“Stop! Where are you going?! There is the plague in Milan!”. This is how some peasants of the countryside of Pavia tried in the winter of 1594 to stop a group of men who were riding towards the Duchy of Milan. When he learnt about the outbreak of the plague, Fr. Camillus put together half a dozen of his companions in Genoa and left spurring their horses to bring help. ‘That is why we are going!”, he answered, without slowing down.
The Camillians have continued their tradition of help and aid in emergencies: yesterday with the plague in Milan, today in the tribulation provoked by the Ebola infection in Africa and the devastation of the earthquake in Nepal!
Nepal was a beautiful and kind country, a sort of lesser India where all the religions continue to live together in a peaceful way, a country lit up by the smiles of its people, who are poor but dignified, and by the amazing splendour of its Buddhist and Hindu temples, of its monuments, of its mountains and of its spectacular nature. Now in Nepal there are tears, corpses under the ruins or on piles of wood for cremation, destruction everywhere, thousands of wounded people in hospitals that are already pushed to the limit and hundreds of thousands of homeless people who urgently need humanitarian help. The government has calculated that so far there have been 6,000 deaths but Caritas fears that there are over 9,000 and the population even speaks about 10-15,000 victims. This is because many villages near to the area of the epicentre of the earthquake of Saturday 15 April 2015 which was 7.8 on the Richter scale have not yet been reached by the relief workers. In addition to the famous Durbar Square of Kathmandu – where every day the ‘Kumari’ appears, the child goddess who has been taught ever since she was young to lead the life of a divinity – very beautiful historic cities have also been destroyed, such as the little town of Baktapur which seems a medieval jewel made to measure for the travellers who used to flee from the pollution of the capital, and Patan, the most ancient of the royal cities in the valley of Kathmandu. In Pokhara, the town that people left from for excursions in the Himalayas, there is still anxiety and panic because of the very large number of mountaineers who remain unaccounted for. Indeed, tourists have also been involved in the drama of the population, as happened during the tsunami of 2004 in South-East Asia.
With what spirit did we Camillians leave on our mission?
The Camillian Task Force, which in recent days has been active in Nepal through the Camillian religious of India, has its roots in the great history of the sons of St. Camillus de Lellis. Since 2001 until today every emergency in the world has witnessed Camillians as protagonists in serving the victims of disasters through support of a health-care, spiritual and psychological kind. Being with people decimated by the typhoon Hayan in the Philippines, and sharing in the daily lives of the victims of Ebola in Sierra Leone, is a part of the approach of an Order that was born to serve the poorest men and women, and the sick, in this sense, are those most in need. In Nepal we are present in this spirit which has accompanied us for four centuries. With Caritas Nepal, which is an expression of the local Church, we decided to give what we do best: to listen and to bring ‘health’ to the victims of the disaster.
What did they find?
The assessment team arrived only forty-eight hours after the earthquake. Our Indian religious brothers left as soon as the communications system of the airport of Kathmandu had been restored. Their eyes witnessed destruction but also a good ability to respond, above all in Kathmandu. They were divided, under the coordination of Caritas, into four groups with the aim of meeting the immediate needs of the villages near to Kathmandu. They told us about impossible roads, long forces marches in order to reach destroyed villages, and about requests for food and medical products. They have a shortage of tents and above all the people are afraid of going back to their homes even where the damage is less marked. The idea that there are have been 10,000 deaths and there are many millions of homeless people corresponds to what one can see. In particular, in the areas of Barpak and Iarpak, which are very near the epicentre of the earthquake, over two-thirds of the houses were destroyed, bringing suffering and desperation. There are signs of hope. The team has sent us photographs of a wedding which was celebrated on rubble. A wish to look to the future!
How will we organise ourselves in the immediate future?
The Camillian Task Force in the immediate future will open a field hospital to serve an area with about 200,000 people. We will seek to care for the sick but above all to avoid possible (although not likely) epidemics which usually accompany great tragedies like this one. Especial attention will be paid to programmes involving psycho-social support which will be developed over time in cooperation with Caritas. Everything will be managed entirely by voluntary medical and nursing staff from India and coordinated by Indian Camillians with the support of the international staff.
Every year, during the second week of Easter, a meeting of the men and women Major Superiors and of the religious institutes that are present in Taiwan is held. This year this took place on 13-17 April. There were 64 women’s institutes present and 42 institutes for men. The Camillians were represented by Fr. Giuseppe Didonè, the Delegate of the Order for Taiwan. The subject of this year was consecrated life.
In the community of Sampran, after the inauguration of the chapel dedicated to St. Camillus which took place of 21 February of this year, various events were celebrated connected with our Camillian religious life: two novices, both of whom are Vietnamese, professed for the first time; the temporary professed – most of whom were from the Delegation of Vietnam – renewed their professions and to them were added three temporary professed from Vietnam. This celebration witnessed the participation of representatives of the Province of Thailand and of the Delegation of Vietnam and a large number of faithful.
THE PROVINCE OF AUSTRIA
Maria Hajnalka Bakó, the secretary of the central committee of the Lay Camillian Family, has communicated to us with joy the official appointment by the Provincial Superior of Austria, Fr. Leonhard Grgotsch, of Don György Imre, a diocesan priest, as spiritual assistant of the LCF in Poland.
THE DELEGATION IN CHILE
Father Piero Magliozzi has informed us that on 29 March our religious brother Pablo Urrutia was ordained a deacon (see photographic gallery); on 15 April, Fr. Pietro, at the session of the Bishops’ Conference of Chile, gave a paper on pastoral care in health and a new group of the Lay Camillian Family was founded in the city of Talca (see photographic gallery).
THE VICE-PROVINCE OF PERU
On Saturday 18 April, at the St. Camillus Seminary of Nairobi (Kenya), our religious brothers Justus Onsare, Oleck Samuel, William Augo and Kitizo Omari made their perpetual professions with religious vows.
THE DAUGHTERS OF ST. CAMILLUS
Mother Zelia and a large group of women religious of the Daughters of St. Camillus followed in the footsteps of Camillus de Lellis at the end of their spiritual exercises. After the greetings and the prayer of the Superior General, Fr. Eugenio Sapori accompanied them on a visit to the Cubiculum, the church and the Camillian museum. Like a large family.
‘The Love that Saves – from the Face of the Suffering to the Faces of Suffering’. This is the theme of the international conference organised by the Office for Pastoral Care in Health of the diocese of Turin and sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers and the National Office for Pastoral Care in Health which will be held in Turin on 22-24 May on the occasion of the showing of the Turin Shroud.
On 19-20 May the conference ‘Brothers by Chance. Reproductive Freedom and the Rights of Children’ will be held in the main hall of the Camillianum. The conference will seek to reflect upon current possibilities as regards procreation and on the semantic variations that are to be encountered from an anthropological, ethical and juridical point of view.
At the Camillianum on 29-30 May a study seminar will be held on ‘Humanism and the Humanisation of Medicine’. This study seminar, which forms a part of the preparatory activities for the congress of Florence, will seek to present the history of such humanisation and the role of the Church, past and present, in achieving social medicine which integrates hospitals and local areas, given the increase in those member of the population who are not self-sufficient and have degenerative and chronic pathologies.
On 12 June at 19.00 there will be a solemn celebration of the Eucharist presided over by H.E. the Most Reverend Msgr. Giuseppe di Falco, the Bishop Emeritus of Sulmona-Valva, on the occasion of the fifty-first anniversary of the going to heaven of the Venerable Servant of God Nicola D’Onofrio.
THE PROVINCE OF SICILY AND NAPLES
On 25-31 May some religious brothers of the Province of Sicily and Naples will be involved in a ‘Camillian’ parish mission at the ‘Gesù e Maria SS. del Monte Carmelo’ Pastoral Unit in Casteltermini (AG). The animation, the preaching and the visits to the sick will focus on the theme ‘The Church at the Service of Love for the Suffering’.
On 21-22 May, at the Teresianum Institute, our religious brother Fr. Luciano Sandrin and the famous Bible scholar Bruna Costacurta will offer a course entitled ‘Forgiveness. The Pathway of Forgiveness and Reconciliation – the Approach of Psychology!’
ROME-THE CHURCH OF ST. MARY MAGDALENE
On Monday 25 May we will commemorate the birth of St. Camillus (25 May 1550) and the first religious brothers who died serving the plague-stricken – martyrs to charity! In the Church of St. Mary Magdalene during the days prior to this event and during the evening celebration of the Eucharist a triduum of preparation will be offered. In 25 May at 19.00 Monsignor Prosper Kontiebo, the ‘Camillian’ bishop of Tenkodogo (Burkina Faso), will preside over the solemn celebration of the Eucharist.
In addition to the above-mentioned commemoration of the birth of St. Camillus (25 May 1550), in the month of May there will also be the liturgical memorials of the Blessed Enrico Rebuschini (10 May) and of the Blessed Maria Domenica Brun Barbantini (22 May), the founder of the women Ministers of the sick of St. Camillus.
We invite you to follow the ‘virtual’ triduum on our web site.
THE CAMILLIAN TASK FORCE (CTF)
On Saturday 25 April an earthquake of a very great magnitude struck the Himalayan area of Nepal causing destruction and death. The Camillian Task Force, above all through our religious brothers of the Vice-Province of India and people who work with them, immediately mobilised in order to offer comfort and health-care and psychological support in the areas that had been most afflicted.
The activities involving assessing the situation and the organisation of humanitarian aid have been intense in recent days. All channels are being activated in order to have an organisational synergy at the broadest level with qualified health-care institutions in Italy and abroad.
For all of the updating follow the page NEPAL EARTHQUAKE ‘
BROTHERS OF EBOLA (CTF)
The work of the Camillians is continuing, in particular through an extension of the presence and work of Br. Luca Perletti in Sierra Leone, to address the fallout from the infection generated by the Ebola virus.
Prevention, blood surveillance and a psycho-social accompanying of the survivors and families are the three new fields of engagement through the cooperation of volunteers who are coordinated by the Camillian Task Force.
AGENDA OF THE GENERAL CONSULTA
Leocir Pessini and Fr. Aris Miranda have returned after their ten-day fraternal visit to our religious brothers of the Vice-Province of India. To them and to all of us they have left a message with the hope that it will be a source for thought and analysis.
On 8-10 May Fr. Leocir Pessini will return to Puglia to visit our religious brothers involved in ministry in Macchia di Monte Sant’Angelo.
The Superior General together with Fr. Gianfranco Lunardon from 13 May onwards will visit the community of the Province of Poland. Fr. Leocir Pessini has already begun this visit by meeting our Polish religious brothers of the chapel of the Hospital of the Holy Spirit of Rome.
On 18-23 May the Superior General and the General Consultors will meet in Warsaw all the Major Superiors of the Order who will receive, as guests, the hospitality of our religious brothers of the Province of Poland. On 21-22 May those taking part in the meeting will visit Krakow, Auschwitz and Czestochowa, in the footsteps of the memory of St. John Paul II and as a moment of fraternity.
We invite you to follow on the web site the daily updating on this meeting.
On 27-29 May the Superior General will take part in the session of the Union of Superiors General in Rome.
ACTS OF THE GENERAL CONSULTA
The Superior general with the agreement of the General Consultors has admitted to perpetual religious profession our religious brothers Antonio Zinni (the Province of Rome) and Henry Bosoen Angupa II (the Province of the Philippines).
An extension has been granted for a year (April 2015-May 2016) to the transfer of the novitiate of Prachamburi to the community of Sampran (Thailand).
Luciano Sandrin has sent to be published a new intellectual work which for the moment is only in Spanish! Psicología del enfermo. El Hilo de la esperanza, Salterrae, 2015, in collaboration with the Centro de Humanizacion de la salud.