Filipina Camillian sister emphasizes the importance of healthcare
By Rechilda Estores
Sr. Benilda Quimio, a Filipina vocation directress shared that the Congregation of the Sister Ministers of the Infirm of St. Camillus in Antipolo City, Philippines, is continuously following the mission and actions of Jesus Christ in taking care of the health of the people in the communities.
“Jesus Christ spent most of His time healing and attending to the sick, and Jesus cares for the well-being of every person,” she explained. “On 23-January 1829, our founder, Blessed Maria Domenica Brun Barbantini and our Patron Saint, St. Camillus de Lellis, continued the mission of Jesus Christ in healing the people and I also follow the same path like them.”
The vocation directress told Vatican News that their charism in the congregation is “to witness the love of Jesus Christ for the sick, and to visit the sick and the elderly people in their own homes.”
Caring for the sick and elders
Sr. Quimio also noted that the Camillian sisters’ charism reflects the Filipino values in the Philippines.
“The Camillian sisters uphold the dignity and sacredness of the person by caring and helping the sick; giving preference to the abandoned and dying; living compassion towards all people who suffer; competence; responsibility; relationality; and communion, which are similar to the values of Filipinos,” she said.
She said their service to the sick and the elderly includes “assistance of those in the hospitals and those people in the homes for the elderly and other health facilities.” She added, “We provide loving care and attention to the sick and all those who suffer, especially the dying coupled with pastoral care of the family, and all forms of assistance to the poor and the marginalized.”
Aside from working for the sick and the elderly, Sr. Quimio said the congregation of Camillian sisters also gives and organizes health orientations and provides food for the poor in the society. “Our congregation also engages in health education for the prevention of illness; we also respond to the needs of our poor brothers and sisters and we conduct feeding programs in poor communities,” she said.
In addition to these initiatives, the Filipina Camillian sister adds that they facilitate formation activities for the children with special needs in hopes of improving their role and participation in the society. “We established a school with a special education program to help the individuals with special educational needs in order to realize their full potential and to facilitate their integration in the society,” she said.
Protecting and nurturing the lives of people
Sister Quimio also spoke about the growing needs of helping the sick and the elderly in the communities.
“We speak here of the value of life; so it is important for everyone to take care of the sick and elders,” she said.
She also highlighted that it was from the love of God that through Jesus Christ we have “all received the gift of life from God and we are on this earth because God loves us,” she said, adding, “God wants to share His life with us.”
Sr. Quimio said that the Camillian charism of the sisters reflects the purpose of God in “sending Jesus to heal those who suffer in body and spirit and to grant us eternal life.”
In serving the mission of Christ, she said, they are able to be an example for young people to follow in taking care of the sick and the old in their communities. “The congregation cares for its sick members, for its old members, and by seeing and doing our activities, it teaches the young people to do the same. It grows in love, compassion in service, respect, and unity,” she said.
She also explained that their mission in improving an individual’s health strengthens the faith and leads people closer to God.
“People with deep faith who contracted any serious illnesses and have recovered have stronger faith now,” Sr. Quimio narrated. She believes that “people who have faith and got better had experienced the healing power of God, and nothing can dissuade them from their faith and trust in God’s healing and saving power.”
Sister Quimio also shared her perspective about the use of so-called “mercy” killing of the sick. “A society that does not care for the sick and the elderly does not care for life and cannot accept the reality of suffering,” she added. “Euthanasia is taking away others’ lives, it becomes an easy practice for others because some people are regarded only for what they can produce.”
Sr. Quimio also said that an individual’s needs have many aspects that must be taken care of, and “the goal for improving one’s health is to have pleasure and satisfaction in all of life’s dimensions of physical, emotional, social, economic, spiritual, and etc.”
She also pointed out that some people are forgetting the importance of God's presence in our lives. “In hedonistic and consumerist era, many things get involves with people’s lives so there is no available space for Him and God is being forgotten,” she emphasized.
In her 36 years of service as a Camillian sister in the Church, Sr. Quimio said that she will faithfully continue to follow Christ in accordance with her faith because she is “called to be a witness of God’s presence and love to all people.”
Sister Quimio concluded the interview by urging the people to have “a deep experience of faith and be transformed through the power of God’s love and mercy.”
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