The Father Vincent Children’s Care Program | April 6, 2011
Wearing face masks, many of the children stood out among the other kids. They were in chemotherapy for the conditions they
had – leukemia and similar conditions of the blood. Some looked like they were pre-school kids; another was a teenager. They and their mothers were all in the simple program organized by Silsilah at the Oasis Dialogue Training Center on March 30, 2011. Also in attendance were Dr. Crispin L. Dalisay, members of his team, and the members of the Western Mindanao Breast Cancer Group Action (WMBCGA)
The occasion on March 30 was to mark the first death anniversary of Fr. Vincent Lelievre. Fr. Vince, a French national who worked in Rome, came to join the Silsilah Community in Harmony Village in 2007. He was the spiritual director at the Emmaus House of Spirituality (EHOS) within the village. During his nearly two years in Silsilah Fr. Vince was kept busy running formation sessions for the members of Emmaus Dialogue Community and its affiliate groups; groups with the Silsilah Dialogue Movement – the staff, the youth groups. He was also in charge of the Harmony Chain Initiative which seeks to promote the formation of groups from all religions in all countries to pray for peace, using the Harmony Prayer composed by Silsilah or any other prayer the group found suitable. All who came to know Fr. Vince saw him as a gentle and prayerful person, at peace with himself and the world.
Sometime towards the end of 2008 Fr. Vince began to feel ill and consulted a doctor in the city. The diagnosis was leukemia, rather advanced, and he was advised to seek treatment where there were more facilities and services for his condition. The decision was for him to go back to Rome and this he did. In spite of a bone marrow transplant Fr. Vince died in Rome on March 30, 2010.
Before joining the Silsilah Community in 1977 Fr. Vince worked in Vietnam and Manila with children. In Manila he was connected with Tahanang Puso, a facility for orphaned or runaway children or simply children from very poor families who could not take care of them. Fr. Vince authored a little book about his work with such children.
Fr. Vince’s death anniversary was a fitting date to launch a special program called Fr. Vincent Children’s Care. The program will be implemented through the Center for Holistic Health Care (CHHC) and will give “special attention to children of different cultures and religions who have symptoms of cancer”. Patients and their families will be provided, within means available, psychological and spiritual assistance as well as other forms of support. The mother of one child with lymphoma, when asked where the family is from, said they are from Zamboanga City but they “practically live in the hospital”. One can only imagine the physical and emotional burden of taking care of a child with cancer.
The CHHC will work in close collaboration with Dr. Dalisay, who is a hematologist, and other doctors and friends who have generously agreed to be part of the program. The members of the WMBCGA are among the generous volunteers.