Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard 

The Relief Organisation of the
Order of Malta in South Africa

How it all started

  • Father Gérard reports: I came to the area of Mandeni as the parish priest in 1990. In this position and especially as a missionary, I was, of course, approached by everybody, especially when people were in need of any particular care.
  • One day I was called to take Communion of the Sick to a dying lady. I visited her as I had done so before regularly. When I arrived I noticed that she was in a very bad condition. She had terrible bedsores and she was totally emaciated. I gave her Communion of the Sick and I gave her the Anointing of the Sick. Then I said to her: “I really would be glad if you would allow me to take you to a good doctor.” “But I don’t have any money”, she said to me and I said: “Let that be my worry, because I think, that you really need to see a good doctor.” She agreed and then I put a mattress on the back of my pick-up, I laid her on it and I took her to the doctor. The doctor was Dr. Paul Thabethe from Sundumbili. When we arrived he said: “For heavens sake, she must go to hospital immediately.” She was transferred to hospital and died there on the same night. When I met Dr. Thabethe again he said to me: “Father, can’t we do something? There are so many people here who simply die from malnutrition or from being totally neglected at home and that should not happen. This kind of thing should not be a cause of death. By saying so he was knocking on open doors with me.
  • The second event, which was very impressive, was this: There were two very poor families in Mandeni, living in one house. The father had no work. They could not feed their seven children and the landlord, who they had rented a house from, had threatened to evict them. They had nothing to eat and nothing to wear: A totally desperate situation. As usual when people are desperate, they come to the Catholic Church, even if they are not Catholics. So on Sunday, after the service, I made an announcement in church and I asked “Is there anybody who could possibly help to get these totally desperate families back on track again?” A member of the pastoral council, Mrs. Kalkwarf, responded and said: “Oh yes, we can do something to organise help.” She went off and a day later she had organised the whole parish and other people, too. Some brought food, others brought clothes, others got the children back to school and others even found jobs for the men, so that within three months the need of the families was alleviated. This was most inspiring: “Well, there are people here who know how to organise help!” And this was exactly the spark I needed.
  • As I had been involved with the work of the Order of Malta in Germany since 1969, where organising help became my second nature, it struck me and I said: “Let’s plan and do something to help the people in this area of Zululand on a long term basis.” Then I said to myself: “It would be good to found an organisation within the country, where South Africans make plans on how to give help to South Africans who are in any kind of need.” Therefore, on 28 October 1992, I founded the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, an organisation of South Africans, which is based in South Africa and works with local people.

What we now are

  • a group of close to 1500 idealists with the aim to enable and empower people to help themselves and to provide direct aid in cases of emergency and immediate need.
  • the South African relief organisation of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which was founded as a nursing brotherhood by Blessed Gérard more than 900 years ago.
  • a faith based organisation (FBO) putting into action what our motto "tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum" means: "Protection of faith and service to the needy".
  • a "Private Association of Christ's Faithful" in the Roman Catholic Church, open to members from all different faiths and cultural backgrounds.
  • a community based (CBO) non governmental organisation (NGO) based on the voluntary service of its members.
  • a "public benefit organisation" (PBO) operated not for profit (NPO)
    and dedicated to the welfare of all people.
  • a nondiscriminating and nonexclusive organisation, which serves the needy irrespective of their creed, colour of skin, political affiliation or social status.

We strive to maintain a high standard of professionalism in the care provided to our patients.

Let Pierangelo Cerana, Director of WHIRLPOOL, explain to you:

“My motivation why we strengthen the relationship with Blessed Gérard is very simple. I am coming from an idea that big ideas need big wings to fly, but in the meantime they need big wheels to land and I think, that there is a good combination here: Big heart and big pragmatism so they are able to have a good marriage with heart and quality and this is what impresses me the most. In this structure people is taken with a lot of heart but also with a lot of professionalism.”

This page is part of the Newsletter No. 24 of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 12:49:42