NEWSLETTER N. 69 – JULY 2020
Solemnity of St. Camillus de Lellis – 14 July 2020 Shared Message for the Members of the Camillian Charismatic Family
ALL THINGS WORK FOR GOOD FOR THOSE WHO LOVE GOD
A chronicler of the seventeenth century writes: ‘“Stop! Where are you going? There is the plague in Milan!”
Thus it was that some peasants of the Pavia countryside in the winter of 1594 tried to stop a group of men
who were riding towards the Dukedom of Milan.
After learning about the outbreak of the disease, Fr. Camillus brought together a dozen of his companions
in Genoa and left at a gallop to bring help. “That is exactly why we are going!”, he answered, without slowing down’
In recent days, which have been characterised by the serious consequences of the Covid-19 health-care emergency, we have all been called to address, and after a certain fashion to be reconciled at a deep level with, our humanity. When we employ this word ‘humanity’, we usually do so in a rather solemn and at times presumptuous way. We invoke this precious word, with which we identify, to distinguish ourselves from other living creatures, in the sense of an excellence that we take for granted and have acquired. In reality, this word radically refers to that humus from which we were taken and to which we are called to return, with peace of mind, after following – with humilitas – our journey of humanity.
Accepting our Pauses
The very difficult experience of having to face up to a pandemic such as the one that was unleashed by the coronavirus turned out to be an almost deafening shock: we did not think that we, too, were so vulnerable and so enormously fragile.
We had convinced ourselves that we had won for ourselves a substantial and lasting immunity from fear and from the very human feeling of insecurity.
Absence makes presence more acute: this pandemic has painfully transformed our coexistence with death and mourning. Suddenly, we found ourselves catapulted into a surreal and suspended context in which death was invading every space, thought and discussion, above all because of the fact that we could no longer be at the side of a loved one who was dying, accompanying them in a dignified way, with a whispered word or an exchange of looks.
The pandemic changed everything in an instant. Whereas previously we were habituated to living ‘so much space’ in a ‘little time’, we now brusquely found that we were living in ‘little space’ with ‘very much time’ available to us.
In reality, we sought to postpone this ‘click’ as much as possible: some of us who had always been used to living the whole of our daily lives in line with high rhythms of activity and inter-personal relationships, in our communities as well, lived the sudden experience of quarantine in our own rooms or private spaces. We began to perceive, in our religious or family and professional communities, that in a room, even a small room, we can feel isolated or alone, depending on whether we can manage to give to the loneliness in which we live human and spiritual contents that allow our hearts to be open and not to lose hope. We have learned that loneliness and isolation are not the same thing: we can feel lonely in the middle of a large crowd!
We have learnt to ‘be distanced’ but solidarity, fraternity and sisterhood, and communion between us – between religious communities, between religious institutes, at an ecclesial and/or civil level – have been even more intense, joyous, spontaneous and genuine: facemasks, gloves, oximeters and equipment to measure our temperatures ceased to be simple, albeit necessary, PPE (personal protective equipment) and were converted in our daily imaginations into objects that are given and exchanged between religious communities and Provinces – a symbol of mutual care and support in the daily battle to care for those people who are most frail!
The Perception of Frailty
Behind our face masks as well, with our hands covered with sanitising liquid or enclosed in rubber gloves as well, we have sought not so much to protect ourselves against the other but to welcome the other with words full of empathy that were able to relieve uncertainties; to dry tears of fear, of mourning, of hope; to interpret smiles and looks that sought our participation; to perceive the profound nostalgia of being able to hug, to be able to clasp, in order to affirm again that “I am here for you”, even if a touch, a caress, a greeting do not touch a face or a shoulder but, rather, momentarily, the desktop of a PC or a tablet!
We have learnt to ‘give a new form to time’: we have digested the challenge of passing from a landslide of emotions and sensations to a calm tasting of every fragment of life: we have tarried for a longer time and in a relaxed way in the chapel to pray individually or as a community; we have dwelt more intensely on a particular line of a good book; we have spent more time on the telephone, on skype or zoom, with the desire to know, to comfort, to engage in communion with the person we are speaking to, to become almost their ally, in a context of terrible and shared becoming vulnerable, even though at times we have found that we were without the most adequate alphabet to narrate and transmit ‘joys and hopes, mourning and anxiety’.
This radical vulnerability to which Covid-19 exposed us, without very many mediations, left us with the desire to look into the great mystery of which we are a part, without being at its centre: we have begun, but we must continue with our journey, to reflect on the precariousness of health and life, on the provisional character of the certitudes and possessions that have been acquired, on the reality or the possibility of our own mortality and that of our beloved ones and other people. To engage in introspection is a salutary opportunity! The virus has provided us with a bath of existential realism and reminds us that the tendency to discriminate can rapidly become reversed – suddenly we can become discriminated against.
The feast day of St. Camillus de Lellis in the Camillian communities – 14 July 2020
CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL. (The Covid-19 Emergency)
For recent months, a period marked by fear and a lack of security caused by the covid-19 pandemic, we offer to you a collection of all the initiatives, full of hope and passion for vulnerable humanity, that the Great Family of St. Camillus has engaged in to bring help and comfort to our brothers and sisters who have been going through this difficult moment. CLICK HERE
THE PROVINCE OF BURKINA FASO
‘In Burkina Faso, from 9 March until today, 825 recoveries out of 934 people infected with the coronavirus have been registered. Unfortunately, we have had one of the highest death rates in West Africa (53 deaths) and this means that we have not been resilient enough to the most serious cases because of a lack of resources and qualified personnel’. This is what Father Modeste Ouedraogo, a Camillian who provides service as a medical doctor to the St. Camillus Hospital of Ouagadougou, said to Agenzia Fides when speaking about the covid-19 emergency in that African country. ‘In addition to activity involving information and prevention’, he went on, ‘an isolation room was organised in the medicine department of the hospital. All cases of suspected infection have been brought here and they receive the normal treatment while waiting for a diagnosis that confirms or does not confirm the presence of infection by the virus. The protocol that has been adopted envisages the use of hydroxychloroquine and clarithromycin’.
In the health-care institution managed by the Camillian Fathers, about 900 patients every day are received for various clinical tests. 401 full-time staff and 100 external employees work in this hospital. The central government supports the hospital by paying 50 of the employees. In addition, there is an agreement between the hospital and the Ministry of Health for the implementation of national health-care policies. ‘From a pharmaceutical point of view’, explained Fr. Modeste, ‘we have produced a water-alcohol solution in our pharmacy for the needs of the hospital and the local population. This activity was already taking place before the arrival of the coronavirus and was implemented by Father Luc Zongo, the head of our pharmacy, with the support of the personnel and voluntary workers. During this period’, the religious continued, ‘in agreement with the government, we have made available our centre for bio-molecular research to carry out diagnostic tests. Indeed, this is the only laboratory in Bobo-Dioulasso and it is five hours by car from the capital and this means that cases where people are suspected of having the infection throughout the country have to wait at least twelve hours for the results. Hitherto we have carried out 1,500 tests with swabs. For the visits, furthermore, we are also using the infirmary of the Archdiocese of Ouagadougou which we run together with the Camillian sisters’.
In the meantime in the whole of Africa the number of cases of covid-19 has been growing quickly. ‘To begin with’, Fr. Ouedraogo observed, ‘the reaction of the population in Burkina Faso was one of great fear. Seeing so many deaths in Western countries, everyone asked how Africa would react to such a catastrophe. As always happens when faced with a situation of this kind, the first impulse was to turn to God in prayer. The bishops sent out a prayer to be said in families’. What is worrying is the lack of tools and resources: ‘There is a lack of facemasks and other protective equipment for the population’, this missionary stated, ‘and the number of hospital staff is insufficient; in the whole of the country we have three hospitals equipped and exclusively dedicated to covid-19 patients, but there are only 17 respirators for 20 million people. At the St. Camillus Hospital we have only 6 beds in the intensive care unit’. To this is added the fact that the restrictive measures imposed by the government have created further malaise in a country already afflicted by poverty: ‘Most people’, commented Fr. Modeste, ‘survive by selling something in the streets, hoping to earn enough for a daily meal for their families. This situation’, he declared at the end of the interview, ‘creates apprehension and generates a great deal of fear about the future’.
(Agenzia Fides 4/7/2020)
THE PROVINCE OF BENIN-TOGO
Article in the Osservatore Romano – Hope never dies (15 June 2020)
‘Given what we see and hear about what is happening in the world as regards the pandemic, thank heaven the situation in Benin is not at all dramatic’. This is what Father Guy-Gervais Ayite, the Provincial Superior of the Camillians in Benin-Togo, said to the Osservatore Romano. After the discovery of the first case of infection in the middle of March, the situation today is stable and has involved 305 people infected by the disease, 188 people who have recovered and 4 deaths. The decision of the government not to impose a lockdown was very much debated but this religious explained that ‘it would be absurd not to recognise the extreme economic fragility of these families. Often they live on less than two euros a day and this small sum of money can be obtained only if one leaves home in the morning to go to work. People prefer to die of covid-19 rather than of hunger: unfortunately people do not have a choice’.
Indeed, malaria and malnutrition are the other scourges that afflict the country. Thus during the pandemic local elections were also held on 17 May. Those who voted had to wear facemasks and engage in social distancing of a metre in the voting stations. ‘In a socio-economic context like ours where the worst is really feared’, explained this Camillians, ‘the statistics lead us to have a cautious optimism’. The majority of people who have been infected have light symptoms or do not have any symptoms. The system used to combat the pandemic envisages the isolation of infected people and a prophylaxis with chloroquine for them and anybody who has entered into contact with them. However, in Benin there are very many other problems that almost conceal covid-19: from March until today there have been over 1,350 registered cases of deaths caused by malaria. ‘You only have to go into the villages’, observed Father Guy-Gervais, ‘to see that less than a half of the children go to school because of the lack of economic resources’. CLICK HERE
A SERIES OF MEETINGS FOR THE CAMILLIAN CHARISMATIC FAMILY
The coronavirus has completely changed our lifestyles, habits and ways of meeting people. The world as it was is no longer the world of today and we do not have a good idea of how it will be revolutionised in the future. A new form of contact, in this period when gatherings of direct forms of contact are not possible, is the use of social media. Brainstorming amongst a small group of Camillians gave rise to the idea of cultivating contacts with the Camillian Charismatic Family (the men Camillians, the Sisters of St. Camillus, the women Ministers of the Sick, the Camillian Missionary Handmaidens, the Handmaidens of the Incarnation, the Female Secular Institutes, the Lay Camillian Family, and lay co-workers associated with us and/or who work in our works) through the holding of various meetings online to offer some reflections/thoughts on the times we are going through and the challenges that have to be faced up to.
Every Thursday, starting on 4 June 2020, four talks on formation were given (every week) by: Fr. Arnaldo Pangrazzi, Fr. Giuseppe Cinà, Br. Josè Carlos Bermejo, Fr. Rosario Messina and Fr. Sergio Palumbo
THE THIRD AND FOURTH ZOOM-CONFERENCES OF THE GENERAL CONSULTA with the MAJOR SUPERIORS AND DELEGATES OF THE ORDER (15 June and 16 July 2020)
The Vicar General, Father Laurent Zoungrana, on 15 June and 16 July 2020 organised, together with the General Consulta, the third and fourth videoconferences on the emergency that the coronavirus has created throughout the world.
All the major Superiors of the Order were invited to take part to share with each other the situation as it stood, the initiatives/strategies that had been implemented, as well as the urgent needs of each Province/Vice-Province/Delegation of the Order. All the major Superiors took part in the videoconferences.
This initiative followed on from the letter of encouragement that was sent out on 15 March 2020 to all the religious of the Order and the people who work with them and sought above all to make the Order feel united in a dramatic situation, in the hope that the experiences of each other could help in addressing the epidemic in a better way as well as demonstrating to the sick the affection, the care and the nearness of the Camillians.
The videoconferences were a moment of sharing the experiences of the various local realities of the Order, remembering first of all our religious engaged in their ministry in the front line, those who were currently infected, and the first three Italian religious who died because of the coronavirus.
CROSSOVER is the quarterly bulletin of CADIS. The name ‘CROSSOVER’ was inspired by the gospel of Mark (Mk 4:35-41). Jesus invited his disciples to go to the other side of the lake and immediately a great storm struck their boat and almost sunk it. Fear had shaken them deeply: Jesus awoke from his sleep and calmed the waters. St. Camillus himself went beyond the boundaries of hospitals when he learnt that people were being struck by the plague and were the victims of floods, wars and pestilences. The great courage and the deep compassion of consecrated Camillians emerge specifically during these difficult moments.
THE CHARTER OF CAMILLIAN SOCIO-HEALTH-CARE INSTITUTIONS (CSI)
The Order of the Ministers of the Sick (the Camillians) was founded by St. Camillus de Lellis in the sixteenth century to bear witness to, and exercise, the ministry of mercy of Christ towards people who suffer, and especially the most vulnerable. The Order, which ‘has as its purpose the complete service of the sick in the totality of their being’ (Constitution, n. 43) carries out this mission through a variety of ministries and services inspired by a holistic vision of the human person. To the multiple forms of exercise of the Camillian ministry belong the Camillian socio-health-care institutions (CSI) which are the property of the Order and/or entrusted to its management.
THE PROVINCE OF NORTH ITALY
On Thursday 2 July, at the Camillian Centre for Formation of Verona, the religious of the Province of North Italy celebrated their annual event of ‘fraternity’: this was an opportunity to assess the situation as a regards the life of the communities and ‘our works’ in the context of the health-care emergency generated by covid-19, but it was also an opportunity to celebrate our confreres as they commemorated their jubilees of religious consecration and priestly ordination.
Fr. Luciano Sandrin shared his talk – which we present below – which was entitled ‘VOICES FROM COVID-19: towards a new nearness?’
We are still gradually moving out of the ark in which we sheltered from the flood that struck us. We are still living various forms of anxiety. There is an anxiety of persecution, that is to say the fear of being infected, of the disease and of its risks, which also makes me live my friendships with my friends where they are seen as possible enemies. There is anxiety about the loss of the world, of our habits, of the possibility of living together as we did previously, and we are living a kind of collective mourning for a world that will never be as it was before. Changes will alter, to a small extent or a great deal, our lives in common and we are enveloped in the anxiety of co-existing with the virus, with the risk that the frailest will live the anxiety of whether they will survive and be abandoned, and the strongest will have a feeling of powerlessness and professional death. We cannot start afresh as takes place when a ‘war is over’ because the virus remains a concealed intruder with whom we co-exist.
But whatever the case we are led to leave the ark and like Noah to plant the vineyard of hope, to invest in the future, even if we are not completely on dry land but in an unstable half-way land. ‘What is certain’, observes Massimo Recalcati, ‘is that what we will become has not already existed, it cannot be what we have already been’. And that will depend on us as well, on how we know how to define and express nearness and distance.
On 3-5 July 2020 some confreres of the Province of North Italy met at the Sanctuary of ‘St. Mary of the Font’ in Caravaggio (BG) together with seven young men on a journey who want to know about St. Camillus and to embrace the Camillian charism. The Provincial Superior, Fr. Bruno Nespoli, presided over the concelebration of the Eucharist.
THE PROVINCE OF ROME
On Saturday 27 June 2020, in Bucchianico, Msgr. Bruno Forte, the Bishop of Chieti-Vasto, ordained our Camillian confrere Nicola Maria Mastrocola a deacon.
THE PROVINCE OF BURKINA FASO
On Saturday 4 July 2020, in the cathedral of Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso, Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo presided over the celebration of priestly ordinations which included seven young Camillian confreres: Alain Kabore, Pierre Nare and François Sam of the Camillian Province of Burkina Faso and Webly Lagranade, Maxo Jean Charles, Guilaire-Joubency Blaise and James Jean of the Camillian Delegation of Haiti. Our good wishes to them in the Lord!
Father Bernard Yameogo, a Camillian religious of Burkina Faso, discussed his thesis of his master’s degree in agrarian sciences and the management of natural resources at the University of Florence! Congratulations!
THE DELEGATION IN KENYA
On 14 July 2020, on the occasion of the liturgical feast day of St. Camillus, the Camillian Delegation in Kenya celebrated the temporary profession of three novices: Geoffrey Ongera Nyangwono, Silvester Wasonga Onyango and Denis Onyango Ouma.
On 13 July 2020, on the eve of the feast day of St. Camillus, ACHOKI NYANDEGA Michael and MUTEBI ASHIVAMBO Moses entered the novitiate. The celebration was presided over by Fr. Emilio Balliana, the Superior of the community of Karungu.
THE PROVINCE OF SICILY AND NAPLES
This year the celebrations on the occasion of the annual feast day of St. Camillus, which is celebrated on 14 July, were more sober and essential because of covid-19. Because of all of this, the communications office of the Province of Sicily and Naples intensified its presentation of our saint of charity through the media, talking about St. Camillus and the fourth vow to care for the sick even when there is a risk to one’s own life. Hitherto the following have adhered to this initiative: TV 2000, Telepace, Telepadrepio, Radio Maria, Vatican News, Radio Vaticana, Radio Blu, Famiglia Cristiana…
THE DOCUMENTARY ‘LIVES AT STAKE’
The mission of health-care workers inspired by St. Camillus de Lellis; the hopes of nurses as regards the post-pandemic and the appeal to love in providing the care of their patron saint: this is the pathway of the documentary ‘Lives at Stake’ that was produced for the feast day of St. Camillus de Lellis of 14 July.
THE YEAR OF THE ‘CAMILLIAN CONSTITUTION’
On 30 June 2020 the Camillian communities of Campania and Puglia came together in Casoria (Naples) for the opening of the year of the Camillian Constitution. On 7 July 2020 it was the turn of the Camillian communities of Sicily who met at Acireale (Catania). Both appointments witnessed the presence of Fr. Laurent Zoungrana, the Vicar General of the Order.
THE PROVINCE OF THE PHILIPPINES
The newly professed Yonel Abragan and Kian Condez (at the centre of the photograph) with the two new novices Anicet Bisous Nongkouni and Gwladys Oubda of the Camillian Province of the Philippines. Our very best wishes!
DELEGAZIONE IN INDONESIA
14 luglio: festa di San Camillo a Maumere – isola di Flores (Indonesia). Cinque giovani sono entrati in noviziato ed altri cinque hanno emesso la prima professione religiosa… altri hanno rinnovato i voti religiosi. Auguri!
THE PROVINCE OF INDIA
On the birthday of St. Camillus – 25 May 2020 – and the commemorative day for Camillian religious who were martyrs to charity, sixteen professed of the Province of India took their first religious vows. We wish them very much Camillian charity!
The experts opined that the state is already in the community transmission phase as the number of positive cases is rapidly rising. In most cases, the source of infection is not known, which explains that the community spread phase had already set in not only in Karnataka but also in entire India. The current infections are 9,68.876; the active cases are: 3,31,146, Cured are: 6,12,814, and the total number of deaths reported are: 24,915, as on 16th July 2020. The situation in India is getting worse now, and it would be much worse in the coming weeks and months. We are again in lockdown at Bangalore due to the massive increase of the infections and deaths as well.
Our comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic has two time-frames -immediate and short-to-mid-term (2-9 months). In both time-frames, we are attempting to respond to the two inextricably tied dimensions of the crisis -healthcare and humanitarian.
Our immediate response to this crisis as a two-fold objective –to help mitigate the direct human implications of the pandemic, particularly on the most disadvantaged and marginalized communities in our society, and to support our medical and service fraternity in their response to the epidemic.
Humanitarian aid comprises food kits, Medical interventions, Educational aid, and personal hygiene items. Healthcare assistance includes augmenting the capacity to tackle the pandemic through measures such as generating awareness, protection for frontline workers, enhanced testing capacities, training programs, linkage support, and improved isolation as well as treatment of people with COVID-19. Food, dry rations, and personal hygiene items to 22 thousand people. Additionally, supporting efforts such as psycho-social tele-counseling and online training. Commitment to provide over 50 personal protection equipment (PPE) kits and N95 masks for frontline workers across states.
Our Response: We, Camillians, have decided to provide the following services to the COVID-19 infected and affected with the Government of Karnataka:
- Volunteers to help with burials and dead body management of COVID victims
We have formed a group of volunteers (Fathers, Brothers & lay volunteers) to help with the burials and dead body management of COVID-19 victims. We will make our Ambulance service available for any emergency call.
- COVID-19 Support Team to Build Resilience (Online counseling- (Information, updates & communication)
We have formed a COVID-19 Support Team to build resilience (Online counseling- (Information, updates & communication) at the Archdiocesan level, and we will make our confreres (trained and equipped) for the Online Psychological Support to the COVID-19 infected and affected. We will keep our focus on the Psycho-social-economic impact of COVID in ordinary people and make our trained personnel available for communication.
- Medical Consultation and Assistance Team
We have formed a group of medical professionals to assist the COVID-19 infected and affected for Online consultation with the available medical doctors at any time. They are well prepared and equipped with the details of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Home for COVID-19; Health Warriors
We have also decided to set apart Upasana, (St. Camillus Study House), to accommodate COVID-19 Warriors, that is, Doctors, Nurses & Support Staff after their duty for seven days as self-quarantine. We make this service available until September 2020.
THE DELEGATION IN TAIWAN
In addition, a new ambulance has been donated to ‘St. Mary’s’ Hospital.
A prize of 30,000 euros has been given to Fr. Giuseppe Didonè by a Taoist temple for his works of solidarity..
ADMISSION TO PERPETUAL RELIGIOUS PROFESSION
Fr. Laurent Zoungrana, the Vicar General of the Order, with the agreement of the members of the General Consulta, in the months of June and July 2020 admitted to perpetual religious profession the following:
- Marcin Aleksandrowicz, a temporary religious professed of the Province of Poland.
- Benewende Christian Nana, a temporary religious professed of the Province of Burkina Faso.
- Emmanuel Tiono, a temporary religious professed of the Province of Burkina Faso.
- Pascal Wendinda Nikiema, a temporary religious professed of the Province of Burkina Faso.
- Ange Désiré Ouedraogo, a temporary religious professed of the Province of Burkina Faso.
- Wendkouni Emmanuel Kientega, a temporary religious professed of the Province of Burkina Faso.
- Pandula Goodluck Godfrey, a temporary religious professed of the Province of Germany – Delegations in Tanzania.
- Kihoo Mussa Wilbert Banumtwa, a temporary religious professed of the Province of Germany – Delegations in Tanzania.
- Koulibaly Michel, a temporary religious professed of the Province of Benin-Togo.
- Dieudonné Eyiye, a temporary religious professed of the Province of Benin-Togo.
‘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).
The Camillian confreres of the Province of Sicily and Naples have announced the death of Fr. Francesco Luigi Mazzarella (1937-2020). Read the obituary here.
The Camillian confreres of the Province of England and Ireland have announced the death of Br. Augustine (Pat) McCormack (1925-2020). Read the obituary here.
The Camillian confreres of the Province of North Italy have announced the death of Fr. Giuseppe Barzaghi (1934-2020). Read the obituary here.
The Daughters of St. Camillus share the news of the death of Sr. Modesta Pomilio (who died on 23 June 2020 at the Madre Giuseppina Vannini Hospital of Rome. She was 96 and had spent 67 years in religious life) and of Sr. Doris Milena Torres Sanches, struck down by COVID-19 (she died in Peru on 5 July 2020. She was 67 and had spent 42 years in religious life).
A PRAYER FOR A TIME OF FRAILTY
O Almighty and Eternal God, solace in difficulty, support in weakness: from You all creatures receive energy, existence and life. We come to You to invoke your mercy because today we still know the frailty of the human condition because we are living the experience of a new viral epidemic.
We entrust to You the sick and their families: bring healing to their bodies, to their minds and to their spirits.
Help all the members of society to perform their tasks and to strengthen the spirit of solidarity amongst them.
Support and comfort medical doctors and health-care workers who are in the front line and all those who provide care in their service.
You who are the source of every good, bless with abundance the human family, distance from us every evil and give a solid faith to all Christians.
Free us from the epidemic that is striking us so that we can go back to having peace of mind in our usual occupations and praise You and thank You with a renewed heart.
In You we trust and to You we raise our supplication because You, O Father, are the author of life, and with your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in unity with the Holy Spirit, You live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.
Mary, health of the sick, pray for us!