St. Augustine Province of Africa

Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God

Bro. Jesus A. Labarta

labarta

At a decisive moment in my life I experienced the presence of our Lord, manifested in the form of “compassion”. It was a source of healing, it was the path that I had to tread. It was an experience and a realisation that has stayed like a memorial throughout my life, urging me on to proclaim it and to share it with others, especially those who are suffering. I feel that I have been called to devote myself to serve this mission.

I joined the Brothers of St John of God because I identified with their charism and their mission. It was the answer to my quest. I felt at home from the bottom of my heart. Within the Order the formation I received enabled me to understand the sense of consecration, the richness of life lived in common, passion for the shared mission, but also the purification of the ideal in daily life.

All my life I have tried to broaden my horizons, keen to announce the “compassionate and merciful Christ” in other lands. The Lord offered me this opportunity when another Brother declined to take up his post in Africa. I arrived in Senegal in 1985, my head full of illusions, great ideas and the generosity of youth. I wanted to become directly involved in the mission of our centres. But our Lord decided otherwise, and my mission was to cooperate in providing formation to the Brothers, to enable them to embody the charism and take on the responsibility for our centres in the not too distant future.

The different responsibilities I took on during those years helped me to respond to this task. I had unforgettable, extraordinary and exceptional experiences. Our Lord has really worked wonders for me. Now, all together, I can see the tree growing and I can taste its fruit. They have taken over responsibility for it, and the mission is continuing.

I am happy with my vocation and the path I have taken. I believe that it is through obedience that our lives find meaning and can be fulfilled. It is true that if I had known at the beginning what path I was about to embark upon, I might have decided otherwise. But as a good teacher, Our Lord forms us patiently while fully respecting our freedom. His “compassion” renews us day by day.

Today, as yesterday, the lamp which has enlightened my pathway has been this practical experience of “our Lord’s compassion”. I feel called to become “compassion” myself, and to announce it to all men and women, and in particular to suffering humanity.

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