CTF Leaders Conference
At the End of the Course for the Leaders
of the Camillian Task Force (CTF)
A course for the training of Camillian leaders in responding to emergencies caused by natural and man – made disasters was held at the Generalate House on 12-17 February of this year. The variegated make-up of the group showed that the involvement of the Order in coming to the aid of the victims of disasters can take place through coordinated and multidisciplinary action. Fr. Charly Ricafort, Fr. Zefferino Montin and Fr. Rocco Pairat represented the respective (Vice-) Provinces of the Philippines, Peru and Thailand, which are already actively involved in responding to emergencies; Fr. Miranda Aristelo, Francisco Pratt, Fr. Edgar Yameogo and Malaika Ribolati testified to the role of the Pastoral Centres in formation; Theresia Sinaga, Sherman Runions, Mike Firmin and D’Ann Fisher were present on behalf of the NGO SOSDrs, which is responsible for logistical and financial support; Fr. Paolo Guarise and Br. Luca Perletti, members of the General Council respectively for ministry and missions, made their contributions; Fr. Scott Binet, the international coordinator of the CTF, and Marco Iazzolino, an expert in formation, animated the programme; and Dr. Eva Müenker-Kramer and Fr. Hugues Delétraz SJ (the Jesuit Refugee Service) contributed their experience and their expertise. Because of prior engagements, Fr. P. John Mosoti of the Pastoral Centre in Nairobi, was not able to join us, but his interest and the commitment of his Delegation are guaranteed.
Thanks to their experience, the participants generated the practical contents of the programme and offered suggestions and stimuli for the restructuring of the Camillian response to emergencies. In particular, Dr. Eva Müenker-Kramer accompanied us in discovering an aspect of emergencies that has been previously underestimated but which is recognised as the post-trauma syndrome. This syndrome is characterised by a complex set of symptoms where – side by side with psychological symptoms and disturbances – there are also disturbances of a spiritual nature connected with an inability to respond to the fundamental questions about meaning which accompany extreme situations.
In doing all of this we affirm out deepest identity. Indeed, the first responses to disasters were already evident during the epoch of our Founder. He himself was actively involved in providing relief to the population of Rome, which was afflicted by plagues or fell victim to periodic flooding by the River Tiber, and he did not fail to send his followers where a new emergency had broken out. In these ‘festivals of charity’ the Camillians were able to give the best of themselves, thereby actualising and making fully meaningful the fourth vow by which they pledged themselves on entering the Order.
Down the centuries other organisations have been created dedicated to responding to disasters: they have made an important aspect of the Camillian ministry their own. The fire has always glowed beneath the embers and the Order has never failed to live up to the inspiration and the example of the Founder himself. In a silent and often anonymous way, Camillians have provided service to the victims of wars and earthquakes, to refugees and displaced persons, and we may include here the recent initiatives following the tsunami, the earthquake in Ica in Peru, the recurrent cyclones in the Philippines and the freak wave in Burma. It may be remembered here that between 2004 and 2009 the network of the CTF has responded – and this is something that it continues to do – to fifteen disasters. Still today, where man is severely put to the test by a sudden disaster, the heart of the Camillians is there – beating!
The goal of the course was the promotion of the CTF through structured participation, initiatives at a local level, and specific initiatives. Taking work through a network as a model, sub-dividing tasks and responsibilities, and identifying a sector for specific action (interdisciplinary work), we Camillians will manage to place ourselves – fully qualified to do so and with expertise – in the vast world of associations which are defined by their action in the sphere of disasters. The following steps should be taken:
- The Provinces should activate themselves and create their own modus operandi, beginning with formation;
- the Pastoral Centres should help to train qualified people, above all members of the laity, in the specific sector of Pastoral Care in Emergency, through spiritual and psychological (post trauma counselling) support;
- NGOs should create funds to support activities related to emergencies;
- an authentic coordination of activity should be launched from the centre of the Order.
- there should be membership of the wider world of organisations with a specific task.
At the end of this week we can affirm that we have achieved the following goals:
- The presence of the Camillians in the world of emergencies is the result of a joint effort. The CTF will find its full expression when the various activities of the Camillians enter into synergy, have access to shared resources, are coordinated, and – albeit with understandable logistical differences – offer a ‘Camillian’ response (as regards contents) to emergencies.
- Various agents work to determine what the CTF is and does. During the course, the internal personnel structure of the CTF was established with each member given a task so as to achieve the common objective. The various skills and capacities of the participants are a source of riches for the CTF taken as a whole. After establishing the internal personnel structure, it is hoped that everyone will be given access to the same material and human resources so that everyone – wherever they may be – can offer an effective response to emergencies.
- All of this will be a useless exercise and only something that exists ‘on paper’ if it is supported by a spirit of cooperation. Because of the fact that it is supra-Provincial but at the same time not centralised; because of the various skills involved; and because various elements and factors are present, the success of the Camillian Task Force cannot depart from cooperation between the centre and the Provinces, between the Provinces themselves, and between the Pastoral Centres and the NGOS. For us this is a challenge and a commitment!
- We leave this course in the full awareness that presence in the world of emergencies is an integral part of the Camillian ministry. The CTF is an expression, on the same level as others, of our charism of mercy towards the suffering. It is most deservedly in line with the many activities by which the Order down the centuries has known how to provide a response to the needs of people for health and wellbeing. The recognition of the fact that the presence of Camillians in emergencies is a part of our own ministry means that this presence should be structured and not episodic, qualified, and something that begins with the strategy of each Province, as, indeed, occurs with other ministries.
- The multiplication of emergencies has produced a proliferation of agencies and organisations. At the present time our action runs the risk of becoming linked to good will and not having a specific direction. It is necessary to define the specific character of the Camillian presence in emergencies. From this course the proposal emerged that both religious and lay Camillians should become specialists in the Pastoral Care in Emergency, with special attention to the psychological dimension (post-traumatic counselling) and to spiritual one (questions of meaning).
- In order to make the course bear fruit, an action plan (planning) was established that is directed towards strengthening cooperation, to deepening specific skills in that area of intervention identified as being specifically Camillian, and to structuring the response to emergencies through appropriate choices in the (Vice-)Provinces. The contents of planning include a necessary theoretical basis for the Camillian response to emergencies and the operational models which at a local level will allow Camillians to make themselves present in disasters. All of this will be achieved over the next two years (2009-10).
Faced with the challenge of making the Camillian Task Force a part of the activities of the Order, one well perceives its value and its potentiality. It implements and expresses our charism of bearing witness to the merciful love of Christ for the sick. It places us at the heart of the suffering of man, above all of the victims of dramatic events which not only threaten life but also the certainty that God the Father exists, who is good and loves life. In the attempt to alleviate pain linked to sudden losses, we implement the mandate of our Constitution when it reminds us of our presence near to people at moments of darkness and vulnerability (cf. C 47).
The contribution of the Order to the CTF is the Pastoral Care of Emergency through an humanitarian, medical and pastoral action. Moved by this certainty we walk forward to make the Order capable of being present near to those who suffer in body and spirit because of losses connected with natural disasters and/or disasters caused by man.
The Executive Group of the CTF
Fr. Scott Binet Bro Luca Perletti Fr. Paolo Guarise Marco Iazzolino
A Conclusione del Corso dei Leader dellaCamillian Task Force
Dal 12 al 17 febbraio 2009 si è svolto presso la Casa generalizia il Corso di Formazione dei Leader Camilliani nella risposta alle emergenze causate da calamità naturali e prodotte dall’uomo. La variegata composizione del gruppo ha mostrato che il coinvolgimento dell’Ordine nel soccorso delle vittime delle calamità può avvenire attraverso un intervento coordinato e multidisciplinare. P. Charly Ricafort, P. Zefferino Montin e P. Rocco Pairat hanno rappresentato le rispettive (Vice) Province delle Filippine, del Perù e della Tailandia già attivamente coinvolte nella risposta alle emergenze; P. Miranda Aristelo, Francisco Pratt, P. Edgar Yameogo e Malaika Ribolati hanno testimoniato l’impegno dei Centri di Pastorale nella formazione; Theresia Sinaga, Sherman Runions, Mike Firmin e D’Ann Fisher sono stati presenti in nome della ONG SOS DRS responsabile del sostegno logistico e finanziario. P. Paolo Guarise e Fr. Luca Perletti, rispettivamente Consultori per il Ministero e le Missioni; P. Scott Binet, Coordinatore internazionale della CTF e Marco Iazzolino, formatore, hanno animato il programma. Da parte loro, la Dr.sa Eva Müenker – Kramer e P. Hugues Delétraz, sj (Jesuit Refugee Service) hanno contribuito con la loro esperienza e competenza. A motivo di inderogabili impegni, P. John Mosoti del centro di Pastorale in Nairobi non ha potuto essere con noi, ma il suo interesse e l’impegno della Delegazione sono assicurati.
Grazie alla loro esperienza, i partecipanti hanno fornito il contenuto pratico del programma offrendo indicazioni e stimoli per strutturare la risposta camilliana alle emergenze. In particolare, la Dr.sa Eva Müenker – Kramer ci ha accompagnato a scoprire un volto dell’emergenza, prima sottostimata ed ora riconosciuta come sindrome da post trauma, caratterizzata da una complessa sintomatologia in cui – accanto a manifestazioni e disturbi psicologici – si riconoscono disagi di natura spirituale, legati alla impossibilità di rispondere alle fondamentali domande di senso che accompagnano situazioni estreme.
Nel realizzare tutto questo affermiamo la nostra più profonda identità. Infatti, le prime risposte alle calamità sono testimoniate già all’epoca del Fondatore. Egli stesso attivamente coinvolto nel prestare sollievo alla popolazione di Roma afflitta dalla peste o vittima di periodiche esondazioni del Tevere, non mancò di inviare i suoi seguaci laddove scoppiava una nuova emergenza. In queste “sagre della carità” i Camilliani seppero dare il meglio di sé, rendendo attuale e pieno di senso il quarto voto con cui essi si impegnavano al momento dell’entrata nell’Ordine.
Nel corso dei secoli sono nate altre Organizzazioni con l’impegno di rispondere alle calamità: esse hanno fatto proprio un aspetto importante del ministero camilliano. Il fuoco, tuttavia, è sempre covato sotto la brace e mai l’Ordine è venuto meno alla ispirazione ed all’esempio dello stesso Fondatore. In maniera silenziosa, spesso anonima, i Camilliani hanno reso servizio alle vittime delle guerre, dei terremoti, ai profughi, agli sfollati, fino ai recenti interventi nello tsunami, nel terremoto di Ica in Perù, nei ricorrenti cicloni delle Filippine e nell’onda anomala in Birmania. Serva come dato riconoscere che dal 2004 al 2009 la rete della CTF ha risposto – e continua a farlo – a 15 calamità. Ancora oggi, laddove l’uomo è duramente provato da una improvvisa calamità, batte il cuore dei Camilliani!
Il Corso ha avuto come finalità la promozione della CTF attraverso la partecipazione articolata, iniziative a base locale e interventi specifici. Assumendo il modello del lavoro in rete (network), suddividendo i compiti e le responsabilità ed identificando un settore di azione proprio, noi Camilliani riusciremo ad inserirci – a pieno titolo e con competenza – nel vasto mondo delle Associazioni che si qualificano per i loro interventi nelle calamità. È necessario che:
- le Province si attivino, disegnando un proprio modus operandi, a partire dalla formazione;
i Centri di Pastorale contribuiscano a formare personale qualificato, soprattutto laici/che, nel settore specifico del Pastorale dell’Emergenza: sostegno psicologico (counselling post traumatico) e spirituale.
- le ONG prevedano fondi per sovvenzionare le attività di emergenza;
- dal Centro (sede centrale) parta un vero e proprio coordinamento delle attività;
- ci si inserisca nell’ampio mondo delle Organizzazioni con una competenza specifica.
Al termine di questa settimana possiamo dire di aver raggiunto i seguenti obiettivi:
- La presenza camilliana nel mondo delle emergenze è il risultato di uno sforzo congiunto. La CTF troverà la sua più ampia realizzazione quando le varie attività camilliane entreranno in sinergia, avranno accesso a risorse in comune, saranno coordinate e – pur con comprensibili differenze logistiche – offriranno una risposta “camilliana” (in merito al contenuto) alle emergenze.
- Diversi agenti contribuiscono a determinare la CTF. Nel Corso se ne è stabilito l’organigramma, attribuendo ad ognuno un compito in vista del raggiungimento del comune obiettivo. Le diverse competenze e capacità dei partecipanti sono una ricchezza per la CTF nel suo insieme. Avendo strutturato l’organigramma, si spera di dare a tutti l’accesso alle medesime risorse, materiali ed umane, così che ognuno possa – laddove si trova – offrire una risposta efficace alle emergenze.
- Tutto questo sarebbe un esercizi inutile e solo “sulla carta” se non fosse sostenuto dallo spirito di collaborazione. Per il fatto di essere sovra provinciale ma allo stesso non centralizzata; a motivo delle diverse competenze coinvolte; poiché entrano in gioco diversi elementi e fattori, la realizzazione della CTF non può prescindere dalla collaborazione tra il Centro e le Province, tra le Province stesse e tra i Centri di Pastorale e le ONG. A noi resta come sfida e impegno!
- Usciamo dal Corso con la piena consapevolezza che la presenza nel mondo delle emergenze è parte integrante del ministero camilliano. La CTF è una espressione, al pari delle altre, del carisma di misericordia verso i sofferenti. Esso si pone a buon diritto in linea con le molte attività con cui l’Ordine – nel corso dei secoli – ha saputo dare risposta ai bisogni di salute e di benessere. Il riconoscimento del fatto che la presenza camilliana nelle emergenze è parte del ministero proprio determina che essa sia strutturata e non episodica, qualificata e parte della strategia di ogni Provincia così come avviene per altri ministeri.
- Il moltiplicarsi delle emergenze ha prodotto una proliferazione di Agenzie ed Organizzazioni. Attualmente, il nostro intervento rischia di essere legato alla buona volontà, mancando di un indirizzo specifico. È necessario definire il proprio della presenza camilliana nelle emergenze. Dal Corso emerge la proposta che i Camilliani, religiosi e laici, diventino specialisti nella pastorale dell’emergenza, con particolare attenzione alle dimensioni psicologica (counselling post traumatico) e spirituale (domande di senso).
- Al fine di dare frutto al Corso si è stabilito un piano d’azione (planning) finalizzato a consolidare la collaborazione, ad approfondire le competenze specifiche nell’area di intervento identificata come propria camilliana e a strutturare la risposta all’emergenza attraverso scelte appropriate nelle (Vice)Province. Il contenuto del planning comprende la necessaria base teorica per la risposta camilliana alle emergenze ed i modelli operativi che a livello locale permettono che i Camilliani possano farsi presenti nelle calamità. Tutto questo si realizzerà nei prossimi due anni (2009 – 10).
Confrontati dalla sfida di rendere la CTF parte delle attività dell’Ordine, ne intuiamo il valore e le potenzialità. Essa realizza il nostro carisma di testimoniare l’amore misericordioso di Cristo verso i malati. Ci inserisce nel cuore della sofferenza dell’uomo, soprattutto di quello vittima di eventi drammatici che oltre alla vita mettono in gioco la sua certezza di un Dio Padre buono e amante della vita. Nel tentativo di alleviare il dolore legato a perdite improvvise realizziamo il mandato della Costituzione laddove essa ci ricorda la nostra presenza alle persone nei momenti di buio e di vulnerabilità (C 47).
La formazione e il lavorare nel campo del pastorale dell’emergenza sono il contributo principale dell’Ordine alla missione della CTF, la quale consiste di un’azione umanitaria, medica e pastorale portata avanti dai camilliani insieme ai loro collaboratori.
Mossi da questa certezza ci poniamo in cammino affinché l’Ordine sia capace di esser presente a coloro che soffrono nel corpo e nello spirito per le perdite legate a calamità naturali e/o provocate dall’uomo.
Il Gruppo Direttivo della CTF
P. Scott Binet Fr. Luca Perletti P. Paolo Guarise Marco Iazzolino
Posted on September 24, 2009. Filed under: 2008-06-Typhoon Frank, 2009 Summer-Fall Newsletter, All Posts, All Writing - Susan, CTF Leaders Conference, CTF Network, CTF Philippines, English, Formation, Philippines |
Fr. Aristelo Miranda, MI
A Brief Introduction to the Camillians in the Philippines: The Founders
The Camillians landed in the “Pearl of the Orient Sea”, the Philippines, in 1974. Fr. Antonio Crotti (+), Vice-Provincial Superior of the Far East Vice Province, Taiwan, identified the need to expand the Camillian ministry in the Philippines. He appointed two Camillian scholastics, Fr. Ivo Anselmi and Fr. Pietro Ferri (+), to travel from Taiwan to Manila to study theology at the Philippine Jesuit Foundation’s Loyola House of Studies. Immediately following their ordination to the priesthood, they established the first formation house in Quezon City where they began receiving candidates into the religious life. Years later, they established Our Lady of La Paz Parish in a underpriveleged but well-populated area of Makati City. The foundation of the parish was followed by the construction of a polyclinic. From 1986 onwards, more polyclinics and hospitals were established to serve the medical needs of the indigent on the various islands.
In 2003, the Philippine delegation was raised to the status of a province with two delegations, namely Taiwan and Australia. This strategy enabled the creation of a more dynamic ministry to the sick, including the provision of health care and the empowerment of the sick through Camillian health institutions, community health initiatives and chaplaincy services. At present, there are about 40 perpetually professed Filipino religious in the Philippine province who are serving the sick in the various regions of the Philippines and Australia. It is a pleasure to see so many young and vibrant individuals so eager to serve the Lord!
Disaster-Response History in the Philippines
Natural and man-made disasters are accepted as ordinary occurences in the Philippines. The Philippines ranks number five within the hierarchy of countries that regularly experience major natural catastrophes. It is one of the world’s most hazardous landmasses where volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, typhoons and the like are frequent phenomena. The existence of such calamities made us aware of the need to reflect and organize, with logic and prayer, some methods we could utilize to provide immediate responses to these exigencies as they occur.
In August 1999, a flash flood hit Marikina City where our college seminary is located. Just a few hours after the incident occurred, the St. Camillus College Seminary community in Marikina City, led by Fr. Aristelo Miranda MI, mobilized to provide assistance to the affected families. The team coordinated with the local government to render immediate services, transporting the victims to the large gymnasium which served as the evacuation center. For several weeks the Camillians assisted with medical needs, food and supplies for the center.
The Payatas Tragedy of July 2000 fostered the need for increased environmental awareness. Triggered by heavy rains, a mountain of rubbish at the old Payatas dump in Quezon City eroded and shifted, culminating in a landslide which buried alive hundreds of families and their homes. Fr. Aristelo Miranda MI, Fr. Charly Ricafort MI, Fr. Domingo Barawid MI and some Benedictine Sisters formed an alliance with Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY), an organization that provides assistance to the urban poor. In conjunction with the KADAMAY facility located on the site, the priests and sisters transported the wounded to the hospital, facilitated the distribution of relief goods and meticulously documented the individual cases of victims and survivors of the tragedy.
In December 2004, a flash flood and landslide hit the Quezon province, affecting thousands of families. The Camillians, led by the Commission on Justice and Solidarity in the World of Health- (CJSWH), formerly known as the Justice, Peace and Integrated of Creation – Order of St. Camillus [JPIC-OSC] Quick Reaction Team), responded by organizing a medical and relief goods distribution mission. From that time on, responding to disasters has been the charge of the CSJWH team of the Province. The team is composed of Fr. Aristelo Miranda, Fr. Charly T. Ricafort, Fr. Domingo Barawid, Fr. Samuel Cuarto and Fr. Junrey Ente.
In March 2006, the Southern Leyte Mudslide smothered the entire barangay of Guinsaugon with 28 meters of mud, causing 1002 recorded deaths and leaving 677 survivors. Under the guidance of Fr. Aris, the CTF group of the St. Camillus Hospital Calbayog Medical Team assisted with the medical needs of the evacuation center.
In December of the same year, Typhoon Reming assailed the entire region of Bicol. The CTF of Calbayog promptly organized a medical mission in response. Meanwhile, the CJSWH, led by Fr. Charly Ricafort and Fr. Samuel Cuarto, with the financial support of CTF Central, helped inhabitants to rehabilitate the fishing industry, the primary source of livelihood for many in the region.
Last year, the powerful Typhoon Frank slammed the province of Iloilo in the western Philippines, flooding several municipalities. The CTF Calbayog and our scholastics, in cooperation with the Diocesan Social Action Office of the Diocese of Jaro and the local government of Carles, Iloilo, responded. Services addressing the immediate needs of those affected on the island of Gigantes were provided through a medical mission led by Fr. James Roa MD, MI.
The Camillians implemented other improvements as well. One major development was the creation of a system to document the cases of the victims through the recording of information acquired during personal interviews.
Many of the disasters mentioned originated in great part as a result of human environmental misuse or neglect. For instance, illegal logging, quarrying and open-pit mining left land susceptible to landslides, soil erosion and flash floods. Poor waste disposal practices in garbage dumps contributes to the leaching of toxic wastes into the soil, contributing to soil instability and tainted crops.
Environmental protection and relevant preventative ecological measures have become the “food for thought” for the future of the organization as a necessary part of the formation and advocacy of the CTF in the Philippines.
Reflection on the Rome Experience
The first international convocation of the CTF in Rome last February (2009) was indeed an elevating and unifying experience. It was inspiring to learn that there is, within each one of our fellow Camillians and our collaborators, a desire to integrate and strengthen our efforts, and to be ever-available when man-made and natural disasters occur. The awareness we acquired of the existence of other organizations willing to assist with disaster-relief efforts when catastrophe strikes inspired us with an immense sense of consolation. Some of these entities, now our collaborators, existed even prior to the birth of the CTF. Thus, they have had the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and experience necessary to successfully combat the effects of natural disasters as they arise.
The conference presented an occasion to establish international collaboration and the pooling of each province’s human and material resources. We are not merely an isolated entity known as the Camillian Task Force but a dynamic, well-connected ministry formed for the benefit of the sick and the poor who constitute, in the eyes of St. Camillus, the “heart of God.”
Looking ahead: future plans for the CTF in the Philippines
In an attempt to organize and develop the Camillian Task Force ministry more fully, the provincial administration has committed itself to the creation of an administrative division of the Camillian Task Force in the Philippines.
A base for CTF operations will be established in the St. Camillus Polyclinic, Pasig City. Our regional Camillian health care institutions will cooperate in the establishment of various branches of the CTF within the region. The development, training and formation of CTF volunteers will receive immediate priority. In conjunction with the Commission on Justice and Solidarity in the World of Health (CJSWH) , the CTF will develop training modules for this purpose.
According to CJSWH Philippines team member Fr. Charly T. Ricafort, MI – a full-time social worker will be employed by the Philippine Province and assigned to oversee the project, which will be located in the St. Camillus Polyclinic-Pasig. In the event of a disaster or other CTF concerns, he or she will be instructed to prioritize response to these demands.
The social worker will receive CTF training and orientation to be funded by CTF Central. At the conclusion of the training, the social worker will design a training module for the purpose of educating personnel from our various Camillian institutions regarding appropriate disaster-response strategies in their respective areas.
The CJSWH and CTF orientation modules will be included in the new training modules to facilitate the integration of the new components and to ensure continuity of previous practices maintained within the CTF Philippines and CJSWH alliance.
More photos of CTF activities in the Philippines are available for viewing at: http://picasaweb.google.com/arismir/ISLANDMission?feat=email.
Fr. Aristela Miranda, MI
Susan M. Stefanski, Assistant Editor, CTF-SOS DRS Online Newsletter
|The Catholic Catechism teaches. . . . All men are called to the same end: God himself. There is a certain resemblance between the unity of the divine persons and the fraternity that men are to establish among themselves in truth and love.|
Love of neighbor is inseparable from love of God.
(Catholic Catechism – 1878)
Posted on September 24, 2009. Filed under: 2009 Summer-Fall Newsletter, All Posts, All Writing - Susan, CTF Indonesia, CTF Leaders Conference, CTF Network, CTF-SOS DRS Kenya, English, Formation, Personal Reflections |
My participation during CTF Thailand-Myanmar Mission #2 inspired me with a burning desire to continue to serve the Lord through serving His people. On December 23, 2008, I returned to Indonesia where I spent a nostalgic month with my family. On the 5th anniversary of the Tsunami in Banda Aceh (December 26), we recalled the tragedy with both sorrow and gratitude. The loss of my sister and others during this assault of nature left us all with spiritual scars that only our prayers can soften.
Despite the sadness, the time with my family served as a rejuvenating preparation for the events to come.
While I was in Bangkok, Thailand Fr. Scott asked me to inquire about obtaining a visa to Rome so that I could participate in the CTF Leaders conference scheduled for February 2009. I was very grateful to be considered for such an opportunity, and I initiated the necessary arrangements. After the conclusion of my missionary work in Bangkok and Myanmar (December 2008), I visited the Italian embassy in Indonesia. I obtained the necessary information and forwarded it to Fr. Scott. Brother Luca Perletti in Rome assisted me by sending me an official letter of invitation. On February 5, 2009 I was granted a 3-month visa by the Italian Embassy.
Although my flight itinerary included a trip to Kenya after going to Rome, it was not necessary to apply for a Kenyan visa while in Indonesia. It was my understanding that it would be possible to apply for such at the airport in Nairobi.
Prior to my departure for Rome, though, Fr. Scott had asked me to prepare myself to remain in Kenya for at least one year. I knew this extended stay would present an emotional and spiritual challenge for me. It was not easy for me to leave my country, my family, my friends and my food. I knew, however, that it was God’s will for me to take this leap of faith on behalf of those whose lives I would be enhancing through the service I would offer during the time in Kenya. I also knew that I would be acquiring priceless experience and making many new friends. And I felt that this was what the Lord wanted from me. So with much thought and prayer I finalized my decision to leave my country of Indonesia.
I was quite grateful for the opportunity to attend the CTF Leaders Conference in Rome, Italy – the seat of the Catholic Church. In addition to a desire to serve Christ through my work with the CTF, I was also eagerly anticipating the opportunity to enjoy the renowned artistic masterpieces of the Holy City!
On February 6, 2009 I flew from Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia) to Singapore and then to Rome. I arrived at the airport in Rome at 6:00 a.m.. I was blessed to meet two sisters from Papua, New Guinea who had arrived to continue their studies. Our conversation about Indonesia, New Guinea and spiritual matters infused me with great inspiration, and helped me to agreeably pass some time.
Shortly after I had retrieved my luggage, Fr. Scott picked me up and drove me to the Maddalena, the mother house of the Camillians in Rome. It was a delightful setting. I found the people I encountered there to be very warm and hospitable.
On my first day at the community Fr. Scott guided me through the house and the church. He recounted the history of Saint Camillus de Lellis . I was most impressed by the amazing relics of St. Camillus – including his heart and his bones! Even after hundreds of years, the community managed to safeguard and treasure some of the saint’s belongings such as his letters and shoes.
Following my tour, I was introduced to the residents of the community, and then Fr. Scott and I enjoyed lunch. Those present included Fr. Renato Salvatore, MI (Father General), Fr. Jesus Ruiz, MI (Vicar General), Br. Luca Perletti, MI (Secretary General, Missions), Fr. Paulo Guarise, MI (Ministry, the former delegate of Kenya), Fr. Babychan P, MI (Formation), Fr. Francisco and Fr. Locci.
At that first meal I savored pasta (spaghetti), mushrooms, beans, potatoes and pork – but to my dismay, no rice!! I was initially a bit hesitant about this new food because it was so unfamiliar to me. At home in Indonesia our meals normally always include rice. Nevertheless, I tried to enjoy the unfamiliar dishes. Day by day I became more accustomed to Italian cuisine, and finally I learned to appreciate it – although I continued to miss my usual Indonesian fare. On one occasion I was treated to Chinese food, which was pleasantly similar to the food of my own country.
My purposes in traveling to Kenya were to foster the growth of the CTF and to study clinical pastoral education (CPE) at the Servants of the Sick Training Center in Nairobi. Fr. Scott had been wanting to expand the CTF to include a Kenyan location since 2004. His dreams were finally being realized.
On Monday, March 16, 2009 Fr. Scott and I flew to Kenya where we were greeted at the airport by Fr. Raphael Otieno. He drove us to Bolech House in Nairobi, one of the Kenyan Camillian communities (Dennis Pritt Rd 39, Caledonia, Nairobi, Kenya). Fr. Scott and I both used our time constructively–napping! Fr. Raphael woke us to inform us that we had arrived at our destination.
During breakfast, Fr. Scott updated us about his works and experiences as the CTF coordinator. Afterwards, I once again attempted to catch up on my rest. Sleep did not come easily, however. Aside from the residents, the community also served as a home for seven dogs, three of which were still puppies. They were quite vocal, and their incessant yelps helped neither my rest nor prayer.
This first day in Kenya, March 16, 2009 will be forever imprinted in my memory.
In the afternoon I met Carola who workes as the Kenyan coordinator for Salute e Sviluppo. At 8:00 p.m., Fr. Scott and I met for dinner. We were joined by Fr. Raphael Otieno and Fr. John Mosoti, the supervisor of the Camillian Pastoral Center in Kenya. During dinner and for some time afterward, we discussed our accomplishments as CTF. It was enjoyable to share our activities and our mission with individuals who have similar vocational goals and commitments.
Prior to retiring, Fr. John introduced us to the boisterous canine sentry team, which actually proved to be quite a friendly group when we were properly introduced. Fr. John Mosoti informed us that they were ” the vicious guardians of the community”.
The following morning and each day thereafter, Fr. Scott and I prayed the WMR, spent time with Christ in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and celebrated Holy Mass. We worked, etc and then at three o’clock we met to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. My prayer life continues to flourish in Kenya.
The food in Kenya is unique and unlike any fare that I have ever known On a daily basis we enjoy ugali (corn porridge) that is made from maize flour and is recognized as the Kenyan national dish. The cooks – Adrian, Lilian and Theresia – also prepare pasta and chapati, my favorite. I am thankful for the love and care they show in preparing these delicious dishes.
I attended several meetings whose aim was the expansion of CTF-SOS DRS through collaboration with a network of Camillian entities – CTF-SOS DRS, Salute e Sviluppo, the Camillian Sisters, Fr.John Mosoti (Director of the Camillian Pastoral Center) and Fr. James Wanjau (Provincial Delegate). CTF-SOS DRS is now working together with the pastoral center in Nairobi. We are grateful to Fr. John Mosoti for providing us with an office. CTF-SOS DRS has enhanced the pastoral center by providing internet at the Servants of the Sick Training Center. We hope to continue this opportunity to serve God and people through the pastoral center. The CTF intends to continue to send students to the Training Center for Clinical Pastoral Education and to fund their training.
The Servants of the Sick Training Center s operated by the Camillians under the direction and supervision of Fr. John Mosoti, a Camillian priest and psychologist. I must be honest in expressing that my interest in taking the CPE courses was initially only mild at best. When Fr. Scott explained the goodness that can be accomplished with the knowledge obtained from the CPE curriculum and offered to fund my studies, I finally agreed. I submitted my application to Fr. John who subsequently interviewed me. I also had an interview with Sr. Dervilla O’ Donnel, a nurse and sister of the Medical Missionaries of Mary. The interview was challenging, but I believe I communicated well. Both supervisors questioned my intentions in taking the course and explained the curriculum to me. Upon learning more about the course, my ambition increased and I became quite enthusiastic. I prayed that I would be accepted and for God’s grace in helping me to complete the course. I later continued my prayers that he would help me to persever.
On May 25, 2009 I began my studies -the birthday of St. Camillus! I made a number of friends, most of whom were of African descent. Needless to say, I was the only Indonesian. Of the 13 students, three were priests (Fr. Dominic N’Juve, Fr. Dominic Musyoki and Fr. Thomas Apil), two were Camillian sisters (Sr. Susan Wango Munyangia [1st unit] and Sr. Salome) three were Camillian brothers (Br. Raphael N’ Dungu, Br. Thomas Makori [1st unit] and Br. Gabriel Maina [1st unit]), one was a Notre Dame sister from Nigeria (Sr. Eunice Dagi - (see CTF Kenya-Camillians’ Pastoral Response to Nakumatt Fires in Nairobi), and four were lay people (Monica, Jacqline Njerji [2nd unit], Veronica Biyaki [2nd unit] and myself). Sr. Eunice had already completed two units of CPE training and was present to commence a third unit. Three of the students had completed the first unit and the remaining nine, including myself, were just beginning our studies.
The CPE curriculum includes 270 hours of training in ministry practicum (27 hours per week) and the preparation of a verbatim each week. I was assigned to Kenyatta National Hospital and Mathare Psychiatric Hospital.
Kenyatta National Hospital is a public hospital where I served in the surgical ward. The Mathare Psychiatric Hospital has person who are mentally ill. My greatest challenge was the language. Most of the patients spoke Swahili, the most common language in the locality. The first and second weeks of my studies presented incredible tribulation, and I must admit that I was quite inclined to resign. It was particularly difficult for me to deal with my own feelings and past while listening to the patients recount their sadness, their rejection, their anger and the losses of family members and loved ones. I felt as if I did not have the answers to help them cope with their sorrows. One of the patients, A 15-year old girl, was diagnosed with cancer of her lips seven years ago. She asked me, “Am I going to die?” I was uncertain how I should answer her. After a period of silence I had to admit that I did not know. Her predicament brought me to tears and brought back memories of my younger sister, Anastasia, who died at a very untimely age in the Tsunami of Dec 26, 2004.
I offer thanks to God that my supervisor, Sr. Dervilla O’Donnel, remained by my side during my ministry practicum. Her presence helped me emotionally in numerous ways while challenging me to learn and to become a better human being. My other new friends and Fr. Scott were also a source of support, enlightenment and inspiration. I could not give up because I realized that I was being faced with the reality of life. The experience infused me with a sincere zeal toward my studies.
During the fifth week, I began contemplating the possibility of becoming a CPE supervisor in my own country. I recalled my own despair during my hospital stay following the Tsunami. Nobody was available for the patients to speak with regarding their feelings. My CPE training, in conjunction with my own experiences and reflections, has increased my awareness regarding the importance of providing emotional and spiritual care to people who are suffering: disaster victims, the sick, the poor, the abused. One of my dreams for the future is to open a CTF-SOS DRS pastoral center in my own country of Indonesia. I will pray and hope for this opportunity.
On August 1, 2009 I finished the CPE course. The insights and knowledge I acquired will remain in my heart, soul and mind forever. I would have liked to have been able to register for the next CPE unit, but I will be unable to do so at present,. I have been accepted at Hekima College, a part of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. I will be doing a master’s degree in peace studies and international relations. But I hope and pray that the opportunity to do CPE will present itself again in the future after I have completed my studies.
On the last day that I visited the Mathare Hospital, a patient who had resided there for 5 months poignantly questioned the reason for my anticipated departure. He seemed dismayed that I would not be returning, and he told me how much my presence had helped him. It was wonderful moment. All the patients thanked me for visiting them. Many had been rejected by the family members because of their illness. Despite their afflictions, they are human beings like you and I. And they require the love and support of others. I was happy for the opportunity to personify Christ in their lives. He said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (Matt: 25: 35-36). He was my inspiration throughout.
I thank the Lord for introducing me to the CPE courses through Fr. Scott, for my instructors, and for my friends who have supported me. I thank you, the reader, for your prayers and your support. May God continue to bless us all!
Susan M. Stefanski, Assistant Editor, CTF-SOS DRS Online Newsletter