Meeting of the Camillian Chaplains in Spain

The Spanish Province joyfully celebrated the meeting of the Camillian chaplains in Spain on Tuesday, February 27, 2024, at the Camillian community in Seville. The aim of the gathering was to share the charismatic passion for spiritual assistance in chaplaincies and to revive the most authentic motivations.

The meeting, organized by Brother Long Dinh Tran, first councillor and provincial treasurer, and with the presence of the provincial superior, Brother José Carlos Bermejo, saw the participation of religious from different communities: Barcelona (Father Mathew and Brother Félix), San Pere de Ribes (Father Thuong John), Valencia (Father Agustín and Father Casimir), Seville (Father Allan and Father Isaac, together with Father Jesús Zurbano and Brother Jacinto), and Tres Cantos (Father Alphonse, Father Joseph, and Father Arnaldo who also collaborates in the spiritual assistance service at the San Camillo Center, and presented the morning reflection).
We began our meeting with the morning prayer of Lauds together with the religious of the community, thanking God for the life of Father Joaquín, on his ninety-seventh birthday.

The day started with the greeting of the Provincial Superior, Brother José Carlos Bermejo, who remembered all the Camillian religious serving in chaplaincies, but who, for various reasons, could not be present. He also thanked the participants for their service and availability in the province, emphasizing that many of them hold additional roles, such as superiors, treasurers, formators, and assistants. He emphasized spiritual accompaniment as a “human privilege,” fundamental for connecting with the suffering of people: the sick, family members, and healthcare workers. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of this service in relation to other medical specialties, recalling the essence of the ministry contained in the Constitution and General Statutes of the Order.

Subsequently, Father Arnaldo Pangrazzi led the first morning session with a reflection on “The mission and roles of the chaplain in the tradition of the Camillian charism,” sharing his experiences as a chaplain both in the United States and in the Palliative Care Unit and Assistance Center in Tres Cantos. In his reflection, he highlighted the importance of service within the context of following St. Camillus, who urged to care with the same love with which a mother cares for her only sick child, and he reminded that the sick are teachers and evangelizers.

Moreover, he identified the recipients of the service in hospitals: the sick, family members, healthcare staff, institutional communities, and volunteers. Faced with the complexity of the current situation for the Church, he called the Camillian religious to be lights in the midst of the darkness of pain, imitating the example of Jesus, physician of bodies and souls. Additionally, he emphasized a list of both positive and negative roles that can be experienced in the service as chaplains, encouraging to avoid those such as ‘devotionism’, individualism, clericalism, paternalism, formalism, and sacramentalism, while purifying motivations.
In the second session, Father Arnaldo invited us to contemplate the faces of suffering and the ministry of consolation, highlighting the importance of understanding and embracing our own wounds, as well as the relevance of presence, visitation, and continuous learning of the art of listening.

After the first part and before lunch, we celebrated the Eucharist presided over by Father Arnaldo, during which we remembered all the deceased Camillian religious of our province who dedicated their lives to the service of the sick through chaplaincies.
In the afternoon, the meeting continued with the exchange of ministerial experiences of the religious in chaplaincies, highlighting the positive aspects, negatives, and challenges that we face as Camillians in this ministry.

Before concluding, once again the Provincial Superior renewed his gratitude to the participants in the meeting, to Father Arnaldo for his reflection, to the community of Seville for hosting the meeting, and to all the provinces with which we currently have interprovincial agreements, whose religious collaborate as chaplains and in other ministries in the service of the life and ministry of the Province. He also provided some updated information on the life of the religious and the delegation in Argentina.

We thank God for this fraternal meeting, of sharing experiences and prayer, hoping that we continue to be witnesses of Christ’s merciful love towards the sick, following in the footsteps of St. Camillus.