Monday, October 7, 2013

10/10/2013 – Thursday of 27th week in Ordinary Time – Daniel Comboni – Luke 11:5-13

       I went to Ecuador as a lay missionary with a Catholic religious order called the Comboni Missionaries. They are named after the saint we celebrate today, Daniel Comboni.  Daniel really captured my imagination when I was out in the jungles as a missionary.  He was born into a poor family of farmers in Italy in 1831.  He is the only one of 8 children of his parents who made it past adulthood.  He was ordained a priest in the year 1854, the same year the Immaculate Conception was declared as dogma in our Church. He always dreamed of being a missionary to Africa.  He went on his first trip to Africa to the Sudan, when he and his companions journeyed for 4 months on camel from Egypt just to get to their mission site.  Many of his missionary companions died along the way, but Daniel was touched by the poverty and hardship that the people there had to endure.   Daniel eventually became the first bishop of the Sudan in Africa.  He died at the young age of 50 from all of the hardships he went through as a missionary, but his love for God lives on in all priests, brothers, and nuns of the Comboni missionaries who work all over the world. I remember some of the Comboni priests telling me how in 1964 all of the Comboni priests, brothers, and nuns were expelled from the south of Sudan when an anti-Christian government took power in the country.  Thousands of missionaries returned to Rome, many of whom had been in the Sudan most of their adult lives serving the Lord. Like the persistent man in the Gospel who does not give up in asking his neighbor for a favor, Daniel Comboni and so many of our missionaries had such a strong faith that never gave up.  Many of them so willingly gave up their lives for their love of their faith and in service to the calling they received from God. We give thanks for the ways they have enriched our lives, for the way they still speak to us today.  All of us have a calling we receive to God.  And we are all called to be missionaries wherever we are in life.

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