The General Secretary of the Sisters Hospitallers explains the renewal of the Congregation: new challenges in favor of people with mental illness

The Congregation of Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who annually attends more than 820 thousand people with mental illnessdisability and dementia throughout the world, has received the approval of the new text of its Constitutions by the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

The modifications seek to better respond to the reality of today’s society -multicultural, changing and challenging-, underlining the essence of a vocation that is defined as hospitable.

Demands of the present moment

The preparation of the new text began in 2019 and had the participation of more than 900 religious from all over the world. The new document revitalizes the identity and mission of the Sisters Hospitallers in the Church and in the world.

“It is not a new path, but the same hospitable path, but with different nuances to adapt to the demands of the current moment,” he says. Sister Anabela CarneiroSuperior General of the Congregation.

New social challenges

Sister Isabel Santamaría, General Secretary of the Congregation worldwideexplain to Confidential Religion, some of the characteristics of this renovation. The number of sisters in Spain is 315 and currently the Laicos Hospitalarios movement is starting with a hundred people in Spain.

Sisters Hospitallers in Spain It has 19 care centers, two general hospitalstwo supervised foundations and a foundation specializing in research.

The new text of your Congregation unites the inspiration of the origins with the need to adapt to the current moment, “which open us towards new challenges social and human within our being and doing in favor of people with mental illness and intellectual and physical disabilities, preferably poor”.

Call to synodality

The response that these sisters seek to give to the world of suffering as hospitallers, they understand within the call to synodality which the Church lives at this moment.

“Therefore we want to continue rediscovering together a spiritual style based on listening, participation, which opens us to today’s paths of our own vocational identity as consecrated women; today’s paths of fraternity and of the hospital mission carried out in collaboration with others,” says Isabel Santamaría.

The nun explains that the Samaritan mission to which they have been called has always been configured and expressed in collaboration with sisters, as consecrated women, and lay people, also called from another way of life to the joint commitment to give a humanizing and integral to the person with mental suffering.

The feminine face in hospitality

Some practical challenges that this change in the Congregation will translate into are interculturality, the feminine face in hospitality and ongoing formation.

Sister Isabel explains: “Interculturality, without a doubt, is one of them, within a globalized society like the current one, it is a reality that also speaks to us in our institutional reality, opens us to new realities, diverse cultures and ways of doing things and offers us keys to enrichment and integration of the hospital charism, in its constant development”.

Also, the very feminine face of hospitality, “that we are as women of today in the Church and in society, is an area of ​​growth and expression that we cannot forget”.

And last and not least, training at all levels that allows them to respond to the mission to which they are called, professionally and humanely, an expression of their charism.

How to treat mental health

Now that mental health affects so many people, the General Secretary of the Congregation provides five keys to treat people with this suffering from the spirituality of the hospitable sisters.

  1. The “go out to meet” of those who have fallen along the way, from unconditional welcome and acceptance, is today as always one of the keys that move us from sensitivity to those excluded from our society.
  2. Unite professionalism with a humanizing stylewhich provides a comprehensive response and attention to the person, constitutes a fundamental axis to approach the person with mental suffering.
  3. active listening, that allows the other to be the protagonist of their story and feel accompanied in their walk, is part of the respect and dignity that every person has and deserves to be recognized in it.
  4. The liberating welcomenot merely protectionist, but integrating and rehabilitating personally and socially, based on the possibilities of the person and opting at all times to recognize that he is the protagonist of his own story.
  5. The hospitality, in short, of knowing that we are part of the same human family in which we are all responsible and supportive of others.

Among the changes introduced in the new Constitutions, the a new perspective on hospital spiritualityunderstanding it not only in its dimension of prayer, but as a spirituality that encompasses all areas of action of the person.

One in four people suffers from some type of mental disorder.

According to World Health Organization, one in four people in the world suffers from some type of mental disorder, 650 million people have physical and intellectual disabilities, and 10% of the population are older adults. The service of the Sisters Hospitallers, present in more than 85 healthcare centers around the world, responds to the needs of thousands of people who are often left on the margins of society, as the Pope Francisco.

“The new text of the constitutions marks the charism and mission of our congregation: our place is to be together with those who suffer. So the impact on society is direct,” he says. Sister Anabela Carneiro. Now the challenge for the Congregation is to approach the new text to embody it in community life and service to the most vulnerable.

The Congregation of Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a female Catholic institution that works in the reception, assistance and care of people with mental illness, intellectual disability and other diseases, with preference for those most in need.

The General Secretary of the Sisters Hospitallers explains the renewal of the Congregation: new challenges in favor of people with mental illness