On July 9th the USA Province of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God celebrated its 75th anniversary of the Brothers arriving to the United States and beginning their ministry. A Mass and Reception was held on the Villa Maria Grounds where the Brothers, benefactors, coworkers and guests gathered together to thank God for these 75 years of ministry in the USA. “Do good to yourself by doing good for others” was Saint John of God’s inspirational appeal that reflected his love for the poor, the lonely and the sick. His mission spread throughout the world, as a sign of God’s love for every person, especially for those who are in need, following the example of Saint John of God.
In 1941, Brother Matthias Barrett and his two companions, Brother Leonard Mondat and Brother John Calybit Dubuc opened a soup kitchen on Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles. Since then, the Brothers have been extending their mission throughout the various sponsored health care centers and meeting the most urgent needs of society. Today, the USA Province, dedicated to Our Lady Queen of the Angels, sponsors three ministries: St. John of God Retirement and Care Center in Los Angeles, St. Joseph Health and Retirement Center in Ojai, and St. John of God Health Care Services in Victorville.
The Celebration began with a solemn Mass presided by Most Reverend Edward Clark, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. There were 150 guests that attended the ceremony including four Brothers from the North American Province of the Good Shepherd, Brother David Lynch, Brother Yvon Paquin, Brother Jean-Yves Châteauvert, and Brother Gaston Morin. There were also family members of Brother Patrick Corr from County Kilkenny, Ireland and four former Hospitaller Brothers. We were very grateful for the presence of all the guests that evening.
In his homily, Bishop Clark said, “Today’s Gospel reading is the story of the Good Samaritan. This year, as you know, we are celebrating the Year of Mercy, which was proclaimed by the Holy Father. He asks us to renew our commitment to living the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. The passage he chose for this year is the image of the Good Samaritan. Today is the perfect day in which we celebrate the life of the Brothers who live out the Corporal Works of Mercy in a very visible way here in this community.”
During the Mass three Brothers from the USA Province renewed their vows of Poverty, Obedience, Chastity and Hospitality. The Jubilarian Celebration of Brother Patrick Corr, O.H. celebrating 75 years, Brother Anthony Scully, O.H. celebrating 60 years, and Brother Peter Gelfer, O.H., Sac, celebrating 50 years, highlighted their commitment and dedication as Brothers of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God who have borne witness of the ministry of hospitality throughout all these years.
Following the Mass, a reception was held in the Front Lawn of the Villa Maria. Mr. Albert Lord, the Field Deputy to the Los Angeles City Councilmember, Herb Wesson, presented the Brothers with a certificate from the city commemorating the Brothers’ 75 years of ministry. The Provincial, Brother Pablo Lopez, O.H. gave his welcoming remarks and paid tribute the history and foundation of the Province. He also took the time to recognize the three Jubilarians and all the coworkers and benefactors who have worked in creating the current ministries of the Province. Brother Pablo’s closing remarks were in the form of a blessing. “I am very conscious of representing “the Brothers”. I know that they want me to say to you that they appreciate deeply the time, energy and effort that each of you put into the development of the Province. St. John of God used to say “I want to see you go from good to better” and that is my prayer for each of us today.”
The Brothers took this opportunity to honor and thank four benefactors who have given their time and generosity to support and sustain their ministry for at least 25 years. Brother Pablo and Brother Stephen presented to Mr. Gary J. Herman, Sr. of Los Angeles and Mr. Norman Dollar of Apple Valley a certificate of affiliation with the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God. They were signed and blessed by the Father General of the Order, Brother Jesús Etayo in Rome. Mrs. Adele Marietta and Dr. John Mc Neill, DDS, both from Ojai also received a certificate of affiliation yet they were unable to attend the reception.
From the very beginning the Brothers have created a family that consist of consecrated people, lay men and women, who today live out the spirit of hospitality promoted by the Order. We celebrate together, as a family of St. John of God, this milestone of the USA Province, for the valuable and dedicated contribution that the Brothers have offered in this country.