Circular Letter of the Prior General
Don’t be afraid, He has Risen!
To all the Brothers and Co-workers, members of the Hospitaller Family of Saint John of God
At this very special time for all of us, I send my Easter greetings to all the Family of St John of God and to all the relatives and the guests we are caring for in the Order’s Centres and facilities, wishing that the Risen Lord will fill you with joy and hope. Happy Easter!
This year in many parts of the world we will not be able to celebrate Easter as we usually do. As last year, we are still subject to severe restrictions almost everywhere, and our celebrations will have to continue to be held under the precautionary measures imposed by the pandemic. Nevertheless, we shall be celebrating with all the intensity and joy of Easter, the Resurrection, Our Lord's victory over sin, suffering and death.
This year, unlike last year, we can look forward with greater hope, which is another reason to give thanks to God and to celebrate it during Easter. The arrival of vaccines, despite some controversy, has raised our hopes that before very long most of the population will be immunised, so that the pandemic can be defeated once and for all. This is what we hope, and we wish that they will reach all the countries in the world, thanks to the solidarity and humanity of all our nations.
In the meantime, many people have died and there has been much suffering along the way. In addition to the health pandemic we must add the economic and social, political, ethical, spiritual and religious pandemics. Pandemics that bring yet more suffering: through an increase in mental illness, the lack of money, joblessness, and the dearth of ethical and spiritual values able to unite everyone in the pursuit of our common good. The repercussions of the pandemic will be dramatic and long-lasting. This is the Good Friday that our world is currently experiencing because of the pandemic, but there are undoubtedly many other Good Fridays, Fridays of pain due to other causes such as violence, abuse, hunger and poverty, injustice, sickness and the existential emptiness that many people are experiencing.
At the very heart of this situation, Easter calls us to be trusting. and to pin our hope firmly on the Lord of Life, who is also united in solidarity with the suffering in our world, and who has risen, and has come to meet us, just as he came to meet the women on Easter morning: "Rejoice, do not be afraid, go and tell my brothers and sisters to go to Galilee, for there they will see me". In Him, no pandemic and no other state of suffering for whatever cause, not even death itself, has the last word, because He has ovrecome all these things. Do not be afraid. Rejoice.
As far as the Order is concerned, the situation has hardly changed since my last communication. We have not heard of any more contagions or deaths, although some of the guests being cared for in some of the Order's centres with Covid-19 units have reported deaths. For the time being, the medical situation is more stable and vaccines are gradually reaching many of the Order's centres and communities, which have already been vaccinated because they are health workers. The same is happening in centres for the elderly, and we hope that in a few months they will reach everyone.
The economic repercussions of the pandemic for many of the Order's centres are very serious at present, and we will not know its true extent until it is over, but there is no doubt that some of them will be faced with serious difficulties.
As signs of Resurrection and Hope, I would like to point out once again the dedication and great creativity that our St John of God Family is showing during this time to assist the Covid-19 patients. The Order has very clearly grasped this moment of charismatic emergency we are now experiencing. It is "the hour of hospitality". It has committed itself and given itself in an exemplary manner, in keeping with the tradition of the Order and of our Founder, St John of God. It is continuing to do so, and this is how we are experiencing it at this time as a sign of Easter, of Life, because Gospel hospitality in the manner of St. John of God brings with it both Life and Hope.
We are hopefully looking forward to the moment when the pandemic will be defeated and will allow us to once again be able to carry out the many activities planned by the General Government of the Order, especially those that require a physical presence, which is also very important. We are doing everything virtually at the moment. We hope that in the latter part of the year we shall be able to resume face-to-face activities and that next year, when the Provincial Chapters are held, they can take place without any particular difficulties.
During Easter may we all experience the encounter with the Risen Lord who fills us with light, joy and hope and sends us out to communicate Him to others in our daily lives, knowing that He always accompanies us on our journey, just as he did the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
On behalf of the General Government and the entire Hospitaller Family of St John of God at the General Curia, BEST WISHES FOR A VERY HAPPY EASTER.
Brother Jesús Etayo