‘I believe only in stories whose witnesses are ready to have their throats cut’
(Pascal, Thoughts n. 397)
Truth, Credibility, Witness
In recent days Africa has burst into the news and thus also into our thoughts and our prayers, for two substantial reasons: the spread of the Ebola virus with its sad procession of pain, suffering, death, indifference and loneliness, and the tragic and violent death of three Saverian women religious in Burundi: Bernardetta Boggian, Olga Raschietti and Lucia Pulci.
Perhaps because of excess of self-referral this second news struck me, perhaps because of my love for my home region, sharing as I do with the first two women religious origins in Veneto!
What strikes one is the determination of these three consecrated women which now transpires from so many testimonies. One amongst many is that of the brother of Sister Olga who has repeated what for her had become the very breath of her life: ‘My vocation is there’!
Sister Olga was truly a woman to envy: she had identified the field, sold everything, dug the ground, found the Treasure, and now she lives in true joy (cf. Mt 13:44). Amazement at these simple women, gigantic myths, is all that I feel. I do not tire of looking at them in the photographs of newspapers because they bear within themselves an insurmountable paradox – perhaps the evangelic scandal – between the frail size of their bodies and the forms of women who were by now elderly, and the greatness not of their deaths but of their existences: what should strike and crush us is not their tragic deaths but their great lives spent in joy and free-giving for justice and support for frail life!
Over the next days they will be buried in Bukavu in the Congo. And their bodies will remain for ever in the Africa that they loved, as though over very many years their hearts had put down roots there. This is a common thing for missionaries: however great their affection may be for their home countries, with time a transformation takes place in them, so that their homeland, their true homeland, is in those remote and foreign places that they had first came to very many years previously.
How many times when meeting elderly missionaries have I heard them say: ‘I want to die here’, with the resoluteness of those who know that to that place and to that people, in reality, they by now deeply belong. And if, instead, an illness forces them to go home for ever, you perceive in them the melancholy of exiles. They have left everything, pushed by a mysterious and faithful force within which ‘normal’ logic is overturned: success, and the good that is received in return for action, are not taken into consideration.
In the final analysis, in the eyes of the world, that of Olga, Lucia and Bernedetta is a scandalous logic. They left Italy when they were very young and then spent their whole lives amongst the peoples of Africa. In that land where the vegetation, the fauna, the light of the sun – everything – is wilder, larger, and more extreme than it is here; and where a Westerner, at the outset, looks around him astounded and afraid. And yet in that arcane land and others they set down roots – strong roots.
Inside the scandal of this world turned upside down, the night of darkness and blood of Bujumbura, which is where they were murdered, contradicts nothing. In tragedy and in torment, paradoxically, was completed the journey begun by those three sisters so many years ago, when they left well knowing that they had to take the Cross into account as well. Certainly knowing that verse from the Gospel of John by heart: ‘In truth, in truth I say to you: if a grain of corn falls into the ground and does not die, it remains alone; if instead it dies, it bears much fruit’. In the land of their beloved Africa are they buried: this sign also strikes one, its carnality: they wanted to stay in Africa with their bones, they were thrown into that earth, like a seed. Their vocation continues to be there! And mine…?
FROM THE CAMILLIAN WORLD
Fr. Robert Daudier, the Delegate of Haiti, has communicated to us the temporary profession of three local Camillian religious: Webly Lagrenade, Charlemagne Jean Clermont and Johson Pierre.
Father Joaquim Paolo Cipriano, the first councillor of the Province of Italy, celebrated Holy Mass in the community of Port-au-Prince in the ‘Notre Dame de la Santé’ Church.
From the site www.camilos.es
On 1 September the Lay Camillian Family met to prepare for the Seventeenth Day of the LCF which will be celebrated in the city of Tres Cantos-Madrid on 17-19 October.
The edition of this year wants to propose reflection on ways of cultivating one’s interior life and how to feel and live one’s existence. Antonio García Rubio, a priest of the diocese of Madrid, and Rosa María Belda, a medical doctor and lecturer at the Centro de Humanización de la Salud, will take part in this day. For more information click here
From the site camillianiroma.org
“Although we solemnly celebrated the feast day of St. Camillus on 14 July last, the Vice-Province of Burkina Faso wanted to end the celebrations for the fourth centenary of the going to heaven of St. Camillus with a solemn ceremony on 6 September, during which sons and daughters of St. Camillus gathered around young men and women who had consecrated their lives to the Lord through the profession of vows. Ten religious, six from the Vice-Province of Burkina Faso and four from the Vice-Province of Benin-Togo, made their temporary vows at the end of their novitiates, and three religious of the Vice-Province of Burkina Faso made their solemn vows. We were joined by the daughters of St. Camillus, three of whose religious at the end of their novitiates pronounced their temporary vows. At the same event two religious, Fr. Jean Ouedraogo and Fr. Marc Zombre, and a woman religious, Sr. Généviève Traore, celebrated twenty-five years of religious life.
The Holy Mass was presided over by our own Father, Bishop Msgr. Prosper Kontiebo, in the presence of Cardinal Philippe Ouedraogo, the Archbishop of Ouagadougou and the Archbishop Emeritus, Msgr. Untaani Compaore. The following concelebrated with Msgr. Prosper: the Archbishop of the diocese of Koupela, Msgr. Seraphin Rouamba; the Bishop of the diocese of Koudougou, Msgr. Joachim Ouedraogo; Fr. Laurent Zoungrana, the Vicar General of the Order; Fr. Guygervais Ayite, the Vice-Provincial of Benin; Fr. Paul Ouedraogo, the Vice-Provincial of Burkina; and about a hundred priests, amongst whom our Camillian religious brothers of Burkina and Benin, the Major Superiors of various Orders and Congregations present in Burkina, and a large number of diocesan priests from all over the country.
A road dedicated to St. Camillus in the city of Ouagadougou was inaugurated on 8 September. The city council of Ouagadougou wanted to name after the great saint of charity a road near to the medical centre, a road that has witnessed over the last fifty years, hundreds or perhaps hundreds of thousands of sick people going to the medical centre that is managed by the Camillians to receive comfort and treatment for their infirmities. Fr. Laurent Zoungrana was also present at the ceremony.
From the Blog ‘With the Heart of a Mother
During his pastoral visit to the Camillian Delegation of Argentina, Fr. Leocir Pessini met the community of the Daughters of St. Camillus in Buenos Aires. He presided over the Holy Mass held in the chapel of the St. Camillus Clinic, accompanied by two religious: Fr. Neiber Cabrera and Br. Francisco Benitez.
Fr. Leocir thanked the Daughters for their fraternal nearness and their spiritual presence with prayer during this sensitive moment for the Order.
This was a moment of great joy and spontaneity which promoted fraternity and hope
On 29 September at 18.00 at the St. Camillus Provincialate Compound in Quezon City the twenty-fifth anniversaries of the priesthoods of a number of Camillian religious brothers will be celebrated:
Fr. Robert S. Chua Jr.
Fr. Jose Ft. Eloja
Fr. Aristelo Miranda
Fr. Augustin R.Orosa
Fr. Marcelo L.Pamintuan
Fr . Evan Paul A.Villanueva
The programme organised by the Camillian Task Force of the Philippines to give support to those who survived Typhoon Haiyan is still continuing. In cooperation with the Order of Malta, more than 490 patients have been treated and children from three elementary schools have received psycho-social support and assessment support.
On 22-27 September, in Bogota, at the Camillian Centre for Pastoral Care, a meeting will be held on ‘Formation and the Promotion of Vocations’. This will be coordinated by the Colombia Delegation, directed by Fr. Juan Pablo Villamizar, and organised locally by Fr. Yoni Alberto Paloma and Fr. Luciano Ramponi as regards translations. Fr. Laurent Zoungrana, the Vicar General of the Order, and the Consultor for formation and the animation of vocations, will also be present
Fr. Aris Miranda, accompanied by Marco Iazzolino, will take part in the international meeting on strategic planning of the CTF in Thailand. The Superior General, already involved in a fraternal visit to the religious of the Province of Thailand, will also take part in this important event.
Recently Father John Toai (Vietnam) left Rome to go to Monrovia (Liberia) with the aim of establishing the first contacts within the initiative promoted by the Catholic Health Association, in agreement with the Bishops’ Conference of Liberia, to respond to the health-care and social emergency produced by the Ebola virus.
On the occasion of the fourth centenary of the death of St. Camillus de Lellis, of devotion to Mary Salus Infirmorum (Mary Health of the Sick) and of the Pius Union of Our Lady of Health, the St. Mary Parish of Trivio (Via Ettore Gabriellin,14/16 00049, Velletri) will host the relic of the heart of St. Camillus from Thursday to Sunday 18-21 September. On Thursday 18 September, in the afternoon, the relic will be welcomed and while it is in the church prayer meetings will be organised to be in its presence, when, that is, communal celebrations are not taking place. For more information click here
The thirtieth national conference of AIPAS on ‘The Family in Joy and in Pain’ will be held in Assisi on 6-9 October. As can be seen from the title of this important meeting, the Italian Association of Pastoral Care in Health this year wants to draw attention to families struck by suffering, in conformity with the by now imminent Synod of Bishops which will address the subject of the family.
THE PROVINCE OF ITALY
From the site ‘camilliani.it’
The e-book section of the site camilliani.it was created in May 2013 with the aim of producing small accessible books illustrating to young people and others the charism of St. Camillus and those who have followed in his footsteps. The choice of a digital format is connected with its ease of dissemination, especially amongst the young, its rapidity of publication, and the fact that no payment is made. To the first title ‘St. Camillus and the Blessed Camillians’ have been added prayer books, theological and pastoral reflections, and booklets for workers and patients, and we are gradually enriching the list of publications. In a little over fifteen months 9,700 books have been downloaded.
By clicking here you can download the new Teaching Programme for the academic year 2014/2015 in PDF of the Camillianum International Institute for the Theology of Pastoral Care in Health, which is affiliated to the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Lateran University
AGENDA DEL SUPERIORE GENERALE
During his last visit to Brazil, Fr. Pessini officially brought to a close the handing over of canon and civil powers to the new Provincial Superior, Fr. Antonio Mendez Freitas, and to the new Provincial Council.
From Tuesday 23 September the Superior General will be in Thailand, on the occasion of the international meeting on strategic planning organised by the Camillian Task Force, and he will subsequently meet our religious brothers of the Delegation of Vietnam for a fraternal visit
NOMINE DELLA CONSULTA
Leocir PESSINI, with the agreement of the General Consulta, after consulting the vocals of the Province of Brazil and listening to the opinion of the Provincial Superior, appointed the following religious Councillors of the Province of Brazil:
KOZIK Mario Luis (first Councillor)
LIMA Joào Batista.
Thanking them for their generous readiness to help, we wish them fruitful work. Fraternally in Christ.