Diocese helps brothers care for Ebola victims

Diocese helps brothers care for Ebola victims
Photo by James A. McBride Bishop Dennis Sullivan presents a check for $102,424 to the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God, who operate hospitals in Liberia and Sierra Leone, two of the countries at the center of the Ebola outbreak. Accepting the check are Brother Donatus Forkan, Brother Kilian Keaney, and Brother Thomas Osorio.  Brother Thomas is Superior of the Order at Westville Grove, and serves at St. John of God Community Services. At far right is Father Robert Hughes, vicar general.

Photo by James A. McBride
Bishop Dennis Sullivan presents a check for $102,424 to the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God, who operate hospitals in Liberia and Sierra Leone, two of the countries at the center of the Ebola outbreak. Accepting the check are Brother Donatus Forkan, Brother Kilian Keaney, and Brother Thomas Osorio. Brother Thomas is Superior of the Order at Westville Grove, and serves at St. John of God Community Services. At far right is Father Robert Hughes, vicar general.

By Joanna Gardner

The Ebola outbreak raging in West Africa is the largest known of the disease in world history, with about 8,000 known cases and nearly 4,000 deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in September that 550,000 to 1.4 million people could be infected by January if serious measures are not taken.

The numbers hit closer to home for members of the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God of Westville Grove in August when three Hospitaller brothers caring for Ebola patients at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Liberia contracted the virus and died.

Bishop Dennis Sullivan in August, when the outbreak had claimed 1,000 lives, called for parishes to take a second collection to benefit the brothers’ work in West Africa. On Oct. 9, he presented a check for more than $100,000 to three representatives from the order.

“The brothers are loved by our people here for their ministry of 50 years in the diocese,” Bishop Sullivan said. “This is from the charity of our people.”

The Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God are an international order, ministering to the poor, sick, homeless and dying in more than 50 countries. In the Diocese of Camden they have operated St. John of God Community Services, a school for individuals with special needs, for 50 years.

In Liberia and Sierra Leone, two of the countries at the center of the Ebola outbreak, the brothers operate Catholic hospitals that have been closed due to extensive contamination. The donation will help the order continue to ministerto the sick in these poor areas and re-open the hospitals.

“This really means a lot, not just the money, which is very important to buy necessary resources, but for the people to know that there are people so far away thinking of them, praying for them, making sacrifices to help them. Because they’re terribly isolated and fearful and without hope,” said Brother Donatus Forkan, provincial of the order in Ireland.

The Catholic hospital in Sierra Leone has lost one brother to the disease and eight co-workers. Three sisters of the Immaculate Conception working with the brothers in Liberia contracted the disease and one has died.

In August, Bishop Sullivan celebrated a Mass with the brothers to commemorate those who have died in West Africa. The names of the brothers, sisters and associates working at the hospitals were read and a candle lit in remembrance of each.

The diocese expects to make further donations to the Hospitaller Brothers when the last parishes in the diocese take up their collections. Individuals may also donate to assist the brothers’ efforts in West Africa. Please make checks payable to the Diocese of Camden and write “Fight Ebola” on the memo line. Checks should be sent to the Diocese of Camden, care of the Bishop’s Office, 631 Market Street, Camden, N.J. 08102.

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