#RevUpFebruary: Cura Personalis

A picture of Saint Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver, BC which was founded by Montreal’s Sisters of Providence in 1894.

We love, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

This commandment to love includes following the will of God. He chooses us by name to carry out His work, to undertake roles which challenge us to love others. For myself, Christ has called me to serve those in hospitals for the glory of His Name. I believe that with His guidance and strength, I can be an extension of His hands on this earth to reach out to the sick and the poor.

One of the most essential times of my spiritual growth happened in January 2012 when I began studying nursing. Two years into the program, the hospital has become an environment where Christ continuously reveals Himself to me and vice versa.

Last semester my practicum was at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. The majority of patients here are known to suffer from poverty. Oftentimes these patients are victimized by staff because they’re poorly judged, and end up feeling powerless. I’m guilty of preconceived judgments as well. I’d read about the patient’s medical history or past behaviours, and create a negative attitude towards them. The fourth chapter of John’s first epistle is my reminder to love universally. We’re all sons and daughters of Christ, all equally deserving of His love. Although challenging, it took me awhile to develop what St. Ignatius called cura personalis – care for the whole person. Cura personalis is simply help, from person to person, so that God and man may really meet. One patient at St. Paul’s made this rather clear to me.

He came from the population suffering from poverty. He was a long-lived alcohol and drug addict, an abandoned husband with no place to call home. While working with him I discovered his sincere personality. Despite being unfortunate and poor in the eyes of society, his heart was filled with joy and kindness. At the end of my shift, he said three words that struck me: “God bless you,” words said all the time in CFC-Youth yet never at my workplace. There was something unique about this patient that I couldn’t determine, until my very last shift with him.

Before saying my final goodbye, he had a last request. He asked if I could pray with him, because he forgot how. Praise God for the gift of prayer–the ability to communicate with Christ at any time and know we will be heard. How powerful it was to pray for the poor with the poor. After this, I never saw him again. I truly hope, in that moment of prayer, he was able to experience Christ’s love, to see glimpse into Christ’s heart.

God trusts that we can use our unique talents and skills to serve the less fortunate in limitless ways. Let us all continue being the Champions of the Poor we are designed to be! I leave with you the words of Pope Francis:

Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society. This demands that we be docile and attentive to the cry of the poor and to come to their aid.”

Katrina Rebillaco, CFC-Youth Pacific Region