There has been a change of habits in Hamilton’s religious community. The Brothers of the Good Shepherd, who have ministered to the vulnerable members of our community since 1961, surrendered their iconic white robes on January 19, 2015, and donned the black habit of the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God. As a result, the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God – Province of the Good Shepherd in North America was born. Brother Justin Howson, formerly the Brother General of the Brothers of the Good Shepherd, has been appointed Provincial Superior. The Provincial Office is located in Hamilton, Ontario.
It is good news for the people who rely on Good Shepherd in Hamilton. The Brothers’ ministries are dedicated to individuals whose circumstances have left them on the margin of our communities. This opportunity for the Brothers and their co-workers allows them to draw upon the strength that a much larger and geographically diverse religious Order can offer. The fusion does not affect the services provided by Good Shepherd, nor will the name of the agency be changed. Good Shepherd’s humanitarian services in Hamilton historically continue to be available to all people in our community and are provided without judgment or cost. These services include emergency food and clothing; emergency shelter; counselling and support for women and children fleeing abuse; mental health crisis support; supportive and affordable housing; and hospice palliative care. The Brothers will continue to minister in Toronto, the United States, Haiti, England and Ireland.
The Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God, one of the oldest and most distinguished religious orders in the Roman Catholic Church, has provided social care and health services since the 16th century. It originated in Granada, Spain, to continue the charitable work of St. John of God. The Hospitaller Brothers operate over 400 hospitals and other related healthcare and social services in 52 countries around the world.
The Hospitaller Brothers, like the Brothers of the Good Shepherd, profess three traditional vows – poverty, chastity and obedience. In addition, they take a fourth vow of hospitality which commits them to service of the poor, sick and suffering, following the legacy of St. John of God.
The Brothers throughout the world celebrate this fusion and look forward to the many blessings that will unfold.