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Marist Bulletin - Number 221


Brother Pierre Sanié, an active retired brother in teh domain of health

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A. M. Estaún

Brother Pierre Sanié participated with me in a Provincial retreat at the Hermitage. We shared our life experiences in a small group. It was the first time that we were together. That is one consequence of restructuring that has internationalised us. It was an interesting occasion to get to know a retired confrère. After dinner on the 18th July 2005, near the statue of Notre Dame des Victoires, at the Hermitage, he shared with me some of the more important realisations of his Marist life.

Where did you live and what have been the most significant activities?
Marist, retired, professional teacher, I was a teacher in the boarding schools for all of my forty year career.

Where do you live? What is your community?

You work in health ministry. What is your activity in this regard?
I go to the town hospitals to help the sick in place of the priest who cannot go into all of the places where he is asked. I belong to an important team of twenty persons, five of whom have accepted accompanying the sick until the end of their lives.

Why do you do this health ministry?
When I returned to the city after several years absence, I had a fresh outlook; I saw the needs of those crying out and committed myself to helping them.

Do you work in collaboration with other people or simply on your own?
You cannot do anything alone. The team is very tightly knit and in daily contact (one hour at least) and in a case of crisis we make a frank and honest assessment. Each person writes what he or she has to say and reads it to the other members of the team, on his or her knees, before the Lord in the hospitals chapel.

How many hours do you consecrate to this health ministry?
At first I promised twenty hours per week. Now I always do more than thirty-five hours. But you dont count the hours.

Is your ministry only with those who are sick or do you also have contact with their families?
We see the sick as often as possible, certainly every day. We also see their families. I have the most difficulty with them. When you see the sick very often, we come to share a certain closeness and the people confide in you very easily. It is not rare that some will say to you You are the first person I have told this. Not even my wife or my spouse. It is during the last days that the family has the most difficulty in accepting the death of a loved one. The sick person, conscious or not, has already accepted the deadline.

Are the institutions where you work a public health service or private?
We work in all the public hospitals of the city, and the team contacts me especially when young people make the demand.

Is your pastoral care directed at believers who have a relationship with the parish or with other Church institutions, or do you have other perspectives in your work?
We make no difference when it comes to believers and non-believers, Christians and non-Christians. Several times I have contacted ministers of other religions.

What does a Marist Brother do in the domain of health?
A Marist Brother or any other religious responds to a real need of the parish. After having observed, I responded to a demand that seemed to them to be important. Working in a team was the element that helped me make the decision.

What demands are placed on someone who works with the sick?
I needed to be trained for two school years: two days a month. The most important thing is to be available for the sick (without being attached to the telephone). When I go to see a sick person, I prepare myself mentally, knowing what he likes…

Does the illness marginalise the person?
The pain, the illness, the handicap… marginalise the person and they often suffer psychologically as well as physically.

If someone wants to be part of this kind of ministry, what recommendations would you make? How must a sick person be treated from the pastoral point of view?
You need to be trained by Christian people who are close to the sick. Good will is not enough. We have made some monumental errors by acting this way. There is no miraculous solution. But we have formulated this after several months of activity: the sick person, is Jesus Christ before me.

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