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Society of the order of St Camillus : Camillians
Founder of the Order

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St. Camillius de Lellis (1550-1614) is the Founder and Patron of the Order. His life marked a turning point in medical care as we know it today. It also marked the beginning of a brotherhood that now spans the world and provides leadership in healthcare through Christian charity and love.On May 25, 1550, Camilla Compelli de Laureto – at almost sixty years of age – gave birth to Camillus de Lellis in Bucchianico, Italy. Camillus was welcomed with great joy, also with much anxiety, for his birth was preceded by a strange dream that profoundly disturbed his mother.

Camillus chose a red cross as the distinguishing badge for the members of his Order to wear upon their black cassocks. Once when he was discouraged, he heard the consoling words from the crucifix, “This is my work, not yours”. After leading the movement throughout Italy, Camillus died on July 14, 1614. In 1742, Pope Benedict XIV proclaimed Camillus de Lellis blessed; in 1746 he canonized him, calling him the “Founder of a new school of charity”. St. Camillus continues to inspire because of his undeniable human nature. A “giant” in stature and charity, his spirit is very much present today in the life of each Camillian.

Camillians in India Camillians arrived in India in 1980 when Fr. Antonio Crotti of the Lombardo Venetian (Italy) Province received the permission to begin vocation promotion and formation in the diocese of Mananthavady in Kerala. The first minor seminary at Mananthavady was inaugurated by the then Superior General Fr. Calisto Vendrame on October 25, 1984. From 1986 onwards Fr. Ernesto Nidini was in charge of Indian mission. Since then, the Order has been growing and has opened many more houses both for formation and ministry in various parts of the country. In January 1997, Camillian Foundation in India became a Delegation, and on July 20, 2009 the Indian Delegation was erected into the status of Vice Province by the Superior General Fr. Renato Salvatore.

Though the Camillian spirituality and charism embraced the Indian soil as early as 1980, it was in 1992 Camillians began to accommodate and serve a few homeless people in a house adjacent to the minor seminary at Mananthavady. The house named Pratheeksha Bhavan was the first initiative of Camillian ministry in India. In this abode of hope the Camillians served the sick, the aged and the homeless till 2006. In 1996, Camillians in Eluru (Andhra Pradesh) began to involve in a ministry of leprosy rehabilitation, but this ministry was switched over to HIV care in 2004.

In 1997, Camillians decided to take the plunge into a radical and distinctively Camillian healthcare action – care and support to people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV). In a context of stigma and taboo associated with the infection, and a consequent denial of hospital treatment and rejection from the society experienced by those infected people, Camillians dared to tread the heroic path of loving and caring for them. A new ray of creative love and acceptance dawned in the lives of many through the instrumentality of Snehadaan in Bangalore, which has the capacity to provide in-patient care for above 50 people. Over the following years, Camillians expanded this ministry of caring to other parts of the country as well. With the opening of Snehasadan in Mangalore, Snehatheeram in Aluva and Snehakiran in Secunderabad, Camillian ministry of HIV care got its wings widened.

Ushering into the care of HIV infected orphan and vulnerable children (OVC) in 2002, Camillians kick started one of its major care interventions in HIV scenario. Snehasadan in Mangalore began providing shelter, nutrition, education and necessary treatments to the children. Later, care of these children turned out to be the focal point, and addressing their various needs and issues a comprehensive care plan was implemented. Responding comprehensively to the needs of OVC, Camillians ventured into developing a new intervention model in Bangalore, with the opening of Sneha Care Home.

The Camillian Pastoral Health Centre, inaugurated in October, 2009, was a new step in the Camillian healthcare initiatives. It aims at animating and promoting holistic, compassionate and humane healthcare, by offering refresher programmes for healthcare personnel and on-going education programmes in value-based medicine. The Indian vice province has not been one dimensional in its ministry endeavours; rather employed a multi-faceted approach to the expression of its charism. Apart from these institutionalized care programmes, Camillians are also involved in chaplaincy ministry abroad, community and home based pastoral care ministry with a priority for the palliative cancer patients, and in jail ministry.

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