I really don’t think that I can give a good all-encompassing definition of community. I know that it is made up of all types of individuals from all types of backgrounds. Somehow, some way, these people come together and form a unit.
This process of coming together is not a haphazard or spontaneous thing. It takes a lot of giving of oneself. In short, community takes love.
We are a group of men ministering to others, but first and foremost, we are centered around Jesus Christ. The fact that he suffered and died for our sins, and the fact that he is risen from the dead, is the very essence of our community. He is why we live together daily, as a family, we celebrate his redemptive act. His body and blood, the Eucharist, is the living foundation of our community. It is only from this foundation that we are able to move out and effectively minister to the aged, the lonely, the sick and to each other. We search for his face in those we serve.
Our first community was formed in Rome in the 16th century. St. Camillus gathered men around him. Men who wanted to worship together and who wanted to serve the sick together. Although medical practices and the needs of society have changed with time, the basic concept of the Camillian community has remained the same. After nearly 200 years, we still pray, live and work together under the symbol of the Red Cross. Men who freely choose to call each other brother. Men who freely choose to serve others for the glory of the Father.
Deep inside each of us there burns a desire to live as Christ lived. A need to give of self to others. At times this desire may manifest itself as a brilliant, almost uncontrollable source of energy; a need or compulsion to step out in faith and serve the needs of the world. More often, it is nothing more than a flicker; a flame nearly extinguished by our handicaps and shortcomings; our humanness.
To fuel this flame, to discover our inner beauty, to polish and perfect the gifts and talents which lie within each of us is also the purpose of community. More specifically, it is the purpose of formation that period at the beginning of community life in which each of us is reshaped, reformed, re-forged into Camillians – Servants of the Sick.
Formation is a time to bring things together, a time to search deep within ourselves, a time to discover ourselves. It is a time to sit informally and talk things over, and also it is a time to meet and discuss our common goals. It is a time to give direction and a time to receive direction. Now it is within the framework of the formation community that we construct the spiritual foundation that will last for the rest of our lives.
This building of a foundation is not an overnight process. It is a long walk with the Lord. It encompasses every aspect of our lives from a simple cup of coffee in the morning to the sharing of our last days on this earth.
Community allows us to laugh with each other, and it gives us the ability to laugh at ourselves. It is as common as the evening paper and the daily housecleaning chores.
Community recreates us, whether through meditation or common recreation. Community calls each of us from various pasts and asks us to share our future together. Community binds us as individuals under a common symbol; to serve those in need, to serve those who are abandoned and without hope.
Community is answering the call of Christ. A call to go forth and love one another.