Heath and peace to you. The summer months have come to an end and the fall is now upon us – if you are in the northern hemisphere that is! The liturgical calendar is a little less ambiguous: Advent is upon us, which can apply to everyone irrespective of his or her location. Yes, the Lord is near! And He is asking us to prepare and to be vigilant for His coming. And in return He promises to fill us with His peace and joy. What more could we ask for? So let us get busy. Are you preparing? CTF-SOS DRS is.
We have been quite busy – during the summer and now into the fall – with both disaster-related activities and living our Faith during important liturgical feasts. CTF-SOS DRS is now responding to disasters in Italy, Kenya, Myanmar, and the Philippines. Along with these responses we have also been living our faith through celebrating liturgucal feasts that have significance for the Church, the Order and CTF-SOS DRS alike. They include the Feast of St. Camillus (July 14 on the Roman Calendar and July 18 in the US); the Assumption of Mary (August 15); the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14); the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (October 1) and the Feast of Our Lady Health of the Sick (November 16). Why are these feasts important?
St. Camillus de Lellis was born to heaven on July 14, 1550. And it was on August 15 that he understood that the Lord was calling him to form a new group that would be dedicated to serving the sick “as a mother takes care of her only sick child.” And they would do so wearing a red cross - the symbol of the Camillians and CTF-SOS DRS as well.
The cross that we exalt on September 14 is the preeminent symbol of Christianity and the sign of our Faith. When we make the sign of the cross or gaze upon the crucifix we are reminded both that Jesus suffered and died for our sins and that we were baptized into his death - in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Let us be thankful for that; let us exalt the Cross!
By this Cross we have been healed. Thus it is only appropriate that the cross is the symbol of both the Camillians whose charism is to serve the sick and CTF-SOS DRS, whose mission it is to promote integral health in disasters – spiritual, mental, physical and material.
We of CTF-SOS DRS desire to witness to the merciful love of Christ for the poor and the sick in word, deed and sacrament by serving the medical, pastoral and humanitarian needs of people affected by man-made and natural disasters. We are missionaries – like the Lord – missionaries of mercy.
We strive to be like our Lord was on the cross: wholeheartedly present in the midst of human suffering in order to bring about the healing of those who are in serious need. In this we are inspired by St. Camillus, St. Therese of Lisieux and Mary – Our Lady Health of the Sick - who suffered with her son at the foot of the cross and then helped to build His Kingdom. She was a member of the first Christian community – one nourished by the Eucharist and her motherly presence.
The members of CTF-SOS DRS want to build the Lord’s Kingdom. We are preparing for His return! We pray for the coming of that kingdom when we pray the World Mission Rosary. The general intention is “That the Lord in His Divine Mercy – through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary – may build up His Kingdom, make these mysteries a reality in our lives, strengthen us in our common mission, and come to the aid of those for whom we pray.” To effectively build the Kingdom in cooperation with the Order and the Church we are creating a community-based, Eucharist-centered and Marian-inspired disaster relief organization that responds to the signs of the times and is faithful to its origins.
The summer and now the fall has been an exciting and busy time of building. This progress gives us reason to hope and to celebrate the present - a time that is full of promise and product of our ongoing, active collaboration with Divine Providence.
The articles in the newsletter show that our building has included disaster-related activities in Italy (Earthquake – Abruzzo – Project St. Camillus); Myanmar (Cyclone Nargis); Kenya (Kibera – slum); Philippines and Vietnam (Typhoon Ketsana); the US A (fundraising, building CTF-SOS DRS).
In Italy Project St. Camillus has been an opportunity for CTF Central to coordinate a disaster response and to work together with several entities: Caritas, the Dioceses of Pescara and Aquila, Bambin Gesu Hospital and Italian Medical Research to name a few.
SOS DRS in the USA has done Mission Cooperation Plan fundraising appeals in parishes to support this and other disaster relief efforts. For the 2009 fundraising season we were especially blessed by the presence of Fr. Aristelo Miranda, MI and 2 members of CTF Central, Marco Iazzolino and Fr. Paolo Guarise, MI. SOS DRS has also sent people to help in the disaster relief efforts, most notably Theresia Sinaga (Kenya and Myanmar) and Alice Sarry (Kenya).
The relief effort in the man-made disaster of the slum of Kibera is only the most recent in a series of examples of collaboration between CTF-SOS DRS and the Order. This newsletter also offers a look back at other examples of cooperation in Haiti, Myanmar and the Philippines. The relief effort in Nairobi is unique, though, in that it is the first example of collaboration specifically through a pastoral center – i.e. the CTF and Camillians working together at the following levels: organizational structure, formation and disaster relief.
Collaboration at these three levels is consistent with the vision of the CTF Leaders Conference that took place in February 2009 in Rome. The strategic plan that resulted from this meeting has become the road map for the building of the CTF. This is evidenced in the fruit of that conference as indicated in this newsletter: the final statement of the conference; the letter of the conference participants to the Order; the statement of the CTF-Pastoral Centers 1 Conference in Madrid, Spain (July); and the proceedings from the CTF Formation Meeting in Verona (October). Attività/Activities – Recent and Upcoming Action Items - gives a concise summary of what we are doing.
I hope you enjoy this newsletter, the first that we are publishing in a blog format. Let me know. May your reading be an opportunity for you to get to know the identity and the mission of CTF-SOS DRS better and to see how we are building the Kingdom. Join us through supporting our mission financially, praying, and serving with us as we prepare for the Lord’s return. After all, it is Advent – and Jesus is near!
December 8, 2009
I published this piece on December 8, 2008 at the time of our first e-newsletter. Its theme was the Immaculate Conception and my personal history, that of the Camillians and CTF SOS DRS with regard to the devotion. I thought this piece was worth republishing now that we have begun a novena to the Immaculate Conception. Enjoy.
Health and peace to you.
I pray that you are having a blessed Advent, and I hope that your wait for the Lord’s coming at Christmas is Spirit-filled. It was for Mary, Our Mother, as she waited to hold her little babe, Jesus, in her arms.
December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, is a day of great significance in the Church and for the Camillian Task Force – SOS DRS. In the Church we celebrate the salvific event that took place in St. Anne’s womb according to the Father’s will. Mary was conceived without sin in anticipation of her own birth and that of Jesus, her Divine Son. Likewise, in the CTF-SOS DRS we celebrate Mary’s protection of our organization – under the title of the Immaculate Conception. Thus we have chosen to publish the first CTF-SOS DRS e-mail newsletter today, December 8. We plan to publish others on dates that are significant for both CTF-SOS DRS and the Ministers of the Infirm: April 19 (Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter); July 14 (the feast of Saint Camillus); October 1 (the feast of Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus). We hope that you enjoy our newsletters and that they encourage you to become more involved in our disaster relief ministry.
In this issue…
The present issue builds on the CTF-SOS DRS devotion to Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception. This devotion was inherited from the tradition of the Ministers of the Infirm and my own. In the newsletter we look at current, past and planned disaster responses and introduce you to people who have played an important role in the organization – St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Camillus de Lellis – our patron saints. We offer a profile of Theresia Sinaga, our CTF-SOS DRS Indonesian country coordinator. There is a 2008 activities update; news from the CTF Secretariat in Rome; photos and information from the SOS DRS headquarters in Milwaukee; a look back at the disaster relief history of the Camillians (Ministers of the Infirm); and link to our World Mission Rosary intentions. Enjoy!
Why December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception? In summary, Our Lady’s role in the development of the Ministers of the Infirm, the CTF-SOS DRS and my own faith journey has been very significant – providential I believe.
On Easter Day of 2004 in Lourdes, France I consecrated the CTF to Mary under the titles of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Lourdes – Health of the Sick. I consecrated the CTF to Mary on that day in that location under those titles for many reasons. Praise Our Risen Lord that I was able to do so!
It was in Lourdes, France in 1858 that Our Lady said to Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception”. And the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on February 11, which is also the World Day of the Sick. Finally, serving the poor and the sick is the charism of the Ministers of the Infirm (the Camillians), who venerate Mary under the title of Our Lady Health of the Sick. This devotion to Mary started with St. Camillus de Lellis himself, the Founder of the group that was finally recognized by the Church as a religious order in 1591.
There is more though. Mary has interceded for the sick on many occasions in Lourdes and elsewhere. She has also undoubtedly helped the Camillians in their mission and the CTF-SOS DRS in its own: witnessing the merciful love of Christ for the poor and the sick in word, deed and sacrament by serving the medical, humanitarian and pastoral needs of people affected by man-made and natural disasters.
Devotion to Mary Immaculate has been a significant part of the Order since its inception. December 8, 1591 – the Feast of the Immaculate Conception – was a very important day in the history of the Order. It was on that day that St. Camillus and his first confreres made their solemn religious profession as members of the new Order.
Saint Camillus – his first biographer Cicatelli tells us – set his sights on December 8 because “the Most holy Queen of Heaven – through whose intercession Camillus … was converted to God … was already thinking of forming a Society … and had taken steps to do this … she also wished him… to make arrangements for it [professions] only on the day of the Immaculate Conception. This was extremely comforting to all his companions because of their fervent desire to always remain under the perpetual tutelage and most faithful patronage of the ever-Immaculate Virgin.” (Mario Vanti, St. Camillus de Lellis and his Ministers of the Sick, pg. 129).
Members of the Order – of which I am one – renew their solemn vows each year on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. As a Camillian it was wonderful to become a part of this tradition started by St. Camillus, particularly because it resonated very well with my own.
I first consecrated myself to Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1994. And days after my ordination to the priesthood at our family parish, St. Mary’s on the Hill in Augusta, Georgia on November 29, 2003 – I headed north to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC to consecrate my priesthood to her there. I did so on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. For that opportunity I remain thankful.
Yes, there are many reasons why I consecrated the CTF to Mary on Easter Day of 2004 in Lourdes, France under the titles of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Lourdes – Health of the Sick. Praise be to Our Risen Lord!
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – December 8 – is upon us. Today, we bring the CTF-SOS DRS novena in the honor of the Immaculate Conception to an end. Many of you joined us in prayer during these 9 days. I pray that Mary intercedes before her Son to grant your request – if it be the Divine Will. Today, we also publish our first CTF-SOS DRS e-mail newsletter – in Mary’s honor. May She who is the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Lourdes, Health of the Sick – intercede for all us before her Risen Lord and Son.
Fr. Scott Binet MD, MI
International Coordinator – CTF