THE SMALL HANDS OF AN ARTIST TO CONSTRUCT A HOLY DOOR THAT IS VERY SPECIAL: THE HOLY DOOR OF HOPE IN THE BABY JESUS CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
We all know that the Holy Door of St. Peter’s has a ‘twin sister’ at the Baby Jesus Children’s Hospital. It was not the work of the Tuscan maestro Vico Conforti like the one that was opened by Pope Francis for the Jubilee of Mercy and it was not broadcast worldwide on 18 December 2015 but on the panel below are written the names of the all the little artists who with enthusiasm and application worked to create it.
The patients of the hospital of the Pope in Gianicolo – in Rome – built the Door of Hope with their own hands guided by the teachers of the school which is in the hospital. For a number of days areas of the school were transformed into creative workshops where those children in the cancer and other departments worked on the copper of the panels that portray scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The teachers produced the structure that contains it and which now captures reflections of light at the side of the entrance of the chapel of the hospital. The most important function of the school inside the hospital is not so much to catch up on hours of study lost because of hospital treatment but, rather, to retrieve that network of relationships that was brusquely interrupted by being admitted to hospital, to recover a relational fabric of life and hope. The meaning of the Door of Hope is to provide a vision of the future which in contributing to the general mental and physical wellbeing of the children also helps them from a therapeutic point of view.
, The parents and children who walk down the corridor to the chapel stop and admire the Door of Hope, touching with their hands the reliefs of the panels. Many of them leave a thought in the Book of Prayers. Adults and children ask for health and serenity from Baby Jesus, give thanks for progress in recovery, and intercede for children who are in a critical condition. ‘Jesus make this Christmas being me a good present’, writes Arianna who does not ask for dolls or constructions with princesses but: ‘Heal Francis. I love you’. The phrases ‘many thanks’ and ‘Gracias por mi chichito Samuele’ remind us that the Baby Jesus Hospital is a hospital of international excellence in which a service of cultural mediation is offered in over 35 languages.
The almost whispered wish ‘Dear Baby Jesus, I pray to you that this time things will go right because the child is tired of suffering and I can’t bear seeing him like that’, reminds us of all those situations of suffering which at times, notwithstanding the efforts of medical doctors, have a tragic outcome which only the power of prayer can help people to bear.
The Door of Hope has a symbolic meaning because as one cannot go through it and proceed this is a reminder of what the door represents – something that one can open and one can close. This door gives us the possibility to await something which is beyond the half-closed doors – the reality of Christmas with its message of hope of a new life which is the presence of God amidst His people.
Living the Year of Mercy in hospital is a very powerful opportunity, an extraordinary grace of change. We open not only the doors of the hospital but also the doors of the heart to examine ourselves before the Word of God. Pope Francis asked that Doors of Mercy be opened on the occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee in places where poverty and human frailty can be directly encountered and where there is an opportunity to bear witness to mercy towards our brother and sisters. A hospital, a place of suffering and loneliness, can become a ‘sanctuary’ where we can directly encounter the Love of God and experience charitable service towards our brothers and sisters.
All of us need mercy, gestures of profound love, in order to allow ourselves to be gripped by a God who wants to embrace us as a man does with his beloved, who wants us to return to Him with affection and longing, a God who visits us, comes to us and supports us. How can one speak about joy in a hospital? Is it not out of place to use these terms where there is pain? The Lord says to us precisely the following: it is possible to have joy even when we suffer, above all when we feel that we are not alone, when we feel that someone is sharing our situation with us, when we feel seen as people and not as numbers, when, in a word, we feel loved.
A hospital means an entire people linked together by the theme of pain which everyone feels from near to hand. Mercy is an appeal because, beyond human tragedies, a sick man finds hope of a new world, built up by the Love of God, but also by the generous hard work of every person of good will. Mercy is the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to us. Mercy: is the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of each person when he or she looks with sincere eyes at his or her brother who is met on the journey of life. Mercy: is the way that unites God to man, because it opens the heart to the hope of being loved forever notwithstanding the limit of our sin. There is no more specific setting than a hospital (perhaps together with prisons), where the whole of human frailty is manifested in a concrete way. In a hospital each one of us experiences the human limitation of suffering and pain, at times of hopelessness, but together with this also the grace of God which is able to heal both spiritual and material wounds. This is the setting of suffering but also of fuller hope where medical doctors and patients are committed every moment to searching for the health of the body which is not detached from ‘moral health’: a conscience that is free of the burden of sin and remorse, reconciled with God and with neighbour, also helps the body to recover its integrity and its strength.
On 11 February, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, the twenty-fourth World Day of the Sick, will be celebrated within the context of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
We share with you for the purposes of thought the message of Pope Francis for this occasion which is entitled:
THE CAMILLIAN TASK FORCE – VIENNA
From 4 January to 8 January 2016, Fr. Aris Miranda, the General Consultor for Ministry, with some people who work at the CTF-Central, met at our community of Vienna some representatives of the Camillian Task Force in Europe and also some members of Caritas-Wien to discuss the possibility of setting in motion a coordinated project for refugees in Europe.
TAIWAN – the opening of the holy door
On 19 December the opening of Holy Door of our diocesan Church dedicated to St. Camillus was solemnly celebrated. It is one of the five churches in the diocese of Taipei, chosen as a jubilee Church to be a place of pilgrimage where indulgences can be obtained. At 10.00 the representative of the bishop in the area of Ilan, our Camillion religious brother Fr. Matteo Kao, presided over the liturgy with a procession until the door of the church and with a great participation of the local people and the faithful.
The Christmas celebrations were marked by great fervour in all the ministerial and parish contexts in which we are present: 23 December at the centre for handicapped people and elderly people; Christmas Eve with the singing of the star at the great nursing college; and Christmas night at our churches of Lotung, Hanshi and Sunglow with the celebration of 13 baptisms in Lotung, 7 in Hanshi and 11 baptisms on Christmas day during the celebration, in the district of Tungshan, in the chapel dedicated to St. Camillus.
THE PROVINCE OF SICILY AND NAPLES
At the ‘Viviana Lisi’ House of Hope in Sicily in an atmosphere of fraternity about 30 people in difficulty experienced intense and important moments! The guests of the house were joined by a group of scouts of Ragusa for an experience of service and sharing.
See here the photographic gallery of the Christmas events of our Camillian religious brothers of the diocese of Acireale.
BURKINA FASO – Ouagadougou
Saturday 19 December was a Saturday like no other for the sick children being treated at the Hospital of St. Camillus of Ouagadougou. The children met Father Christmas and received many gifts from him. Many parents of sick children, friends of the hospital, and nursing staff were present to support the children and give them moments of joy.
THE DAUGHTERS OF ST. CAMILLUS
At the religious house of Grottaferrata, the women religious Sr. Mildred and Sr. Marilou – both from the Philippines – made their solemn religious profession during the Holy Mass of the Solemnity of the Holy Family.
Father Aris Miranda, the General Consultor and superior of the Camillian community of St. Mary Magdalene presided over the celebration of the Eucharist, which was also celebrated by Fr. Modest Ouedraogo, superior of the Villaggio Eugenio Litta Centre for Rehabilitation, and Fr. Thomas Haacket.
On the third Sunday of Advent, the Holy Door of Mercy was opened in St. Bernard’s Cathedral, officially beginning the jubilee year, a year of grace in this diocese where Camillian religious have been present ever since its beginnings.
At the St. Camillus Medical Center Quezon the end of the year 2015 was celebrated and the new year of 2016 was welcomed in with a solemn celebration of prayers with the patients and those people – professionals and employees – who take care of them.
THE DELEGATION OF COLOMBIA-ECUADOR
Pastoral visit of the Provincial Superior and the Provincial Councillors
On 12-28 November 2015, the visit took place of the Provincial Councillors (the Province of North Italy) Fr. Bruno Nespoli and Fr. Lorenzo Testa. The Provincial Superior, Fr. Vittorio Paleari, arrived on 23 November.
Annual vocational meeting
Within the Delegation in December, after the various activities involving the promotion of vocations that have been engaged in during the year, a weekly meeting is organised in Bogota, with the invitation of all those candidates who have expressed greatest interest in the Camillian charism and the formation project of the seminary.
During December, 15 candidates were present with whom there were moments of prayer and visits to the various Camillian institutions. We chose 9 candidates who at the end of January 2016 will enter our seminary.
Renewal of religious vows
On 8 December in the chapel of the St. Camillus Seminary, during this meeting, in the presence of the 15 young men taking part, the 10 Camillian temporary professed of the Delegation renewed their religious vows. The religious with perpetual vows then renewed their profession in memory of the profession of the founder St. Camillus and his first companions.
On 16 January 2016 our religious brother and deacon JAVIER ANTONIO PEREZ TEQUIA will be ordained a priest in his home town. The Delegation gives thanks to the Lord and invokes His blessing on this new pastor so that he may always be with the heart of God!
Fraternal and pastoral visit of the Superior General
On 18-27 January 2016 Fr. Leocir Pessini, the Superior General, will be present in the community. It is hoped that this will be a visit of animation to continue on the pathway of renewal and reorganisation according to the proposals of the Camillian Project. In addition, the promise is that it will a special moment to thank him for his multiple presences amongst us over recent years, for his work in the sector of pastoral care in health in the CELAM (the Bishops’ Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean), and for the journey with him as a guide begun by Camillians in the Americas to promote better integration and cooperation.
CURIOSITY! THE PORTRAIT OF ST. CAMILLUS AT THE POPAYÁN (THE VALENCIA MUSEUM)
There is a portrait of St. Camillus in Popayan, Colombia, in the private ‘Valencia’ Museum. He is often described as the saint to be prayed to when there are earthquakes! Sic! We can see with what realism the hands and the arms of Jesus Christ which are opened towards St. Camillus are painted. The nails are still in his hands.
AGENDA OF THE SUPERIOR GENERAL AND THE GENERAL CONSULTA
On 11- 13 January 2016 he met the Camillians of Bolivia; on 14-15 January he will visit the Camillian community of Chile; and on 18- 27 January 2016 he will make a pastoral visit to the Camillians who live and work in Colombia.
From 30 January to 8 February, Fr. Leocir, together with the General Consultors Fr. Aris Miranda and Fr. Gianfranco Lunardon, will be in India to take part on 2 February in the celebrations planned for the canonical erection of the Camillian Province of India.
On 12-18 February Fr. Leocir will visit our religious brothers of the community of Guadalajara in Mexico.
On 21-23 February the Superior General will visit our religious brothers of the Camillian communities of Cremona, Como and Besana Brianza and will end the visit on 23 February with a meeting at a general assembly of all our religious brothers of the Province of North Italy in Capriate San Gervasio.
On 8- 19 March, together with the Vicar General Fr. Laurent Zoungrana, Fr. Pessini will visit the Camillians who live and work in Madagascar, Central Africa and the Ivory Coast.
A CAMILLIAN INTER-CONGREGATIONAL MEETING
On 11 February 2016, the world day of prayer for the sick and the liturgical feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Superior Generals Fr. Leocir Pessini (Camillians), Mother Zelia Andrighetti (Daughters of St. Camillus) and Mother Lauretta Gianesin (women Ministers of the Sick of St. Camillus) and their general councils met at the generalate house of the Daughters of St. Camillus in Grottaferrata (Rome) for a day of spirituality and dialogue about Camillian life and mercy.
‘See, now they vanish, the faces and places, with the self which, as it could, loved them. To become renewed, transfigured, in another pattern’ (T.S. Eliot)
Our religious brothers of the Delegation of Argentina and of the Province of Spain announce the death of Fr. Carlos Ramon Álvarez. Fr. Carlos was born on 28 April 1961 in Santiago del Estero (Argentina). He entered the Camillian novitiate of Buenos Aires in the year 1986 and made his first religious profession on 19 March 1987, the liturgical feast day of St. Joseph. After completing his studies in philosophy and theology, he was ordained a priest by Msgr. Raul Omar Rossi, the Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires, on 7 December 1993. He engaged in various kinds of ministerial activity in Argentina: chaplain at the Cancer Institute Angelo Roffo of Buenos Aires; animator of vocations; and chaplain of the parishes of San Miguel Arcángel and of Nuestra Señora de la Merced in the diocese of Formosa (Argentina). Last November he went to Argentina to spend a short holiday with his family. Health difficulties required him to be admitted to the hospital of Santiago del Estero. On Christmas day he had a stroke and the next day, before another operation for the amputation of his legs, he had another heart attack which proved fatal. Fr. Carlos died at the hospital of Santiago del Estero on Saturday 26 December 2015.
Our religious brothers of the Delegation of Colombia-Ecuador announce the death of the religious Fr. Galindo Yecid Alvarado, who was born in Timana, Huila (Colombia) on 29 March 1978. He entered the Camillian seminary of Bogota on 20 January 1996. He studied philosophy from 1996 to 1998 and the following year began his experience as a novice in Chaclacayo, Lima, Peru. He made his first religious profession in Bogota on 6 February 2000. He then studied theology at the University of San Bonaventura from 2000 to 2003.
After his experiences of religious, community and pastoral life, he made his perpetual profession on 6 February 2005. He was then ordained a deacon in Bogota on 16 April 2005 and a priest in Timana on 29 October 2005. He engaged in ministerial activities as a temporary professed in the hospitals of San Blas (2000), San José (2001), Seguro Social (2002) and Cancerología (2003) and then engaged in a year of pastoral work in Barranquilla (2004). From January 2005 onwards he was a part of the St. Camillus theology community and he also worked in the chaplaincy of the San José Hospital as a deacon starting on 16 April 2005. After his ordination as a priest he was transferred to the San José community in January 2006 as a chaplain in the same hospital and as the parish priest of the hospital parish.
On 15 September 2006 he presented a request to leave the Order and for dispensation from holy orders (15 August 2006). On 16 August he left the community. While awaiting the canonical answer to his request, after various attempts to find a job and to reorganise his life he lived with his family in his home town of Timana. After a long period of illness which forced him for a number of days to be admitted to hospital, on 6 January 2016 we heard the news of his death. He was only 37 years old.
The community of the Daughters of St. Camillus announce the death of their religious sister Sr. Bianca Fiorani who died on 5 January 2016 in the religious community of Brescia, and of Sr. Rosina Minichetti who died on 6 January 2016 in our house of Rome-Torpignattar.
‘Now they live in Christ whom they met in the Church, followed in our vocation, and served in the sick and the suffering. Trusting that the Lord, the Holy Virgin our Queen, St. Camillus, the Blessed Luigi Tezzi, the Blessed Giuseppina Vannini, the Blessed Maria Domenica Brun Barbantini, the Blessed Enrico Rebuschini, and our deceased religious brothers and sisters, will welcome them in their midst, we commend them in our prayers, remembering them with affection, esteem and gratitude’.
THE HOLY YEAR OF MERCY
SALVE, MATER MISERICORDIAE!
The Virgin is portrayed face on with her arms outstretched and he body slightly bending, with a high belt which makes her seem to be expectant. Mary’s feet emerge from the shadow of her skirt extending beyond a step and we find on it the inscription MISERICORDIA DOMINI PLENA EST TERRA (‘The Earth is full of the mercy of the Lord’).
Salve, Mater misericordiae!
With this invocation we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Roman Basilica dedicated to her under the title of Mother of God. It is the first line of an ancient hymn which we will sing at the conclusion of this Holy Eucharist. Composed by an unknown author, it has come down to us as a heartfelt prayer spontaneously rising up from the hearts of the faithful: “Hail Mother of mercy, Mother of God, Mother of forgiveness, Mother of hope, Mother of grace and Mother full of holy gladness”. In these few words we find a summary of the faith of generations of men and women who, with their eyes fixed firmly on the icon of the Blessed Virgin, have sought her intercession and consolation.
It is most fitting that on this day we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary above all as Mother of mercy. The door we have opened is, in fact, a Door of Mercy. Those who cross its threshold are called to enter into the merciful love of the Father with complete trust and freedom from fear; they can leave this Basilica knowing – truly knowing – that Mary is ever at their side. She is the Mother of mercy, because she bore in her womb the very Face of divine mercy, Jesus, Emmanuel, the Expectation of the nations, the “Prince of Peace” (Is 9:5). The Son of God, made incarnate for our salvation, has given us his Mother, who joins us on our pilgrimage through this life, so that we may never be left alone, especially at times of trouble and uncertainty.
Mary is the Mother of God, she is the Mother of God who forgives, who bestows forgiveness, and so we can rightly call her Mother of forgiveness. This word – “forgiveness” – so misunderstood in today’s world, points to the new and original fruit of Christian faith. A person unable to forgive has not yet known the fullness of love. Only one who truly loves is able to forgive and forget. At the foot of the Cross, Mary sees her Son offer himself totally, showing us what it means to love as God loves. At that moment she heard Jesus utter words which probably reflected what he had learned from her as a child: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:24). At that moment, Mary became for all of us the Mother of forgiveness. Following Jesus’ example and by his grace, she herself could forgive those who killed her innocent Son.
For us, Mary is an icon of how the Church must offer forgiveness to those who seek it. The Mother of forgiveness teaches the Church that the forgiveness granted on Golgotha knows no limits. Neither the law with its quibbles, nor the wisdom of this world with its distinctions, can hold it back. The Church’s forgiveness must be every bit as broad as that offered by Jesus on the Cross and by Mary at his feet. There is no other way. It is for this purpose that the Holy Spirit made the Apostles the effective ministers of forgiveness, so what was obtained by the death of Jesus may reach all men and women in every age (cf. Jn 20:19-23).
The Marian hymn continues: “Mother of hope and Mother of grace, Mother of holy gladness”. Hope, grace and holy gladness are all sisters: they are the gift of Christ; indeed, they are so many names written on his body. The gift that Mary bestows in offering us Jesus is the forgiveness which renews life, enables us once more to do God’s will and fills us with true happiness. This grace frees the heart to look to the future with the joy born of hope. This is the teaching of the Psalm: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. […] Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (51:10,12). The power of forgiveness is the true antidote to the sadness caused by resentment and vengeance. Forgiveness leads to joy and serenity because it frees the heart from thoughts of death, whereas resentment and vengeance trouble the mind and wound the heart, robbing it of rest and peace. What horrible things are resentment and vengeance.
Let us, then, pass through the Holy Door of Mercy knowing that at our side is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God, who intercedes for us. Let us allow her to lead us to the rediscovery of the beauty of an encounter with her Son Jesus. Let us open wide the doors of our heart to the joy of forgiveness, conscious that we have been given new confidence and hope, and thus make our daily lives a humble instrument of God’s love.
And with the love and affection of children, let us cry out to Our Lady as did the faithful people of God in Ephesus during the historic Council: “Holy Mother of God!” I invite you to repeat together this acclamation three times, aloud and with all your heart and with all your love: “Holy Mother of God! Holy Mother of God! Holy Mother of God!”
THE EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY