St. Augustine Province of Africa

Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God

Bro. Hector Lattah

hector-lattahIn my case, the desire to serve suffering people followed in the wake of a particular life experience.

At the age of 23, after visiting the sick in one of the public hospitals in my region I realised that when people are suffering, they become dependent upon everyone. After that experience I realised the importance of the slightest gesture of attention, such as offering them a drink, or simply smiling at them or giving them a word of encouragement. I then understood the need to reach out to contact suffering people who were unable to take the first step themselves. One year after completing my high school studies I decided to go to see the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God in order to better discern God’s call to serve the sick. When I arrived at the Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God I was greatly moved by the way they so beautifully balanced prayer and service to the sick and needy. I realise that prayer and work are inseparable. For prayer is a response to God’s love by meditating on the Word of God, while work is giving one’s own life for the sick and for people in need. Of course work entails some kind of hardship, but it is also a way to fulfil ourselves, and to acquire skills. I also realise that the Brother of St John of God is the man through whom Christ reveals the love of the Father to suffering humanity. And so if Christ is to be able to act, the first thing we must do is to learn to be self-effacing. The vow of Hospitality commits the Brothers to welcome people as they are, and to accompany them along the path of life with infinite respect, beginning by listening to them, which creates a sense of trust in which the other person can feel loved. The fruits of the vow of Hospitality are quite simply a profound joy, an indescribable peace and an incomparable interior sense of freedom. The Hospitaller life of the Brothers of St John of God is an apprenticeship in love, such that when one finds the spiritual life of the Brothers of St John of God, one always finds love and service for the sick and needy.