About us

Our institute was approved by the Church as an Order of Brothers with the mission to provide assistance for the sick and needy. It had its origin in Granada, Spain, in the second half of the 16th century to continue the charitable apostolate of Saint John of God, who was born at Montemor-o-Novo (Portugal) and died in Granada on the 8th of March 1550.

Saint John of God had been joined by several followers, who were attracted by his example and who helped him in works of mercy, especially in the hospital he founded in Granada. Outstanding among these followers was Anthony Martin; at the moment of death, John entrusted him with the continuation and supervision of the work. In the following years other companions joined the group, and a number of hospitals were founded.

Our identity as Brothers consecrated in hospitality commits us to encouraging, fostering and establishing bonds of fraternity with all those who wish to join us to share our spirituality, charism and/or mission as Co-workers.


Allowing the heart to ‘command’ has led the Order to discover new horizons, new frontiers, new challenges and new opportunities. The Hospitaller Order of St. John of God continues to be a credible instrument in God’s hands for bringing about His reign on earth because of its fidelity to its mission. This is so not because certain members of great intellectual prowess have left us libraries full of their works, although we do have valuable works that contain the collective memory of the past and others that have interpreted the story in the light of the times they lived in.

Rather, the Order of St. John of God is what it is today because its members allowed the ‘heart to command’, to listen to the voice of the poor. A heart that sees where love was needed and acted accordingly.8 Hospitality in the way of John of God is like a golden thread that spins across centuries keeping the fabric of the Order together and intact. It is like a multicolored garment whose colors are an image of how it has been expressed in a variety of ways down the centuries according to the exigencies of time, place and the needs of people, with the charism of John’s hospitality being the golden thread binding it together.

Faithfulness to the original inspiration, that is St. John of God and the legacy of Hospitality that he has left us, is the constituent element that has enabled the Order to continue to grow. I use the phrase ‘continue to grow’ advisedly, because an organization or an organism that does not grow gradually dies. Life in an organization is measured by its ability to grow, expand and ultimately by its ability to recreate itself, and to produce results.

The Arms of the Venegas Family, which can still be seen over the doorway of the house that had once belonged to this important Granada family, bears a heart pierced by a sword, with the motto “El Corazon manda” (‘The heart commands’). With the permission of the owner Don Miguel Abiz de Venegas, John used to sleep in the doorway. However, as John had a heart that was not deaf to the voice of the poor he invited them to take shelter with him in this temporary haven. The doorway however, soon became so crowded with poor and sick people that John brought there, the people of the household found it difficult to enter and live in their own dwelling. Understandably, John was soon asked by the owners to move on and take his ‘friends’ with him. We might say that it was here that John’s style of hospitality was born – in a doorway.

8 Cf. Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 31 b.

Br. Donatus Forkan, OH, Prior General


As followers of St. John of God all of us need to see things positively and try to give heart to people in situations in which there is opposition, resistance and fear. These often hamper and slow down the mission because the world needs to be humanized today more than ever before. So many people feel disenfranchised and humiliated for various reasons ranging from ill health to dire financial straits. So many others feel vulnerable and defenseless in a society which fails to take care of them and even tends to marginalize them. The Spirit of the Risen Christ is sending us out to these people precisely to bring them the hope of the Good News.


Br. Donatus Forkan, OH, Prior General
#2.1.2. Every life form must grow or die

It may sound a somewhat crude way to describe the work of a religious institution as ‘producing results’. We know that the results we seek are spiritual, which obviously cannot be measured. The means we use are the corporal and spiritual care of suffering humanity.9 By being faithful to this sacred mission the Order continues to be a viable instrument of evangelization in the world of health care. Unless the farmer cultivates the land, sows the seed and gives nutrition to the growing plant there will be no harvest. In the same way, in order to have spiritual effect, evangelization, there must be social impact. The Order of St. John of God today cares for more people than it has ever done in its history. Annually, more than 20,000,000 (twenty million) persons are touched by a follower of St. John of God. It does this through a wide-ranging expression of Hospitality not dreamt of before Vatican II. It also carries out its mission in a manner and at a level of excellence not thought possible just 40 years ago.

As a point of interest, before the updating called for by the Second Vatican Council, the Vow of Hospitality only came into effect when we cared for male patients in our own hospitals or those entrusted to us.10 The revised definition of the Vow of Hospitality contained in the Constitutions of 1984 reads:

“With the vow of hospitality we dedicate ourselves, under obedience to our superiors, to helping the sick and those in need, undertaking to provide them with all those services they need, even the most humble and the most dangerous to our own lives, in imitation of Christ, who loved us even to the extent of dying for our salvation.

Our greatest joy lies in living in contact with those to whom our mission is directed; we welcome them and serve them with the loving-kindness, understanding and spirit of faith which they deserve as persons and as children of God, and we place all our energy, talents and skills at their disposition in the various tasks entrusted to us.” 11

9 Cf. Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, Constitutions 1984, Chap. I.
10 Cf. 1927 Constitutions, art. 79a.
11 Cf. 1984 Constitutions, (art 22).