October Month was full of meaningful events in line with our missionary charism. Many of our communities organized their meetings of the Comboni friends. It is an initiative that is taking shape little by little in our communities, as an opportunity to make Comboni known and to create a missionary mentality in the Church and in the people who are close to us.
In these meetings a good number of people, among them some young people, had the opportunity to come into contact with Comboni and his passion for Africa. On the 9th of October we celebrated the jubilee of consecrated life of Brother Hermann Engelhardt, in Maria Trost, the place where we started our presence in South Africa. It was a simple but meaningful celebration where all Comboni Missionaries present renewed with Bro. Hermann their consecration to God and the Mission. The 10th of October was celebrated in all our communities as a moment of commitment to take forward the legacy of Comboni in this year of the 150th anniversary of the Plan. The community of Johannesburg organized a meeting with the Archbishop Buti Thlagale and the priests of the deanery to speak about the Plan of Comboni and its relevance for the Church today, especially in Africa.
However, the main event was the first missionary congress held in South Africa, on the 25 and 26 of October, under the motto “enlarge the space of your tent” (Is. 54:2). Although, it was held at archdiocesan level, it was a great moment of awareness of our common missionary vocation rooted in the fontal love of the Trinity. Around 300 participants from different parishes of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg took part in the two day Congress. Among the main speakers was the Archbishop of Pretoria, His Grace William Slattery, who was able to involve the participants in a movement towards others commenting mainly on the “Joy of the Gospel” and “Ecclesia in Africa”, underlining the missionary nature of the Church. Other speakers, men and women from South Africa and from overseas, were able to create a truly missionary atmosphere with their enthusiasm and joy.
The concluding Eucharistic celebration was presided over by the Bishop in charge of the Department of Evangelization at the level of the Episcopal Conference, Mons. Jan de Groef, a Missionary of Africa. Bishop Sandri was also present as concelebrant in the Eucharist together with fifteen priests.
The aims of the Congress were clear from the beginning: to celebrate our baptismal call together; to explore ways for the Church to fulfil her vocation to proclaim the Gospel; to move from maintenance to being on mission; to take back to our parishes motivation to move forward on mission.
The hymn of the Congress, “the joy of the Gospel’s Messenger”, was authored by a group of young people from one of our parishes in Mpumalanga, led by the Comboni missionary Fr. Jerome Soku. Besides English, the song was sung in some of the local languages of RSA.
Each participant went back home with a commitment: to widen their missionary endeavours, to answer the call of Jesus to “go beyond the boundaries of South Africa, to open up their concern for the whole world.
The money gathered from the participants of the Congress and other sponsors, an amount of 10.000 US Dollars, was sent to a missionary project in South Sudan to help Bro. Rosario Ianetti building a new ward for the hospital of Mapuordit.
We are glad for the achievement thanks to the effort of many but in a special way to the efforts of the Comboni missionaries in South Africa who proposed to other Institutes and the Archdiocesan Church such an initiative.