World Day for Consecrated Life
Circular Letter of the Prior General
You have called us for a mission
2 February 2020
To all the Brothers and Communities of the Order
On 2 February, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, we shall be celebrating the 24th World Day for Consecrated Life. Since it will fall on a Sunday this year, Pope Francis will be celebrating it in St. Peter's Basilica, with the consecrated men and women in Rome, on Saturday, 1 February.
I therefore send my best wishes to all the Brothers of the Order and all the consecrated men and women who work with us on our mission, and are members of our Family of St. John of God. This Day offers us the opportunity, once again, to celebrate our Religious consecration and to thank God for the gift of His vocation, following the charism of Hospitality, in the spirit of St. John of God, our Founder.
For this event, the Holy Father reminds us that Jesus did not choose us and send us forth to become more numerous! He called us to a mission. He put us in the midst of society like a handful of yeast: the yeast of the Beatitudes and the fraternal love by which, as Christians, we can all join in making present his kingdom (Apostolic Journey to Morocco, 30-31 March 2019).
Almost a year has already passed since we closed the General Chapter of our Order with a fraternal meeting with the Pope, in which he spelt out the main thrusts of how we must live for our Order and, in particular, for our consecrated life consistently with his words that have I just quoted in the previous paragraph. The final document of our General Chapter also set out very clear indications for our consecrated life, at both the spiritual and apostolic, and the personal and community, levels.
On this occasion, I wish to stress the importance of continuing formation as one of the keys to the permanent renewal of our consecrated life, as both individuals and as a community. For the formation of the Brother of St. John of God does not end with initial formation and with solemn profession. We are well aware of this. Formation is life-long. But we do not always approach it properly and we settle for running a few courses on topics that have to do with our spiritual, apostolic and fraternal life. But there are also times when these are barely touched upon.
All this forms part of continuing formation, but is insufficient in itself. For the kind of continuing formation we consecrated people, and in our case the Brothers of St. John of God need, is formation that helps us to live our consecration with passion, joy and enthusiasm, ready to devote our lives to God and to His Kingdom, at the service of the sick, the poor and the needy.
Not all of us need the same formation, for we must take account of our differing ages, cultures, apostolic missions, and other variables. But everyone needs to seek and nurture the elements that help us to live a spiritual, fraternal and apostolic life that is relevant in today’s world, along a permanent path of spiritual and hospitaller growth, a path of continuing conversion.
Every Brother is responsible for acquiring the means they need, and these must be provided by the provincial and local superiors, who must organise them to help the Brothers and the communities. The General Government is preparing a document to offer guidance to the Order’s Provinces and Regions, to be used to foster and organise the formation of the Brothers and the Communities.
Only if we nurture our consecration through continuing formation, understood in this way, can we respond to the Lord's call to be yeast in the dough, and light in the darkness.
Let us all joyfully celebrate the 24th World Day for Consecrated Life and, as I have said on other occasions, may all the Brothers of St. John of God enlighten the world by bearing witness to Hospitality, as St. John of God did!
United in Our Lord and St. John of God, I send you my fraternal and hospitaller best wishes.
Brother Jesús Etayo