Welcome to Hospitaller Order of St. John of God St. Thomas Province, India
My Early Years in the Order:When I joined our Order at the fairly young age of 17 in 1960, I had informed Br. Fortunatus Thanhäuser, who was General Delegate and Novice Master of the Rhine General Delegation at that time, that I would like to work in the missions of our Order, if possible. But the Rhine General Delegation did not have any mission in those days. The Delegation had been founded only after World War II by Brothers of the Silesian Province. They had to serve in the German army during the War and were not permitted by the communists to return to Silesia after the War, or had been expelled from Silesia by the communist government (like, for example, Br. Fortunatus Thanhäuser), when Silesia came under Polish Administration in 1945. The Rhine General Delegation had three works in West Germany in the mid sixties, a fairly good number of Brothers and a good number of new vocations.
The Door to India Opens: After contacts with the Archbishop of Changanacherry, Mar Mathew Kavukatt, a decision was taken to start a foundation of our Order in his diocese in Kerala, South India. Mar Mathew Kavukatt had visited our ‘Isola Tiberina Hospital’, as one of his predecessors mar Thomas Kurialacherry had died in that hospital during an ‘ad limina visit’ on 2nd March 1925. Archbishop Mar Mathew Kavukatt was very much impressed by the services of our Order and planned to invite our Brothers into his Archdiocese. That plan became a reality through his contacts with Br. Fortunatus Thanhäuser. So, it was agreed that the Order would start a hospital in the Archdiocese and that the Archbishop would select ‘suitable boys’, who seemed to have a vocation to become ‘John of God Brothers’, and would send them to Frankfurt for novitiate and professional training. Br. Savio Padinjarekutte was the first ‘suitable boy’ sent by the Archbishop. Three more candidates followed. One, Br. Prakash Madappally, joined the Order, the two others left the Order.
The Indian Mission: At Kattappana Kattappana in the High Ranges of Kerala had been selected for the first Indian foundation. Poor and landless people from the planes had encroached the forest illegally. Through hard labour they were able to sustain themselves and their families and later the government granted them property rights over the encroached government land. One of the main problems was the lack of medical facilities. Prior to our arrival the next hospital could be reached only after five hours of Jeep ride on ‘roads’, which were no roads at all! Br. Fortunatus and Br. Prakash had arrived in Kattappana on 19th November 1969. I followed with Br. Werenfried Diel in April 1970, after waiting for residential visas for almost two years. In 1957 the fundamentalistic and nationalistic ‘Jana Sang Party’, predecessor of the fundamentalistic and nationalistic BJP, which ruled India in recent years, had introduced a law, which prevented entry into India for priests, religious and missionaries. Therefore, previous to our arrival, a small and primitive hospital had been started at Kattappana by the parish priest and it was financed by our General Delegation. It was staffed by the Sisters of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) and an Indian Doctor. We had applied for residential visas as male nurses to develop the existing small hospital in Kattappana into a modern General Hospital and finally we got the visas after a long period of waiting. Br. Fortunatus and Br. Prakash had arrived at Kattappana on 19th November 1969 and they stayed in the residence of the parish priest while a simple community building was under construction. I followed with Br. Werenfried Diel in April 1970, after waiting for residential visas for almost two years. On our arrival, we all, including some postulants, shifted to the newly built community building. The Initial Years From the very beginning of his arrival Br. Fortunatus had adapted a simple Indian lifestyle. I tried to follow his example as far as possible. Br. Prakash was very helpful by introducing us into the Indian lifestyle, Indian mentality and Indian culture. We had an Indian cook and took only Indian meals. As a result, I lost 20 kgs during the first six months, but became a lover of Indian food afterwards. We accepted the oriental ‘Syro Malabar Rite’ of the St. Thomas Christians of Kerala, following the recommendations of the ‘Decree on the Eastern Churches’ of Vatican II: “It is commended strongly to religious orders and associations of Latin rite, which are working in Eastern countries or among Eastern faithful, that they should set up, so far as possible, houses or even provinces of the Eastern rite to make their apostolic work more effective ...” (O.E. Art. 6). All these helped and we were accepted very much by the local population. We almost became Indians amongst Indians, save our white skin. I was never good in Malayalam or Tamil, but better in English.
Provincial . Councillors . Commissions . Province (Policy) Directory-2012 . Statistics . Deshgaon St.Johns Health Centre,M.P . Kattappana . Pratheeksha Bhavan At Kattappana . Co-workers . On Brother Fortunatus . The Spirituality of the Order(Resume by Brother Brain) . Commission for Fund-raising . Prayers to Our Lady .