The FRATER -Christian Fraternity of Sick and handicapped people
I would like to share with you a little of my experience with the FRATER (Christian Fraternity of Sick and handicapped people).
My mission at the Frater began in 1978 in Cochabamba (Bolivia) with two handicapped persons and one Little Sister of the Assumption, Anna Renelde van Destraten (of Belgium nationality) who is now in heaven.
In 1984, I was sent to Arequipa (Peru) where the Frater had already been operating for several years; I was warmly welcomed there and later, I became a Spiritual guide in this movement until I returned to Spain (Barcelona) in 2001; since then I have carried on this mission until today, being now part of the diocesan team of the town. In all, I have been a member of this Church movement for 42 years.
It was in Verdun in 1945 that father Henri François founded the Catholic Fraternity of Sick people, called today the Intercontinental Christian Fraternity of people suffering from chronical disease and physical disabilities, discovering and highlighting the depth and efficiency of the apostolate between disabled people.
The cry of Jesus from Nazareth keeps on ringing in our hearts, through the life and action of our Fraternity: “Get up and walk!”
Here are some essential points written in the statutes:
- To promote the personal and community union of its members
- To seek integral growth of each one.
- To contribute to the active integration of its members in society and in the Church.
- To receive a spiritual support through the spiritual guides
Personally, I can say that it has been quite an enriching experience, both as a person and as a Little Sister of the Assumption, for my apostolic life, my prayer life, and my commitment.
I have discovered through them, both in Latin America and in Spain, very strong human values, which challenged me and motivated me for my daily life: their courage and bravery, especially in Peru and in Bolivia, where there is no adapted means of transport – sometimes they do not have wheel chairs however they were able to travel for 8 to 12 hours by bus on roads and pathways in order to announce, present and start the Frater in other places. This is particularly true in Bolivia, since the Frater is now present in every region. All this was fulfilled without social security nor financial means, but with gratuitousness and solidarity from many people.
Always joyful, accompanied with volunteers, they have organized camps, awareness campaigns and protests, play activities, parties, sports championship in wheel chairs and spiritual retreats. There are many group visits and a great importance is given to training meetings. It is very lively…
Presently in Spain, training courses are planned on a weekly basis and for a whole weekend once a year. Here are some of the themes that we have been deepening lately:
- Nowadays, in our society, is it possible to be happy?
Prepared by a “minu” (contraction for “minusválido” – disabled in Spanish), as we call them.
- What is resilience and what is it for?
- The Church which goes forth
- The Frater today, a path of Peace
The most interesting point is that they do things by themselves: they prepare and animate the meetings of the frater. As volunteers, we are only partners. Sometimes we act as their arms, other times their hands, their eyes, their legs… though always with a deep respect towards the person, his/her capabilities and dignity.
That is why I thank God for making me know and take part in this movement of Life given and received.
Vincenta Boada Martínez, LSA in Spain