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ACI Press:Missionary sister has served for 70 years in Eritrea

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Wednesday, 25 October 2017


Catholic World News

Missionary sister has served for 70 years in Eritrea

Sister Giannantonia Comencini, 97, received the Pope’s blessing on 10/24 before returning to Eritrea. The Combonian missionary rises at 4:30, prepares the cathedral in Eritrea’s capital for Mass, and then administers Holy Communion to the sick. She also works as a catechist (“La missione non ha età,” p. 7).

Religious 97-year-old missionary recalls how she gave her life to Jesus

ROMA, 25 Oct. 17 / (ACI ) .- Giovanna Comencini was a young teacher when she discovered that God called her to thereligious life , the same that she embraced through the Comboni missionaries with whom she arrived in Eritrea in 1948, a country in the Horn of Africa where she carries the Christian hope to many young people.

The religious, who after her vows took the name of Sister Giannantonia Comencini, has recently been recognized with the "Cuore Amico 2017" award from the Onlus Fraternity, which is defined as "the Nobel Prize for missionaries."
Thus, within the framework of the award, the religious told TV2000 how she gave her life to Christ, a decision that has led her to share 69 years with the Eritrean population.
"It was the missionary festival in my village San Antonio Abad and we collected money for the mission," recalled Sister Giannantonia, who is the last of 11 siblings and the only one who had access to the studies.
"My parish priest had put all the bags so that each one could put what he wanted, and I too, who was a young teacher - I was already teaching 4 years - I took the salary, I grabbed what I could put and put it inside " . Then he recalled, "I have seized the pen and paper and wrote: 'Jesus, today I give you my wages, tomorrow I will give you my life'. As I have written. "
"My mother cried, but I felt that God loved me, and God has put it in the front line because it is God," he said. The mission "is the gift that God has given me," she added with a smile.
Thus, in statements collected by the agency SIR, the missionary recalled that she arrived by boat to Massawa after six months. However, he had been sick with abdominal typhus.
"I was thinking of crossing the sea, saving Africa and then dying, but the Eritrean doctor told me, 'No, he must live'. In the hospital for a month I suffered a lot and there I saw purgatory, "added the Italian missionary born in Verona in 1920.
Since then he did not stop. She began to help young women, visit families, teach workers at night and attend nursing homes. Even today, he continues to distribute aid coming from Italy on foot.
On his website, the Onlus Fraternity states that "throughout his life (Ser Giannantonia) he teaches tirelessly" and sows dreams in his students, hope and future "in a land where, for years, the only language was war, precariousness and fear. "
Sr. Giannantonia received the plaque that recognizes her work from Cardinal Ernest Simoni , the last priest who lived under the communist dictatorship in Albania and whose testimony moved Pope Francis.
For its part, the Comboni missionary will allocate the 50 thousand euros of the prize to the construction of an asylum in an isolated region of Eritrea.
The "Cuore Amico 2017" award, which took place on October 14 in Brescia (Italy), was also given to Fr Tarcisio Moreschi and lay missionary Cristina Togni.

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