Rome (Italy). On 11 February 2021, the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes, the XXIX World Day of the Sick is celebrated. It “is an opportunity to devote special attention to the sick and to those who provide them with assistance and care both in healthcare institutions and within families and communities” (Message of Pope Francis for the XXIX World Day of the Sick).
This year’s theme is: “You have but one Teacher and you are all brothers” (Mt 23: 8). A trust-based relationship to guide care for the sick is an invitation to live universal fraternity, letting oneself be involved in the suffering of the brother/sister, taking charge of them in service.”
The time of the Covid-19 Pandemic has made people more fragile and vulnerable, and “Yet the pandemic has also highlighted the dedication and generosity of healthcare personnel, volunteers, support staff, priests, men and women religious, all of whom have helped, treated, comforted, and served so many of the sick and their families with professionalism, self-giving, responsibility, and love of neighbor.”
There are numerous religious communities affected by the Coronavirus. The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians is also called to care for Sisters, especially the elderly, in the communities most affected by the Coronavirus. The generous availability of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians favored family care and attention to the sensitivity of the Sisters. The relational aspect is fundamental and allows for the accompaniment of the sick person on a path of recovery, “thanks to an interpersonal relationship of trust“.
Sr. Erica Giuliano, FMA of Mary Help of Christians Community, Turin, Province of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta (IPI), since November 2020, along with other FMA, has been involved in assisting the elderly Sisters of the Piedmontese communities affected by Covid-19. From her testimony, the need for loving care and closeness towards the elderly Sisters emerges, and towards the FMA and the lay auxiliary personnel who carry out their service of assistance.
“I entered this reality as into the current of a raging river, because everyone and everything had to be taken care of. It is important to understand, comprehend, welcome, help to face suffering and fatigue even from the lockdown. Each Sister has many needs, especially the sick and elderly ones who already have other pathologies. Some details are even more valuable than therapy, such as the care of food, attention to the details of the room, so that they experience the family spirit.
There is also attention to the nursing staff: it is important to look at each one, say a word, share a coffee, say thank you, support each other. It is important to say positive words of encouragement to the doctors, the laity who manage to come and lend a hand. We need to help the Sisters not to ‘let themselves go’ and stay close to them.
The availability for this mission was born before Don Bosco’s altar in the Basilica. I felt the call as in the days of the cholera, the strength with which Don Bosco promised, and promises every day, that if I trust Mary Help of Christians I can serve the sisters. Before each departure for a community, I stand before Don Bosco and ask him to give me his trust in Mary Help of Christians, to reach out to the sisters with his hands, heart, prayer.
I feel the closeness and fidelity of many sisters and to those I accompany on their ‘departure for Heaven’, I entrust my vocation, vocations, families, and young people.”
World Day of the Sick is an opportunity to express gratitude to God for all the FMA, for the laity, and young people who have chosen to be close, taking on the wounds of those who are most vulnerable at this time.