History of the lay camillan family

fr. Frank Monks

One of the branches of the tree – which St. Camillus called his “little plant” – is called

The Lay Camillian Family.

It was founded by Saint Camillus himself, who added lay people, one year after the creation of the Order (1592), to the extent of the miseries of his time: “Why do I not have a hundred arms to relieve so many miseries? “

He wanted the group to be a secular institute, in order to keep the first volunteers called a “Company of Godly and Good People”. Camillus attached great importance to it, and the laity were even lodged at La Maddelena’s house in Rome. During the following centuries, this attention was relaxed, even though relations with the laity were good.

The question of the laity with the Camillian religious resurfaced at the time of the Second Vatican Council in the late 1960s.

The Second Vatican Council urged Christians to consider their baptism, not only as a gift of salvation but as an invitation to mission, by engaging in the Church, with rights and duties.

The Camillians of Brazil began in the 1970s with Fr Alphonse Pastore who succeeded in defining the Lay Camillian Family. Shortly thereafter, the Austrian Province became interested in the Brazilian project and Fr Provincial, P. Haschek, went himself to the site. The result was the establishment of the Lay Camillian Family in Austria, led by Frs Gots and Haschek.

Fr Pastore was called to other missions and the group in Brazil did not survive long. On the other hand, the Austrian branch made a strong growth, being associated with the parishes, with its own formations and its activities with the patients according to the places.

Meanwhile, in the 1980s-90s, in Colombia / Peru, a large group of lay people began, led by Frs A. Tarraran and E. Stenico: both insisted on the importance of formation. With this well-prepared training base and a clear identity, the foundation has grown to be an important part of pastoral life in the health world of both countries.

In 1992, there was an International Congress for the 4th Centenary of the founding of the Order “United in a Common Mission”. This was received with enthusiasm. Then came Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Venezuela for South America and Hungary, Romania, South Tyrol in Central Europe.

The General Chapter of the Order of 1995 appointed a joint Lay-Religious Commission to propose a draft of the General Statutes. The latter was accepted in 1998 by the Consulta, for a period of probation of 3 years.

In 2001, the Congregation for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life approved the General Statutes. Since then, the LCF has been part of the Order, while maintaining autonomy (in its elections), with the exception of the Spiritual Guide, appointed by the Superior General.

The growth was made with Spain, Ireland, England, France, Italy, Benin, Burkina Faso, Australia, USA, Canada (from Letter to the Lay Camillian Family Fr Frank Monks, 2005)

The first president was Isabel Calderón, from Colombia (2002-2008), then Rosabianca Carpene, from Italy (2008_2014), then Marie-Christine Brocherieux, from France (since 2014 ….)

During these years, there was a series of visits to the different countries to help start the groups, explain the General Statutes, provide common training topics. A first Manual has been produced in several languages. The Central Commission around Rosabianca wanted to continue this training work. For this, they solicited religious Camillians to treat chapters for the Manual II. This job   could not be finished by the end of their mandate (2014).

It is therefore the 3rd Central Commission which has updated this work. A dozen chapters are available on the website www.camilliani.org – ‘Famiglia Camilliana Laica section’ – which we strongly encourage you to visit. There are the pages in Italian and those in English.

At the instigation of Fr. General Leo Pessini and the Consulte, the Lay International Camillian  Family lived happily last October with an EXTRAORDINARY INTERNATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY. It has been a very significant and fraternal time between the different FCL groups spread around the world.

Also, Fr. General Leo Pessini and the Consulte wanted, by preparing it for four years, a first international and intercongregational historical assembly of the CAMILLIAN CHARISMATIC FAMILY (those who share the same Camillian charism) held from the 10th to the 14th. March 2019. It was also very important to envision the future, with intercultural spiritual families.

Pope Francis received the 70 participants of this group in the Vatican, in a private audience, on Monday, March 18, 2019. It was a very privileged moment.