Day of Prayer for Vocations

The 20th January commemorates the conversion of St. John of God which took place on this day in 1538.  The day is set aside by the Brothers, as a day of prayer for vocations.  The following is a synopsis of the story of John’s conversion as told in “St. John of God – Father of the Poor” by Br. Brian O’Donnell, OH.


The  conversion experience of St. John of God took place on the feast of St. Sebastian, 20th January 1538.  That day a famous preacher of the time, St. John d’Avila was delivering  a sermon as part of the celebrations for St. Sebastian.  John went along to hear the sermon.  John d’Avila, spoke simply of the love and mercy of God, but John's reaction to the words of the preacher was extraordinary and unexpected - and not least by himself.   He had a sudden insight into the values of the gospel and how different they were to what he had so far assumed.   He suddenly

grasped that success in this world is not an indication of God's favour and that persons who seem to be worth nothing in the eyes of society can be those who are most precious in the sight of God.   The sermon both brought John to this realisation and challenged his attitude to life and his way of living it.


He immediately rushed away and began to do what he considered penance for his past sins, by punishing his body and calling on God for mercy.  His behaviour led some people in the city to consider him mentally unstable and he was taken to the Royal Hospital in Granada.  The treatment of the time for those considered to have mental illness was quite cruel and it was here that John began to realise what his life’s work would be, to ensure that the sick, whatever their illness, received the care and compassion that respected their dignity and reflected the values shown by Jesus in his treatment the sick and needy.








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