The Pontifical Missionary Union (PMU) and Loving Gaze in collaboration with Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos Health Department (CALHD) provided support for this project.
Loving Gaze is an NGO with over 30 years of experience in Nigeria that serves unprivileged communities in Lagos and Taraba State.
The project aimed to revitalize the relevance of the human value, especially quality Catholic health care and supporting medical staff to rediscover the meaning of patients’ care and reconnect with their original vocation, their responsibility towards the persons.
The first training, “Medical Work and the Person”, was carried out on the 19th to 21st of November 2019. In attendance were 74 health providers (Medical Directors, Doctors, Nurses, Midwives, Health workers and Admin staff) from government, private and catholic health facilities. All participants represented a total of 24 hospitals. The attendants were taken on a journey to rediscover their mission and work ethics. As Medical professionals, the relationship with patients is a mystery, and the diseases of the people they encounter are a mirror that forces them to look at themselves. Everyone have an infinite value, which is given by virtue of being a human and God’s creature and circumstances may not hinder a person’s value.
The project also covered 4 quarterly meetings of the Catholic Clinics ‘Heads’ of the Archdiocesan Health Institution Management Committee (AHIMC) of Lagos State, with a total attendance of 155 persons. Dr Alda Gemmani, AHIMC member and Medical Director of St. Kizito Clinic, proposed at each meeting a reading from Pope Francis to improve awareness of the teaching and the love of the Catholic Church for each human being and each Catholic community in the world and to reawaken the passion for the Catholic mission of the hospitals.
At the 1st meeting held on 12th of November 2019, Dr Alda Gemmani also presented to the AHIMC Committee the Pontifical Mission Societies and the Extraordinary Missionary Month, the initiative officially proposed by the Holy Father Pope Francis for the month of October 2019 on the theme “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World.”
The 3rd meeting held in July 2020 was virtual due to the lockdown put in place to curtail the Coronavirus pandemic. Dr Alda Gemmani proposed summons and pictures of the “Extraordinary Moment of Prayer Presided over by Pope Francis - Sagrato of St Peter’s Basilica, Friday, 27 March 2020” to help judging and facing the Coronavirus challenge according to the teaching of the Church.
In the 4th meeting which was held in November 2020, Rev Sr Theresa Afareha presented the Encyclical “Fratelli tutti.”
The teaching of Pope Francis and the contributions helped all Clinics’ leaders to rediscover their hospitals’ Catholic identity and re-examine the adherence to the Catholic values.
The project offered the AHIMC members an extraordinary opportunity to improve awareness of the Catholic mission of the hospitals and the meaning of their Christian and medical vocation and to refocus their teams on the core of their mission, inspired by Pope Francis’ words, “This is what you, Catholic doctors, try to affirm, first of all with your professionalism. Your work seeks to bear witness by word and deed that human life is always sacred, valuable, and sacrosanct, As such, it must be loved, defended, and cared for. Your professionalism, enriched with the spirit of faith, is a further reason to collaborate with those - even from different religious perspectives or thought - who recognize the dignity of the human person as a criterion for their activities.” (Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to participants in the Commemorative Conference of the Italian Catholic Physicians’ Association on the occasion of its 70th Anniversary of Foundation, 15 November 2014).
The formation project also included the Christian education of teenagers affected and infected by HIV/AIDS and helped the HIV positive women rediscover their uniqueness in the light of God’s Gaze and their endless dignity and value, beyond their condition. It was a great opportunity for them to understand their value in a deeper way and positively deal with all the challenges they are going through.