St. Augustine Province of Africa

Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God

Bro. Ignace

ignaceEveryone dreams of going further in the pursuit of their ambitions, firstly to find a decent job, and then to start a family.

I was born into a pagan family and my father had four wives. For a long time I lived in darkness without any knowledge of Christ. I went to primary and secondary school in my village, by the side of my grandmother. My great dream was to become a soldier, but later this changed into another ambition which I failed to understand. I had to leave my village to go to Pagouda, where I stayed with my paternal uncle. All his children were Christians. I started a catechism course with his wife, and became an altar server and an active member of the Young Catholic Students movement.

 The Sisters of Saint Catherine spoke to us about the lives of the Saints and set up a group called the “Oasis Group”. It was as a member of this group that I discovered my vocation to the priesthood. But since I enjoyed visiting the sick in the neighbourhood, with the Sisters, the Community Superior spoke to me about an Order of Brothers whose sole mission was to nurse the sick. I had never been away from home, let alone abroad. And this was the beginning of a great adventure to Benin, and more specifically to Tanguiéta.

My pathway was wonderful because I discovered there a new world, the world of suffering. They spoke to us about community life, the Rule of St Augustine, and the Constitutions. The lessons we had on the life of St John of God, and his work, and the beginnings of the Order of the Brothers of St John of God were so wide-ranging that I discovered another life, another family, another world.

At every moment in my life I have always asked whether I resemble, even a little, the great Saint who founded us. I realise that we must always return to our source, in order to draw strength from it. Accepting others in the community, a personal prayer life, community prayer, spiritual exercises, spiritual reading, attending holy Mass and praying the Rosary made me a different man. And in so doing I always ask God to give me more strength and more patience to perform the work of St John of God.