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Mission. Walking Together.

October Is Missionary Month. Three Young Comboni Missionaries Share their Vocation Journey

My name is Brother Alberto Lamana. I was born in 1971 in Zaragoza, Spain.  I came to know the Comboni Missionaries during my secondary school education. The Comboni community of Zaragoza had started a youth group. I joined the group.
The group became a springboard for my vocation discernment. Little by little I began to imagine my life as a missionary.

Meantime, I had to choose between becoming a priest or a brother. The Comboni missionaries offer their candidates these two possibilities.  Thus, after much prayer and consultation with the vocation promoter, I felt that my call was to be a Brother.
The service of the brothers that emphasises human promotion and social ministry attracted me.  Consequently, in 1994, I decided to enter the Comboni postulancy as a brother.

Later, in the novitiate, when I read the writings of St. Daniel Comboni, the founder of the Comboni missionaries, I confirmed the same reality.  I was impressed by Comboni’s courage and absolute dedication to a cause radically founded on the Gospel. I see my vocation as a dynamic process that is cultivated day by day.  It is a gift that develops and grows. Throughout my missionary life, I have had important experiences that have helped me to reinforce or live my vocation.

In 1997, during my time at the Formation House for Brothers in Nairobi, I did apostolate with the St. Vincent de Paul group in the slum of Kibera. Frequent visits to the most disadvantaged people in that marginalised context made me discover the harsh dimension of poverty: women, men and children struggling to survive and to get by on so little money! Their witness of faith and inner strength was for me a real school of life.

After completing my formation journey in Nairobi, I was assigned to the mission of Mapuordit in South Sudan. There I had to enter a new culture and language. Initially, the adaptation process was difficult. But I soon felt fully welcomed and accepted. That experience taught me to walk more slowly, at the pace of the people, accepting so many limits that are imposed on us and that we cannot control. This helped me to grow in an attitude of surrender knowing that not everything is in our hands, but that the Lord continues to realise his Kingdom despite our difficulty in seeing the seeds of life.

In South Sudan, I also had the grace to collaborate with other Comboni Missionaries and Comboni sisters, in the establishment of the Catholic Radio Network (CRN).
This was an initiative aimed at creating a network of radio stations in each of the dioceses of South Sudan and the Nuba Mountains.

My missionary life and work took a twist in 2015.  I was elected General Assistant in our Institute. The Institute was asking me to be part of the General Council of our Congregation in Rome. It was a new phase of missionary service for me.

When I look back over my life, I realise how my vocation has evolved. I see that at the beginning I felt a deep desire to be useful, to serve, to help others. Over time I have discovered my vulnerability and weakness. This makes me feel more in communion with the disadvantaged, growing in mercy, aware that they are sisters and brothers who invite me to walk with them. I feel more and more the need to grow in the ability to read the reality around me with the eyes of faith and not so much with my own reasoning. God continues to mould me and to strengthen my vocation so as to follow him more closely.

Simon. “My dream is to share the word of God”
I am Simon Yomkuey. I was born in 1988 in Mayom County, South Sudan. In 1993, I moved to Khartoum with my brother.
We had a house in the area of Omdurman and I attended the Comboni primary school in Bahry.

During secondary school, I started showing more interest in the Comboni Missionaries. When I finished school, a diocesan with whom I used to share my queries, advised me to continue studying.  So, I proceeded to the School of Management in the Department of accounting and finance. In 2011, the independence referendum of South Sudan was celebrated, and the university was transferred to its original place, Juba. I moved there where I graduated in 2013.

When I was in Juba, I met a Comboni Missionary and I told him that I was interested in meeting the Combonis. He invited me to a one-year programme called ‘come and see’, during which we used to meet many aspirants, boys and girls, every last Saturday of the month. They would explain to us about vocations, providing booklets on the life of Comboni, and other material.

After a year, in 2014, I was admitted to the six-month pre-postulancy, followed by an experience in a parish. Then, I moved to Nairobi for the postulancy, where I did a three-year philosophical course, followed by a two-year novitiate in Namugongo, Uganda. I professed my first religious vows, on 23 May 2020.

After the novitiate, I was assigned to the scholasticate of Pietermaritzburg, in South Africa. I could not visit my family—I had not seen them since 2018—because South Sudan was under Covid lockdown. While waiting, I took the opportunity to stay in the Comboni community concerned with assisting the South Sudanese displaced in Uganda. When the borders eventually opened, I returned to Juba and, before South Africa could close them again, I entered the country.

Why did I decide to become a Comboni?  A vocation is a mystery. I really admire some priests whom I have encountered. When I was at university, I had a strange feeling, as if I was forgetting something, or something was missing in me, though I couldn’t name it. I used to prepare my schoolbooks, clothes and shoes for the following day, yet my mind kept telling me that something was missing.

When the idea of joining the Comboni Missionaries came, suddenly, that strange feeling disappeared.  What inspired me, from the few Comboni’s whom I knew in my parish, was their simplicity and kindness, their sense of belonging and especially their way of welcoming people, listening, and trusting them. No one considered himself greater than the others; there was an element of equality. I also learned from their sacrifices. All this motivated me to join them.

My dream is to share the Word of God with those who have not heard it. It can be done physically, or through the mass media. Technology allows us to reach far beyond our surroundings. My aim is to reach those who are abandoned and disowned.

Brother Mwangaza : “My trust in God has no limits”
My name is Mwangaza Kabale, I was born in 1985, in the town of Butembo, in the eastern part of the DR Congo.  With my parents, we led a quiet life. As a young boy, I joined the youth group of the Eucharistic Crusade. I am sure that it was from this experience of a life of faith that the desire to serve God as a priest or a religious was born in me very early on. My school life went smoothly. After primary school at Vutetse Primary School, I attended secondary school in Butembo.

Meanwhile, the idea of becoming a priest had become increasingly clear. In 2006, at the end of secondary school, I spent some time in the vocational group of my parish to deepen my motivations. Eventually, I plucked up my courage and told my parents that I intended to enter the diocesan seminary. Surprisingly, they told me no. Not because they were against the idea, but because they wanted me to improve my knowledge.

“Attend at least three years of university courses. Then, you can decide what you want”, was their request. I obeyed and enrolled at the University of Agriculture in Butembo. When, in 2009, I presented them with my degree, they smiled at me and said: “We did what we thought was a duty for us and good thing for you. Now you are old enough to decide your own future. Go where your heart takes you”.

During university, I became friends with the Comboni Sisters working in my parish. They introduced me to priests and brothers of their own religious family, and I began to frequent and observe them, at first with curiosity, then with fascinated eyes and heart. It did not take me long to understand that this would be the life God wanted from me.

The desire to answer ‘yes’ to God was pushing me. Finally, in 2009, a few months after graduating, I entered the Comboni Postulancy in Kisangani. This step helped me to better discern my vocation, clarify my motivations and identify with the Comboni charism. After Postulancy, I was admitted to the Novitiate in Sarh, Chad. On 13th May 2012, in a ceremony that touched me deeply, I made my first religious profession and I became a member of the Comboni Institute.

Soon after, I was sent to Kinshasa (DR Congo) to complete my agronomic training with a master’s degree in Agroforestry. In 2015, I went to Nairobi, Kenya, to attend the Scholasticate at the Comboni Brothers’ Centre. After an English language course, I enthusiastically threw myself into the various courses to acquire a master’s degree in Sustainable Development. In Nairobi, I spent four unforgettable years.

In 2019, I was destined for the mission in South Sudan, in the diocese of Rumbek.  I find myself surprisingly willing to get close to people, especially young people, and to share their lives, their concerns, challenges, sufferings, joys and hopes. Living for them and of them is my life. And what a life!

I run three schools in the Rumbek diocese. Our vision for these schools is to turn them into financially and administratively self-sufficient institutions. Life here is certainly not rosy. I often find myself taking one step forward and two steps back.

But I am not discouraged. I know that there will still be difficulties, but this people will overcome them, and I feel over the moon when I think that I have the opportunity to make my personal contribution to this miracle. My trust in God has no limits. I firmly believe that he has the destiny of this people in his hands and that he will not let them down. (swm)

 

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