“The Order of the Ministers of the sick (the order of St. Camillus), formed by its nature of religious priests and brothers, has as its purpose, the complete service of the sick in the totality of their being” (Constitution #43). Anyone who reads this article of the constitution or makes a serious study of the of life and ministry of St. Camillus, might think that in order to join the Order of St. Camillus one would need to be a nurse, doctor, or other health professional. However, it’s worth noting that St. Camillus himself was not any of these, but he cared with all his heart for those he saw who were sick and in need of care.
The modern understanding of health as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as a “State of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This definition provides us with a wider perspective of the “complete service of the sick and the totality of their being”. Traditionally, the Order has always been fully focused on its God-given charism giving special emphasis on the spiritual care of the sick. Spirituality being the most important aspect of human life plays a significant role in times of sickness, pain, vulnerability and even death. Moreover, health care is related to various aspects of human life which naturally leads us to a holistic approach to sickness placing the sick person at the center of care. This approach, consequently, generates a variety of ministries which do not require medical training.
Many of our priests and brothers are not medical professionals. The Order, however, runs numerous healthcare institutions and health-related institutions, such as nursing homes, care centers, house for destitute, addiction centers, counseling centers, places providing care of physically and mentally challenged persons, orphanages, and rehabilitation centers around the world. Today, in modern times, the Camillians are ministering also in areas where disasters have occurred, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, etc. and where the needs of those in difficulty are desperate for help. Such ministry includes not only health care and spiritual care, but also providing for basic needs, such as food, shelter, sanitation, and relief services and above all a comforting word and presence.
Therefore, one may conclude, knowing the variety of ministry that the Camillians are engaged in around the world, that a person need not be trained as a medical professional to become a member of the Order of the Ministers of the Sick. Nevertheless, if you are medical professional you will have a better competency in the specific area of your ministry.
-Fr. Naveen M Pallurathil MI