Italy

PROVINCIAL SUPERIOR: Fr. Giovanni Munari

It is impossible in few lines to summarise what has been the Comboni experience in ltaly. It is a story 150 years long made of dedication and commitment, whose fruits are retraceable in more than 40 countries around the world. St Daniel Comboni opened the first house of his Congregation on 1 st June 1867 in Verona, to welcome young people willing to spend their lives as missionaries in Central Africa. The name of the Congregation chosen by the founder was “institute for the African Missions”.

For Comboni was the first step of an ambitious project. to form, ”for the most difficult mission in the world“, a group of people (men and women, priests, religious and lay people) willing to engage in the work of evangelisation and human promotion in extremely unfavourable situations, like those of tropical Africa in those days.

Comboni missionaries have marked the ltalian society, through their innumerable initiatives and numberless centres opened in almost every comer of the country. in 150 years they have opened around 100 houses and set up as many communities that, for some time at least, made their pressure felt in dozens of dioceses. Some of these houses are still very active. The missionary magazine, Nigrizia, founded by Comboni himself. Thousands of readers are still appreciating and subscribing to the magazine.

Comboni missionaries have sensitised and engaged entire generations of Italians in their passion for the mission. People became soon fond of them, up to the point of coining for them the name ‘Comboniani‘, from the surname of their founder. in many instances, there were open protests when the Institute closed a house or a seminary.

vitality is a characteristic that continues. Today, out of 1,538 Comboni Missionaries present in the world (they were 1,812 in 2000), the ltalians are 604 (11 bishops, 481 priests, 108 brothers, 4 scholastics); they were 1,200 in 1990. Those present in Italy are 280, in 24 communities, 5 of which structured as ”clinics” for elderly and sick confreres. Their average age is almost 75 years.

Nineteen communities are mainly missionary animation and vocation promotion centres. Two are specifically involved in assisting the immigrants from Africa and Middle East Many members are sewing in diocesan offices as coordinators of ”Justice and Peace” commission, youth pastoral care and promotion of the laity. The Province sustains development projects and solidarity activities in every comer of the world.

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