Facing the Future under the Patronage of Mary

My Dear Brothers, Co-workers and Members of the Hospitaller Family of Saint John of God,

The third Saturday in November is the day on which the Order celebrates the most important Feast of Our Mother, the Virgin Mary: the Solemnity of the Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary over the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God, the Patron of our Hospitaller Family the Saint John of God. This year it occurs on the 21st and I send my best wishes to all of you and invite you to celebrate the Feast day with joy and with proper preparation.

The Virgin Mary has always been present in our Order, ever since the time of Saint John of God, who always referred to her as ever-Virgin.Throughout the almost five centuries of our Order?s' existence, she has alwaysoccupied a very important place in the Order?s' life, spirituality and mission, and it has always felt, and still continues to feel, her protection and her patronage as the Queen of Hospitality.There are so many examples of this, thanks to the constant devotion that the Brothers and Co-workers have always shown for her, nurturing it in many different forms and ways.

Only a few days ago in Rome, we held our Assembly of the Major Superiors of the Order at which we reflected on the future of our Institution. We all agreed that this was certainly the most pressing challenge facing our Family in the coming years. It is not merely a matter of statistics or a question of restructuring the Centres or even the Provinces. It entails a process of comprehensive discernment about the Order as a whole. We have to discern the kind of Order we want for the future, and above all the Order which the Holy Spirit wants of us in the coming years.

It must be a process involving the whole of our Hospitaller Family of Saint of John of God, with everyone following the same guidelines, even though the process has to be conducted in each Province or Region, or in several Provinces working together at the same time. It requires us to make the effort to ensure that all the Brothers and a substantial number of our Co-workers are involved in the process. Beginning necessarily with the life of the Brothers and the Communities, Formation and the Apostolic Mission, the process must eventually encompass the structures of the Provinces and of the Apostolic Centres.

Since it is a process of discernment, it requires us to reach out to the Spirit and to eschew all prejudices and fear which paralyse change, for what we are seeking is what the Lord wants for our Institution, so that we can continue making the Charism and Mission of Hospitality present and topically relevant ? a process on which the Order has had to embark in earlier ages throughout its history. It must animate us to approach this new process with the hope and the boldness demonstrated by our forebears, when the Brothers had to address the changes that the Church and society were demanding of them.

The forthcoming Regional Conferences in February and March 2016 will examine and thoroughly discuss this issue, which will also be the focus of all the events and meetings which will be convened in the latter half of the Sexennium leading up to the next General Chapter.

When I was elected superior general I placed this Sexennium under the protection of the Patronage of Our Lady. And following in the tradition of the Order I wish to place this discernment process regarding the Order?s' future under Our Mother?s'protection and patronage. We pray that she will accompany and help us to do what her Son commands, just as she asked the servants at the wedding at Cana to do (cf Jn 2,1-11). This will enable us to discover what He is asking of us, and the changes that we must carry through, and of course she will never fail to help us to enable us to do what is required of us.

Let us pray to Our Lady, as our Patron, for all the sick and for those for whom we care in the Order?s' Centres and Services and for their loved ones, asking her protect them, console them, and with a mantle as their Mother. In particular, we commend to her all the immigrants and refugees in Europe and throughout the world, and the victims of the wars and the natural disasters which have broken out in several countries in the world in recent times.    

Speaking personally and on behalf of the whole Hospitaller Family at the General Curia, I wish you all a very happy celebration of the Solemnity of the Patronage of Our Lady praying for her blessing on our beloved Order, and on all of us as members of the Hospitaller Family of Saint John of God.

With my fraternal best wishes.

Bro.Jesús Etayo




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