THE CHANGING FACE OF THE ORDER
Br. Donatus Forkan, OH, Prior General
#2.1.2. Every life form must grow or die
It may sound a somewhat crude way to describe the work of a religious institution as ‘producing results’. We know that the results we seek are spiritual, which obviously cannot be measured. The means we use are the corporal and spiritual care of suffering humanity.9 By being faithful to this sacred mission the Order continues to be a viable instrument of evangelization in the world of health care. Unless the farmer cultivates the land, sows the seed and gives nutrition to the growing plant there will be no harvest. In the same way, in order to have spiritual effect, evangelization, there must be social impact. The Order of St. John of God today cares for more people than it has ever done in its history. Annually, more than 20,000,000 (twenty million) persons are touched by a follower of St. John of God. It does this through a wide-ranging expression of Hospitality not dreamt of before Vatican II. It also carries out its mission in a manner and at a level of excellence not thought possible just 40 years ago.
As a point of interest, before the updating called for by the Second Vatican Council, the Vow of Hospitality only came into effect when we cared for male patients in our own hospitals or those entrusted to us.10 The revised definition of the Vow of Hospitality contained in the Constitutions of 1984 reads:
“With the vow of hospitality we dedicate ourselves, under obedience to our superiors, to helping the sick and those in need, undertaking to provide them with all those services they need, even the most humble and the most dangerous to our own lives, in imitation of Christ, who loved us even to the extent of dying for our salvation.
Our greatest joy lies in living in contact with those to whom our mission is directed; we welcome them and serve them with the loving-kindness, understanding and spirit of faith which they deserve as persons and as children of God, and we place all our energy, talents and skills at their disposition in the various tasks entrusted to us.”11
9 Cf. Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, Constitutions 1984, Chap. I.
10 Cf. 1927 Constitutions, art. 79a.
11 Cf. 1984 Constitutions, (art 22).