School of Charity
by Fr. Scott Binet
The CTF Formation Committee had its first meeting on October 20-21 at the Camillian pastoral center in Verona, Italy. The purpose of the meeting was to further implement the proceedings of the CTF-Pastoral Centers 1 Conference held at Tres Cantos, Spain in July 2009. The goal of that meeting was to promote collaboration between the CTF and the 16 pastoral centers of the Order (Ministers of the Infirm) at the level of structure/organization, formation and responding to disasters.
CTF Central sponsored the meeting, and it was hosted by Fr. Angelo Brusco, MI at the pastoral center in Verona. He is the Director of the Center and a former Superior General of the Order. In that capacity, Fr. Angelo established the first standing committee of the CTF in 2001. Its purpose was to put into effect the decision that year of the General Chapter of the Order to have a disaster response organization. I was one of the members of that original 6-person committee and was ultimately made the coordinator of the CTF in 2004. Many thanks to Fr. Angelo for his efforts and foresight in 2001 and his offer to host the 1st meeting of the CTF formation committee. We were also the guests of the nearby Camillian community of San Giuliano, a part of the Lombardo-Venetian Province of the Ministers of the Infirm.
Present at the meeting were:
Fr. Angelo Brusco, MI (Director of the Pastoral Center, CPE Supervisor)
Malaika Ribolati (Doctor in Education, Pastoral Center Staff, Coordinator of Pastoral Center Volunteer Program for Project St. Camillus in Abruzzo )
Dr. Benedetta Bonato (Psychologist, Psychotherapist, collaborator – Italian Medical Research, present at Project Saint Camillus Formation Event in Loppiano, Italy – July 2009)
Marco Iazzolino (Doctor in Education, CTF Central, collaborator – Italian Medical Research, at Loppiano)
Fr. Aristelo Miranda, MI (CTF Philippines)
Fr. Scott Binet MD, MI (CTF Central, SOS DRS, at Loppiano)
Dr. Michele Masotto (Vice-Director of Pastoral Center, Psychologist)
Francisco Prat (Director of Formation – Center of Humanization, Tres Cantos – Spain)
Maria (Student – Pastoral Center)
The meeting was a liturgical, social and CTF network-strengthening experience. It started on Tuesday October 20 with a shared meal at the San Giuliano community and was followed by an update on CTF activities and a review of the full-text of the proceedings from the CTF Pastoral Centers 1 Conference in Tres Cantos, Spain.
Specific agenda items that followed in the afternoon were a review of the CTF distance-learning proposal submitted to the Italian Episcopal Conference by CTF Central and the Pastoral Center in Tres Cantos under the guidance of Brother Carlos Bermejo, MI. The proposal , written in Spanish, was submitted to the CEI and is directed at promoting a distance-learning course at three sites in Latin America (Camillian Pastoral Centers and otherwise). The content of the course is related to the pastoral care component of the mission of the CTF and will focus more specifically on developing counseling skills for helping disaster victims. The participants started to elaborate a strategy to implement CTF formation in Latin America that will likely involve a "kick-off" conference at one of the pastoral centers. It will be attended by representatives from CTF Central, Spanish-speaking centers in South and Central America, and possibly the pastoral center in Tres Cantos.
Evening activities included the celebration of the Eucharist (Fr. Angelo Brusco presided), a shared meal with the community of San Giuliano, and a tour by foot of the city of Verona led by Fr. Angelo.
The event continued in the AM on October 21 with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, praying the world mission rosary and the celebration of the Eucharist presided by Fr. Scott Binet. The topic of the morning session was the idea of establishing and developing a "school of charity" as a vehicle for CTF ministry, formation, and network/community building. The notion of starting a school of charity was first mentioned in writing in the CTF Pastoral Centers Conference 1 document as a goal for the CTF to achieve:
"Together with the Kenyan Delegation, SOS DRS, CTF Central and CTF-SOS DRS Kenya to develop a 'school of charity'. As a pilot project, the school will be an opportunity for CTF members and volunteers to have an intense 3-4 week experience of formation and ministry in a community setting. This school of charity would involve the following areas: liturgy, prayer, learning, common-living, and disaster-ministry experiences in the slum of Kibera. All activities would be directed at helping participants to experience the CTF 'way of being and doing'.
Why a "school of charity"? First, Saint Camillus was said to have started a new school of charity - a new way of taking care of the sick and the poor. The words "school of charity" were used at his canonization in 1746 and what he did in witnessing to God's love was recognized by Pope John Paul II in his message to the Camillian Family on the 450th anniversary of the death of its founder.
"His work at the service of the suffering appears as an authentic school. Pope Benedict XIV recognized the newness of its service given with love and skill, that is, combining scientific and technical knowledge, actions and attitudes filled with that caring and sympathetic humanity which is rooted in the Gospel. In his Disposizioni e modi che si devono seguire negli ospedali per servire i poveri infermi, which he wrote in 1584, he offers insights and advice most of which would be adopted by the science of nursing in our day. He maintained that it was important to consider all the dimensions of the sick person with attention and respect, from the physical to the emotional, from the social to the spiritual. In a well-known passage of his Rule he invites us to ask the Lord for the grace "of motherly affection for our neighbour", so that "body and soul can be served with true love. Indeed, with God's grace we want to serve the sick with the affection that a loving mother is wont to show her sick only child".
"However, it is especially by his example that St. Camillus teaches us how to make the service of the sick an intense experience of God, leading us to seek the Lord constantly in prayer and the sacraments. His life seems to repeat the action of the woman described in St John's Gospel (cf. 12:3). He too anoints the feet of Jesus, present in the suffering, with the precious ointment of merciful charity, filling the whole Church and society with the fragrance of his apostolic zeal and spirituality. Today his witness remains a forceful call to love Christ present in our brethren who are burdened by illness."
Pope Benedict in his first encyclical - Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) also refers to Saint Camillus and his works of charity in the conclusion:
"The figures of saints such as Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, John of God, Camillus of Lellis, Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, Giuseppe B. Cottolengo, John Bosco, Luigi Orione, Teresa of Calcutta to name but a few—stand out as lasting models of social charity for all people of good will. The saints are the true bearers of light within history, for they are men and women of faith, hope and love."
The group in Verona spent much of the morning developing the notion of the "school of charity" - the overall goal, objectives and tasks that would need to be accomplished, financial issues, and personnel-related concerns. There was a consensus to further explore the idea; to develop a concept paper; to move forward with planning for and hopefully implementing the "school" as a pilot project in Kenya.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent discussing whether EMDR, eye movement desensitization reprocessing, could serve as a tool for the CTF in responding to disasters and whether it might be integrated into the work of the pastoral centers. Both of these issues need to be further explored before any conclusions can be drawn. CTF Central is presently sponsoring 4 people to become proficient in EMDR, all participants at the Rainbow Course held in Loppiano in July. One of those, Dr. Benedetta, led the discussion in Verona. Here is an interesting video on the technique. and another on PTSD and the technique in a disaster-setting
Before lunch the group discussed a formation possibility that may arise out of the Rainbow Study that is part of Project Saint Camillus.
The study is directed at looking at the pre and post-intervention prevalence of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] in children affected by the earthquake in Abruzzo. Working together with Bambin Gesu Hospital [Rome], Caritas, IMR, and other collaborators, CTF Central may look to promote what is being called an “international school” directed at discussing the confluence of PTSD, disasters and children in the context of Studio Rainbow, the St. Camillus Project and the entire mission of CTF. Given the scope of the Study, the potential involvement in the study of US institutions and the desire to involve participants from places outside of Italy, the formation event is being billed as an “international school”. The notion is still in its infancy, but the formation committee agreed to develop a concept paper directed at planning for and hopefully implementing the school – most likely sometime in 2010.
The afternoon of the 21st provided for a discussion about how the CTF and pastoral centers can collaborate more closely – at the level of structure/organization; formation and disaster response. Items discussed were the history and evolution of the entity known as the pastoral center in the Camillian world (there are now some 16 pastoral centers in the world, and the first was started in Verona by Fr. Angelo!). Fr. Angelo offered some alternatives for collaboration – approaches that could involve individual agreements between the CTF and a particular pastoral center (like is happening with those in Kenya, Tres Cantos or Verona) or collaboration that is a result of a more systematic approach that might come about if a meeting of the pastoral centers is convoked to explore specifically the issue of collaborating with the CTF. The present collaboration with the pastoral center in Verona was reviewed (formation for volunteers in Abruzzo after the earthquake and the sending of volunteer counselors to help victims. I would meet with some of the volunteers later in the afternoon). Fr. Angelo also indicated that he would look for ways to integrate a course into the master’s program in counseling and for other moments of formation regarding pastoral care in disasters.
The meeting ended on a high note as Father Angelo offered to host another formation committee meeting in the future, and Fr. Scott distributed the recently made t-shirts for Project Saint Camillus. In the end, the event was a very fruitful liturgical, social and CTF-network-strengthening experience.
Saint Camillus, intercede for us.
Fr. Scott Binet
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