Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God
The Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God (officially the Hospitaller Order of the Brothers of Saint John of God; abbreviated as O.H.) are a Catholic order founded in 1572. In Italian they are also known commonly as the Fatebenefratelli, meaning "Do-Good Brothers" , and elsewhere as the Brothers of Mercy, the "Merciful Brothers" and the "John of God Brothers". The Order carries out a wide range of health and social service activities in 389 centres and services in 46 countries.
|Formation||c. AD 1572|
|Founder||John of God|
|Type||Catholic religious order|
Saint John of GodEdit
John of God, the founder of this religious Order, was born 8 March 1495 at Montemor-o-Novo in Portugal. Twice he enlisted in the Spanish army against the French and later the Turks. After years of living a highly religious way of life in Spain resulting from a conversion experience, in 1535 he founded his first hospital at Granada, where he served the sick and afflicted. After ten years spent in the exercise of charity, he died 8 March 1550, of pneumonia, after he had plunged into a river to save a young man from drowning. He was canonized by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690 and was declared the patron saint of the dying and of all hospitals by Pope Leo XIII in 1898.
Order of the Brothers HospitallersEdit
John of God's first companion, Anton Martín, O.H., was chosen to succeed him as Prior General of the order. Thanks to the generosity of King Philip II of Spain, a hospital was founded at Madrid, another at Córdoba and several others in various Spanish towns. Pope Pius V approved the Order of the Brothers Hospitallers in 1572 under the Rule of St. Augustine. The order spread rapidly into the other countries of Europe, and even into the distant colonies. In 1584, Pope Gregory XIII called some of the Brothers to Rome and gave them the Hospital of St. John Calybita, Fatebenefratelli Hospital, located on an island in the Tiber, which then became the motherhouse of the whole order. Brother Sebastiano Arias founded the Hospital of Our Lady at Naples and the famous Hospital of Milan. Another Brother Hospitaller at this time was John Grande, O.H., who was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1852. The first general of Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God was Pedro Soriano.
The membership of the Order consists of over 1,250 Brothers who come from 50 countries. The Co-workers who partner the Brothers in their activities number approximately 40,000. The Order has bases in over 40 countries.
The first hospital of the order in France was founded in Paris, in 1601, by Queen Marie de Medici. In the stormy days of the French Revolution the Brothers were expelled from the forty hospitals where they were caring for 4,125 patients. But since then some large new hospitals have been established.
The Order was brought to Poland in 1609. The rich Krakowian merchant Valerian Montelupi (of Italian heritage) donated to the brothers a tenement house not far from the main square. In the 1800s they were re-located to the (then city) now district of Kazimierz, where to this day, they reside in their monastery and church, running their large hospital next door (location: Trinitarska street).
In 1880 a house was founded at Scorton, North Yorkshire, England, for the reception of male patients suffering from chronic infirmities, paralysis, or old age, and is supported by charitable contributions. The original foundation developed into a hospital and nursing home. In 1930 the Brothers started a work in Potters Bar caring for people with learning disabilities. In the early days, the St John of God Hospital had its own farm of about five acres of land which supported cows, pigs and poultry, along with a couple of horses. In addition, a hospice of the order has been established at Nazareth.
In 1882, a home for demented[clarification needed] men was founded at Stillorgan near Dublin, Ireland. Activities in the Irish Republic include a base in Celbridge, County Kildare, Ireland, helping people with disabilities in the area. The Irish postal authority recognised and honoured the contribution to society by the order by issuing a special commemorative postage stamp in 1979 for the order's centenary in Ireland.
The Hospitaller Brothers were established in the United States in 1941, where they operate health care facilities in southern California offering a continuum of care including: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, Residential Care, Retirement Living and a specialized Alzheimer Unit. A large school and training center was established by Brothers from the Irish Province in New Jersey to meet the needs of the mentally and physically challenged.
In 2017, the report of a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse established in Australia claimed that over 40% of the Brothers of the Australian Order of St John of God were alleged child sex abusers.
The Order also has many health projects in African countries, such as Malawi, Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone. The Brothers operate the Saint-Jean de Dieu Hospital in Tanguiéta, in northern Benin. When first built it had sixty beds. Now it is a reference point for the entire region and has 290 beds, serving people from neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Togo, Nigeria, and Niger.
The charism of the order is caring for the sick, as a way of living the beatitudes of Christ.
A particular apostolate of the order is the Special Needs Faith Formation Program, which serves children and adults with special needs in preparing to receive the sacraments within the Roman Catholic Church.
The Brothers undergo a special course of training in order to fit them for carrying out their various works of charity to which they devote their life. In some provinces some of them are even graduates in medicine, surgery and chemistry. The members are not in holy orders, but priests wishing to devote their sacred ministry to the Brothers and patients are received. To the three solemn vows of religion they add a fourth vow of serving the sick for life in their hospitals.
They assist daily at Mass, meditation, the recital in choir of the office of Our Lady and spiritual reading. The order accepts applications from men between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five. The religious habit is usually given to postulants after three months. The time of novitiate is two years, after which the novice pronounces the vows which, although simple, are perpetual. Three years later, he can be admitted to solemn profession.
As of 2014, the Brothers are split into 20 Provinces: Africa, Andalusia, Aragon, Austria, Bavaria, Castille, Colombia, France, India, Korea, Lombardy–Veneto, Northern South America, Oceania, Poland, Portugal, Rome, Southern South America, United States of America, Vietnam and West Europe. There exists one Vice-Province: Benin–Togo, and two General Delegations: Canada and Mexico & Central America. There are seven Provincial Delegations: Brazil, dependent on Portugal, Bohemia–Moravia, Hungary and Slovakia, all three dependent on Austria, Japan, dependent on Korea, Papua New Guinea, dependent on Oceania, and Philippines, dependent on the Roman Province.
Sexual abuse scandalsEdit
In 2013, The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry (VPI) looked at the Order's operations in Victoria, Australia. The current head of the Order, Brother Timothy Graham confirmed to the VPI that sixteen Brothers had allegations of sexual abuse made against them and were the subject of two civil actions. The first was relating to the abuse of adults at the Lilydale facility. There were also 20 child-related complaints. In 2014, seven of the Brothers accused remained in the order, nine had left and the remainder were deceased.
Brother Graham told the VPI his order had no scrutiny or accountability mechanisms in place to prevent the abuse of the vulnerable children in their care. Brother Brian O'Donnell, former provincial of the order in Australia was quoted - In my experience, no allegations of sexual misconduct against the brothers was ever documented and would be currently held in the archives...this practice was followed in order to deal with the situation in its actual context without compromising the good name of the (brother) involved. Brother Graham confirmed that despite 40% of the brothers in his order having serious allegations of sexual abuse levelled against them, no checks and balances were in place to vet prospective new members.
The Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse looked at some case studies pertaining to the Order but was unable to fully investigate due to the trials of Bernard McGrath and John Clegg.
In 2020, the second episode of the ABC documentary series Revelation followed the criminal trial of former Brother Bernard McGrath in the New South Wales District Court. Presenter Sarah Ferguson interviewed McGrath in his maximum security prison, where McGrath revealed he was part of an institutional cover-up, with former leaders Brother Brian O'Donnell and Brother Joseph Smith aware of his offending. McGrath also told Ferguson that following complaints from victims of McGrath, Brother Smith had taken him to meet Father Brian Lucas, the man responsible of the Australian Catholic Churches response to the child sexual abuse scandal. This meeting took place in 1992 at the presbytery of St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney and shortly afterwards, Smith accompanied McGrath to the notorious treatment facility in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, United States. During McGrath's stay at Jemez Springs, Smith was formally notified of a police investigation and called McGrath, telling him he should stay in the United States. McGrath decided to return to Australia and was arrested and convicted of sex crimes against Jason Van Dyke.
The order ran the Maryland's School, which taught pupils with learning difficulties, in Christchurch, New Zealand. Events there in the 1970s would later lead to a high-profile scandal with sexual charges being laid against four members of the order, Brother Bernard McGrath, Brother Roger Maloney, Brother Raymond Garchow and Brother William Lebler.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse uncovered that 40% of the members of the order had child abuse allegations against them between 1950 and 2010.
Kendall Grange, Morisset, New South Wales
Kendall Grange, a residential facility for boys was established in 1947 by the Bishop of Newcastle at Morisset, New South Wales. The Bishop invited Brothers of the Hospitaller Order of St John of God to teach boys aged predominantly between 8 and 15 who suffered issues including behavioural, emotional and intellectual problems.
Kendall Grange was run with the assistance of civilian staff. Around 300 boys lived at the school at any one time housed in dormitories and rooms on the school grounds. Boys were grouped together according to their age. House-mothers assisted looking after the boys.
In 2010, New South Wales Police commenced investigating allegations made against brothers and civilian teachers associated with the school. As a result, Brother Bernard McGrath and Brother John Clegg were convicted of multiple counts of sexual offences committed upon students at Kendall Grange.
The following St John of God Brothers taught at Kendall Grange:
- Brother Bernard McGrath - convicted of child sexual abuse, currently in prison in New South Wales
- Brother John Clegg - convicted of child sexual abuse, currently in prison in New South Wales
- Brother Rodger Maloney - convicted of child sexual abuse, deceased
- Brother Roger Mount - convicted of child sexual abuse, currently in prison in Victoria
- Brother William Lebler - deemed unfit to stand trial, deceased
- Brother Raymond Garchow - deemed unfit to stand trial, deceased
- Brother John 'Bede' Donnellan - died before charges laid, allegations substantiated
The other brothers who allegedly committed offences are deceased are deemed unfit to stand trial.
Bernard McGrath faced his fifth criminal trial in Sydney in 2019. The trial was featured in ABC's documentary series Revelation. Presenter Sarah Ferguson interviewed McGrath in a maximum security prison, where McGrath admitted the Order covered-up his sexual abuse. He also claimed Father Brian Lucas was aware of his offending and didn't report it to the police.
Churinga, Cheltenham and Lilydale, Victoria
In 2012, Dr Wayne Chamley of the advocacy group Broken Rites alleged that a group of 15 religious brothers from the Order of St John of God abused children in their care over three decades, including wards of the state, in homes for the mentally impaired.
The allegations related to the Order's institutions at Churinga, Cheltenham and Lilydale, where it provided accommodation and education for orphans, state wards and boys with intellectual disabilities from the 1950s to the 1980s.
In 2001, members of the Order, their lawyers, their insurers and victims held a meeting in response to legal claims by dozens of former residents of the Order's homes. Peter Gordon and barrister John Gordon represented the victims. The allegations included:
- One brother, DS, was the subject of seven or eight abuse allegations starting in 1975 but was never reported to the police. Brother DS assaulted one boy, the abuse was covered up and then two years later, Brother DS abused the same boy again.
- Complaints were ignored or shifted from institution to institution.
- Parents wrote letters complaining of abuse but were ignored.
Brother Roger Melville Mount
Despite the compensation, a number of the alleged offenders, including Brother Roger 'Gabriel' Mount, were allowed to move to other roles. In late 2012, journalist Rory Callinan tracked down Brother Roger 'Gabriel' Mount to a small community east of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, where he was living illegally.
Mount joined the Order of St John of God in 1961 and adopted the religious name Gabriel. During his time in the Order, he worked at Yarra View between 1968-1969 and Churinga until 1974. He was then transferred to Port Moresby and became the superior of the Order's community in Papua New Guinea. Mount was contracted to the government, working with the Office of the Director of Child Welfare in Boroko. He left the Order in 1981 and became a priest.
Mount was accused of abusing children when he was working as Brother Gabriel with the Order of St John of God at Kendall Grange, NSW and at boys homes in Victoria. It was also revealed the Order of St John of God had paid more than $100,000 to his victims.
In early 2014, Father Ben Fleming, a Port Morseby diocesan official, said the church would act to move Mount. Mount ignored their requests to leave his parish and attempted to overdose. Following his discharge, PNG immigration officials deported Mount to Cairns on 15 October 2015.
Victorian Police detectives from Taskforce SANO were granted permission to extradite Mount from Queensland to Victoria. On 16 January 2015, Mount appeared in Melbourne Magistrates' Court via video link from Port Philip prison. Mount was charged with 40 counts of indecent assault, 14 counts of buggery, five counts of gross indecency and three counts of unlawful assault involving seven victims between 1968 and 1974.
On 14 December 2015, a jury found Mount (73) guilty of three charges of indecent assault, three charges of buggery of a person under 14 years old and two charges of buggery in relation to victim SL. Judge Hannan sentenced Mount to seven years and 10 months imprisonment and required him to sign the sex offenders registry.
The outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa in 2014 had a major impact on the medical centers run by the Hospitaller Brothers in that region. As of September, sixteen members of the staff at St. Joseph Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, and St. John of God Hospital in Lunsar, Sierra Leone, died. Of these, three were members of the Order who served at the hospital in Liberia. The first two to die were Patrick Nshamdze, O.H., a native of Cameroon and the director of the hospital, and George Combey, O.H. A third member, Miguel Parajes, O.H., a priest from Spain, contracted the disease while caring for Nshamdze, who had not tested positive for the disease initially. He was airlifted at his request by the Spanish government for treatment in his native country. He later died, becoming the first victim of the disease to die in Europe.
Also returned to Spain with Parajes was Sister Juliana Bonoha Bohé, M.I.C., a native of the former Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea, one of a group of Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception who worked with the Brothers at the hospital. Once in Spain, she tested negative for the virus. Spain, however, refused to transport her colleague, Sister Chantal Pascaline Muwamemem, M.I.C., from the Congo, who later also died of the disease.
In September, a fourth Hospitaller Brother, Manuel García Viejo, a native of Spain and the medical director of the Brothers' hospital in Sierra Leone, was nursing Brother Patrick Nshamdze, before he had tested positive for Ebola. He himself later fell ill. Initially he wished to remain but he eventually asked to be repatriated to Spain. He too died several days after his arrival in a hospital in Madrid at the age of 69.
In the following chart, 'SP' will stand for 'Solemnly Professed,' which refers to members having taken permanent vows. 'TP' will stand for 'Temporary Professed,' which refers to members having taken temporary vows. 'N' will stand for 'novices,' which refers to members who have recently joined the order and are not under vows. Oblates, or laypersons affiliated with the order and its way of life but not living under professed vows, are not included in the chart.
|Bohemia–Moravia||SP||6||merged into Austrian Province|
|England||SP||12||12||merged into West European Province|
|Ireland||SP||28||26||merged into West European Province|
|Silesian||SP||7||7||merged into Poland Province|
|West European||SP||created 2010||37||n/a||36||35||33|
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