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As guest of a nation that is being revitalized, the Comboni family, gathered at the World Social Forum, breathed the Arab Springtime and the strength of a people’s dreams.

In Tunis, the dignity and the critical spirit of women, the potentials of young people, their desire to open up to the world are being awakened. This thirst for liberation and of a religion with a human look, is typical of Easter that we celebrated during the days of the Forum.

Holy Week gave a special flavour to the thirst for justice and peace shared by many peoples and social movements. Conversely, global challenges have brightened in a new way, for us, the mystery of Easter we celebrated with the small local church.

We lived days of respectful and attentive listening to the Islamic world, caused by the intercultural dimension which is a characteristic of these meetings of civil society worldwide.

For the first time, we were not present at the Forum by just being listeners, but by presenting ourselves as Missionary Sisters and Comboni Missionaries, with our specific activities, experiences and communication.

We felt in the right place: in dialogue with many people who were searching and together with other religious sisters and religious brothers who are journeying in the same direction, missionary animators surrounded and challenged by the pluralism of ideas and organizations.

By being the voice of our peoples, by giving the reason for our hope with the consistency of those who live next to the people, we were among the few direct witnesses, at the Forum, of the dramas of the various countries in conflict in the sub-Saharan Africa and in the Arab world.

We felt the Church’s wealth of commitments in many areas of JPIC that we too support. We felt strengthened in the joy of discovering that other religious people follow the Comboni methodology of “Saving Africa through the Africans”.

We have built together, Sisters and Religious men, a Comboni Forum alongside the events of the World Social Forum. This step enriches us and makes us feel well, it is a unique opportunity of ongoing formation and makes us believe that a better world is possible.

Areopagus of evangelization

We are men and women of the roads and the Gospel. We have a great wealth and experience of missionary life to share.

But we need a systematic way to proceed, to recompose fragments, to highlight it, to think more deeply about it.

We ask ourselves what should mission be today, knowing that it is up to us to propose a theology and a spirituality which is embodied in the context, nourished by our being tuned to the Bible, walking with Christ the true liberator of history, recovering the mystique of the peoples to whom we belong and serve, in dialogue with the spiritual heritage of the native peoples and the great religious traditions of the world.

The strength of our faith and of our identity resides in the inclusion of and in the listening to, rather than in the definition of boundaries and differences. We welcome the challenge to open up to the world and to fight all types of prejudice.

To commit ourselves together as the Comboni family is not the goal, but the initial and necessary condition to be missionaries today.

We feel that there should be more space for the lay missionaries and for the people with whom we live and work, through networks increasingly rich and responsible for the today’s complex challenges: the leading role belongs to them; we with them are salt and yeast in kneading a new history, hidden stones, as Comboni says.

 CONTINUING THE JOURNEY

Rereading the missionary and pastoral experience, we are in great harmony on some areas that associate our local and provincial activities. We renew our commitment to serve three priorities:

• The trafficking in people and the human mobility

• Care of Creation, especially against the grabbing of land and the plunder of the common goods

• The interreligious and intercultural dialogue.

In these areas that summarize our options for JPIC, many of us are already building inter-relationship among provinces and collaboration between our two Institutes. We cannot pretend to do everything and to know everything: we must qualify and specialize ourselves on issues that we feel more urgent and in tune with our missionary charism.

Let us then renew the methodology of thematic articulation among communities and provinces which we feel challenged by similar situations, as it is already happening, for example in the case of the working group among the pastoralists in East Africa, or in the case of the common commitment in Brazil, Mozambique and Peru on the impact of mining on society.

Let’s start off again from Tunis with the Easter message in our heart, the joy of sharing with our communities and provinces what we have seen and heard.

Let it plainly be clear that the Comboni meeting during the World Social Forum has been an opportunity in which the missionaries can be evangelized and can evangelize.

As Comboni family, we feel the need that a permanent reference group is to be retained, ensuring and facilitating the continuity of this process.

Praying on the tomb of the first Christian martyrs of this land, we have renewed with them the courage to witness till the end our faith and to offer our lives without reservation, so that all may have life in abundance.

Rome, Wednesday, April 3, 2013

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