Solemnity of St John of God
Circular Letter of the Prior General
It is a good thing if we encourage one another
To all the Brothers and Co-workers, Members of the Hospitaller Family of St John of God
As the Feast of our Founder, Saint John of God, approaches, I send you my very best wishes, as we prepare for, and joyfully celebrate the Solemnity of our Patron Saint on 8 March.
The visits I make for different reasons to the many places in which the Order is present, have enabled me to appreciate the broad range of apostolic activities we are performing throughout the world. It is gratifying to hear our Co-workers telling me, It was when I came to this house of the Order that I could see that this was my place, and that here I felt at home. Or when our sick guests or those risking exclusion tell me that in St John of God I have been born again, I have rediscovered my life. I also certainly encounter difficulties and limitations, but it is very gratifying to see Brothers, Co-workers and Volunteers committed to, and convinced of their Hospitality project and mission, and above all to see how they are performing it.
The Hospitaller Family of Saint John of God continues to keep alive the spirit, charism and mission which our Founder, Saint John of God, began. We are all called to commit ourselves to pursuing the same end: to relieve after and care for the fragility of our world through hospitality, each one of us where we live, and on the basis of our own convictions.
The words written by Saint John of God to Gutierrez Lasso are an inspiration to our own Family: “Since we all share the same aim (even though each person should follow his own particular path according to God's wishes) it is a good thing if we encourage one another” (2 Gutierre Lasso 11). These words were ahead of his time. It is unwise to become embroiled in sterile discussions which are only intended for grand-standing, particularly since all of us share the same goal: to do good to needy and suffering people and to practise hospitality.
Our Saint John of God Family is very extensive, and thanks to all its members we have the possibility to carry our mission forward. We are not all the same, and our original motives may differ, but we are all working for the same end, according to the gifts we have each received, and this end is none other than to practise Hospitality to the sick, the poor and the needy. This is what we share in common, and this is why we are a great inclusive, welcoming and Hospitaller family. This is how John of God began his work in Granada and in Andalusia, by creating a Family around hospitality which attracted increasing numbers of people to gather around, following different paths, but always pursuing this same end.
This year, I would like to congratulate, and thank, all the members of the Hospitaller Family of Saint John of God for their commitment to the mission and the charism of our Founder. There is certainly much that can be improved, and many challenges which the present age is throwing down to us, and above all we have to be ready to face up to the future in a world in a constant state of flux, so that we are able to respond to what the Holy Spirit, who inspired San John of God, is asking of us today. To be able to address this challenge, it is crucially important never to lose sight of the goal to which we are all striving, following our various different paths, and necessarily pursue it using new ways and adopting new methods.
In a few months’ time, the Provincial Chapters will be convoked to be celebrated at the beginning of next year. This is why we shall shortly be embarking on a year of preparation for the Chapters, which will provide us with a new opportunity for discernment and enable us to take the necessary decisions to be able to continue responding faithfully to our mission and our charism, thinking especially about our future. We must do so hopefully and boldly, without doubting, and without fear. I ask the whole Family of the Order to spend this year preparing for the Chapters with a sense of commitment and responsibility, prayerfully and through reflection, discernment and purposeful dialogue, which will lead us to seek out and find the alternatives we need to ensure that John of God’s Hospitality will remain alive in this world which is so sorely in need of it.
As usual, at this time of the year, I would like to inform the whole of our Hospitaller Family of the results of the 2016 campaign to build the Formation Centre in Madang (Papua New Guinea). We raised a total of 251,674.56 euro thanks to the generosity and the solidarity of everyone, for which I once again wish to thank you all most sincerely.
At the same time, I wish to announce that the campaign for this year, 2017, will be “To support reintegration, and to enhance the quality of care at the Saint John of God Hostel in Quito”, Ecuador. Once again, I thank you in advance for your generosity and ask you to support this cause in order to continue improving the service offered to people with chronic social problems, who have been uprooted and made homeless, and exposed to the risk of social exclusion for a variety of different situations and conflicts.
I wish you a happy Saint John of God Day. May Saint John of God’s invitation to encourage one another as we pursue the same end stimulate us all to grow as the Saint John of God Family, dedicated to serving the least and the most vulnerable members of society, making the love of God present in our world through Hospitality, in the manner of Saint John of God.
United in our Lord and St John of God, I send you all my fraternal best wishes.
Brother Jesús Etayo