Serving the sik even in danger to our own life

15/05/2020

Interview with father Aristelo Miranda, general councilor of the Camillian Religious

In the situation we are experiencing because of the COVID, together with Mr. Riccardo Benotti, head of service of SIR (Religious Information Service) which is the information medium of the CEI (Italian Episcopal Conference), we asked some questions to the most exposed  congregations involved in health.

Today, here are Father Aristelo Miranda's answers :

1. How did the activity of your Congregation change in the care of the sick?.

There have been no significant changes except some adjustments in accordance with the national laws in place as a temporary measure/s during the coronavirus pandemic. The Camillians are ministering to almost 40 countries globally in the hospitals, socio-health institutions, chaplaincy and parishes. For instance, In the hospitals, our chaplains are observing all the protocols; patient visitation is reduced but done with maximum precaution beyond the normal one. I have seen some of them administering to the sick don with personal protective equipment (PPE). This reminds me of the Camillian Martyrs of Charity (16th -18th cent.), where more than 300 Camillian martyrs died in serving the people affected by the plagues and pestilence in Italy and Hungary. In a situation of pandemic, we are more challenged to strengthen our commitment in witnessing the merciful love of Christ to the sick person.

2. How many patients affected by Covid-19 have passed through your facilities?

During our last video conference with all our major superiors last April 6, I didn't receive any report of the exact number of patients who are admitted in our hospitals. All our hospitals like in Brazil are prepared with new protocols applied as indicated by the national health department. All our healthcare personnel continue to work in our facilities with adjusted shifts and number of hours of work. 

3. Did your Religious also get sick to treat the sick?

Based on the information that I received, we have around 12 confreres in Italy and Spain infected with COVID19. As of this writing, three (3) of them passed away while the rest are now in stable condition. Those who died were chaplains. Despite their vulnerable condition (advanced in age), they opted to continue their ministry aware of imminent consequence with utmost precaution. 

4. What attention have you shown towards medical and nursing staff?

As I have mentioned above, all the national health department protocols were strictly observed and adopted in our healthcare institutions. Some extra measures were in place in certain localities such as the adjustment to working hours, and the number of shifts. Extra food and accommodation were offered in some of our facilities for those who opted to stay foot in the premises due to fear of stigma or to protect their own families. Our religious render psycho-spiritual help to them and their families. 

5. What does it mean to be a religious with a vocation to take care of people's health and to face a similar pandemic?

To be religious especially in this abnormal circumstances of the pandemic posed me a lot of questions, confusions and reflections. We are challenged to think and reflect on how to live in the concrete our fourth vow of serving the sick even in danger to our very own life. We need to consider a lot of parameters in putting into action without ignoring the very spirit of our commitment. The life-situation and social condition of our Camillian Martyrs of Charity are totally different. There was more risk in those times than today due to the advancement of science and medicine. Though risk is still high today, adequate measures if prudently and properly observed are sufficient. I think the greatest enemy that can possibly stifle the spirit of service in us is our own fear and insecurity. Acting with prudence, determination and commitment is what we need to live our very own witnessing. That action should emanate from our sensitivity to the woes of those who suffered most. Here lies our creative spirit and fidelity wherein one may interrogate himself on how one can listen and respond to the "cry of the poor".