Who are the Comboni Missionaries?
We were founded in Italy in 1867 by St. Daniel Comboni, and are a congregation of priests and brothers of many nationalities. St. Daniel Comboni worked for the evangelization of Africa. Nowadays, his missionaries are also present in Europe, the Americas and Asia. We live and evangelize as a community and the Eucharist is our daily strength and the center of our life.
Our MISSION is to announce the Good News to all peoples. Our charism is called “First Evangelization,” going where people are not, or not sufficiently evangelized, building up a Christian community until we entrust it to the local church. We then move on and start all over again!
Helped by the Spirit, we strive to work for the growth of the Kingdom in all human situations, with attention to the poorest and most abandoned, working in favor of the integral development and liberation of the people we serve. Our gifts and talents vary greatly but we are united in bringing about justice, compassion and love to God’s people.
For over 150 years, the MCCJ have walked faithfully in the footsteps of our founder, St. Daniel Comboni, making common cause with those who are marginalized and living out the Church’s call to mission in new and unexpected ways.
Together with Comboni Missionary Sisters, the Lay Comboni Missionaries and an ever-growing number of supporters and collaborators, filled with the same missionary spirit, we form the Comboni Family.
Who is Saint Daniel Comboni?
Missionary, Father, Prophet
Saint Daniel Comboni, from whom the Comboni Missionaries take their name, had a life marked by a passion for Africa. He was born at Limone, on Lake Garda in northern Italy on 15 March 1831 and died at Khartoum, Sudan on 10 October 1881. He was canonized on October 5, 2003.
At a time when Africa was the place of great expeditions and explorations, St. Daniel Comboni developed a love for Africa and Africans that would last all his life. In 1857 from Verona, where he had trained for priesthood, he went, as a young missionary, to Sudan. He returned to Europe several times, for health reasons, on vocation recruitment and for fund raising. He was entrusted with a vast mission that included the whole of Central Africa, and in 1877, was named the first Bishop of Khartoum where he died just four years later.
St. Daniel Comboni soon realized that to ensure continuity of his mission to the vast African continent, he needed to form a group of priests, lay brothers and sisters. He started in 1867 in Verona by putting together a group of men - missionary priests and lay brothers.
St. Daniel Comboni looked at Africa with faith and respect and saw potential where others saw only extreme and crippling poverty. He also designed a Plan where he saw Africans as architects of their own destiny. The kernel of the Plan was to 'Save Africa through Africans.’ The most profound aspect of Comboni's prophetic vision was in his understanding of martyrdom: he yearned to be so fully united with his Lord that he would willingly sacrifice his life for the Lord and for Africa; like the grain of wheat that would die and produce a harvest for the whole of Central Africa.
Morning Meditation in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae,
Tuesday, 25 June 2013 (by L'Osservatore Romano, weekly ed. in English, n. 27, 3 July 2013)
The way to peace in the Middle East is indicated in the “wisdom” of Abraham, the father of the faith shared by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. Pope Francis said this in his homily referring to the strife between Abraham and Lot (cf. Gen 13:2, 5-18).
“When I read this, I think of the Middle East and insistently implore the Lord to give wisdom to us all,” so “let us not quarrel — you here and I there — over peace,” he said. Abraham, he added, also reminds us that “no one is Christian by accident” for God calls us by name and with “a promise.”
There is a promise, the Pontiff said, at the origin of the history of Abraham who is willing to leave his land “to go he knew not where, but wherever the Lord told him.” Looking back at his vicissitudes, the journey to Egypt and the conflict and then peace with Lot on the issue of land, Pope Francis cited Genesis: “Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are, everywhere, it is all yours; it will all be yours and belong to your descendants forever.”
Abraham “left his land with a promise. His entire journey was oriented by this promise, and his itinerary is also a model of our own journey. God called Abraham, a person, and from this person he made a people. At the beginning of the Book of Genesis, in the Creation, we can find that God created the stars, he created the plants, he created the animals.” All in the plural. But “He created man: in the singular. Because he created us in His image and likeness.”
“We Christians,” the Pope continued, “are called in the singular. None of us is Christian purely by chance. No one. There is a call to you, to you, to you.” It is a call “with a name, with a promise: Go ahead, I am with you, I am walking beside you.” “This,” he explained, “is also known to Jesus who, in the most difficult moments, turns to the Father.” Then “likewise when Jesus parts from us on the day of the Ascension, He says [that beautiful word] to us: ‘I will be with you always to the close of the age,’ beside you, next to you... forever.”
Abraham, in this passage of the Scripture, “is anointed father for the first time, father of the people. Let us think too,” the Pope continued, “of our anointing in Baptism and think of our Christian life.” And to those who say “Father, but I am a sinner!”, the Pope answered that we are all sinners. The important thing is “to move ahead with the Lord. The Lord is with us, the Lord has chosen us and never abandons us. This Christian certainty will do us good.”
Mission: Sent to all Peoples (Ad Gentes)
By Fr. Lorenzo Carraro
At the beginning of December 2007, I celebrated the anniversary of my departure for Africa. My destination was Uganda where the Lord was preparing for me a permanence of more than 20 years. I remember the occasion very well. My parents wanted to accompany me to the airport, not a simple thing considering that we had to cover the distance of about 700 km to do that, from Venice to Rome. When, at last, we entered together the airport lounge, an incredible view confronted us: the lounge was full of missionaries bound for East Africa: all young, all in their different, colorful uniforms… It was a charter flight, organized only for missionaries. My father was impressed at this cream of youth given out to the missionary ideal of the Church. It was, maybe, part of the last wave of that enormous missionary movement, originated at the beginning of the 19th century that took the Christian faith to the farthest corners of the world. It is within this human ground swell that many missionary congregations came into existence, among them, the Comboni Missionaries.
It is the consequence of the obligation to go to the pagans that follows Jesus’ Great Commission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19-20). Maybe, at the time of my departure, under the influence of our missionary enthusiasm, we were under the illusion that we were already finishing the last pagans… How wrong we were! Since then, the world has undergone terrific changes. The population has exploded; the people of the Third World have started to invade Europe and North America; the non-Christian religions have known an impressive revival… The world scenario again presents a great challenge for missionaries like the Comboni Missionaries who want to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission. The Mission starts as it were from scratch. The call to go to the pagans is now compound with the new awareness that the Spirit of God is already there among them and invites us to a dialogue of life. At the same time, Jesus is the gift of God for all seasons and all peoples have the right to hear His Gospel of love and be brought into the fullness of God’s revelation.
Will this call of crossing cultural and racial boundaries and becoming agents of unity and communion still hold a great human and spiritual charge as the traditional motto that fired my youth: “To cross the seas, to save a soul and then to die?” Recently, a new book about Mother Teresa of Calcutta has caught the imagination of the world media because it reveals the long spiritual anguish of Blessed Mother Teresa whom God allowed to experience inner darkness. The book, by the title, “Come, Be My Light,” is even more remarkable for the extraordinary missionary drive that it reveals. Mother Teresa is fired by the desire of taking Jesus’ light to the holes where the poorest of the poor live their lives and where nobody goes. Since she gave the example, thousands have followed her into the slums and spread Jesus’ light into the lives of millions of non-Christians.
The great masses of the non-Christians challenge the generosity of every believer. It is a new mission that doesn’t have behind the power of politics or great finance. It is often targeted by the violence of fundamentalists and still generates many martyrs. It is often lived in condition of minority and discrimination, but the future belongs to it. It is a mission that relies only on the Holy Spirit and the attraction of the undeniable goodness of the Christian message. We remember with gratitude the exhortation of Saint Daniel Comboni in his deathbed: “Courage for the present, but especially for the future!” Our weakness, as Saint Paul says, is our strength.