he bestowed on one of our elder brothers, Fr Joseph Ngumba Lelo, who, in the previous week, had graduated as Doctor of Philosophy at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. This was yet another example of intellectual witness necessary for a religious proclaiming the Good News in the 21st Century.

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We are grateful to God for having continuously shown us his love and mercy by making us undeservedly sharers in his mission of bringing the Good News to the world. And as we thank all our brothers and sisters who joined us as witnesses to this, our conscious and demanding choice, we pray that this witness may be a potent invitation to the Christians to participate in vocation promotion and a moment of inspiration to the young people among whom we live, to come out in the midst of the external resistance of the world to say Yes to the inner call to this noble mission, for which God unceasingly raises labourers irrespective of the attitude of the world; ‘And remember, I am with you always, yes, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20).

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By Scholastic Augustine Epieru MCCJ.

 

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By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home

THE COST OF BEING A MISSIONARY

SILVERTON-11St Augustine’s Parish is one of the parishes in Pretoria diocese, South Africa. Within the Parish is a community of two Comboni Missionaries: Fr Joseph Rebelo, the Superior and editor of the magazine, and Fr Robert Kinena, the Parish priest and administrator of the magazine.  Three of us; Manuel Quembo Novais, Gloire Nsimba Makengo and Muyisa Mumbere Kapitula, had an experience in this community. Basically, our presence in this community was for learning English, but in the process we became involved in the entire life of the community.

                          LEARNING ENGLISH

Two of us are from DRC, a French speaking country, and the other from Mozambique, a Portuguese speaking country. Obviously, learning a language is not so easy. Everybody wants to remain in his own language because he finds security and assurance. Sometimes to change is a big challenge. As French and Portuguese speakers, we found our security in these languages. That is why at the beginning of our journey, it was a big challenge to us.  However, our secret to overcoming the fear of learning English was in two ways: cultivating the spirit of humility so that we may accept with joy corrections, and cultivating the spirit of unity in order to study together, to correct each other.IMG-20180205-WA0007

One may ask, “how is it possible?” Firstly, we noticed that many people were available every time to help us. Firstly our confreres in the Scholasticate and the members of Silverton community, then the children and other people we encountered in the Parish. After a mistake, they couldn’t keep quiet. They were reacting immediately to correct our pronunciation, our reading and our writing. Although it was difficult in the beginning, with the spirit of humility we were slowly able to accept correction especially when it was done in public. Fr Harold Gomanjira, a priest we met during this experience, had told us, “My dear brothers; if you want to learn this language, accept that everybody corrects you, and speak a lot”. Another aspect that helped us to learn was unity. Where there is unity, everything goes easily. A French proverb will affirm: “L’Union fait la force”, which means “Union makes power”. This was the way that we took because we realized that alone none of us could do anything.IMG-20180206-WA0011

     OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PARISH

St Augustine’s parish is multicultural, comprising white and black South Africans and other people from Malawi, The DRC, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Cameroon,   Nigeria etc. As missionaries and learners of English, this multiculturality helped us to understand the universality of our Church and the internationality of our Institute. We were pleased to see that many people from different countries were able to stay, to pray together and build the community of St Augustine. For us, it was a moment to enter into other people’s ways of thinking and approaching life, and sharing our own. Indeed it was a fulfillment of St Mark’s Gospel, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come” (Mark 10: 29-30).

 OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE COMMUNITY AND THE WORLDWIDE MAGAZINE

Every morning except Tuesdays and Saturdays (in which mass was in the evening), we had mass before going to school. Outside school, we shared our different experiences during meals, house cleaning and other activities through which we learnt that every person is important in the community and has something special to build the community. The worldwide magazine was also part of our interest. We collaborated with Fr Joseph to promote the magazine and arrange its publication. This experience helped us to enter more into the reality of South Africa.IMG-20180205-WA0011

OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE EXTERNAL WORLD

Our style of life as religious is often misunderstood by many. The common questions people asked us were, “How is it possible to live without a wife? And how do you find joy in this style of life?” With experience and the understanding we have about our vocation we tried to answer these questions and many people appreciated our life style. We built a good relationship with our schoolmates and sometimes, after school, they could invite us to stay with them. Other parishioners too showed us their love, inviting us to their homes and we welcomed it with freedom and responsibility.

With grateful hearts we thank God who has been with us during this experience and all the people we encountered and shared with. May God, the author of all vocations, enrich each one of us with the gift of faith as we continue discerning the different vocations through which he calls us to serve him.

 

BY SCH. MUYISA MUMBERE KAPITULA

 

 

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IT IS JUST COLLABORATION

Queenship of Mary Kanyanga Parish is located in the diocese of Chipata; it takes about three hours’ drive from Chipata.  It consists of two religious communities: the Missionary sisters of Immaculate Conception and the Comboni Missionaries, who work hand in hand reaching out to the Christians for first evangelization. There is commitment realized from sisters who have clear pastoral activities; pragmatically Sr Ravaka is the pastoral coordinator, the  Parish secretary and in charge of Holy Childhood.   Sr. Lucy reaches out to the sick with communion and works in the hospital which is run by these sisters, and sister Jackline is in charge. It is clear that the Comboni community plays a key role in evangelization. They are committed in empowering catechists,  animating Christians in outstations and serving all in the spirit of love.  This is seen through cooperation with the Catechists and the sisters.

Community life is unique, simple and easy to learn from the members.   It is a vast, edifying Parish, rich in culture and traditions that makes one feel at home because of the warm heart of the people, hospitality, respect, peace and love which are the easily noticeable values.

It goes without saying that collaboration among people is key purposely to support and treasure each individual as a gift to the community (mostly during funeral/Nyifa). The Parish is run in the spirit of a family, where each member is given a chance to express what he/she feels is good for the contribution and progress of the entire Church. There are, in this respect, groups within the parish that foster the vitality of the Church. These are: St. Ann, Holy Childhood and the youth. The three groups animate the Church, do charity and reach out to fellow Christians within the communities.

Specifically, the youth play a key role in reaching out to fellow youth with the spirit of the Gospel, ‘that all may be one’ (John 17:21). They have clear goals set. Consequently, they evaluate all they do, seeing what they have realized and finally, celebrating their achievements.

In short, like a body that depends on other organs to function well, so are the Kanyanga groups. Their future plans can come to implementation, fulfillment and success when there is genuine support, formation of catechists, pastoral formation, clear and well followed timetable and finally, speaking with one voice enhanced by the priests. While in the Parish, ours was not to entirely capitalize on weaknesses but to learn from the parish. We saw it as progressive in nourishing the faithful.

BY JUSTUS OSEKO MCCJ.

“YOUNG PEOPLE, THE FAITH AND VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT”.

It has been said, and rightly so, that young people are the future of the Church. But if one contemplates on the existential reality of the world today, one will not end without wondering at how fast materialism is taking hold of the lifestyle of most young people. With the growth in science and technology, without forgetting the largely individualistic tendencies of those who happen to control the world’s resources, it is increasingly becoming easier to meet many needs of life, and much so the material needs, to the extent that the pastoral approach of priests and missionaries working in today’s realities has to change in focus and methodology from building infrastructure, like schools and hospitals as in the past, to teaching people, especially young people, how to use material things, starting with the body, for God’s glory and not for self-glory.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the environment in which a person grows up often has a great impact on a person’s lifestyle, which is an outward expression of what goes on inside a person, that is, what a person thinks, desires, imagines and believes in. In other words, a person who lives in an environment that feeds their thoughts, desires and imaginations with things of God will most likely choose a life that is oriented towards God. Similarly, a person who lives in an environment that feeds their above faculties with nudity, pride, selfishness, greed for money, and anything opposed to godliness will have their life oriented towards just that which shapes their inner person. Put in the language of vocation, this can be best expressed by Pope Benedict XVI’s theme for the World day of Prayer for vocations of 2010: “Witness awakens vocations”, and the opposite is true: “counter witness kills vocations”. However, at the end of the day, whatever lifestyle a person lives, willing or not willing, life itself teaches lessons which are necessarily a reminder that whatever we are and have has a beginning, a source, God, to whom we ought continuously to turn to so as to find the right meaning in all that we are and possess.
It is not therefore by chance that Pope Francis chose the above theme for this year’s reflection by the synod of Bishops in October. Young people, being the future of the Church but at the same time the most vulnerable target of the Church’s enemies, need guidance and direction. In fact, the Pope invites all the Catholic fraternity, and indeed humanity at large, to ‘accompany youth in their existential path towards maturity through a process of discernment so they can discover their life goals and realize them with joy, opening themselves up to an encounter with God’ (National Catholic Reporter).
Good news is that God is always in control and working in us even when we seem not to see it. In every group of people, in a family, school, hospital or whichever workplace we happen to be, there is always an outstanding and special gift that God has given to each person which others do not have, that can always be a tool for discernment and a source of hope and joy for the human family. One person may have a charming smile, another a soul-soothing laughter; one may be a good listener, another a good speaker and so on, and all these are needed for responsible parenthood, priest hood, consecrated life and even the single state. Nevertheless, discernment must be done in order to discover not only in which state of life these gifts may best be made use of together with the other gifts a person has, but also where one may best be helped to grow in one’s weaknesses without ‘breaking down’, so to say.
Thus, rather than focusing on the overwhelmingly discouraging situation of our world, let us focus more on becoming aware of the gifts and talents that God has given to us and ask him to guide
us in using them humbly, joyfully and perseveringly, and help us to be open to learn from others and from life itself so that witnessing to his love for us by word and deed we may in turn help young people to discover the gifts and talents that God has given to them and accompany them in making choices that will bring these treasures to the right and permanent joy-rewarding use, for the service of God, in the married life, priesthood, consecrated life or the single state, according to the movements of the Holy Spirit and each person’s response.

 

 

BY AUGUSTINE EPIERU MCCJ

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COMMUNICATORS FOR MISSION

The media has a vital role in the prosecution of our mission, especially in promoting missionary animation and justice, peace and integrity of creation – a commitment that emerged only in the last years

In this text, I would like to state that our work in the media is “a precious inheritance,” from our Founder – a media-minded person – who availed himself of the means at his disposal to bring mission farther and reach virtually a greater number of people.

Comboni, a great communicator

St Daniel Comboni was a great communicator. He believed in the power of information and, all his life, he used his eloquent words – spoken and written. Whenever he was in Europe, usually to recover from his infirmities, he would not miss the opportunity to travel and meet as many collaborators, friends and benefactors as he could to inform them about the misfortunes of Africa, his tireless efforts to alleviate its misery, and to stir their faith and generosity. He even had programmed a trip to America in 1871 to ask for aid and for Black missionaries to help him. He was stopped by the Prefect of Propaganda Fide, Cardinal Barnabò, afraid that Comboni would channel, to Africa, funds that were sustaining the Roman offices.

Besides, he would use pen and paper – the means at his disposal in the XIX century, because the telegraph was invented only some years after his death – to promote mission awareness, make known his work in African soil, and raise funds to support his projects. Every day, he would write many and extensive letters in different languages. Let me to give just two examples. In May 1871, he confided to the Bishop of Verona, Msgr. Luigi de Canossa, that he had written 1,347 letters in the previous five months. In another letter, while talking about his multiple commitments, he mentioned that he had “more than 900 letters to write.” During his life, he wrote thousands of letters.

But his “lively and diligent correspondence with Europe” included many papers and magazines which multiplied with the spreading of the printing press after 1820. In a letter to the editor of the paper Libertà Cattolica, he stated: “I have to write all the time as a correspondent for 15 other German, French, English and American journals which send me fine sums of money. In Italy, I have relations with nearly all the Catholic papers … as well as my own Annali del Buon Pastore in Verona, which is a quarterly.” The latter became the prestigious Comboni magazine Nigrizia. Its first issue came out in 1872 and was the first of the Comboni magazines which define also our way of doing mission.

Comboni had an encyclopedic knowledge and was interested in all matters pertaining to Africa – people and their vicissitudes, history, geography, fauna, flora, discoveries, exploratory expeditions, customs and culture, trade, development… He wrote chronicles about his trips, ethnographic, geographic and biographic articles, historical essays and, especially, annual reports about the progress of his mission and asked for prayers and financial aid. It seems he believed in the power of communication as much as in the power of prayer.

In addition to writing, he read and subscribed to a great number of Italian, German, French and English periodicals, especially, Catholic papers. The reason he gave was: “because I want the Institutes and the many establishments I direct to think properly today, and I thank God that they all do.” In his Writings, he mentioned more than 40 papers and magazines. One wonders how, in the middle of his strenuous labors, exhausting trips through sickening swamps and scorching deserts, he could still have time to read and write so much.

The means of transportation then were the camel and the steamer. One can only imagine how the great mission animator, Daniel Comboni, would use modern means of communication, especially phone and Internet, to communicate in real time and how he would put electronic media at the service of mission promotion and evangelization!

An unavoidable challenge

Mission is communication – mainly of our perception and experience of God. Besides, we communicate what we are, the experiences we make, the work we do. There’s no communication without contents – otherwise, that is pure entertainment! The missionary is a communicator. The quality of his communication depends on the quality of his experience. The words may be poor and the technique may be inadequate, but the message would certainly get across.

On the other hand, communication is mission. The media are simply a tool – ever more indispensable and precious. Our mission is a source of beautiful stories – or should be – with which we touch people and help to create a better world. Some involvement in the social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is not enough. Besides, we should remember that our more or less sophisticated gadgets (cell phones, computers and cameras) should not be so much for personal enjoyment but for the service of mission. 

The Congregation’s involvement in the media – “a precious heritage” – is faltering. In the 60s, we were ahead of times in missionary animation (using slides and Super 8 projector machines); today, we are clearly behind the times. The world evolved but we didn’t. More and more, we find it difficult even to keep the existing magazines. Not enough personnel have been prepared for the job, not mentioning the challenges of the new media. The shrinking personnel calls for strategic decisions in key sectors, such as in this multi-faceted areopagus of the mass media.

News – more than any other journalistic genre and in another context, sermons – have the power to change people’s way of thinking and mobilize their will to do good. Therefore, it is not easy to understand the Congregation’s reluctance in committing more people and resources to the media sector. Surely, our mission at the service of the Good News of Jesus deserves much more courage and dedication.

BY FR. JOSEPH REBELO COMBONI MISSIONARY

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WHAT A JOY TO BE RECEIVED !

Receptivity and hospitality are essential values for a community.  On the 30th of August 2017 six of us {new brothers} were officially received at St. Daniel Comboni Scholasticate Pietermaritzburg. It was a joy filed occasion for all of us, first and foremost to witness the Comboni community as a cenacle of apostles;living together not in isolation. Secondly, to inspire each other with God given gifts as to witness the love of God to each other. Our refectory was filled with music, jokes and jubilation. It was a wonderful and indeed a meaningful day; full of sharing, nourishment and inspiring moments after meals and the Eucharistic celebration.

 

What a joy to be received by others

What a joy to be integrated in the community

What a joy I say!

Again what a joy to be awaited for!

 

It is like a bridegroom waiting his lover

Without knowing where she will come from!

He remains in his room waiting!

Hoping to realize a wonderful visit

 

Everywhere he sees policemen

Walking, walking carefully

To see what happens to others

Fear! For the interruption of the visit

 

At a moment, a boy is ready!

And he is like watchmen

Opening his eyes to see the world

That he may be alert, suddenly he sees full light!

BY SCH. MUMBERE   KAPITULA MUYISA

 

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A JOURNEY FOUNDED ON GRACE AND GRATITUDE PART II

Important moments in my formative journey

I consider each stage on my formation journey momentous. Each step was a hurdle that came with its baggage of opportunities for self-discovery and more growth.  Particularly, the gift and challenge of having to be formed with students of different cultures, nationalities, some younger than me, right from the pre-postulancy to the Scholasticate. Such an environment afforded me space for continual self-examination and purification of my motivation. In many instances, much was demanded of me due to the age difference, something that helped me to be always vigilant.

Initially I had to struggle with the transition of starting a new way of life, giving up all my independence and projects and submitting to my formators to be formed and helped to grow. I am really indebted to my formators who midwifed this transition, notwithstanding the storms that had to be weathered. For instance, my formator in the postulancy, Fr Daniel Villaverde, always encouraged me that what counts is the quality of service but not the number of years that one has served or ministered. It is in the Scholasticate that our formators, Fr Lelo and Fr Casillas opened vistas for us to experience integral formation and explore leadership and creativity. I will always cherish the many moments our confreres in the different missions joyfully hosted us for mission exposures. It was an opportunity to have a lived experience on the concerns of our different missions in the world and to make our studies useful.

Values based Formation

I am grateful that I have been formed for life; my formators journeyed with me and showed me by examples that it is far much better to be more than to have more.  It has been a formation hinged on values that many education systems in the world do not offer. In the pre postulancy, I encountered for the first time community life and I learnt the joys and struggles of witnessing and evangelizing as a community.  This short experience helped me to live with confreres from other cultures and nations both in the novitiate and the Scholasticate. I remember my formator in the postulancy stressing the need for detachment and always going an extra mile in what we do. He not only said these but we saw him acting on it. I learnt how to make sacrifices and to take studies seriously. Seriousness in studies was coupled with a high sense of time management and discipline. My formator in the postulancy, Fr Jesus Lobato, always reminded us that we are formed in the best ways and taken to good Universities so that we can minister and serve people better. Indeed there was no room for mediocrity with respect to academics.

Prayer life, both personal and communitarian has been at the centre of my formation journey. Along this line other values that were  inculcated included: detachment, service, self-control, moderation, hardwork, perseverance, creativity, stewardship, accountability, spirit of community, solidarity, tolerance, flexibility, continuous reflection and evaluation, self-confrontation, and fraternity. I have never forgotten the spirit of living with intensity and going an extra mile. This was emphasised in the novitiate by my novice master, Fr Pierpaolo, and it is in the missions that I found its fullest expression or lack of it.In the Novitiate, we produced our own crops and stuffed the store with different variety of homemade jam and juice. This was the greatest lesson on self-reliance and healthy feeding. We were formed not to be consumers but producers. Indeed in the spirit of the founder, the little things and the sacrifices we made daily as individuals and as a community helped us to grow in dying to oneself like a grain of wheat (Jn 12:24). In fact the Socius, Fr Moroni, always reminded us missionary life entails slow martyrdom, something that has started making sense now that I am out of the formation house.

In line with St Daniel Comboni

Comboni was a great gift to the people of Africa. This is seen in his conception of Africans in his introduction to the Plan for the Regeneration of Africa.In no uncertain terms his letter on the day he came back to Africa after illness suffices to show how dear Africa was to his heart. Such sentiments were incomparable; he was not just sentimentalizing or romanticizing but speaking from an existential point of view; his writings explodes with what he lived. It is devoid of rhetoric and leads the readers to the envisage a different world for the Africans, a world of justice and equity as envisioned in the book of Revelation.

It is very difficult to see a conflict between what he wrote and what he lived. I find this irresistible in Comboni. His passion for the people of Africa and the Cross is unexampled. His spirit of detachment and sacrifice was exceptional. His resilience and courage in face of difficulties and determination to get what he wanted for the good of the African people challenges any establishment.  Infact his novelty and passion to embrace the cross and to ask for more for the good of the Africans is unprecedented. Most importantly is his open heart to forgive and reconcile with those who presented calumnies against him.

Conclusion

Paraphrasing Fr David Glenday MCCJ, I see myself having been led by gratitude to see how Grace has unlocked the mystery of my existence.  Moreover I have seen also how the same grace has been crystallising in my salvation history as providence. The Comboni formation has increased in me a desire to work for the liberation of the African continent. I believe the best way of doing this is to continue increasing my knowledge about Comboni and share his vision for Africans.  As we prepare to celebrate 150th anniversary of our institute, I am convinced that there is still plenty of untapped heritage from his life that can help in living my vocation today.  I began this journey in 2007 and was ordained a priest on 16th July 2017. Yet I know that my ordination does not complete me; on the contrary, itis,infact, another bold step towards more life, greater growth, service and deep knowledge and love of God and St Daniel Comboni ( Acts 20:24).

BY FR. ROBERT KINENA NDUNG’U MCCJ

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A JOURNEY FOUNDED ON GRACE AND GRATITUDE PART I

I am the fourth born in the family of the late John Ndung’u and Esther Wanjiru. My three brothers and three sisters are all married. My parents, originally from Kikuyu, settled in Kitale in the 60s and all of us were born there.  My mum instilled in me the desire for priesthood by practical examples; my dad was indifferent and his main concern was academic success. Though she ran a grocery stall in the Municipal Market in the town, she volunteered to teach catechism and decorate the altar with flowers. Her desire to see one of her child join the seminary materialised when I accepted to apply and was admitted to join the minor seminary after my KCPE Exam.

I knew very little about Comboni Missionaries despite having studied in the Mother of Apostles minor seminary in Eldoret for four years. It was in Lokori Mission that I personally met the first Comboni, Fr Simon from Mexico. Later, for the second time, I met more Comboni Missionaries in Korogocho in the year 2007. This was the time I was still discerning with the Jesuits and had been assigned to work with the Comboni Missionaries in Korogocho, serving the community and tutoring in St Johns Primary School. I was fortunate to live in this robustic community of three priests (Fr Moschetti, Fr Paolo, Fr Webootsa), a brother (now Fr James), and two lay missionaries from Italy (Gino (RIP) and Luka). With time I came to appreciate and be initiated informally into the life of the Combonis. I admired their energy and passion to work and make present the kingdom of God among the poor. It was my first time to see priests inserted into the harsh reality of the people.  Though crime was rife in the area, especially dagger- totting boys, I found people friendly and joyful. There were plenty of youths who were always available to take us around to celebrate the Eucharist for the sick each evening. With time I got another family in Korogocho; the Comboni Community and the people. It is interesting that the Combonis treated me as one of their own from the beginning to the end of my experience there. I lived this experience fully and joyfully.

What struck me most is the experience we had immediately after the contested 2007 elections and the post-election violence in 2008.  Korogocho was a war zone between the supporters of PNU and ODM.  Our community became a point of reference in terms of fighting for justice and broking peace between the two warring groups. Acts of injustice had to called by names and condemned, notwithstanding the consequences to our non-aligned community.

I remember vividly the fateful night when some hooligans, supporters of one of the party busted into our community accusing us of supporting and defending the other group that was allegedly terrorising and victimising them. I admire the courage of the confreres to confront the heavily armed gangsters who were more interested in robbing than addressing the allegations. They made away with some items and threatened us to stop meddling in their affairs. With time the political situation became volatile and violence escalated. More young people joined gangs and robbed innocent passers-by in the name of contesting the elections. I will never forget the day that the then Provincial Superior, Fr Mariano, came to visit and suggested we vacate the place due to insecurity and threats. The confreres were categorical that this was the time people needed us most and to vacate would be a betrayal of our vocation and mission. It was indeed a dire moment of evangelical witnessing than flight; and one could sense that martyrdom was beckoning. Yet the community was convinced that it was most importantly a moment of credible witness and energising presence following Jesus’ words “I am with you to the end of time’ (Mt 28:20). So we stayed put, breathing confidence in these consoling words and working for peace with the people while praying forthe situation to normalise.

 

BY FR ROBERT KINENA NDUNG’U

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VISIT OF THE VICAR GENERAL TO ST. DANIEL COMBONI INTERNATIONAL SCHOLASTICATE, PMB.

From the 26th – 30th September 2017, the above community was privileged to host the Visit of the Vicar General of the Comboni Missionary Institute, Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins who was accompanied by the provincial superior of South Africa, Fr. Burgers Jude Eugene.

Uncoincidentally occurring at a time when the scholastics were having their traditional ‘Michaelmas break’, a seven-day period of rest from studies that closes the first term of the second semester of the academic year and is a preparation for the second term, it was an opportune moment to share life with the bigger community of the Institute represented by the Vicar General.

Both Fr. Jeremias and Fr. Jude celebrated the Eucharist with us, during which they shared central aspects of the Institute’s charism, particularly in relation to the purpose of the visit. Sharing the table of the Eucharist also gave us an opportunity to enter a deeper communion with our confreres working in various places around the world, especially in difficult missions. Being a house of formation, it was certainly a moment to consciously pray for more committed and faithful ‘personnel’ (vocations), people who have personally and deeply experienced the love of God in their lives and are ready to embrace the cross as ‘a bride’ and source of joy and consolation in answering to Jesus’ demanding call to journey with the poorest and most abandoned of our day.

During the five days, each of the fifteen present members of the community (three are out to learn the English language) had a moment to share in person with Fr. Jeremias. The visit ended with a community sharing in which Fr Jeremias presented to the community the existential situation of the Institute and the six-year plan.

As a community, we thank God for this time of grace and as we celebrate the 150 years of our Institute, we pray through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary, St Joseph her spouse, St Peter Claver, patron of our Institute and St Daniel Comboni, for guidance for each one of us and our leaders in particular, that we may remain faithful as persons and as an Institute to the missionary mandate of Christ in the footsteps of St Daniel Comboni.

BY AUGUSTINE EPIERU MCCJ 

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home

ACKNOWLEDGING GOD AS THE PROTAGONIST ALONG THE JOURNEY

Our Christian journey demands a constant renewal and reflection of our commitments. This is imperative to those who long to be radically rooted in Christ; first, as  Christians and second as religious. The journey is not easy humanly speaking but with the help of God the impossible is made possible. We are reminded always to attach ourselves to God the protagonist of our life.

On 6th of August during the feast of the transfiguration eight of us, scholastics of St. Daniel Comboni Scholasticate in Pietermaritzburg made a step to express our gratitude to God for his abundance graces animating us to continue witnessing Him to all, especially to the poor people of our time; spiritually and physically.  On this day two ministries were conferred to us; ministry of acolyte and readers by His Lordship Bishop Sandri Giuseppe of Wit bank diocese. The ministries conferred to us reminded us that we have to ask God to help make this services part of our lives and to exercise these ministries to the poor people and to love as God wills.

In his homily Bishop Sandri Giuseppe, a Comboni missionary of the aforementioned diocese urged us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; terming this the primordial call to all of us, not only as Christians but also as missionaries. He was pragmatic in his homily citing many examples to learn from; one of them being of a woman who had been bedridden for ten years.

Whom he visited, while interacting with her, she said, ‘I am happy for being here (bedridden)’, reasons being she had good caregivers ensuring he had all that she needed, this is  true love for her. ‘What about you who have all you need?”  He challenged us.

 

It was not entirely a way to show  or to fulfill the  rules of installation into these services as stipulated by the church but it was a moment to ask ourselves, what is it that God call us to? To our knowledge it is a service to all centred on love.

In addition to the above mentioned we were reminded that; first, it is the duty of all of us especially readers to ponder the word of God each day letting God speak here and now to us and then nourish God’s people with the same word. Secondly, for the acolyte to know that it is a God given chance to help the priest to reach out to the spiritually poor people and revitalize them with the God who has become and continues to become part of them in their reflections and contemplation of the word.

As acolytes, we are called to carry the light of Christ for all to see, to lead the procession as we come together to worship and give thanks to our Lord and God. To direct people in worship since we have learnt the names and items of our worship {Catholic Church}, the symbols and sacraments, the messages of color and themes of our worship life.

 

But most importantly we will be bearers of the light for the assembly, the ones who remind us of the light of Christ, the light we follow: The ultimate service is an invitation to follow our Lord’s example of humble service to others in this world. I hope that our yes will be inspired by God, since for us nothing matters than to acknowledge God as the protagonist in this noble ministry

BY JUSTUS  OSEKO MCCJ 

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home