Volume 56, Number 1
“Who Draws the Lines Around Countries?”
everal years ago I read a book entitled Children’s Letters to God, and one of my favorites was a very short letter which consisted of a simple question. The question was this: Dear God, Who draws the lines around countries?
around the town. He was just ordinary, nothing extraordinary about him at all. They had him all figured out and fitted into categories. They did not believe in him and so he was able to do practically nothing for the people of his hometown, (Mt. 13).
So, who draws the lines around countries? Who makes the atlases and the maps? I’ve traveled by plane many a time, and as I looked down over mountain ranges and lakes, oceans and plains, often I could not distinguish where one state or one country ended and another began.
If you are a young woman or a young man who has traveled to or attended school in another state or country you have been given the opportunity to abolish categories and to break down the barriers which all too often keep us from knowing, accepting and trusting one another. You have learned that beneath all our differences of nation, color, race, religion, socioeconomic class, we are unique individuals, dreamed up in the mind of God, created out of love, and reflecting God in a way that can never be repeated. The other person, then, is always brother or sister. The other is always a child of God, a dwelling place of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and therefore deserving of respect and profound reverence.
We humans are the ones to draw lines around countries. We make limits and boundaries. We separate and divide. We create labels and establish categories. Jesus, too, had to deal with categories. He returns to Nazareth for the first time since leaving home and preaches a brilliant sermon in the synagogue, but as his fellow citizens listen to him, they cannot believe that a local carpenter could show such wisdom. They had undoubtedly heard stories about his miracles, but it was obvious to them that what he did best was make things like tables and doors. He was one of them. He had relatives all
Gifted with this experience, you are now being sent on a mission. Bear witness to what you have seen and heard and lived. Never give way to narrow categories or hasty generaliza(continued next page)
“All the Churches for All the World”
ope Benedict XVI, addressing the need and importance of the Church’s missionary action, also in our time, invites the local Churches - missionary by their very nature - of every continent to rediscover with renewed energy the urgency of “mission ad gentes”. Many are the challenges and the conflicting forces which affect today’s world, and the Pope calls “mission ad gentes” a must for the Church. This renewed call by the Pope leads me to reflect on my experience in Taiwan, on our Founder Blessed Guido Maria Conforti, our Patron Saint Francis Xavier and Cardinal Richard Cushing. So, I would like to take a walk, so to say, through this message by having as my companions these people and these experiences.
Once in Taiwan, one of the first Chinese phrases, Zhang laoshi (my Chinese teacher) thought me was “Tian Xia Yi Jia” which can be roughly translated as: under the sky we are one family. We may come from different lands, enriched by different languages, cultural backgrounds and religious expressions, yet, Chinese wisdom reminds us, we are all inter-connected and belong to the one human family created in the image and likeness of God. Pope Benedict calls his message “All the Churches for all the World”, and by it he summarizes this call to unity and interconnectedness. The churches of “ancient tradition” and the churches of “recent tradition” are to go back to the gift of faith received, a gift which makes all of them part of the family of (continued next page)
"Who draws the Lines (continued from cover) tions. Expand your horizons and expand your hearts. Learn to see every man, woman and child as your brother and sister, as another Christ. And when you see Christ in others, especially in the poor and the marginalized, serve him generously. Of course, you may categorize yourself and say, I am no missionary. I am too young, lacking in experience and certainly lacking in power, but don’t forget St. Paul’s words in I Corinthians 1:25-31, where he says that when he is weak, Christ’s power dwells in him. With Christ in you, you have much, much to give, both today and tomorrow. You know very well the words “men and women for and with others.” Now make them come alive—in you. As by this issue of the Xaverian Mission Newsletter we mean to present ourselves, we begin with our Founder, Blessed Guido M. Conforti, and St. Francis Xavier, whose name we bear. And here a story about Xavier and a few words of Conforti which he spoke on the occasion of a mission departure of his sons will offer us a trampoline from which to sprint. St. Ignatius Loyola was about to send two Jesuits off to Asia. It was a dangerous assignment. Half of the ships that left Portugal
never reached Asia. Many missionaries died within ten years of their arrival. One of the Jesuits whom Ignatius wanted to send, became ill, and so Francis Xavier stepped forward and said, “Here I am. Send me!” And off he went. This is the man we’re honored to have as our Patron and model. To four of his missionaries leaving for China, our Founder, Bishop Conforti, said: “The missionary is the finest and most splendid example of the ideal life. In spirit, he has contemplated Jesus Christ who points out to the apostles the world to gain for the gospel, not by the force of weapons, but with persuasion and love, and he was captivated by Him…” And he urges us on to follow the footsteps of Francis Xavier: “Yes, go and preach the universal brotherhood proclaimed by Christ, destined to break down all barriers and make of all men and women one big family, respecting nationalities and pertinent human rights, united by the bond of Christian love.” May all of us, you and I, be fired by some of that same spirit. U – Fr. Tony Lalli, s.x.
All the Churches (continued from page 1) God, and which also has to be given to the world that “all may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The Pope feels so strongly about this common missionary vocation that he encourages all the Local Churches to move beyond internal needs, difficulties and challenges, lest they fall into the trap of closing in on themselves. He urges them to respond with generosity to the missionary call which the Lord never tires to address to all the baptized, today as 2000 years ago: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Mt 28: 19-20). This invitation by Jesus, the Pope says, calls upon each member of the church to accept and make it an integral part of one’s being a disciple of Jesus in today’s world. Be a participant and not a bystander in the mission ad gentes of the Church, in the mission of bringing the Good News of Jesus to the ends of the earth. As we heed this invitation, we are not alone, we are not walking an unbeaten path, for others before us have opened and shown us the way. Saint Francis Xavier, our patron, whose zeal for the Gospel spurred him to leave his native Spain, became a messenger of Good News to the ends of the earth. Xavier crossed borders and in such a way that others too were touched by the Gospel and became themselves messengers of Good News. Our Founder, Blessed Guido Maria Conforti, in his untiring zeal, desired to call together in a community people who take to heart the same invitation of Jesus, “Go and make disciples of all nations”: by crossing boundaries, they strive to facilitate the transformation of the “world into one single family”. Francis Xavier and Blessed Conforti knew, and Pope Benedict confirms it, that mission ad gentes does not stem from some vague idea, or social considerations, or ideological analysis, rather it comes from a deep relationship between the believer and Jesus Christ continually relished and cultivated. The encounter with Jesus does have, indeed, the power to deeply change peoples and 2
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structures; the power to give meaning to one’s life and purpose to one’s actions. This is why Blessed Conforti invited and challenged us to keep our “minds and hearts always fixed on Jesus”. In “All Churches for all the World”, Pope Benedict recalls how Pope Pius XII with his Encyclical Fidei donum (The Gift of Faith - 1957) “promoted and encouraged cooperation between Churches for the mission ‘ad gentes,’” Moved by that Encyclical many priests (called for this reason fidei donum priests) left for Africa, Asia and Latin America to enable the yeast of the Gospel to ferment cultures and societies. It was then that Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston founded in 1958 the Missionary Society of Saint James the Apostle. His idea was to assemble a team of diocesan priests to serve the needs of the poorest of the poor in Latin America. In these examples and in these people we believers of the 21st Century witness in a transparent way the zeal and the fire for the Gospel, the fire which Pope Benedict hopes to stir up anew when he calls on all the faithful to see mission ad gentes not as passive spectators, but as pro-active and main actors: “… it is against the courage to evangelize that believers’ love for the Lord can be measured”. Finally, we are urged to pray for vocations and pray with renewed zeal so that God’s reign may come on earth, and to call upon the Virgin Mary, “who promptly accompanied the nascent Church, to guide our footsteps and gain for us a Pentecost of love. In particular, may she make us aware that we are all missionaries, called by the Lord to be His witnesses in every moment of our lives.” U – Fr. Joe Matteucig, s.x.
“The Love of Christ Urges Us On!” In spirit, the missionary has contemplated Jesus Christ who points out to the apostles the world to gain for the Gospel, not by the force of weapons, but with persuasion and love, and he was captivated by Him…
Blessed Guido Maria Conforti and Saint Francis Xavier.
t was December. 3rd, l895 when a 30-year old priest, Guido Maria Conforti, after much reflection and prayer, officially began, with a small group of fourteen young men, a seminary for missionaries under the patronage of St. Francis Xavier. They would live in a house that Conforti bought with his meager savings. It was a poor and humble beginning…, the first step of a totally unpredictable adventure…. A small seed had been planted…. Blessed Guido sent his missionaries to China where their Model and Patron, Saint Francis Xavier, had hoped to arrive. Today, the Xaverian Missionaries, some 900 strong, are working not only in China, as it was during the life of our Founder, but in twenty other countries. Over the years, more than two hundred Xaverians have already died, some of them in mission fields, as witnesses of God’s love to their people.
Indeed, the little seed planted under St. Francis Xavier patronage over one hundred and ten years ago, has grown far and wide. From its native soil of Parma and its original mission field of China, the Xaverian Congregation landed on the shores of North America in 1940s and extended its
reaches from north to south of Italy, crossed the Alps into France, Spain and Great Britain. There our “Mission Education Centers” strive to focus the local Christian communities on participating in the universal mission of the Church.
For us Xaverians the greatest treasure and the most important contribution we can make to the world is the Good News of the Gospel.
Since the early 50’s, however, “their faith and hope more powerful than their insecurity,” urged by the appeal of the Holy Father, the Xaverians have crossed oceans and continents and set up their tents with the peoples of Latina America in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia; of Africa in the Congo, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Cameroun and Chad and Mozambique; and of the immense areas of Asia in Japan and Taiwan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.
And, finally again, they have returned to China, our Founder’s first mission outreach. In spite of all the changes through the decades, today as yesterday, the certainty remains for us Xaverians that the greatest treasure and the most important contribution we can make to the world is the Good News of the Gospel. The richest inheritance that we have received from those Xaverians who have preceded us in this adventure is a spirit of family, that way of living the Gospel that makes us breathe, feel and live as brothers and sisters in one family. “At a time in which dialogue has become one of the most vital aspects of our service to the Kingdom, the Xaverian, firm in his faith, lets himself be challenged by other cultures and religions in order to discern and embrace the ‘seeds of the Word’ already there, always ready and willing to respond to those who ask him about the reason for his hope”. The Lord who welcomed the sowing of a little seed, blessed the visible work of its planting and watering, and has given the growth and the fruits his love, which “urges us on”, always bears. U X averian Missions Newsletter | 2008
Francis Xavier and Guido Maria Conforti
Two Lives | One Mission Everything became clear with the gift of a book!
he mysterious encounter needed to be clarified, however. The encounter had happened in the “Church of Peace”, but it left nothing in peace.
On his way to school, young Guido Maria Conforti (1865-1931), of Parma, Italy, used to enter a little church by the side of the road. Behind the altar, a large Crucifix. The young man looked, looked, and looked as if held by an irresistible force. The Crucified, in the silence of the chapel, was speaking to his heart: “That’s how love is!” How to repay such a love? By giving all, by giving oneself wholly and completely... How can this be? The book on the life of Saint Francis Xavier got into the hands of young Guido as a crystal-clear answer to those questions and led him to a decision: “I will give totally of myself, my possessions and all within my reach to announce the Gospel to all peoples.”
That’s how two lives crossed each other, two missionary adventures, two witnesses in the same missionary spirituality. There is no other in history. Separated by the span of three centuries, Francis and Guido lived in cultures, historical moments, life experiences and world views quite different. Xavier lived in the 16th century and Conforti in the 19th. Xavier spent his apostolic life traveling by land and sea, from Europe to India and all the way to Japan. Conforti only occasionally left his city. Yet we find at the origin of the two spiritual and missionary quests the same impelling force, the same starting point: the contemplation of the love of the Father, revealed, ‘exploded’, as it were, in His Son, Jesus Crucified. “We are here out of love!” These words recur as a refrain in Francis Xavier’s letters.
Xavier Castle coils like a spiral shell, and Francis as a child could not get to his family’s living quarters, at the center of the castle, without passing by the chapel where there stood a large Crucifix – now known as “Xavier’s Smiling Crucifix,”- just as young Guido could not get to school without passing by the little church where was hung the Crucifix that had caught his undivided attention. The mothers had taught their children not to fix their gaze on the wounds, the nails, the blood, but on the love of the Son of Man for humankind. The love of the Father, in the Son, through the action of the Holy Spirit, will always be the origin and power, the dynamism and the final goal of the tireless missionary activity of Francis and Guido. As adults, they will find in the Sacred Scriptures the words for this experience: “The love of Christ impels us, urges us on, incites us... Woe to me if I do not evangelize... Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God for us, made manifest in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
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Between Xavier and Conforti spans the space of three centuries. Yet we find in the two spiritual and missionary adventures the same moving forces: the triple contemplation of the love of the father in his crucified Son Jesus, in people’s features and in the project of the brotherhood of all.
Mission is born of an experience of love, an experience so intimate and strong that one, in joy and freedom, gives oneself wholly to the Father for the sake of the Gospel. The person who knows him/herself loved by Christ lives an intense passion, as if ‘driven to madness by love’…. “He died for all”, since every person was created in the image and likeness of God.
The face of Xavier’s smiling Crucifix, kept in the chapel of the family castle, in the region of Navarre (Spain). Below: The face of the Founder’s Crucifix, kept in the Shrine of Blessed Conforti, in Parma (Italy)
Here is the second great contemplative and dynamic force in the life of Francis Xavier and of Guido Maria Conforti. One needs to have the deep eye of a prophet to see beyond the face of every woman and man the invisible face of God. Francis on his trip to Japan witnesses the religious rituals of the sailors during times of storms or during times of becalmed seas. Fate determined their plans. Francis prays for them, because “these, too, You created in your own image and likeness”. After all, he had decided to travel all the way to Japan because there “many images and likenesses of God” awaited
In the 137 letters of Francis, as well as in the writings of Bishop Conforti, we find two basic characteristics of missionary spirituality: mission as “mining” and mission as “restitution”. The missionary, first of all, goes prospecting for the treasures that are to be found in peoples and in persons. They are there, as the nuggets of gold in the earth. The missionary is like a prospector in search of “gold” in the midst of humankind. Once found he makes it shine with the light of Christ. Then, begins the process of restitution: etched on the face and in the heart of every woman and of every man, the missionary contemplates the image and the name of the Creator and gives to God what belongs to God. The missionary cannot but be a contemplative. He contemplates the love of God revealed to himself and to all; and contemplates the face of his Lord in every human being.
The semblance of the Father of all takes us to a third great dynamic force of mission: the brotherhood of all. Mission is to announce the existence of a Father of all and to recognize the other as brother and sister. There are no orphans: we are all brothers and sisters. This contemplation would lead both Xavier and Conforti to look positively at their own historical situation. For Francis the discovery of new lands and of peoples until then unknown to the West; for Guido the development of technology and of the means of communication (trains, cars, ships, radio, telephone, movies, ...): each stirred up enthusiasm in him for one more opportunity offered by the Lord for humanity to meet, to unite and to transform relationships of competition into relationships of solidarity: the chance to finally build a world of brotherhood. Wouldn’t they be stirred and excited by today’s highways of the Internet as tool for evangelization? For Xavier the new sea routes, for Guido the rapid means of communication.... Situations are different, history changes, but the dream is the same: to make of the world one family with respect for the character, the culture, the tongue of each people and person, and to live together in justice and peace. Isn’t the process of globalization in which we live today one more opportunity the Father offers to revive in us the dream of the brotherhood of all?
Out of this triple contemplation– of the Crucifix, of the likeness of God in everyone, and of universal brotherhood– springs up an untiring activity and commitment in all the initiatives which may lead people and societies live happily together. Gratefully happy and trusting in the Lord, the missionary continues on his way, difficulties and sufferings notwithstanding. Not even the possibility of martyrdom quenches his joy and his hope for a better world: an unshakable hope in a land without evils. U – Fr. Alfiero Ceresoli, s.x.
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THE XAVERIANS IN THE USA:
SERVING THE LOCAL CHURCH AS MISSIONARIES
t the time of Guido M. Conforti’s death in 1931, no one imagined his sons landing on the shores of the USA. But it had been his dream as revealed by his closest collaborator, Fr. Giovanni Bonardi. That dream was realized through Fr. Henry Frassineti, who, on his way from China to accompany a sick confrere back to Italy, in 1941, found himself “stranded” here by the political vicissitudes of WWII. It was a fortuitous beginning, providential nonetheless, after China, it was the first Xaverian foundation outside of Italy. At first, Fr. Henry supported himself by working in the diocese of New York, and through the Maryknoll Missionaries sent help to the China missions. Finally, in 1946, through the help and encouragement of Scalabrinian Fr. Pietro Maschi, founding pastor of St. Tarcisius in Framingham, MA, Fr. Henry made contact with Archbishop Cushing of Boston writing to him: “We need a helping hand… above all in view of the fact that we have to carry on our work in the mission field, work that already cost many of our missionaries much pain, sweat, tears and blood.”
Celebrating Thanksgiving: the Xaverians of Holliston, MA, and of Wayne, NJ, with the Xaverian Sisters of Worcester, MA.
And Archbishop, (later Cardinal) Cushing, not only warmly received the Xaverian Congregation in Boston, but offered them his friendship and indicated an abandoned farm-house in Holliston as a good place to start. Once renovated, the house was blessed on September 14, 1947 feast of the Holy Cross, present also Frs. Illuminati and Begheldo who had joined Fr. Henry, and a young man, Robert S. Maloney, of Lawrence, MA, who entered on that day and became the first American to take the vows as a Xaverian. Archbishop Cushing, a great friend of the missions himself, was also instrumental in the building of a Minor Seminary in Holliston and of Our Lady of Fatima Shrine. In 1957, another farm, in Franklin, WI, became the site of a Theology House.
St. Therese Chinese Mission Church, Chicago, IL: Fr. Marcos and three of our theology students celebrating a baptism.
Today, Franklin is college seminary, language students residence and mission education center. A dozen years later, Divine Providence smiled on a new enterprise, the Provincial headquarters in the New York area. The Wayne, NJ, house was the unexpected gift of generous benefactors. It is also our “mission procure” and a vocation center. The Theology House was moved to Chicago, IL, in 1973, as part of the Chicago Theological Union, (CTU), because of the school’s mission programs and variety of ministries. Also in Chicago, the “St. Therese Chinese Catholic Mission” serves pastoral needs in the heart of Chinatown and is a place of “training” for our Theology students. Wherever we are, we are very much a part of the local church as missionaries, as our Founder insisted that we be. The multiple services offered in mission education, ministry, vocation ministry, formation and training, are profoundly marked by the mission charism of Blessed Conforti. Through the past sixty years, the American Province has been an important crossroad for the Xaverian world. It has provided theology studies, language courses, higher education, and other services to missionaries worldwide. It also pioneered the way for the Xaverian congregation to become international, the first to receive and train for the priestly and missionary life young men, local and from other countries. And Xaverians who were trained 6
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Franklin, WI: Our Xavier Knoll community.
and worked in the USA have been serving in every mission area assigned to the congregation. Much has been accomplished with the help of friends and benefactors, diocesan priests, Mission Leagues, and pilgrims at Fatima Shrine in Holliston; with young people considering a vocation call, and the prayers of the ill and the elderly. Yes, beginnings may seem to happen by chance, but they can be providential and blessed beginnings. U
ASIA BECKONS AND CHALLENGES OUR FIRST LOVE
LAND OF A THOUSAND RIVERS Over a 120 Xaverians have served in BANGLADESH since 1952. This nation has few resources indeed, save for the enterprising initiative and long suffering patience of its people most of whom struggle every day just to survive. Working in the diocese of Kuhlna, and in others, the Xaverians have shared the lot of their people, and have witnessed the very slow progress and growth of the Christian communities, scattered along interminable rivers. These communities have seen the martyrdom of two Xaverians, Fr. Veronesi and Fr. Cobbe. Fr. Cobbe had studied and served in Japan: The faith sustains them. the USA .
sia has ever captured the attention of great missionaries, from St. Thomas the Apostle to St. Francis Xavier and since. Indeed Asia seems to offer a real challenge to the Church, with only 2% of the population being Christian. CHINA was the first - and for fifty years the only – Xaverian mission, where 116 Xaverians worked and/died, among them, Fr. Rastelli and Fr. Botton, who died as martyrs. Today a modest, low-key presence marks a new beginning and renewed hope in this enormous land where Christianity has the largest percentage growth in the world.
THE GATEWAY TO CHINA Since 1990, TAIWAN welcomes a small community of Xaverians as a foothold for their yet meager presence in China, in more recent and changed world political relationships. China is the land where the Xaverian missionary apostolate began.
THE ARCHPELAGO OF HOPE
Taiwan: Fr. Joe Matteucig with youth animators of his parish.
A PEOPLE SEEKING THE LIGHT The JAPAN mission was opened in 1949 with three missionaries exiled from China, and now counts with 25 centers. The 40 or so Xaverians now there give witness to the Good News in quite an extensive activity, from parish ministry to teaching in the universities and directing schools for children, from assisting the sick and the lepers to engaging in dialogue with Buddhists.
A CORNER OF PARADISE In 1951, eight Xaverians, also expelled from China, set out for the INDONESIAN ARCHIPELAGO of over 4,000 islands. They went to Sumatra, one of the larger islands, and to the Mentaways, islands almost swallowed up by old forests and by the sea, where no Catholic missionary had ever set foot. Indonesia in which 95% of the population follows Islam, is the world’s largest Muslim country. Today there are flourishing and numerous Christian communities, whence many young Indonesians have joined the ranks of the Xaverians.
For our latest mission effort in Asia, we looked to THE PHILIPPINES for a Xaverian center and international theology community. The Philippines for centuries have responded to the Christian message. On December 3, 1992, feast of St. Francis Xavier, Cardinal Sin of Manila Fr. Carl Chudy baptising in our parish entrusted to the church in Quezon City, Philippines. Xaverians a new parish on the outskirts of the city. A house for Xaverian students was built near the church. There we provide training and formation for Theology students, and already Filipino Xaverians are part of this missionary effort in a land that is indeed fertile for mission vocations. Reasons for hope and challenge are not lacking for the future of the Church on the Asian continent. The Asian bishops have said, “The proclamation of Jesus Christ is the central and principal element of evangelization… to proclaim the Gospel through a living witness and dialogue: this is the first duty of the Churches of Asia.” U X averian Missions Newsletter | 2008
LATIN AMERICA REKINDLES ITS MISSIONARY VOCATION FOR THE YOUTH AND THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
little over 475 years ago, in 1531, Our Lady appeared at Guadalupe to Juan Diego, a Mexican Indian. Six years later, 9 millions Mexican Indians had been converted to Christianity. The Virgin Mary had opened the hearts of the Mexican people to evangelization. So, the Xaverian Missionaries were late comers into MEXICO, when, in 1951, they started by educating the young at the “L’Istituto Cultural de Occidente” in Mazatlan. Soon the initial labors began to bear fruits of vocations. The first seminary opened 12 years later, and then houses in other places: about 14 mission centers and parishes, all oriented to prepare missionaries for non-Christians or to the pastoral care of indigenous peoples of rich, ancient and local culture. Mexican Xaverians today number more than sixty.
Sunday catechism class in Mexico.
BRAZIL, LAND OF MANY REALITIES The Xaverians arrived in BRAZIL in 1953, in response to an appeal made by Pope Pius XII. At first, they settled in the south, leading parishes deprived of a pastor and forming basic Christian communities. Then in1961, they took up their labors also in the equatorial north along some of the many rivers that swell the might Amazon. For many years, the diocese of Abaetetuba was led by Bishop Angelo Frosi, who had been the first Xaverian ordained in the USA, in 1948. Their minSão Paulo, Brazil: Fr. Tony Lalli istry, however, did not remain welcomes two homeless little sisters confined to this diocese, but to the St. Rose of Lima Parish Shelter. extended to the Archdiocese of Belém, the Diocese of Xingú, geographically the largest in the world, and elsewhere. North and south, they are engaged in the struggle for the rights of the “caboclos” and the “indios”, farm land for the landless, respect for human rights for all, and the acceptance of the Gospel values in social, political and daily life. This “land of the Holy Cross,” too, has exacted its share of the blood of martyrs. We think of Fr. Pierobon in 1976 and of Fr. Deiana in 1983, and their sacrificial blood has enriched that soil for the growth of Christian communities and vocations to the missionary life. 8
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Our first task in approaching another people, another culture, another religion is to take off our shoes for the place we are approaching is holy. Else we may find ourselves treading on another’s dream. More serious still, we may forget... that God was there before our arrival. – Author unknown
A GROWING CHURCH The celebration of the First Assembly of the Bishops’ Council for Latina America in Medellin, COLOMBIA (1968), inaugurated a period of prophetic church renewal, by engaging the religious in the defense of human rights and in denouncing injustice in the light of the Gospel. The Xaverians joined this engagement in 1975 when they began their missionary and pastoral activity in Buenaventura, and then extended it to Bogotá and Cali. They accompany the population, composed mostly of descendants of African slaves, who suffer the most from the traditional evils of urbanization, poverty, narcotics, and silence. Still, vocation activity among the youth and mission education within the church take much of the missionaries’ attention: the Colombian church wishes to reach out beyond its frontiers to be able to give “out of its own poverty.” U
AFRICA, CONTINENT OF CHRISTIAN HOPE A GRACIOUS PEOPLE
LAND WASHED IN BLOOD
In BURUNDI, the efforts of the early missionaries who first began evangelization there in 1879 were blessed with much success and numerous Christian communities.
ne of the places where St. Francis Xavier was presumed to have passed on his way to the Orient was SIERRA LEONE, remembered for its slave trade associations and as the “tomb of the white man.” In 1950, four Xaverians pioneered work in this land, concentrating their attention on schools, as a contribution to the education needs of the country and as a means of proclaiming the Gospel in the north of the country where the population is predominantly Muslim. Other commitments to human development followed, new schools, health care projects, campaign and care for the victims of leprosy, and rehabilitation of child soldiers following the heartrending civil war of the 90’s. Their dedication and service won the missionaries the respect and the heart of this people known for their graciousness. Xaverian George Biguzzi, s.x., today bishop of Makeni, served for many years in formation and administration in the USA Province. Today, the young and dynamic Church of Sierra Leone, with its many Christian communities often led by lay persons, looks with confidence to the day when it will be able to provide for its own pastoral future and to bring the Gospel to other peoples.
The Xaverians arrived in Burundi after urgent appeals of the bishops who asked us to take up the pastoral care of a number of Christian communities which still had no pastors. Much of the work is done in team ministry with other missionaries, sisters, and laity. Repeated tragic events and bloody divisions between the ethnic groups have claimed three more Xaverian lives, among many others, when Frs. Maule and Marchiol, and lay volunteer, Kathrina
Young faces of Africa
A NATION OPEN TO THE GOSPEL Africa claimed the first Xaverian martyrs during the civil strife of 1964 in the Democratic Republic of the CONGO. Frs. G. Didoné and L. Carrara, and Bro. V. Faccin died out of fidelity to the Lord Jesus. The Congo received the most systematic evangelization in the African continent, beginning in 1482. The Xaverians arrived in 1958, when the nation was attaining its independence from Belgium. They landed in the region of Uvira, and directed their attention to prepare well-grounded Christians, with particular attention to the younger generations. They extended their work to Bukavu, Goma, Kasongo and Kinshasha, leaving local church responsibilities to the local clergy in order to dedicate their time more to works of collaboration and formation of community leaders. A number of sons and daughters of the Congo have now reached various parts of the world, themselves missionaries to people in greater need. In our own Province, several Xaverians from the Congo are formators or students at the Theology House in Chicago.
Gruber were killed on September 1995. The conflicts of the last two decades or so have called upon church personnel to work strenuously for peace and reconciliation. Outstanding in this effort has been the opening of a Youth Center of Kamenge on the outskirts of the capital, Bujumbura, where thousands of young people from different tribes and creeds gather to live and learn the benefits of reconciliation.
INITIAL PROCLAMATION CHAD, situated in Central Africa, occupies a vast territory most of which is covered by the Sahara Desert. The Xaverians came to this part of Africa in 1985, in the diocese of Pala, but forming one Regional community with confreres in bordering (continued on page 10) X averian Missions Newsletter | 2008
Africa (continued from page 9) Cameroon. Theirs is a work of initial proclamation, with priority attention given to the formation of catechists and leaders for the new communities.
“I have been blessed in many ways over the years…”
THE LAND OF ORAL TRADITION The Gospel was first brought to CAMEROON in 1891 by the German Pallottine Missionaries, and today Catholics constitute 28% of the more than ten-million population. In the 80’s the Xaverians began to work mostly in the north where the Gospel message is still quite unknown, with a work very much in tune with that done in Chad. In the city of Yaoundé a residence was established where young Xaverian theology students of different lands prepare for the priesthood and missionary life in Africa and elsewhere.
Sierra Leone: Bishop George Biguzzi, of Makeni.
“PIONEERS” IN A NEW PROJECT Our last project in Africa was begun only a few years ago in MOZAMBIQUE. Twelve Xaverian missionaries have formed four communities. Though colonized by the Portuguese, the country is mostly Muslim, with the challenges which this presents…. A dozen Xaverians “pioneers” are intent on sharing the Good News with all! U 10
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Fr. Bob Maloney: 50 years a priest.
ur God is a God of surprises,” says Fr. Bob Maloney. “His invitations are subtly discovered along the way.” Fr. Bob is reflecting on his sixty years with the Xaverian missionaries and on his fifty years as a priest. “In 1947, an ad in the Boston Pilot heralded “Be a trailblazer for Christ,” and a strong appeal; I was the first vocation to a society new to this our land.
overall accounting. Without the Lord, and without all this, nothing could have happened to reach this day. I am forever grateful…. Now, we look forward and humbly utter “yes” for what will be… Re m e m b e r… Celebrate… Believe!”
Rev. Thomas E. Barnard, cousin to Fr. Bob, and Methodist Minister in Oklahoma City, OK, writes: “When I think of you, China was its Bob, I think about only field afar, its what it means to members were about be ‘called’ into 250. The Founder, American Xaverians: (L to R) seated: Fr. Bob ministry – chosen B l e s s e d G u i d o Maloney and Fr. Rocco Puopolo; standing: as it were. As you Conforti, had dreams Fr. Tony Lalli, Fr. Carl Chudy and Fr. Adolph know, a calling to open ended... I saw Menendez. minister to other the opening of new people cannot be mission fields in Asia, Africa, Oceania, inherited, won, earned, or bought. It is a Latin America, and for many years I was matter of ‘choice’ – God’s choice…. called upon to serve in frontline apostoGod’s ‘calling’ is not for the short haul, late, always needing to listen and view but for the long haul – for life. When God things with the eyes of the smiling Crucifix called you to ministry, he called you to a of Xavier Castle. “Be a trailblazer for lifetime ministry to others. You followed Christ” – perhaps that vocation ad caught that calling fifty years ago, and you consomething of the essence of this lifetime of tinue following it today. years… Your friends, family, and colleagues Mission, however, is never the tale of a gather to help you celebrate your fiftieth solitary life; it is a work accomplished in year in ministry, thanking God and concompany, together. Family, friends, congratulating you for having reached this freres, upbringing, and encouragement, significant milestone in your life…”. U the people you serve… are all graces in the
Ordinations and Mission Destinations
he ordination to the priesthood of four of our Theology students brought to a close a phase of their mission journey. They had just graduated from Chicago Theological Union (CTU). Now they are all in the mission field assigned to them. Dharmawan Adharius (Wawan), Denny Wahyudi, and Ignatius Zaluchu were ordained in their native country of Indonesia on August 15, 2007, Feast of the Assumption of our Lady. With five other Xaverians and three Diocesan young men, they received the Sacrament of the Priesthood in the Church of St. Matthew in Pintaro, Jakarta, with the presence of the Catholic community overflowing into the church plaza. Fr. Denny had concluded his diaconate year and service at St. Therese Mission in Chinatown, Chicago. At the farewell festivities at St. Therese’s, Fr. Denny voiced the sentiments of his ‘classmates’ and looked forward to his future ministry, saying: “Through the Xaverians, my religious family, I have been living my vocation and call toward this missionary priesthood. My future is in the hands of God who always nurtures and grants me the best I could ever imagine. So, it’s my joy to give thanks to God and all who have been influencing my life.” Fr. Denny is now in Italy on the way to Japan where he will first spend two years learning the language before entering full time into the ministry of God’s people in that country. Fr. Alejandro Gómez was ordained in Mexico on August 18 together with five other Mexican Xaverians. He and Fr. Ignatius are already in the Philippines for their first mission assignment.
St. Therese Mission Church, Chicago. IL: Bishop Frank Rodimer, of Patterson, NJ, ordained to the diaconate four of our seminarians.
Fr. Wawan, instead, has received his visa for Taiwan to join the small Xaverian community there. To each and every one of them we offer our Best Wishes for a fruitful and persevering apostolate. We keep them in our prayers. U
We Celebrate… We Give Thanks!
or more than 60 years, the Xaverian Missionaries in the USA have had as “partners-in-mission” many a friend and benefactor. By their prayers, example and generous support they have made it possible for us to do much ‘missionary’ work, both here in the States and in the mission fields. Whenever the Xaverian Missionaries have been able to build a church, a semi-
nary, a school, hospital, orphanage or medical station, it has been because of the help given by these “partners-in mission”. They are the ones who make possible the training of native priests, brothers, sisters, and lay ministers and catechists. They are the ones who help us meet the needs of our seminarians in Chicago, IL, and in Franklin, WI, seminarians who come from all over our mission countries.
As Fr. Dominic Caldognetto, treasurer at Xavier Knoll, Franklin, WI, said at a recent get-together of friends and benefactors: “We thank everyone for your constant commitment to the mission cause and for your giftedness to the whole Xaverian Congregation. Now part of our family, you have been and are a blessing for your contribution to our activties here and in the overseas missions.”
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The Challenge of the New Millennium: US Catholic young adults and the interfaith movement “America is one of the most religiously devout nations in the west, One of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, in an era of religious conflict, where over three billion people are under 25 years of age...”
he Xaverian Missionaries, in service to youth and young adult of the American Catholic Church, are working to organize a program called No Borders: Global Mission Spirituality for youth and young adults. It is our hope that it will assist them meet the challenges of a new millennium where US Catholic experiences are more inter-cultural and inter-religious than ever before, and where their choices carry broad and global implications affecting all aspects of their lives. In order to assist youth and young adults to be a vital part of the universal mission of the Catholic Church in all sectors of society and to create a new culture of dialogue, tolerance, pluralism, understanding and peace, this program provides opportunities for cross-cultural and interfaith experiences, faith formation with a worldwide view and peer reflection. This program is one way to link our purpose and charism as religious missionaries with the experience of youth and young adults of the American Catholic Church. This link lies in three areas: First, we seek relevant ways to share the compelling stories of our missionaries and missions, bringing to the forefront narratives of courage and faith. Second, we wish to awaken young people to global solidarity in the structural connections of faith between the USA and the world through such issues as human rights, immigration, food security, global climate change, peace, and others, and to help young people respond with all the giftedness and enthusiasm they bring. Finally, we are shaping programs that allow Catholic young people to enter into dialogue, understanding, friendship, and service with youth of other faiths, in particular, Islam. In this way, we are promoting the solemn com12
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mitment of interreligious dialogue which is so central to the mission of the Church today. What is the value of bringing Catholic young men and women together in dialogue with their Muslim and Jewish peers, and with other faith traditions, and to work together for social justice? It doesn’t take a genius to notice that we live in troubled times. Terrorism, violence, military interventions, economic disparities, the erosion of human rights, hate crimes and growing misunderstanding are part and parcel of today’s world. Yet in all of this, dialogue and concerted efforts by Muslims, Jews, Christians and people of other faiths offer a clear and resounding testimony to a common commitment and desire for peace and justice. So, what is the value of bringing Catholic young men and women together in dialogue with people of other faith? The value lays on the certainty that dialogue and working together in service provides a window of opportunity to develop a better understanding of one another as individuals, as religious peoples, and as companions on the journey that leads to God. The goal is to strengthen the mission ad gentes of the US Catholic Church through the faith power of the young. The late Pope John Paul II in his mission encyclical, Mission of the Redeemer, states: Mission ad gentes…”is addressed to groups and settings which are non-Christian because the preaching of the Gospel and the presence of the Church are either absent or insufficient. It can thus be characterized as the work of proclaiming Christ and his Gospel, building up the local Church and promoting the values of the kingdom.”(34) We hope to encourage and strengthen mission ad gentes vocations of the USA Church by inviting young people to take part in that very mission right here
The Road Not Taken Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could Fr. Carl at a Vocation Program of the St. Joseph High School, Trumbull, CT.
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
at home. We want to build a program that, amidst very real theological differences and political problems, keeps alive the possibility that the world’s diverse religious communities can choose to relate on their shared values rather than on their myriad differences.
Then took the other Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Some fear that if young Catholics interact meaningfully with young people of other faiths, their own faith may become diluted and weakened. However, the experience of the interfaith youth movement worldwide proves that our own religious identities are fortified. The simple genius of the shared values approach is that it highlights things we share universally while creating Fr. Mosele shared about the space for each com- missionary life at a national conference of Catholic munity to articulate its college students in Texas. unique riff on the value. In a discussion on the shared value of hospitality, Muslims might cite what they do for Itftar and the Hadith of the Prophet, Jews might talk about their Shabbat practice and scripture from Exodus, and Christians might discuss their church’s tradition on Christmas and the example of Jesus in Matthew 25. Ultimately, by speaking from their own traditions, participants find their own faith deepened, while discovering the values of the Kingdom of God we share and can act on together. U – Fr. Carl Chudy, s.x.
For more information contact us and receive our monthly e-newsletter: No Borders: Passion for Christ, Passion for Humanity firstname.lastname@example.org
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference – Robert Frost –
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“What’s in a Name?”
name, we know, can be a simple conventional way to call a thing or a person. It doesn’t matter, really, that one be called one way or another. We just need to agree! But a name can also be something which defines the identity of a person, different from any other, unique and impossible to duplicate. As the old Latin goes, nomen est homem, the name is the man.
The Motherhouse of the Xaverian Missionaries in Parma (Italy)
We Xaverians are named after Saint Francis Xavier. Patron of the missions and our model, whose footsteps we mean to follow, Francis Xavier has left a mark on the history of mission, the Church and society, not just of his times, but also to our days. Of course, times have changed radically. Some of the reasons that urged Saint Francis Xavier and certain ways of making mission in his age, today are no longer feasible. What has not changed is man’s need to know the true God as only Jesus could make God known to us. Also not changed is the openness to receiving this God, when this God, who is Father, is proclaimed. Neither has changed the means for this proclamation, and that is the witness of life more than of words. The encounter with Jesus has, in fact, deeply changed the life of the one who announces him and it has filled it with meaning. Saint Francis Xavier himself had to go through a conversion. The Great Missionary Zeal Of Saint Francis Xavier We must remember also all that he has “worked and suffered to spread the kingdom of God.” We can say it with a word, a bit out of fashion, but which seems to be the principal characteristic of Saint Francis Xavier: his great missionary zeal. Even today we marvel at his untiring activity, how in only eleven years he was able to visit so many lands, with the transportation means of those days and in the
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midst of so many dangers, and how he was able to start so many and flourishing communities which have resisted the wear-and tear of time…. Great has been the beneficial influence which Saint Francis Xavier has had on the lands where he has lived and worked. Through the centuries, his example has attracted so many to follow his example and dedicated their life to the proclamation of the Gospel among the peoples. ‘Xaverian’ Missionaries We can understand now why our Founder Bishop Conforti, wanted us to be named after this man-of-God and missionary, Francis Xavier. He wanted to tell us that, to be entirely dedicated to mission, we must be entirely dedicated to God as Francis Xavier was. Pope John Paul II told us the same thing in his Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, when he wrote: ‘The true missionary is a saint.’ It is for this reason that Blessed Conforti wanted his missionaries be ‘consecrated’ in religious life. Mission is a task which surpasses so much our mere human strengths that it can only be God’s work. To be ‘consecrated’ means to be totally available to God so that God be the one who acts in us and through us... Dear Xaverians and dear friends of the Xaverians, Francis Xavier closed some of his many letters with these words: “May God grant you to grasp his holy will and once grasped, to have the great strengths and the graces to fulfill it in this life in love.” I make these words my own. U Fr. Rino Benzoni, s.x. Superior General of the Xaverian Missionaries
Let’s begin with:
Life is an opportunity; take it.
“Where is your brother?”
Life is beauty; admire it.
od asks: “Where are you?”
We think we do well by answering: “Here I am, ready to do your will; not by my own strengths nor for my own satisfaction, but by your strength and for your pleasure.” And that God would be happy with that. But, then, comes another question: “Where is your brother?” We know Who asks that question. We know what happened before and the dialogue that followed. What interests us now is this question. It’s an important question. It comes from Someone than whom there’s no greater. And there’s no way to evade the answer, since He knows it already... But this question creates a problem for us. We thought we had some brothers and some sisters, and that’s it. And the others? God is not to be easily appeased. God asks a question which has almost no bounds. It forces us to go look for the brother and the sister. Or else we cannot give an answer and we cannot go before his presence.
What am I to do? I must find out who and where my brother is, especially the non-Christian, the foreigner, the one who does not know that God loves him. I must keep an eye on him, not lose sight of him. Or else, I’d be lost, too. And when I present myself before God, I must be able to give him the answer he expects: “Father, here is my brother. He is here, in my heart. I know who he is, I’ve found him. Now he is a bit lost, but he will come home soon, you’ll see. I ask you about him, every day. Tell me, please: what else can I do for him?” This is the first lesson;... my homework; or better, my so-that-I-may-go-home work. To listen with the heart to the question God asks me and give the answer he expects, and present him the brothers and sisters I have found out to be mine, entrusted to me that I may lead them to him. To talk with him about them every day in prayer and ask him what more can I do for them. Clearly, to explain the question is not more forceful that the question itself: “Where’s your brother?” U
– Fr. F. Tosolini, s.x.
Life is beatitude; taste it. Life is a dream; make it a reality. Life is a challenge; embrace it. Life is a duty; fulfill it. Life is a play; play it. Life is precious; take care of it. Life is riches; keep them. Life is love; enjoy it. Life is mystery; discover it. Life is a promise; keep it.
See, the question is posted on the church door!
Life is sadness; overcome it.
If you don’t take your brother or your sister with you, you do not enter. This is terrible! God even gets angry with us! It seemed so simple to go into church, to finally find myself in the peace and tranquility of friendship with the Father..., and now I find that, if I’m not with my brothers and sisters, he does not know me and closes the door on my face.
Life is a hymn; sing it.
This question allows me to enter into God’s own heart, who relies on me to take care of his sons and daughter, my brothers and sisters. It is the question of a father who is worried: I sent you out to play together and you came back alone? Where is your brother?
Life is happiness; merit it.
This question lets me enter into myself, and discover that I am not whole without my brother. If I return before God alone, I am no longer I. He sees me only together with. My brother is part of me and I am part of him.
Life is a fight; accept it. Life is an adventure; take the risk.
Life is life; defend it. May life be a future of hope for you and your loved ones. Contact us at one of our addresses or e-mail Fr. Joe at: email@example.com
– Mother Teresa of Calcutta –
X averian Missions Newsletter | 2008
Xaverian Mission Newsletter Official publication of the Xaverian Missionaries of the United States.
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Anthony B. Lalli firstname.lastname@example.org
Frank Grappoli Alfredo Turco
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The Xaverian Missioners Are Presently Serving In: Bangladesh • Brazil • Burundi • Cameroon • Chad • China • Colombia • Dem. Rep. of Congo • France • Indonesia • Italy Japan • Mexico • Mozambique • Philippines • Sierra Leone • Spain • Taiwan • United Kingdom • U.S.A.
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