On May 25, the Camillians celebrated the 468th birth anniversary of their founder St. Camillus and the feast of the Camillian religious Martyrs of Charity. From Indonesia to Burkina Faso, to the Philippines, Australia, and Brazil, several celebrations were held in honor of St. Camillus and the religious who offered their lives for Christ in serving their sick brothers.
In Rome, at the Generalate at Piazza della Maddalena, the Camillian Disaster Service International (CADIS) Foundation organized a conference on "Being martyrs of charity to our time: in the school of the martyrs of charity for a revitalization of the fourth vote. About fifty people participated in this conference and among them are the General Superiors of the Ministers of the Sick of St. Camillus (Mo. Lauretta Gianesin), the Handmaids of the Incarnation (Mo. Beniamina Sbarbati), and the Ministers of the Sick (Fr. Leocir Pessini); the Honorable Member of the Italian parliament Alessandro Pagano, and Marie-Christine Brocherieux, president of the Lay Camillian Family International.
Fr. Leocir welcomed the participants to the conference. Br. Jose Ignacio Santaolalla, president of CADIS, also gave his greetings to the participants by highlighting the mission of this foundation of the Order which is to "implement, direct and coordinate initiatives to help victims of natural disasters or disasters caused by human action anywhere in the world." This is in keeping with the Camillian tradition of intervening and bringing help to those affected by epidemics, pestilence, war, famine, and other disasters in places where these victims are found.
Then it was followed by a presentation of Fr. Aris Miranda, the director of CADIS, on the vision and mission of CADIS and the objectives of the celebration of the feast of the martyrs of charity. In his speech, the director has focused on the very reasons for celebrating this day all over the world. The main objectives are to remember, to celebrate and to imitate.
Remembering means "to investigate, learn, and create a connection to live the great lessons of the past in the present. In our search for our charismatic and Christian identity and belongingness to the Order, the memory of this heroic tradition is an essential aspect of our prophetic heritage. The heroic act, the enthusiasm and availability of our confreres to accept death in serving the sick in the name of our Lord, must influence our way of offering ourselves to service and witness."
Celebrating means "to highlight the values of authentic, heroic action, of the person and a particular historical event; highlighting the values of solidarity, commitment, generosity, self-denial, fraternal love to the most vulnerable, the predilection of the poorest. These values are the “veins and nerves” of our projects, which nurture and support our vitality, radicality, and relevance in the midst of rapidly changing social conditions."
And finally, imitating, which means, to expose ourselves to the teachings and values that help us to live our witnessing to Christ's merciful love in an ever more accurate, relevant and significant way.
After the development of these three important objectives, he invited everyone to creative fidelity, considering that the current situation no longer presents ample opportunities to exercise our fourth vow as St. Camillus did and the martyrs of charity have lived.
Fr Aris also explained the vision of the foundation which is “fullness of life in a resilient community" that reinforces the principle of sustainable development. It is a human development which recognizes the human dignity innate in all, a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. This vision will become a reality through CADIS 4Rs - the theory of the transformation of individuals and communities affected by a disaster which stand for RELIEF, RECOVERY, RESILIENCE, and RIGHTS. This approach follows the disaster management cycle.
To support this vision especially in the event of a disaster, Fr. Aris invited those present in the conference and like-minded persons to support the campaign for CADIS 25 Emergency Fund. The objective of this campaign is to raise funds for timely and efficient emergency response and which will enable the religious to participate and own it as part of their ordinary ministry.
P. Giuseppe Cinà, in his speech to the theme of "the Camillians martyrs of charity" explained the institution and the meaning of the day dedicated to the "religious who sacrificed their lives on the altar of assistance to the sick" according to the expression of Fr. Angelo Brusco, the former general superior.
According to him, the institution of the celebration of the Camillian martyrs of charity means " actualizing, and making present an event of the past". “The very purpose is the deepening of one's own charismatic identity, by a more penetrative and qualified, personal and communitarian understanding of our Camillian consecration, and thus our mission. If it is the fourth vow that determines and characterizes our religious consecration, the "remembering" of those confreres who have enjoyed the divine favor of being able to exercise this vow at the risk of their lives even to the point of losing it, becomes a provocation to our being a Camillian today.” And the institution of this event according to him "is in wanting to somehow mimic those religious in a certain way, not slavish and repetitive but in a personal and creative way, responding to the changing social, cultural and religious conditions of the time. Moreover, Fr. Cinà considers CADIS as an opportunity to live and imitate those religious who "have made the Camillian charism shine with bright light."
Br. Luca Perletti, the second speaker, shared his experience and engagement with CADIS, formerly, the Camillian Task Force (CTF). He developed the theme on "Camillian charism, the fourth vow, and CADIS." He tried to show our presence in a multiplicity of forms and interventions to natural calamities. He asked: “Is this not a real expression of the charism and of living the totality of the fourth vow?” Introducing the audience to the history of the early years of the Order, he affirms that St. Camillus himself can be considered the initiator of CADIS while referring to the many paintings which represent the holy founder and his intentions and commitment to rescue the victims of pestilence in Rome by carrying the flood victims of Tiber to safety. Referring to the book The Diakonia of Charity by Fr. E. Spogli, Br. Luca confirms that despite the difficulties that the Order went through in its history, the calamities knew how to solidify and reawaken the consciousness of the religious to their charism, stimulating them to a contest of making themselves available to offer their service to the victims. In the light of the above thoughts, Bro. Luca, the former director of CTF, believes that CADIS is part of the Camillian charism re-enlivening its roots in history by reproducing in its actions the traits of a merciful, flexible and creative God and having the local church as always its point of reference.
Msgr. Bruno-Marie Duffè, the Secretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, presented his discourse on the Church that Goes Forth, in the light of the "Laudato Si." In his speech, he emphasized the importance of the dynamics of “going forth.” To “go out” means to meet the other, the people who are suffering; to be close to the poor, to touch and be touched. It is in this exchange that a church is built for the poor and the mother nature, a church that knows how to listen to the cry of the poor and that of the earth, a cry that the Camillians by living their fourth vow must know how to listen and to respond.
The conference ended with the brief video-screening of the experience of a volunteer couple (Sara and Giovanni) of CADIS in Ranja, Haiti. Then, the CADIS director expressed words of gratitude and wished to the 2019 celebration of the feast of the Martyrs of Charity.