Celebrating Saint John of God—March 8

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by Patricia Mathson

CLICK HERE for a fun activity page about St. John of the Cross.

Sometimes we get busy, but we are never as busy as was St. John of God. He helped those who were poor, homeless, sick, dying, orphaned, widowed, and imprisoned. He helped anyone who needed assistance. John lovingly cared for others and eased their suffering in any way he could.

Early Life

John Ciudad was born in Portugal in 1495 to a family who didn’t have much. He left home at an early age and moved from place to place. He held a variety of jobs and ended up living in Spain. It was there that he realized that God was calling him to serve others. He began by caring for just one sick person and then helped more and more people.

Person of Compassion
John was known as John of God because of his good works and his tireless efforts to serve people in need. He was a person of great compassion. His life reminds us that we must open our hearts and our lives to the needs of those who are poor, sick, homeless, and elderly. We are called to see the face of Jesus Christ in others.

Work Continues
John of God died in 1550. He is the patron saint of the sick. A group of his friends carried on his work after his death. Today the Brothers of Saint John of God serve people in need in more than 50 countries including the United States.

What Can We Do?

* Let’s look up Colossians 4:12-17. Saint Paul reminds us of how we are to live as followers of Jesus Christ. We are to be compassionate, kind, and loving. Let’s talk about how to do this. How can we show compassion to others? What are ways to be kind? Who are we called to love?
* Let’s provide welcome bags to children arriving at a homeless shelter. Let’s bring in things like small toys, books, coloring books and crayons, toys, stuffed animals, school supplies, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. We will use gift bags to assemble welcome bags for children at a difficult time in their lives.
* Let’s pray during Lent—alone or with others—for people in need. We can pray for different people each day of the week. For example, on Mondays we can pray for those who are sick. On Tuesdays we can pray for those who do not have homes. What groups can we use for the other days? We can ask our families to pray this way, too.


God of love, open our hearts to the needs of others that we may reach out a helping hand like St. John of God. May we witness to your love for all people by the way we live each day. Guide us to bring hope to the lives of others in your name. Amen.

Patricia Mathson has many years experience in faith formation as a DRE and holds a Master of Religious Education degree. She is currently the children’s ministry coordinator at Hope Family Center in Des Moines, IA. She is the author of ten books with the latest titled 70 Sacrament Starters for Children (Twenty-Third Publications).

Copyright 2010, Bayard, Inc. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of Bayard, Inc.

This article was written by the Catechist Staff and appeared in Catechist magazine,
February 2010.

Image Credit: jorisvo/Shutter Stock 544541167

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