The presence of lay people as an important point for the development of the Hospital Work
When speaking of co-workers, it is important to point out the Hospitaller value of “historical conscience,” and remember that, “since its inception and based on the decision of the founder, the congregation has always relied on the collaboration of secular people […].” Over time, the laity has played a pivotal role in the development of the Hospitaller project, in light of their large numbers, professional diversity, and responsibility and commitment to the Hospitaller mission. In Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council appears to end the dichotomy between the sacred and the profane, and its ecclesiology of communion reminds us that the laity is present in the world for its transformation into the kingdom.
As secularism does not exclude the laity from Church life (as part of its organisation or internal tasks and given that they are involved in our centres’ activity), when working on this new vision of the Church, a document emerged in May 1994: the CHP (Comprehensive Hospitaller Project). This instrument aims to structure all of our activities, proposing general courses of action to ensure the Hospitaller project can face a constantly changing reality by adapting our institutions according to the style that defines us, while invariably seeking to combine scientific progress with the evangelical quality of mercy, as St. Benedict Menni always did. A product of reflection and hard work on the part of sisters and co-workers, this document presents the Hospitaller community as an entity that “brings together all the people involved in any way in the Hospitaller project.” Among them are the co-workers, which the aforementioned document describes as, “all those who work at our centres, contributing their specific expertise and sharing the same distinctive history, the same Hospitaller culture, and the same goal.”
Since then, the congregation’s General Chapter documents refer to co-workers in the context of a shared mission that “goes beyond strict collaboration at work and requires dedication to the same project and sense of mission,” (GC 20: 24). For its part, the 21st General Chapter (no. 22) affirms, “The evangelical dimension of the mission is the transverse axis that defines us and gives meaning to the hospitality that, together as a Hospitaller community, we must perpetuate over time […].” The Hospitaller project is the channel through which we express our being: the Church of community and solidarity.