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The meeting served to reflect on the value of hospitality in the light of the reality of people suffering from mental illness or disability

Pope Francis met yesterday with the Superior General of the Hospitaller Sisters together with the new General Council and the sisters who constitute the Chapter Assembly of the Congregation.
“I am happy to welcome you on the occasion of your General Chapters. It is a moment of grace: for you, for the sisters you represent and for the whole Church”, Francis said at the beginning of the meeting, adding: “It is a beautiful finding of Providence that you are here with the Bishop of Rome to give thanks to the Lord, to ask him for light to discern his will and to renew your commitment to the service of the Church”.
During the audience, they reflected on the value of hospitality in the face of the reality of people suffering from mental illness or disability. In this context, the Pope commented: “At the beginning of your days there are two exciting stories, in which we can see how the audacity of founders and foundresses, under the action of the Holy Spirit, can accomplish great works, launching themselves where charity calls, without making too many calculations, with the ‘holy madness of love’. And if love is lacking, we are finished!“.

Pioneers in caring for those who need us most
During the audience, Francis recalled how María Angustias Giménez, the Venerable María Josefa Recio and Saint Benedict Menni were inspired by the charism of Saint John of God, initiating a pioneering work for those times, at the service of the last among the last: the mentally ill. “This is something beautiful, without human interests. Thus the Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart were born. And since then you have continued your mission, extending your assistance to ever new suffering and poverty, to make God’s mercy present in the practice of hospitality, with special attention to the recovery and integral rehabilitation of people”, the Holy Father underlined.

The Pope also blessed the new Superior General of the Congregation, Sister Idília Maria Carneiro, and thanked the sisters for their work and asked them to “please do not lose your joy, do not lose the smile and the joy in your heart“.
At the end of the audience, Sister Idília Maria Carneiro, thanked the Holy Father for his blessing, encouragement and accompaniment and commented: “We have shared a very moving and beautiful moment. The Pope welcomed us with his smile. I asked for his blessing for the Congregation, especially for this new stage of service with people with mental illnesses and disabilities”.

She also highlighted the beautiful moment when the Pope was presented with a gift prepared by a group of children from the Purísima Concepción Foundation in Granada. “It was a really funny moment, because the gift represented the different stages of the Pope’s life. It was there when Francis saw the representation of himself and asked: “Is this me? “Well done, very good,” he said of the present prepared for him by a group of children suffering from functional diversity.

The Congregation will conclude its XXII General Chapter on 26 May. On that day, part of the Sisters Hospitallers’ team will present the main conclusions of the Assembly, and a closing Mass will be held to open the way to a renewed path of Hospitality for all the sick throughout the world, accompanied by the blessing of Pope Francis.