The Congregation of the Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which annually assists more than 820,000 people with mental illness, disability and dementia, has received approval of the new text of its Constitutions from the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The modifications seek to respond better to today’s multicultural, changing and challenging society, underlining the essence of a vocation, defined as hospitaller.
The drafting of the new text began in 2019 and involved the participation of more than 900 religious women from all over the world. The new document revitalizes the identity and mission of the Hospitaller Sisters in the Church and in the world. “It is not a new way, but the same Hospitaller way, but with different nuances to adapt to the demands of the present time”, says Sister Anabela Carneiro, General Superior of the Congregation.
Among the changes introduced in the new Constitutions, some new perspectives gain relevance. Firstly, a new look at Hospitaller spirituality, understanding it not only in its dimension of prayer, but as a spirituality which embraces all the areas of action of the person. Secondly, the concept of continuous and ongoing formation of the religious – respecting the stage of life of each one – is introduced within the Congregation. Thirdly, the dimension of interculturality appears, the openness to universality both for life in community and for the service offered with the realities of the 25 countries where they are present. Finally, the last modification is related to understanding authority as a service and not as a power: Government is an authority marked by Hospitality.
According to the World Health Organization, one in four people in the world suffers from some kind of mental disorder, 650 million people have physical and intellectual disabilities, and 10% of the population are elderly. The Hospitaller Sisters‘ service, present in more than 85 care centres around the world, responds to the need of thousands of people who are often left on the margins of society, as Pope Francis says.
“The new text of the Constitutions marks the charism and mission of our congregation: our place is with those who suffer. So the impact on society is direct”, says Sister Anabela Carneiro. Now the challenge for the Congregation is to approach the new text in order to incarnate it in community life and service to the most vulnerable.
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About the Congregation of the Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Congregation of the Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a Catholic women’s institution that works to welcome, assist and care for people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities and other illnesses, with a preference for those most in need. Its mission is to evangelise the world of health, through the promotion of health, social and educational works, giving the highest priority to its commitment to society. The Sisters Hospitallers was founded in Madrid (Spain) in 1881 by Saint Benito Menni, a priest of the Order of Saint John of God, together with María Josefa Recio and María Angustias Giménez, chosen by God to respond to the situation of health neglect and social exclusion of women with mental illness at the time, by combining two fundamental approaches: charity and science. More information: https://www.hospitalarias.org/en/