6th scene: The Foundation of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard


I came to this area as the parish priest in 1990. In this position and especially as a missionary I was, of course, in charge of everything, especially when people are in need of any particular care.

One day I was called to bring Communion of the Sick to a dying lady. I visited her and I had done so before regularly and 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 and I said to her: “I really would be glad if you would allow me to bring 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 a good doctor.”

She agreed and then I put a mattress on the back of my pickup, I laid her on it and I took her to the doctor. The doctor was Dr. Paul Thabethe from Sundumbili and when we arrived there he said: “For heavens sake, she must go to hospital immediately.” And she was transferred to hospital and died there in 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 here 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. And  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.

Father Gerard Lagleder O.S.B. President of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard
That was an inspiring revelation to me: “Well, there are people here in South Africa who know how to organise help!”

 And this was exactly the spark I needed. As I have been involved with the work of the Order of Malta in Germany for more than 30 years, where organising help became my second nature, it struck me and I said: “Let’s plan and do something to help the people here in Zululand on a long term basis.”

The Foundation of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard Mandini, on the 28th day of October 1992
And I said to myself: “It would be good to found an organisation within the country, where the indigenous people make plans on how to give help to the local people who are in any kind of need.”

And therefore I founded an organisation of South Africans,

 which is based here and works with local people.

[Dr. Paul Thabethe]

"Well, when people look at what the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard is doing in this area, they see, that somebody cares, somebody really cares. Somebody cares whether you have ... It does not matter what kind of illness you have, but they are prepared to help, to give their time to give their love and to care for the people.

Specifically I think people see that Christians not only talk but they actually go out and do what Christ taught them to do to help the poor, to help the sick and the Brotherhood wants to show that Christians should not just talk and sit down but Christians must go out and be seen to be doing something for everybody.

It also gives Christians in the or parishioners a challenge to get involved and with the Brotherhood and also come and make their contribution through caring for other people who need their care, who need their love, not only by giving money, but by coming to the Care Centre to work as active members and volunteers."

[Clare A. Kalkwarf   Vice President of the
Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard]

“My personal motivation in founding the Brotherhood was to help the community in the area.

There was so much poverty and so many social problems in the community, especially family problems, that it was a way for me to get involved and to help in a way that would make a big difference to the community.”

This page is part of "An Everlasting Brotherhood" - Video film about the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard

This page was last updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 01:18:57.

Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard