St. Augustine Province of Africa

Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God

Bro. Leon R Mbengue

leon-r-mbengueI was born into a Catholic family and, like all the village children, I was sent to the private Catholic primary school run by the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. Religious education was given top priority there. Ultimately most of the pupils were directed to the diocesan junior seminary or the juniorates run by the Religious.

Since I had no wish to study in any of these establishments I continued my studies at the private Catholic school run by the Brothers of St Gabriel, and then at public high school. I was a boarder. The catechesis and pastoral care of vocations/vocations promotion in these schools went hand-in-hand. I played an active part in religious activities in the boarding school and at high school.

Then I discovered the Brothers of St John of God, because their hospital was next to the boarding school. I was carried away by their dedication and their visible, attractive presence. And so I told them of my wish to become a Brother of St John of God. I joined a group of aspirants while continuing my studies, and gradually came to understand their way of life and work. I experienced all of this in prayer and shared it with my friends, relatives and other people, including my parish priest. I was encouraged to continue.

I began my formation with three other companions including Brother André SENE. That phase was enriching, encouraging and a great joy to all of us in the group, and our Master, Brother Juan Manuel Quillabert and the other Brothers in the community. And this is how I began to discover the Brothers’ mission, which focused particular attention on the sick and the poor that the Brothers met. They led us forward into their life of witness in this enthralling environment.

I joyfully continued my own pathway in this family with great motivation, gradually developing a sense of belonging, love for my Brothers, and for the sick and the poor. It was this pathway that enabled me to discover the greatness of the Order. My experience in the world of suffering, and with the Brothers, helped to consolidate my Hospitaller vocation, which I consider to be beautiful and noble in the contemporary world.

After gaining experience, and acquiring the certitude that I had been called with all my strengths and weaknesses, I eventually applied to commit myself for life in the Order. And that is where I am today, with my brothers and sisters, keen to live up to my calling every single day