Dear AMIL Members, Dear Subscribers and Dear Readers
Here we are in the midst of Summer and in your hands you are holding the new issue of our Bulletin. I am filled with joy to see large crowds of pilgrims and so many sick people return to the Grotto of Massabielle. It seems to me as if, while the destructive madness of war and violence is worsening in the world, here is the Mother of Jesus, the Immaculate Conception, inviting us to “come here in procession!”. I realise this from the growing numbers of professionals who attend our Tuesday and Saturday prayer meetings animated by Father Giuseppe Serighelli, CP. I can see it in the growing demand to join AMIL. And in these months of commitment in the world for the Order of Malta, I notice it by the vivid emotion that the people I meet feel in knowing that I am at the service of the message of Lourdes. From the highest institutions of different nations, and among the people in Italy, Spain, Thailand and the Asia-Pacific region, Poland, Palestine, Israel, Hungary, France, Germany, Ukraine, England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Cameroon and at the International Organisations in Geneva, whenever I introduce myself, I realise that I am greeted, looked at and listened to as the ‘doctor of Lourdes’. To the whole glory of the Immaculate Conception!
I would like to thank the Forum of Catholic Social Health Associations of Italy, chaired by our colleague Dr Aldo Bova, for organising an interesting seminar together with AMIL at the end of June. On the 30th anniversary of the institution of the World Day of the Sick, we reflected on Promoting Health - Building Peace with the participation of our Bishop Monsignor Jean-Marc Micas and numerous health workers in attendance and linked by video.
In this Bulletin, we have shared the contributions of some of our members from different countries.
Ever since I was a young brancardier, 50 years ago now, I have always been struck by the large number of Scouts present in Lourdes, many wearing a white kerchief/scarf around their necks. Our colleague Fernando Rodriguez Mier - from Spain - offers us an interesting text on the history of the Scouts and Scouting in Lourdes.
Our colleague Dr Brigitte Engel - from Switzerland - is really generous and shares with us a very personal story that she considers “her miracle”. A story like many that I have met, a story about her medical career and a story that underlines the certainty of so many of us that our sorrows are always heard by the Mother of Jesus.
And equally personal is the contribution of our colleague Dr Daniel Battafarano - from the USA - who recounts how, after the death of his mother who was very devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes, he himself came as a pilgrim to Lourdes in the footsteps of his mother and sister 66 years later.
We owe our colleague Dr Ursula Sottong - from Germany - previous contributions on the subject of dementia and cognitive disorders (Vivre avec la démence dans la dignité. Un défi pour notre societé et pour Lourdes – Bull. Assoc. Med. Int. Lourdes, Août 2016; 89 (335):64-67). In May this year, she was invited to present the results of her experience on the ground in the matter at the 10th anniversary conference of the QUEEN SILVIA NURSING AWARD (QSNA) in Stockholm. The Queen Silvia Nursing Award, under the patronage of H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden, is an international competition for nurses and nursing students, involving the brightest minds and their most creative ideas to improve the nursing profession. The QSNA was established by Swedish Care International (SCI) and the Ideella föreningen Forum for Elderly Care. The aim of the award is to present new ideas and innovations from nurses with an explicit mission to improve the quality of care for the elderly and people with dementia.
Every year, nurses and nursing students can submit their proposals to improve care for the elderly and dementia. The first winner of the QSNA Award was announced on 23 December 2013. The QSNA is currently available in seven countries: Sweden, Finland, Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Brazil and the USA (University of Washington School of Nursing) . On the occasion of the 10th anniversary, a conference entitled ‘The Power of Nursing: The Interaction of Dementia Practice and Research’ with four sessions (Research, Workforce, Capacity Building, The Next Ten Years) was organised on 10 May 2023. Here, we publish Dr Sottong’s presentation.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic also we have improved and increased our video communication here in Lourdes. On 11 February 2023 - during the feast of the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes - we held a meeting of AMIL at the Sanctuary via ZOOM attended by hundreds of you from a distance. Speakers included our Bishop Monsignor Jean-Marc Micas and the Rector of the Sanctuary Fr Michel Daubanes and our colleagues Dr Muriel Favre (Pèlerinage du Rosaire), Dr Claude Barbillon (Pèlerinage National), Dr Alain Baty (Association des Présidents d’Hospitalités Francophones), Dr Gianpaolo De Filippo (Hospitalité Notre-Dame des Armées), Dr Dan Field (Order of Malta Western Association, USA Pilgrimage to Lourdes), Dr Ursula Sottong (Hospitalité Notre-Dame de Lourdes), Dr Hamilton Grantham (British Lourdes Medical Association), Pr Antonio de Montalvo Correa (Pilgrimage of Madrid), Dr Anna Maria Biancucci (UNITALSI), Sebastien Maysounave (Directeur de Site du Sanctuaire), pharmacist Marie-Josée Augé Caumon and myself. Our colleague and priest Dr Fr Michael Fragoso wrote us an affectionate message of gratitude from the USA for this beautiful meeting.
Our colleague Dan Field - from the USA - also because of his great experience as a Pilgrimage Doctor shares with the Bulletin a proposal that I find very interesting and on which I await your comments.
And in closing you will find the usual News.
As the pilgrims return in great numbers to Lourdes, I ask each of you to pray and build peace, as Pope Francis insistently asks. On 24 May, I had the honour, on behalf of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, to address the Annual Assembly of the World Health Organisation in Geneva. I said among other things:
“ And what do I see in this honourable General Assembly? I see that the powerful, the governments and the very rich wage wars! And that the poor are forced to die, to be kidnapped, to run away and become refugees, to be victims of human trafficking often because of the loss of legal identity, to fall sick and remain sick! And us, Mr Director General, we the representatives of almost all the world, we were not even able to learn from the Covid-19 pandemic how to oblige for the future our governments, by Treaty, to assure universal and gratuitous vaccination in an highly probable next pandemic! Back in the eighties, as a young doctor at the Harvard School of Public Health earning my Master’s degree in Epidemiology, I learned that the poor always remain underserved. Has that changed in 40 years ? Dear Colleagues Health Ministers please! Make your voices heard in your countries, please show them how much “health” can be bought at the cost of one rifle, of one tank, of one bomb, of only one fighter jet or the filling with mines of a large field of wheat that will cost lives and amputations. War is the disease #1. And it is as preventable as any disease. The cure has the name of PEACE!”