St. Augustine Province of Africa

Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God

Bro. Isaac Alatako

alatakoI first came into contact with the Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God in 2008, the year I decided to attend morning Mass regularly. I had to choose between my parish church and the Novitiate of the Brothers of St John of God, both of which were quite close to where I lived. After trying out both of them I eventually chose to worship with the Brothers.

And it was precisely then that I felt attracted to the life of the Brothers in general, and in particular the way they celebrated Mass (in a very lively and meaningful manner), and the Liturgy of the Hours (which they sang so beautifully in unison), as well as the climate that reigned between the Brothers while they were doing manual work in the Novitiate. I was so deeply affected by this beautiful community life that I later committed myself to our Lord Jesus Christ to live in community. And that marked the beginning of my journey with the Brothers. My first experience was in Tanguiéta in June 2009. Today I am in the Scholasticate in Nairobi (Kenya), after having made my first profession on May 1, 2013. After these few years I have lived in the Order I can say that, on the whole, everything is fine.

Personally, I would say that the Order has done a great deal to radically change my life in every respect. First of all, if I think of my spiritual, human, pastoral and community formation that I have received in the Order since becoming an aspirant, I cannot help but thank God for the gift of the Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God in my life. Today I can see that my relationship with God is better than it was in the past. I feel closer to our Lord Jesus Christ and more involved in His mission of salvation. Thanks to my religious formation I have come to recognise my importance in this world and the mission to which I have been directed: to lead souls to Christ. While undergoing formation I found that I was beginning to better understand who I am: my personality, my qualities and my defects, and also the ability to accept myself and to love myself. This enables me to reach out to the world and to live my life freely and trustingly with my brothers and sisters. In every community I have lived in, I have noticed a great sense of solidarity, a family spirit and love in their lifestyle, to such an extent that I asked whether there could possibly exist a better and happier Congregation than ours. I often hear people say the Religious Life has become a routine because it is largely based on monotony. But I have found that it is quite the reverse among the Brothers of St John of God. From what little I know, I think that this is because of the structure of our communities which are often incorporated into our Centres (hospitals), which enable us to work directly with the sick and with our Co-workers.

I consider the apostolate of the sick to be a great gift of God to everyone whom He calls to His service. For this is a way of partaking in the suffering of Christ, of recognising our own frailty, and hence of showing the humility we need to be able to express care and love for our neighbour. After all, is this not the main purpose of our earthly existence?