St. Augustine Province of Africa

Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God

Bro. Jacob Ketchen

1jacobThis is a brief sharing on my experience with the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God. I joined this noble family in 2004 after completing my high school and until now I feel my experience is very good. Putting it very good does not imply that it has been rosy but it is that there have been some ups and downs in which one moves forward in this life of sharing.

As an individual in the process of formation I had my “vade mecum”  is simplicity and openness. And this has been my help till now. All the challenges of being formed have been solved by this motto. I have been impressed by the system of formation which for me is aimed at canalizing the individual brothers to self responsibility. In all there has been full support from senior brothers during this important period of formation in the form of personal advice and self example in the communities. One is put to situations of reality of religious life today in all angles.

My experience in the various communities has also participated to my personal growth in the Order. A self decision and discipline has been imposed to me by my very self. I wish to acknowledge the attention of brothers in the various communities in assisting me go through all the hardships in communal living. I feel that I had not chosen to live a Brother of St. John of God I could have been incomplete. This is because of the richness in living together and serving the needy.  The wonderful joys shared and the pains shared.  The experience of seeing an older brother becoming a younger one and a younger behaving like an old man so that they can each fit in the same shoes is normally what is very particular in the communities. Thus hospitality being practiced in a way in the community before carried out to others. A life of prayer at the center of everything.

The gift of hospitality has not only limited me to the love and service in community, but has given me the strength of service to the poor, those in need. As nurse I have been able to successfully share my professionalism with other personnel and especially the sick. I feel a fulfillment of mission as am able to serve patients with a heart of professional and a heart of Hospitaller Brother of St. John of God. In my experience in this I have been able to share in happiness ( a patient getting healed ) and the sad moments with the patients ( when I cannot respond totally to the patients need especially to avoid dying ). It has been of two way benefit, that is I have been able to benefit from the patients in that they help me gain that satisfaction of service to others as a hospitaller and also they are able to gain help from me. In this there have been moments of frustration by not succeeding in helping a patient or when one dies. This frustration leads to questions that can only be answered by God. the emptiness anddependence to God of our being. But the community has served as a motivation to always move forward in all situations.

It does gives me satisfaction that I am able to achieve my initial desires of being a consecrated person and to be of service to the poor. In all sharing in a community life has also been good. I used to ask myself if I did not come into this life what kind of life could be satisfying to me as this?