As part of their discernment and formation, postulants to the Order of Friars Minor participate in an exposure immersion programme. The single postulant we have, Brother Jonathan Omok, spent the month of July in Thailand working in two places – the Camillian Social Centre in Rayong and the Camillian Home for Children Living with Disabilities in Lat Krabang.
The Camillian Social Centre assists persons suffering with HIV/ AIDS, with a focus on orphans and women. There Jonathan was assigned to help care for Thum, male patient whose legs and arms are twisted and weak because of HIV, and so has to rely on others to bathe him, change his diapers, and help him with food and drink. Jonathan also interacted with the other residents who were mainly teens and children who had contracted HIV from their parents. He found that some residents asked for his help because they wanted companionship, someone who was willing to spend time just chatting.
The experience reminded Jonathan of the tale of St Francis and the leper.
“When I was in sin, the sight of lepers nauseated me beyond measure; but then God himself led me into their company, and I had mercy on them. When I became acquainted with them, what had previously nauseated me became the source of spiritual and physical consolation for me.”
“It seemed to me that the great saint of Assisi was speaking to me,” said Jonathan.
At the Camillian Home for Children Living with Disabilities, Jonathan was assigned to the Physical Therapy Programme, and helped the physical therapist treat and rehabilitate the children. Since he was the only man on the team, he also helped many of the children get from their wheelchair to their assigned station.
After the exposure programme, Jonathan shared that he had been enlightened by the experience. “Throughout my time caring for HIV/AIDS patients and children with disabilities, I couldn’t shake the feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and loss. Because of their flaws, these people are frequently rejected by society,” he said.
“I felt the Lord stirring in my soul, indicating that there is more He wants me to do. He reminded me that He had requested my assistance and support in areas where I felt overwhelmed, and that He was also clearing the way for me as I prepared to tell Him my mind was too preoccupied. I hope that as I pursue my vocation, I will be able to be open to the Holy Spirit and commit myself to following the poor and humble Christ and bringing God’s love to the world.”