In the early 70s Fr. Antonio Crotti, an Italian Camillian and then Superior of the Taiwan Vice-Province, dreamt of planting the seed of Camillian vocation in the Philippines, a dream earlier shared by another Italian Camillian, Fr. Mario Vanti in the 1960s. It was no easy task to establish a Camillian foundation, but with God’s guidance and Fr. Crotti’s initiatives and determination, that seed took roots when on March 8, 1975, the first Camillian community was formed: Fr. Ernesto Nidini,† who was appointed as first Superior, Fr. Alberto Roman,† and the newly ordained Camillian priests, Fr. Ivo Anselmi, Fr. Pietro Ferri,† and Fr. Anselmo Zambotti.
The Philippines proved to be a fertile ground when the seed that took roots started to grow. At present, the Camillian Order in the Philippines, headed by an all-Filipino Provincial Council, is indeed blessed to have eight Camillian Communities spread throughout Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao carrying out the various Camillian ministries in the fields of formation, chaplaincy, hospital, polyclinic, nursing home, parish administration, community-based healthcare, HIV/AIDS, disaster response, and in the Episcopal Commission on Health Care of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-ECHC). It is also worthwhile to mention that, included in the Philippine Province are the Delegations of Australia, Indonesia and Taiwan.
This year 2015 marks the 40 years of Camillian presence in the Philippines and so it is a joyous occasion to celebrate and thank the Lord for all his wonderful blessings, thus the theme, “Magnify Him with Thanksgiving” (Ps 69:30).
The Camillian priests with their families and relatives, friends, benefactors and invited guests celebrated last July 18, 2015 the momentous event with the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass officiated by the Father Provincial, Fr. Rolando J. Fernandez, MI, at St. Camillus and St. Lorenzo Ruiz Church in Loyola Heights, Quezon City.
The program that followed was emceed by Fr. Michael Gimena, MI, and Fr. Jayson Labrador, MI, former and current Vocation Director, respectively. One of the program’s highlights was the giving of plaques of appreciation to the parents of the Filipino Camillian religious.
The simple tokens acknowledge the parents’ sacrifices and their willingness to surrender their children in favor of the Camillian Order, their unwavering support unquestioned. The parents’ (or their representatives’) mere presence during the event was a testament to their deep faith in the Lord. Some parents were not able to receive them as they are now in Heaven, perhaps happily watching over as the event unfolded.
Another highlight was the giving of certificates of appreciation to four foreign missionaries. Except for the Indonesian missionary, the other three foreign Camillians have stayed in the Philippines for quite a while, making the country their adopted residence. These missionaries are Fr. Thomas Welu, MI, an American who stays in St. Camillus Healthcare Center in Balugo, Sibulan, Negros Oriental; Fr. Amelio Troietto, MI, an Italian whose mission is in Dolores, Eastern Samar; Fr. Ignasius Sibar, MI, an Indonesian chaplain in Davao City; and Fr. Ivo, an Italian who is one of the pioneers of the Philippine Province and is the current Superior of the Novitiate formation in Baguio City.
Blending their voices as one, the confreres rendered two songs as they closed the program to the delight of the audience. However diverse their backgrounds and personalities may be, the Camillian religious of the Philippine Province share the same vision and mission in spreading the Good News through their service to the poor-sick as inspired by St. Camillus de Lellis.