Solemnity of Our Lady, Patron of the Hospitaller Order
Circular Letter of the Prior General
My Dear Brothers,Co-workers and Members of the Hospitaller Family of St John of God
On 16November, on the third Saturday in the month, we shall be celebrating theSolemnity of the Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary over the HospitallerOrder, as the Patron of our Hospitaller Family of St John of God. I wish you avery happy Feast Day, urging you all to carefully prepare for it, and tocelebrate it with joy.
Ever sincethe time of St John of God, the ever-virgin Mary has occupied a centralplace in the life of our Order. The Bramante painting accompanying this letterreminds us of Mary’s assistance and protection of St John of God when he was asoldier at Fuenterrabía (Spain). Today we still sense her protection and herpatronage as Our Mother, whom we venerate as the Queen of Hospitality. Shecontinues to accompany our Family, teaching us by her example and her presenceto practise hospitality and to renew it at every moment in history just as StJohn of God did.
As in theprevious Sexennium, I should like to place this new Sexennium under theprotection of Our Lady’s Patronage, praying that she will guide the whole ofour Hospitaller Family of St John of God over the coming years to ensure thatby implementing the lines of action issued by the General Chapter and themessage that Pope Francis addressed to the Order, we can faithfully respond toall the challenges that may arise by renewing hospitality in the manner ofSaint John of God.
During thefirst week of October we convened the Assembly of Major Superiors of the Orderin Rome, as we do every year. The central theme of the Assembly this year was: preventive care and protection of vulnerablepeople, along the lines of the Declarations of the last General Chapter. Itis a grim and grievous issue for vulnerable and abused, for the victims. It isalso sad grim the abusers, particularly when taking place in institutions andplaces where people expect care and protection. And this unfortunately occurs inevery social environment, including the Church and in Institutes of ConsecratedLife.
Our Assembly also mentioned the way society and the Church are demandingrespect for Creation, for the Earth, for the environment. Pope Francis wrotethe 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, appealing to us to care for the earth throughwhat the Pope calls integral ecology,which clearly incorporates or the human and social dimensions (Cf. 137). The ecological crisis is called to usto undergo profound interior conversion...an “ecological conversion” to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it isnot an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience(Cf. 217). Ours must be a commitment byeach one of us personally, each community and all our Apostolic Works andultimately the whole Order. The last General Chapter urged us, in itsdeclarations, to commit ourselves to encouraging respect and care for creation.The General Government wishes to promote this sensitivity throughout the Order.
My dearBrothers, these are two highly topical issues that urge all the HospitallerFamily of St John of God to re-read afresh, and in contemporary terms, thehospitality of St John of God. Ourapostolic mission today includes appealing for and being committed to caringfor creation, in the light of the encyclical Laudato Si and to caringfor and protecting vulnerable people,which means all those for whom we care in our Centres and who come to us expectinga welcome, health, peace, love, mercy and security – in short, hospitality.
Contemplatingour mission of hospitality in terms of the two appeals requires us to update hospitality, to respond to thechallenges we are confronted with today. It is of course not easy anddemands conversion, change and commitment, giving up trying to defend ourselvesand, as St John of God did, placing those in need, particularly the mostvulnerable and the victims of maltreatment and any kind of negligence or abuseat the very heart of all we do, because that flies in the face of the veryessence and existence of the hospitality which we are called to practise andoffer to others. We must drive forward appropriate and adequate formation forboth Brothers and Co-workers and draft the policies, protocols and proceduresneeded in all the Provinces and Centres where they do not yet exist, in orderto guarantee and safeguard security for everyone.
As we proceedin this direction we can sense the company of Our Mother and Our Lady of thePatronage by our side. She inspires us as we strive to show improved care forher sons and daughters, and our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. She willcontinue to accompany and lead us on as we work to promote a healthier and moresecure world, that is more welcoming and fraternal for everyone. We must alwaysturn to her, for in her we find peace and love, and permanent inspiration tocontinue responding to the calling of her Son, as she repeats to us the words sheuttered the Wedding at Cana: do whateverhe tells you (cf Jn 2,1-11).
Speakingpersonally, and on behalf the whole Hospitaller Family at the General Curia, Isend you all my best wishes for a happy celebration of the Solemnity of OurLady of the Patronage. I pray for her blessing on our Order, on the sick andall the members of the Hospitaller Family of St John of God.
With myfraternal best wishes,
Brother Jesús Etayo
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