Our Spirituality


“The love of Christ urges us” (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

The Spirituality of our Congregation is very much that of our Founders, Bishop Thomas Furlong, Sr. Visitation Clancy and her companions and our Patron, St. John of God. Their spirituality was a response to God’s call as they discerned it through prayer and in the reality of life as it was at the time.

The Spirituality of the first Sisters of St John of God was also influenced by their early formation in the Congregation of the Sisters of Bon Secours of Paris.

Today we aspire to respond to the changing patterns and needs of our society and the particular demands of time and place. Our spirituality ‘is contemplative in attitude and action and focused on God’s mission’ (Constitutions 53). We nurture this relationship through personal and community prayer, contemplation, the Eucharist and through attentiveness to the Gospel Call to show the compassionate care of Christ for all people and the whole of creation.

In recent years our Spirituality has deepened and developed as we became more aware of the imperative “to take personal and corporate action to care for our common home, aware of the hospitality of the earth and our role as co-creators with God who is being revealed in the here and now” (Call of Chapter 2019).

We endeavour to imbue our places of ministry with our spirituality – especially in our Retreat & Conference Centres at Ballyvaloo and Safety Bay.

Our Patron – St John of God (1495 -1550)

Bishop Thomas Furlong recommended St. John of God as an inspirational patron to the Sisters at the founding of the Congregation in 1871.

John Cuidade was born in Portugal in 1495. He spent most of his life in Spain and eventually settled in the city of Granada in the south of Spain in 1538. It was in Granada that John’s life was to be totally changed after hearing a sermon preached by Saint John d’Avila. His response was very dramatic when he became acutely aware of God’s love for him and the emptiness of his own life. His distressed public appeal to God for mercy and forgiveness led to his incarceration in the Royal Hospital for the mentally ill.


John took up the call to serve the people who were sick and poor in Granada because of the mistreatment of patients he had witnessed and experienced in the hospital. On his release from hospital John began his work among the poor. He devoted his life to alleviating human suffering and comforting the afflicted, sick and dying people in Granada. He soon became known by the people as John of God.

The news of John’s work spread far and wide. He began to attract others who wanted to help him to look after those in need. ​John died on the 8th March 1550 aged 55. He was canonised in 1690. After his death those who were his followers were recognised as a religious order and are well known today in many countries across the world as the Hospitaller Brothers of Saint John of God.

In 1886, Saint John of God was proclaimed patron of hospitals and the sick. In 1930 he was further proclaimed patron saint of nurses and their Associations by Pope Pius XI.

Because of his compassion and empathy for people who were suffering, John of God is as much a person for our time and our world today - with its many social problems and damaged societies - as he was for the people of Granada in the 1500’s.

Our Emblem

Our Emblem is a ripe open pomegranate surmounted by a cross.


Pomegranate Symbol

The pomegranate has been used from ancient times as a symbol of healing and fullness of life. The pomegranate was chosen by the Sisters of St John of God because of its rich symbolism and association with John of God. It is the emblem of the city of Granada where John of God worked. The combination of cross and pomegranate is an expressive reminder of our commitment to following the Gospel way of life taught by Jesus. This beautiful symbol inspires and challenges us to be a healing and compassionate presence to our sisters and brothers.


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