The reasons for their existence are the coming of the Kingdom and the promotion of human and Christian values. They share – as laywomen – the situations of the life of the people of their times in order to leaven the human situations and orient them towards the Gospel. They spend their lives announcing the Good News to those who do not know it yet.
The fundamental elements of the common vocation that brings together and unites all the members of the Institute are: Consecration, through the profession of the Evangelical Counsels (Vows), lived in the secular life; and "cooperation in the missionary cause". At present there are members in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Egypt.
“Just as Daniel Comboni considered it an essential aspect of his vocation to awaken the missionary conscience of the whole Church, so too the Comboni Secular Missionaries, inspired by his example of initiatives and courage, dedicate themselves primarily to missionary animation” (Directory 74-78.1).
The specific aim of the Institute is achieved particularly through:
– “the offering and witness of one's life, and the prayer and sacrifice of each missionary;
– initiatives of missionary animation and vocations promotion in the Institute and in the surroundings in which each one lives;
– collaboration with all those who work to see that the proclamation of the love of Christ and the ideals of the Kingdom (the common good, justice, dignity of the human person) are brought to every human being;
– the sending of members for direct service in the Mission. This is a truly visible sign of the missionary vocation of the Institute" (Directory, 2.1).
Where we are
Italy, with 88 members, of which 3 are aspirants. The "Secular Institute of Comboni Women Missionaries was started in Italy around 1950. It was canonically erected by the Bishop of Rimini on 6 January 1969, and received Papal approval on 22 May 1983. At present it consists of seven groups.
A good number of the Italian missionaries live their vocation through the offering of prayer, sufferings and their old age. They all try to be mission animators through example and initiatives within the communities in which they live: as members of parish groups or in other areas, such as teaching children and students to have a "world-vision", etc.
Forms of missionary animation which get a good response from young people are work-camps, some practical experience for youth, courses of vocational orientation and other activities organised in our Centre in Carraia and elsewhere.
Portugal. The Institute started in Portugal in the early 60's. At present their are three groups of Comboni Secular Missionaries (Porto, Braga, Viseu). The missionaries are active in living and making known their specific vocation through missionary animation. Each one takes initiatives according to circumstances.
In Spain the Institute began its activities in the 70's. At present there is one group of six missionaries, two of whom have served directly in Colombia and Ecuador.
Comboni Secular Missionaries have been in Ecuador since 1980. Their commitment to missionary animation work takes several forms: the circulation of the magazine “Iglesia Sin Fronteras”, activities in colleges, schools, parishes and missionary support groups. In the last five years the presence of the missionaries in Ecuador has been enriched with a new expression of missionary service through the formation and human development of the Indios in the diocese of Riobamba.
Their existence in Colombia began in 1983, with work in missionary animation. In 1993 the “Centro Comunicaciones Sin Fronteras” was opened in Bogotà, and has become a driving force behind initiatives of missionary animation, especially through the production and diffusion of means of communication, thus widening the field of activity beyond Bogotà, reaching to various other areas of the county. The service of missionary animation that has developed around the Centro Comunicaciones Sin Fronteras has brought into contact other groups, even outside the Church, thus multiplying contacts and involving many more persons.
Costa Rica: from 1995, when the first member made her vows, and the service of missionary animation intensified. Since then the presence of the Institute in the country has increased steadily. At present there are three local members who have made their consecration, and they are working with others in the service of animation and missionary/vocational formation, using mass-media, meetings with parish groups, the promotion of the “Rosario Viviente” (Living Rosary) animation in schools and colleges, where young people are very eager for some concrete experiences, etc. From Costa Rica contacts have spread to other countries, so that animation work has reached Guatemala, El Salvador and Panama.