Comboni Missionaries on the WEB

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BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES on SAINT DANIEL COMBONI

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YEAR    
1831 15 March Birth of Daniele Antonio Comboni in Limone on Lake Garda, Brescia
1831 16 March Baptism
1839 11 September (?) Confirmation
1842   First Communion
1843 20February Enters the Institute founded by Canon Nicola Mazza "to gather and educate poor lads, equipped with the best minds, good habits and sound judgement..."
1849 6 January Vows at the feet of Mazza to consecrate himself to the mission in Central Africa for the rest of his life
1854 31 December Ordination to the priesthood by Bishop Tschiderer at Trent.
1855   Works in Buttapietra, Verona, assisting cholera victims
1857 9 August Fr Giovanni Marani reassures Comboni on his vocation
1857 10 September First journey of Daniel Comboni to Central Africa from Trieste on the Mazza expedition to Central Africa
1857

29 September to

14 October

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
1858 14 February After a long journey on the Nile, the expedition reaches the mission of Santa Croce, 6°40' Latitude North
1858 25 March Death of Fr Francesco Oliboni at Santa Croce
1859 15 January With his Mazza companions, he abandons the Santa Croce mission and returns to Italy
1859 October At Limone.  As soon as he he recovers his health, resumes his priestly duties in the Mazza Institute
1861 12 January Reaches Aden with instructions from Canon Mazza to redeem from slavery a few African youths to be educated in Verona
1861 2 February Leaves Aden with seven Galla boys
1861 18 March Reaches Verona with the Africans he rescued.  He is appointed Vice-Rector of the Institute
1861 April to December Trips to Trieste, Vicenza, Naples on mission business.  In the autumn he goes to Germany, where he has his first contact with the Cologne Society
1864 15 September In Rome, while praying on the tomb of St Peter, feels inspired to write the Plan for the Regeneration of Africa
1864 18 September Day of the beatification of Marguerite Marie Alacoque.  He presents his Plan to Cardinal A. Bamabo, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda Fide.  The following day he presents it to Pius IX
1864 From 4 December

Missionary promotion trip to introduce the Plan in Turin, Lyons, Paris, Cologne and London

1864 December 1st edition of the Plan in Italian
1865 12 November Sails from Trieste for Shellal with Fr Lodovico da Casoria.  Purpose of the journey: to study a way of dividing the mission between the Mazza Institute and the Franciscans
1866 13 January Comboni returns to Cairo after his expedition with Casoria to Shellal
1866 February Various trips to Paris, London, Cologne for the Plan and in search of cooperation.  The Mazza Institute gives up its commitment to the mission
1866 December Cardinal Bamabo advises Comboni to found a missionary institute
1867 7 May Audience with Pius IX in the company of 12 young African girls
1867 1 June Founds the Missionary Institute for Africa in Verona (Comboni Missionaries) within the framework of the Opera del Buon Pastore (Good Shepherd Association), an international missionary organisation established by Bishop Luigi di Canossa
1867 29 November

Sails from Marseilles for Cairo with three Camillian Fathers, three Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition and 15 young African girls

In Cairo he starts two Institutes (male and female) along the lines established in his Plan

1868 2 April Is appointed Cavaliere d'ltalia; an honour he rejects in loyalty to the Pope
1868 7 July Leaves for a missionary promotion tour to France, Germany, Austria and Italy
1868 26 July At the Shrine of La Salettc he dedicates Africa to Our Lady
1869 20 February Sails from Marseilles for Cairo with the first two members of his Verona Institute
1869 15 March Promulgates the "Rule" for the missionaries of the Cairo Institutes
1869 23 May Opens a third house in Cairo as a school with African women teachers
1870 9 March Leaves Cairo for Rome which he reaches on 15 March.  As Mgr Luigi di Canossa's theologian, he can attend the First Vatican Council
1870 24 June Prepares a document to put before the Fathers of the Vatican Council I: Postulatum pro Nigris Africae Centralis (Appeal on behalf of the black peoples of Central Africa) It is accompanied by a letter approved (18 July) by Pius IX himself.  The work of the Council is suspended
1870 12 October Assures Cardinal Barnab6 that the new headquarters of the Institute has been established in Verona
1871 15 August Decides to undertake an exploratory expedition to Kordofan
1871 21 November Plans the foundation of a women's missionary Institute
1871 8 December Mgr Luigi di Canossa decrees the canonical erection of the Institute for the Missions of Africa
1871 December Finishes the drafting of the Institute's Rule
1872 1 January Founds the Institute of Pie Madri della Nigrizia (The Devout Mothers of Africa, Comboni Missionaries Sisters) at Montorio di Verona
1872 January Starts the magazine: Anncili del Buon Pastore (Annals of the Good Shepherd)
1872 26 May Comboni is appointed Pro-Vicar Apostolic for Central Africa

 

History of the MCCJ in SA

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Brief history of the Comboni Missionaries’ presence in South Africa.

History 1A pontifical decree of the 12th of June 1923 established the Prefecture Apostolic of Lydenburg in what was then the Eastern Transvaal, an area which now includes parts of the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo.  In July 1923 the Holy See finalized the division of the Comboni Institute of the Sons of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (FSCJ).  The German-speaking Institute was given the name of Missionaries Sons of the Sacred Heart (MFSC) and it was entrusted with the new Prefecture in South Africa.  Until then the only ongoing pastoral work in the area of this Prefecture consisted of sporadic visits of travelling priests to local white Catholics who were mostly recent immigrants.  This was the situation that the first German-speaking Comboni missionaries coming from the Sudan found when they arrived in South Africa in 1924. The experienced missionaries who came to South Africa from Sudan were joined by others who were making their first missionary experience.

 

History 2All started working with enthusiasm.  After they had been present for twenty-five years the Prefecture was elevated to a Vicariate Apostolic and in 1951 it became the Lydenburg-Witbank Diocese.  Mgr.  Johann Riegler became the bishop of the Diocese, succeeding the first two Prefects Apostolic, Fr.  Daniel Kauczor (1923-1926) and Fr.  Alois Mohn (1927-1938).  Bishop Riegler died in 1955.  His successor was Bishop Anton Reiterer, who led the Diocese until 1983.  In 1959 he opened a hostel in Pretoria for Catholic students from the Diocese of Lydenburg-Witbank attending schools there.  This hostel closed in 1969 and then the Comboni Missionaries assumed responsibility for St. Augustine Parish in Silverton, a suburb of the same city.  In 1967 some members of the other Comboni Missionary Institute (FSCJ) arrived in South Africa.  Following Vatican Council II there was a growing desire to seek the reunion of the two Comboni Institutes.  South Africa was one of the countries where the members of the two Institutes began working together.  Indeed, in 1977, two years before the official reunion was sanctioned, the members of the two Institutes in South Africa elected a single provincial superior for all.  The ordination of Bishop Mogale Paul Nkhumishe, a local South African, in 1982 and his subsequent appointment as Bishop of Lydenburg-Witbank, succeeding a missionary Bishop, was a sign that the missionary work done by the Comboni Missionaries was successful.

 

History 3    History 4New commitments were taken up.  A Comboni Missionary is a professor in the major national seminaries.  The decision to start full-time vocation promotion for the Institute in 1988 led to the opening of the postulancy in the Archdiocese of Pretoria.  Now there are five South African Comboni Missionary Priests.  The Provincialate was transferred from Maria Trost near Lydenburg, first to Bronkhorstspruit in the Archdiocese of Pretoria, and then in 1991 to the new residence in Johannesburg.  Towards the end of 1990 the mission magazine orldwide (2.500 copies) was started as a commitment to intensify mission promotion in the Church and in South African society.

History 5    History 6Race-based exploitation of the local people, ever present in South Africa, became government policy, known as “Apartheid” in 1948 and from then on determined the social, political and religious history of South Africa.  The government of the day considered the Catholic Church a threat since it denounced any form of racism and discrimination.  The national and local governments often tolerated the many activities of the Catholic Church among the African people, but at times they refused to cooperate and even suppressed Church activities.  Sadly the majority of white Catholics accepted the unjust dispensation and very few opposed it.  Nevertheless the hierarchy and clergy of the Catholic Church favoured social and political change and enthusiastically endorsed the first free election in South Africa in 1994.  The Comboni Missionaries contributed to the birth of a new South Africa through their presence in parishes, schools, hospitals and pastoral centres, providing bursaries for poor students, supporting family members of political prisoners and exiles, and participating in demonstrations and marches against situations of injustice.  Young people’s organisations and trade unions were allowed to meet in our buildings in spite of the ever-present threat of violent police intervention.

History 7    History 8To diversify the Comboni Missionaries’ presence in South Africa, there was an exchange of commitments and personnel with the Franciscans of the Diocese of Kokstad.  After handing over the parishes of Belfast and Middleburg in Witbank Diocese, the Comboni Missionaries took charge of the parishes of Mount Frere (1990) and Mount Ayliff (1995) in the Eastern Cape.  Comboni Missionaries from many different countries came to work in South Africa, making the Province’s personnel ever more international.  Commitments in the Diocese of Lydenburg-Witbank, that in the meantime had become the Diocese of Witbank, were reduced; parishes run by the Comboni Missionaries were handed over to the local diocesan priests, to Fidei Donum priests from different African countries and to other religious Institutes.

The Comboni Missionary Brothers are involved in projects whose aim is the holistic development of people.  In the field of justice, peace and integrity of creation the Comboni Missionaries cooperate with other Christian churches, with organizations of other religions and with secular organizations.  A Comboni Missionary has worked in the field of JPIC for many years with the Southern African Bishops Conference.  In recent years the presence of the Comboni Year of Ongoing Formation in South Africa gives the Province the opportunity to have a mutually beneficial contact with what is happening in the Institute in other parts of the world.  Another interesting aspect of the Comboni Missionaries’ presence in South Africa has been the many Lay Comboni Missionaries from Germany and the North American Province who for many years have offered their missionary service in some parishes.  Hopefully such a presence will soon recommence.

History 9The international scholasticate of Pietermaritzburg in the Archdiocese of Durban began with the arrival of the first six Comboni Missionary students in the middle of 2002.  This scholasticate is inserted into the life of St. Joan of Arc Parish.  South Africa is recognized as an important and meaningful field of missionary work for the Comboni Missionaries, some of whom are prepared here and then sent to all parts of the world.
In 2008 a Comboni Missionary started teaching at St. Joseph’s Theological Institute at Cedara where our scholastics study theology together with students of ten other religious Institutes.  At the beginning of October 2008 the Comboni Missionaries assumed responsibility for pastoral ministry in three Soweto parishes in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg.

Unemployment, especially of very many young people, poverty, violence, crime, homelessness, corruption and HIV/AIDS are everyday challenges.  To these must be added the arrival of thousands of refugees and immigrants from all parts of Africa, from Eastern Europe and even from India, Pakistan and China, resulting from time to time in violent xenophobic attacks against foreigners.

The Province carries on its commitments of mission promotion, especially through Worldwide, and vocation promotion, of formation (with the postulancy and the scholasticate), of first Evangelization and pastoral ministry in rural area and urban townships, of ecumenical dialogue and of promoting justice and peace in a society that is becoming more and more diverse.

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Testimonials

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Obile Father!” This is a Sesotho expression that I heard from an old parishioner at Glen Cowie Parish in Witbank Diocese on my return from Peru at the end of 2009. It means “you have come back Father''. He said it with a smile that made me feel at home. I came to South Africa for the first time almost two decades ago in 1991. This was the time when people were celebrating Mandela's release from his imprisonment. Additionally, preparations had started for the first free presidential and national general democratic elections which took place in 1994

I had the pleasure of sharing in both the celebrations and election preparations. Our church buildings were opened to the general public as centres for voter training. I worked in the parish of Glen Cowie from 1991 until 1999. In August 2000 I was recalled to Peru for nine years. My work in my home country was in the field of missionary animation. I endeavoured to help my fellow country people to understand that the Church is called to be missionary and that we should be concerned that there are many people, 75 % of the world's population, who do not know Jesus yet. I did this work for three years during which I visited many parishes and met with Christian adults and youth groups. Thereafter, I was dedicated fully to the work of vocation promotion and formation for six years. I took care of those who wanted to become Comboni missionaries. It is a very delicate job because it is not easy to connect at once with somebody who wants to follow Jesus as a missionary. It requires time and tactfulness in order to touch them with attentiveness as Jesus would do vis-à-vis the invitation to be missionaries. Generally, I was very happy to share with them my vocation, my life and my missionary experience which I had here in South Africa.

After this work in Peru I happily came back to South Africa on 31 December 2009. I was born in a small town in the Andes of Peru close to the city of Huanuco. I did all my studies in that town. At the age of 18, I wanted to enter the diocesan seminary in Huanuco so as to become a diocesan priest. However, my family and friends did not support me wholeheartedly. Instead they encouraged me to study agronomy in the local university. My parents were both teachers but also did farming. We had some fields where we grew potatoes, maize and others crops. The study of agronomy blended well with this setup. It was quite nice and familiar to me. I graduated at the age of 22 after five years of study. I still used to participate in Church activities whilst studying agriculture. I even knew some priests and nuns. But I did not know who the Comboni missionaries were and their charism. On the other hand, I knew a Comboni who was the parish priest of one of the parishes in Huanuco. I will never forget the day when I talked openly about my vocation and desire to become a priest with a diocesan priest who was my friend, Father Raul Defillippi. I expressed my desire to become a witness of Jesus in my parish and town. Father Raul opened his bible and patiently read for me the parable of the sower: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop-a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He, who has ears, let him hear” (Mt. 13: 3-9). I never forget this passage because it has become the foundation stone for my priesthood. I reflected on it for quite some time. Months later Father Raul invited and introduced me to the Comboni missionaries. He gave me the Comboni magazines that are published in Peru. I went through them over and over again. Eventually, I realized that the Lord was calling me to become a Comboni missionary.

I joined the Comboni missionaries in 1981 and since then I have no regrets. Of course, at the beginning one has to face the challenging question, “is it the right decision.” I tried to be open to the Spirit of God, and in dialogue with my family and friends, I could see that the Lord had prepared the soil. Therefore, without delay I contacted the Comboni Missionaries. I did my philosophical studies in Lima, Peru. Thereafter, I did my theological studies in Sao Paulo, Brazil. After my ordination, I was sent to work here in South Africa in 1991. Over these last years of missionary work in South Africa and in Peru I asked myself: is the soil good for the seed? Am I open to the word of God? Am I doing the will of God? These questions will always accompany me. Finally, my dear friends we are all called by the Lord to be missionaries. Being a Catholic means also being a missionary. Furthermore, there are also some who are called to serve God and the Church in a special way. I was one of them and I was happy to respond. I thank God because He gave me the vision and provision to be his witness. I encourage not only the youth but also the parents to be attentive to the call of God for this missionary task in the world.

Ibercio Rojas
Comboni Missioanry


I am Father Paul Kambo, a Comboni missionary from Kenya. I have only been in South Africa for a few months and almost everything here is new for me: the languages, culture, people and landscape. I am assigned to work in Mount Ayliff, one of our missions in the diocese of Kokstad.

At the moment, I cannot share much about my new mission but one thing I have experienced is the warm welcome that I have received from the people here. Among the current challenges that I have to face, the most urgent one is to learn the Xhosa language and culture.

Before coming to South Africa, I was in Kenya for the last five and a half years, working mainly in the field of youth and vocation ministry, one of the many evangelising activities of the Comboni missionaries in Kenya.  Thanks to this ministry, I have had countless encounters with young people of different ages, ethnic backgrounds and societies.  I have had encounters with youth in primary and in high schools, in colleges, universities, and even in their parishes and homes. I believe that I have contributed something towards their growth but also I have learned a lot from them.

In my opinion, young people are basically the same everywhere in the world.  I always like to tell them that the youthfulness possessed by each one of them can be translated into energy or potentiality.  Energy can find its way out in many directions.  It can destroy or build.  It can push to growth but also crush to ruin.  According to the principles of science, energy cannot be destroyed.  It needs to be channelled to effect growth and fullness: that which we were created for by God.  It is unfortunate that we don't realize how much power God has placed in us.

Another aspect that I have always found interesting among young people is thier dynamism. Young people do not enjoy remaining static.  They look for a rhythm of changes in their lives. Amusement for young persons is that which doesn't remain the same for long! Many times I like to look at this sense of dynamism in a positive perspective. Dynamism is the remarkable quality of people who like learning and finding new solutions to problems.  Great inventors have possessed this quality. They never looked for popular ways of solving problems or facing challenges but looked for new ways.  However, these inventors need a certain level of discipline to achieve consistency in whatever they are pursuing.  Lacking discipline, they are diverted and nothing comes about!

It is therefore not enough to be dynamic as young people.  Do we possess a discipline and consistency in pursuing that which is constructive for us, both now and in the future?

Paul Kambo
Comboni Missioanry