Solemnity of St John of God
Circular Letter of the Prior General
A man who was passionate for God and compassionate towards the sick and the poor (Pope Francis)
To all the Brothers and Co-workers, Members of the Hospitaller Family of St John of God
We have just ended the Order’s 69th General Chapter, and as the Feast of Saint John of God, our Founder, approaches I wish to extend my best wishes to all of you, for a joyful celebration of the Solemnity of our Patron.
All of you have keenly followed the proceedings and all the sessions and stages of the General Chapter. As always, it was a key moment of communion and fraternity in Hospitality, an intense experience permanent discernment, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and listening to His voice, to enable us to respond as faithfully as possible to perform the mission He has entrusted to our Order.
The theme of the Chapter was “Shaping the Future of Hospitality”. But this was more than a mere title. It is a commitment we have undertaken to adopt a permanent dynamic attitude to building and shaping, renewing and living faithfully so that we can work out new ways of responding to the newly arising needs today. This entail creating new wineskins for the new wine of Hospitality which is not only the mortar of the House that we are building up and shaping, but it is what fills it with light and meaning.
For three weeks in Rome we worked in this direction, to achieve these objectives, laying down guidelines for our St John of God Family to pursue. Many of you have certainly already been informed by your Provinces, and very shortly we shall be publishing the final document and some of the addresses and the programme for the Sexennium on which we have just embarked.
One very special and moving moment for all of us was the private audience granted to us by Pope Francis on 1 February. It was a very important morning for us, because in addition to being offered the Pope’s hospitality in his House, and being able to share with him, and taking some photographs together, he delivered a Message to us, full of enlightenment and inspiration which, taken together with the Chapter’s Final Declarations, will inspire and form part of the General Government’s programme for the coming years.
His Message was brief, but so full of light and depth. Something we have to read and re-read, thoroughly meditate on, pray over, and share with our Brothers and Co-workers. I earnestly urge you to do so. He did not fail to mention St John of God, our Founder, when he told us, “Avoid allowing the Hospìtaller Order to become a private army. Discuss, debate, drawing on your roots, and planning the present and the future of your life and mission, at all times heeding the voices of the many sick and needy people who need you, as St John of God did – a man passionate for God, and compassionate towards the sick and the poor”.
A whole life programme, under the leadership of St John of God. Let us remember his own words: “Love Our Lord Jesus Christ above everything in the world, for however much you love him he still loves you more. Always have charity, for where there is no charity God is not there - even though God is everywhere.” (Luis Bautista 15). I pray to God and urge all the members of our Saint John of God Hospitaller Family to have the courage to live their lives with a passion for God and with the heart of the Good Samaritan which moved to compassion by the sight of every sick, poor and needy person.
We are setting out on the new Sexennium full of hope and confidence in our Lord and in all the members of our Family. All the members of the new General Government will be doing our utmost to continue shaping and displaying, day by day, the hospitality of the Gospel which John of God, more than anyone else, embodied in himself. We have so many challenges and responsibilities to be addressed, but we are confident that we can count on the help of Our Lord, Saint John of God, and the whole Order. Working in communion and with courage. Over the coming days, the new General Government will be travelling to Granada to commit this new Sexennium to the protection of our Founder, and be nurtured and inspired by his life and example.
As always at this time of the year, I wish to announce the results of our 2018 fundraising campaign for the “Akassato (Cotonou), of the Province of Saint Richard Pampuri (Benin-Togo)” project . We have raised a total of 305,451.73 euros thanks to the solidarity of all of you, for which once again my most sincere thanks.
I would also like to inform you that we also launched a campaign at the General Chapter to help our Centres in Venezuela, entitled “Comida Solidaria Compartida” being run to cater for the needs of malnourished people, and particularly for infants. So far we have raised 100,000 euros. We also decided not to launch a new campaign for 2019, but to leave the Venezuelan campaign open throughout the year, and to urge you all to continue supporting this project if you have not already had the opportunity to do so, and even if you have. Many thanks once again for your solidarity and your generosity for those who are in want.
With my best wishes for a very happy Feast of St John of God. May his passion and devotion to the poor and the sick encourage all the members of our Hospitaller Family to grow and continue shaping the future of Hospitality as we set out on this new Sexennium.
United in Our Lord and Saint John of God, I send you my fraternal best wishes.
Brother Jesús Etayo