Madrid eXchange: message of the Father General

COPERTINA-MADRIDMessage of the Father General to the Forum of all Directors of the Camillian Pastoral Health Care Centers, Universities, Camillianum and the Camillian Physicians

Madrid, 21-24 April 2016

To my dear Camillian confreres who work in the field of education in the health care world, health and peace!

Unable to be present today, in as much as I desired, in this important meeting of the Order which brings together the Camillian initiatives and institutions of education in the areas of technical, pastoral and humanization in health, because of my scheduled pastoral visit to the three countries of East Africa – Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania – I would like to leave a message of greetings and appreciation to all the participants who see the importance of this meeting, in communion with Father Aris Miranda, Consultor for Ministry and coordinator of this event.

This forum of the directors and responsible persons (religious and lay) of these education centers (Pastoral and Humanization centers, Camillianum, Universities and Camillian physicians) aims primarily,

To establish and strengthen cooperation among all these Camillian education initiatives in the field of health by promoting health and the right to access to health care, as well as to exchange and to know the programs and practices of these centers.

Among the specific objectives are:

  • To know the programs (courses on professional formation on pastoral and humanization of health) offered as the strengths of these centers, Camillianum and Camillian universities;
  • To establish a framework of cooperation and mutual help in the field of research, formation and promotion of pastoral health valuing our institutions and experts in this field.
  • To map the specific needs that emerge from the place in which one lives (inculturation of the charism) in order to understand and attend with vigor the health needs of the people and communities;
  • To engage our centers, Camillianum and universities in responding to the current challenges in the world of health particularly in situations of emergency and disaster by building and strengthening resiliency of the most vulnerable populace and communities.

Today, more than ever, we need to walk together, united in the same direction with our values, goals, strategic plans honed and harmonized according to the project or priorities of the Order as mandated by the General Chapters, the Church and the different needs and diverse realities. Walking alone like snipers, or like charismatics, we cannot have simply a future. The future cannot be improvised. The great challenge from the perspective of community leadership (dynamics of our Order) is to build together. For this reason that this meeting is called forth with great care. It has been almost ten years had passed since the last meeting of this area of the Camillian ministry.

madrid1The present General Government of the Order (2014-2020), by organizing this meeting, actualizes the operative guidelines of Ministry as stated in the Camillian Project of Revitalization of the Camillian Consecrated Life as approved by the 57th General Chapter of the Order in May 2013 in Ariccia (RM) and the 58th Extraordinary General Chapter of 2014 (Ariccia (RM) on June 16-21, 2014.

Looking at the initiatives that we have in the field of education and formation in the context of the world of health, we have a plurality and diversity of initiatives. We have universities and centers of Humanization and Pastoral Health Care already established for so many years, conferring academic degrees such as master, doctorate and post-doctorate, recognized canonically by the Church (in Italy) or civilly by the ministries of education in the respective countries where they are located such as Camillianum, an institute affiliated to the Lateran University of Rome (degree in Pastoral Health Theology) and São Camilo University in São Paulo, Brazil (degree in Bioethics). Other centers offer specialization courses such as Masters in Ethics, Bioethics and Humanization in partnership with other universities or institutions like the Camillian Center for Humanization in Madrid, Verona, Bogota and others) which promote the Camillian values and sensitive to our mission of  promoting and humanizing the world of health, and educating health professionals and pastoral agents who will take care of the sick with technical-scientific competence but with a Samaritan and Camillian humanism. Together with these traditional expressions of humanization, which already have been established and recognized internationally, we have also new expressions that are emerging and asserting itself in Africa and Asia who need our support, synergy of talents, and the material and human resources. The meeting also aims to address these needs.

Part also of the Camillian Project of revitalizing the Order is “to expand the horizon of ministry – in line with the mandate of the community – beyond the limited field of our apostolic works (palliative care, prevention, public health, domestic church, home care, education in and promotion of health, etc.).” The theme of public health specifically dealing with the issues of equity and equal access to health care has been a recurrent topic in several General Chapters of the Order. In our ministry, we have been taught by our centers of education and formation on how to humanize care to the sick (e.g. bedside ministry to the sick in hospitals), accompanying them in their search for meaning of suffering. We can already consider ourselves as experts of such kind of care. However, when we talk of collective sufferings of the deprived and impoverished populace, in places where high index of suffering is evident particularly in least developed countries and disaster-stricken areas, not so much has been done so far. It’s high time to think about on how to help the sick get up from his/her bed, stand erect and walk healthy, i.e., to empower them so that they themselves will become responsible to their health and not just simply recipients of our benevolence. I am then encouraging our centers for learning to engage in doing research in this field and organize courses on these issues.

Allow me to say in particular and especially about Camillianum, an institute that is connected directly to the General Government of the Order in which the Superior General is the Moderator. This Institute has completed 30 years of its existence. Now the time has come to “reinvent” it in order to remain relevant. What does this mean? With its affiliation to the Pontifical Lateran University today, we are faced with new demands and requirements that need to be complied and which is periodically evaluated by the affiliating Institute (the University) following the Bologna Process, in terms of its faculty (academic titles), adequate infrastructure (classrooms, living condition, library, office, etc.), quality of dissertations and theses defended and other matters.

The Camillian Project Revitalization of Camillian Consecrated Life which I mentioned earlier, our GPS that guides our priority actions in the area of Camillian ministry, makes some recommendations regarding Camillianum. It is important to remember that:

  • In the field of formation of the Camillian religious, “[…] specialization studies, however, belong to a true Provincial or inter-Provincial programme or a programme of the Order (privileging the Camillianum or other centers for pastoral care in health and humanization) […].” (Camillian Project, 3.5)
  • “All possible forms of giving publicity to the Camillianum should be encouraged, in particular in those countries with a greater availability of students. This should be a commitment of all religious and in particular of the direct heads of the same institute.” (Camillian Project, 3.5).
  • “The coordination of Camillian centres for humanization and pastoral care in health, at a micro-regional level, in synergy with the Camillianum as well, should be fostered.” (Camillian Project, 3.5).
  • It is necessary to have an office/body for fundraising program in addition to the traditional contribution of the Provinces for the sustainability of Camillianum.

madrid2A positive highlight in terms of the plan as approved by the Council of the Institute is the publication of a new Dictionary of Pastoral Health Theology. This was a specific request of the Father General as a contribution to the Camillian Order. An organizing committee of this project has been formed already. Certainly, many of you who are present today at this meeting in Madrid are invited to contribute any entry in their field of specialization and particular realities. This project should be ready not later than by the first quarter of 2019. It is a priority editorial project in the field of the Camillian ministry of the General Government in these six years (2014-2020).

Finally, at the end of this journeying together, I am soliciting your thoughts and encouraging you to write a statement or a message to the Order and to the world of health, affirming the great deeds that our centers of formation, learning, research and higher education in the field of health and pastoral health have been achieved and contributed to the Church. It would be good to highlight as well, our readiness to face the new challenges posed to us by the world of health today with creative fidelity to the divine gift of service to the sick handed down to us by our beloved founder St. Camillus de Lellis. This will help to remind us – participants, confreres and collaborators – of a new direction that we need to traverse as indicated in our Camillian Project.

At the end of this reflection, we would like to thank the Camillian Spanish Province in the person of the General Delegate Br. José Carlos Bermejo for their generosity by readily accepting to host this event in Madrid, by providing all logistical support and accommodation to all participants.

I wish a good meeting that will produce innovative perspectives and bear fruit for the future of the Camillian ministry.

Fraternally in Christ and St. Camillus
Madrid, April 21, 2016

Fr. Leo Pessini
Superior General

Fr. Aris Miranda
General Councilor for Ministry