Rosa Mystica 2024: The Last Days of the Mission

Source: District of Asia

Begun on March 3, 2024, the 17th Rosa Mystica medical mission organized by ACIM-Asia is coming to an end. Here are the reports of the last two days.

Friday, March 8: Salimama

It is in this mountanous village, also visited last year, that the devil is stirring in the holy water font! Since Fr. Tim established a small permanent mission there, the other religious communities have ramped-up their proselytizing.

This morning, Salimama is buzzing: as well as the medical mission, 40 civil marriages are being celebrated in the schoolyard--where the mission is also set up--in front of the mayor of Alabel, who came for the occasion with his municipal team. On the podium is set a large table covered with a magnificently bubbled tablecloth. The mayor’s speech, the engagment of fiancés in white or traditional dress, the national anthem, the distribution of gifts, dances, and oompahs under the tent set up for this purpose.

Why these serial marriages? These areas were for a long time separated from the world and governmental administration, because they were under the control of the Communist New People’s Army (NPA). Since the pacification treaty signed in September 2022, the government has been penetrating these villages little by little (the mission participates in this work of pacification) and encouraging the inhabitants to regularize their administrative situation: marriages, declarations of birth, etc.

The distance and the price of transportation, the fear of going to the city due to ignorance, the cost of administrative processes (7.5 million Filipinos are not registered for this reason) are so many obstacles that the municipal authorities of Alabel remove by coming to their citizens themselves. This is quite commendable. What is quite regrettable is that religious marriage does not follow, for lack of priests, but Fr. Tim is working on that.

We have already emphasized that these territories had been deserted by the Catholic Church, and Protestant sects abound there. In Salimama, there are few Catholic families but the few faithful touched by the mission last year are very active.

Once the civil celebration is over, the podium will be taken over by this little group of faithful and the team of brothers and catechists to replace the “office of marriages” with a beautiful altar topped with a large crucifix where Fr. Tim will celebrate Mass for around ten members of the tribe, after the medical mission, at nightfall. The Blood of Christ shed on the cross, river of mercy, relief of those who toil, save these poor abandoned ones.

This event has certainly deprived the mission of a few patients. In fact we will “only” receive 262 people for 44 dental extractions, 14 prenatal consultations, 62 pediatric consultations, 115 medical consultations, and 3 surgical interventions. A short day compared to the previous two: the day before, there were 105 pediatric consultations, and the day before that there were 101 dental extractions!

Saturday, March 9: Last Day of the Mission in Kawas

It was here that last year’s mission ended. Today we invite you to follow the patient to the pharmacy, which is also the end point of the long care pathway that the sick will follow throughout the day. The volunteers are very appreciative of their patience and their kindness, which often results in marvelous smiles. There is a little nonchalance, certainly, in the Filipino, but in this rests the busy man of our lands.

The “Health Journey” of the Rosa Mystica Mission

After having waiting for registration in a compact line since the early hours of the day, the patient heads toward the nurses who take his vitals (blood pressure, temperature, oxygen saturation, weight, heart rate) and is then directed toward the appropriate doctor, dentist, pediatrician, midwife, surgeon, optician, physiotherapist, or nurse.

With a completely relative confidentiality--because the doctors are set up in a line in the classrooms of schools or in barangay courtyards--the sick come out of the consultation office, equipped with a yellow prescription paper in addition to the green papers of adults or pink papers of children, filled out by Yolly and her assistants at registration where patients orientation takes place.

They present themselves at the pharmacy and drop off their prescription on a desperately high stack. There, they will again exercise the virtue of patience. After having waited for admission, the taking of vitals, and the consultation, they must again be patient to receive their little bag of medicines (distributed for free, of course). This is the more important financial job of the mission. The average budget of the pharmacy: between 13 and 15,000 euros.

A team of assistants (Filipino pharmacy or nursing students and foreign volunteers) collect the prescriptions as they come in and fill small plastic containers with the prescribed medicines. These medicines are taken from tables where, each morning of this nomadic mission, they are set out and distributed by type, then put away in boxes in the evening, in order, if possible, to be brought out again the next day.

The little boxes are lined up in front of our two pharmacists of the year. Brigitte--who is on her 14th mission--has in fact received the welcome assistance of Jean, a pharmacist from Brest. It is their responsibility to check the prescription and the preparation made beforehand, and to write the names of patients and the dosage on the boxes, as well as the number of units distributed. This work can take up to 10 minutes, depending on the prescription.

Imagine what Brigitte’s work was like in the years she had to respond alone to several hundred prescriptions per day! Once checked, the container is passed on to two or three administrative volunteers, depending on the crowd, who will check a second time the number of units given and record the name of the patient, the dosage, and the quantity of the medicine. The delivery will be carried out by a local volunteer, this year the pharmacy students, who will give patients explanations on the dose of medicines, in their respective dialects.

The complete circuit can take half a day, even a full day, depending on the crowd or the type of care. The time that the patients agree to spend at the mission site to arrive at the end of this long journey shows very well the difficulties of accessing care for these populations.

But there are also these long periods of waiting which will allow them, over the course of one or other of these steps, to find themselves in the presence of members of the Legion of Mary, brothers, catechists, or priests, who will offer them blessings, Miraculous Medals, scapulars of Mount Carmel, engagement in the Militia Immaculatae.

We will also help many children wait patiently with catechism classes in images and coloring. The soldiers will not be left behind. The days are long for them as well. 

The spiritual assessment could be quantified if we counted the number of medals and scapulars imposed, but this tally belongs to God and to His Holy Mother, Our Lady of the Apostles, through whom He has distributed his largesse in abundance during this 17th Rosa Mystica mission.

On the last evening of the mission, the traditional thanksgiving dinner is offered by the municipality of Alabel, at Pinobre Park. Véronique, the very energetic nurse from Valais, the human resources director of the mission, will announce the medical tallies of these six days: there have been a little more than 2,200 patients to whom our nurses, doctors, dentists, surgeon, optician, and physiotherapist have tried to bring a little relief.

The mayor of Alabel is present like last year, and in his thank you speech he again invited ACIM to return to his lands in 2025. He believes that a definitive partnership has been established between his municipality and our mission! After a long series of speeches and multiple distributions of “certificates of appreciation,” Dr. Philippe de Geofroy concluded this evening by thanking the volunteers and asking them to meditate on this beautiful lesson that Fr. Daniel Couture had sent for all of them, before the mission:

“Dear Doctors, dear volunteers, the last hours of the 4th Rosa Mystica mission, at Tanay, close to Manila, in 2010, end with a night mission, in the muddy jungle of the Aetas tribe, northwest of Manila. Some of you were perhaps there. This was one of those unforgettable missions, like they were all!

“It was little Sister Eva, of the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres who had invited us. She who had converted this entire pagan tribe of 100 people after the eruption of the volcano Pinatubo, on June 15, 1991. She had converted them by her truly evangelical example. Around two years after having rebuilt their little village in another region, the leader asked her:

“’My Sister, can we also serve your God? Because we thought that the volcano was god, but it is very evil. If your God is as good as you, we want to serve Him.’ A historic sentence that we had heard with our own ears: ‘If your God is as good as you, we want to serve Him.’

“Here is a very beautiful lesson: not only does the Good God want to see us grow in personal kindness and ascend to perfection, but He wants us also to be radiant with kindness, in doing good to those whom He places in our path. To be good and spread kindness in the image of the Sacred Heart! That is our mission summarized! Thank you to all! And come back! May God bless you!”

The Rosa Mystica Mission needs your prayers, your help, and your generosity!

It only survives thanks to the support and donations of its friends and benefactors! The volunteers are unpaid and finances their plane tickets themselves. Donations are allocated solely to the material organization of the mission, to the purchase of medicines and medical equipment, and sometimes to the financing of hospitalizations and surgical interventions greater than those that we can offer at the mission.

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