Rome, Italy, Oct 13, 2013 / 07:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Ten years after the canonization of Saint Daniel Comboni, the head of the Comboni Missionary Sisters has exhorted the congregation’s members to deepen their focus on Christ as they pursue their founder’s work.
Sister Luzia Premoli, the missionary sisters’ general superior, in an Oct. 5 letter to the congregation, encouraged the sisters to continue to become “women of the Gospel, mothers and sisters of humanity in order to regenerate life and life in abundance.”
“I am convinced that we live in a precious time, which invites us to revive our hope, a time in which our thirst for authenticity can be abundantly satisfied, if we allow ourselves to be guided by the
Risen Lord, by the holiness of our founder and father, by the words and gestures of Pope Francis.”
St. Daniel Comboni, an Italian-born 19th century missionary, was the first bishop of Central Africa – what is now the Archdiocese of Khartoum. He founded the Comboni Missionaries in 1867, and the Comboni Missionary Sisters in 1872.
The saint encouraged African Christians to participate in the evangelization of their continent and fought for the abolition of slavery. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 5, 2003.
Sr. Premoli said that the canonization has been a “great gift” from the Church to the order. She encouraged the sisters to reflect on what the canonization has meant in their lives, and in the life of their congregation.
“Where are we in the journey towards living holiness in our daily lives as a response to the Word of God and of Comboni?”
“Without a doubt, there is a crisis of human and spiritual values which does not spare religious life,” she continued, criticizing egoistic and self-referential attitudes.
She said that many commentators have said that religious life needs a “qualitative leap” and must be “converted,” in order to be “re-centered on Christ and on his word.” The congregation feels the need to return to “the sources of our charism in order to incarnate it in history today,” she said.
Sr. Premoli said the missionary sisters “need to pay deeper attention to our spiritual life.” She encouraged them to become “docile and open” to the words of St. Daniel Comboni and to the signs that God is showing them in the world.
The general superior encouraged the sisters to live the virtues of obedience and humility.
Obedience includes “listening to the cry of the poor, of suffering humanity and allowing this cry to call into question my, our, lifestyle,” she explained. In the context of a congregation, it means adherence to “a common vision” and the availability for ongoing community discernment.
Humility is an “attitude of the heart” learned from Jesus, she said. It follows the Virgin Mary’s declaration, “I am the handmaid of the lord.”
“Humility is a virtue of those who are strong, who keep their eyes fixed on Jesus, the suffering servant. Humility sustains the faith and the trusting abandonment in God who is Love,” Sr. Premoli reflected. Humility allows its practitioners to “grow in trust and mutual respect” while recognizing their own gifts and putting them to best use.
“Humility enables us to accept our own weaknesses and sinfulness and to learn to trust in the mercy and pardon of God who makes us compassionate and merciful towards all,” the general superior added. She said this virtue is necessary to face “the inevitable conflicts of community and missionary life.”
Sr. Premoli prayed that through the intercession of St. Daniel Comboni, God will give the congregation “the grace of a renewed commitment to live in holiness our consecration to God and to his mission, forever.”
There are over 4,000 men and women in the Comboni missionary congregations.
The Comboni Missionary Sisters will hold their inter-chapter assembly this November at their mother house in Verona, Italy.