Christmas 2022

Circular Letter of the Prior General

“On earth peace among people of good will” (Lk 2,14)


To all the Members of the Hospitaller Family of St John of God


My dear Brothers, Co-workers, Volunteers and Friends,


As Christmas approaches, I send you all my very best wishes, praying that the Birth of Our Lord will fill all our hearts with joy, and that, especially this year, it will fill the lives of each one of you and your loved ones with peace, and particularly the life of our world which is being threatened and betrayed by marginalisation, violence and war, which are unfortunately unceasing.


I have just recalled the words of the Angels, announcing the coming of the Saviour to the shepherds on Christmas night: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among people of good will… today a Saviour has been born” (cf. Lk 2, 11.14). God is not abandoning us in this time of conflict and war which our world is currently experiencing. He is taking human flesh to become one of us, to be a Life-bearer and a Peace-builder, to stand by the victims of war, suffering and dying with them, bringing them the hope that Peace and Life will overcome war and death.


He does this by being born poor, by demeaning himself to the extreme, in order to proclaim the dignity of all people, especially the weakest. It is the greatest act of hospitality we have ever seen -  God becoming human at the lowest level, taking on our state of life, being born in a manger because there was no room in the inn, like the poorest of the poor. God humanising Himself and declaring us all to be His children, for whom He is ready to give everything, even His own life, as He then did. It is the hospitality which guarantees Life and Peace, of which we are so in need, Glory be to the Child born poor in a manger, Glory be to God who brings us Peace!


Hospitality and Peace always go hand-in-hand, especially this Christmas. At this time and at all times, it is right that in our prayers and in our personal, community and family commitment, and as the entire Hospitaller Family of St John of God, we should keep in mind all those who are sick, poor and suffering from any kind of marginalisation, especially the people we see and care for every day in the Order's Centres and Services. Our Lord is born for them, and they are being gifted with the gaze of a new-born baby who radiates joy, tenderness, love and, in this case, life and a companionship that will never desert us, because He stakes everything on us. It is like the new life which new-born babies often bring to their grandparents, with their smile and vitality!


Beset in these times by heightened armed conflicts, terrorism and aggressive environments of various kinds, I would like specially to recall the presence of our St John of God Family in a few of these fraught places, fostering Peace through Hospitality. As you know, there are three difficult situations in Africa where our Centres are close to or embroiled in war: Batibo (Cameroon), a situation that has been going on for years in the south-east of the country, on the border with Nigeria. Our Brothers and Co-workers are still present there in an exemplary manner, offering health and social care to the local people, putting their own lives in peril. There are also attacks by jihadist groups in the south of Burkina Faso on the border with Benin, where the Order has two Centres, one in Tanguiéta and the other in Porga which is currently having to confront very worrying times. The same is happening in northern Mozambique, where for some time now jihadist groups have been carrying out attacks and have entered the Province of Nampula, where the Order has a community.


In addition to what I have just mentioned in Africa, February will mark the first full year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is wreaking death and destruction, without any idea today of when or how it will all end. Over and above the fallout from this conflict, the Order has a Religious Community in Drohobycz, in the east of the country. From day one, the brothers decided to continue to be present among the people, helping and offering what they have and what can be sent to them through the various campaigns being mounted, but above all by being present there themselves.


These are four places where the Order is present, where conflict and war are filling the lives of the local people with suffering. They are four presences which provide us with a living testimony of the Gospel-inspired Hospitality of St John of God. By accompanying and offering health, social and spiritual care, they are banking on the Peace which the Child of Bethlehem brings us at Christmas. I would therefore like to thank all our brothers, Co-workers and Volunteers for their exemplary commitment, even putting their lives in danger. This is what makes the Family of St John of God grow, and which, 450 years after its approval by the Bull Licet ex debito, continues to enthral us with these examples of Hospitality and Peace, expressions of Christmas 2022. May Peace come this year to these places and everywhere in the world! Every act of Hospitality and Peace we perform, is a memorial of Christmas, of the presence of the God Child in the world!           


I wish all of you, Brothers, Co-workers, Volunteers and Friends of the Order, the guests in our Centres and their loved ones, as well as your own families, a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year 2023. To those of you who will be on duty over these days, especially on Christmas Day, I extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation on behalf of the entire Order.


Speaking for myself and the entire Hospitaller Family of St John of God at the General Curia, Brothers and Co-workers, I wish you all a Happy Christmas filled with joy. May Peace reign in our hearts!



Brother Jesús Etayo

Superior General 

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