Celebration of the 10th anniversary of Blessed Gérard's Church and Blessed Gérard's Care Centre - 15 October 2006

His Highness and Eminence, the Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Frà Andrew Bertie had sent this greeting:

"Dear Father Gerhard,
Please convey my promise of prayer and best wishes to the whole Fraternity on the feast of our Founder, Blessed Gerhard, on 13 October.
I am very sorry that I cannot be with you to celebrate your 10th anniversary as I had intended, but I will certainly be with you in thought.
The work you do for our Lords the Poor and Sick is an example to us all and I truly thank you very much.
With sincere regards,
Frà Andrew Bertie"

Father Gerhard made this speech:

Excellency, Bishop Ndlovu, Reverend Brothers, Brothers and Sisters, Distinguished Guests of Honour, dear Chancellor Major Crowther and dear friends of the Most Venerable Order of St. John, dear members and friends of our Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard,

It is with overwhelming joy and gratitude for the innumerable benefits which this house has been privileged to render "to our masters the sick" during these ten years that we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the consecration of this church and the dedication of Blessed Gérard's Care Centre.

We look back on a time which, on the one hand, has been very successful. We can proudly boast of remarkable statistics:

Our membership has grown from the five founding members to more than eighteen hundred members today, making us the largest Catholic Charity in South Africa. Half of these 1818 members live in South Africa, including 727 active members locally.

We have
469 people as caregivers in Home Care,
180 in first aid and
16 trained as Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy counsellors.
We have treated more than three and a half thousand patients,
driven more than half a million kilometres with our vehicles and
raised close to 2.5 million euros in donations and spent it in the pursuit of our charitable projects over these ten years.
I could go on bragging about these impressive statistics for a long time, but allow me to say that all these figures would mean nothing in the eyes of God if the services had not been rendered out of selfless love and compassion.

What I am most proud of and most grateful for is the wonderful spirit of our staff and volunteers, their empathy and idealism and their willingness to go above and beyond what is required and do far more than would be expected of them under normal circumstances when a patient needs more than the usual.

I am proud and grateful that hundreds of our volunteers - and most of them are unemployed and have no income - can be proud of themselves and have found meaning and direction in their lives through their voluntary service in our care centre.

I almost had tears in my eyes the day before yesterday when I attended the graduation ceremony of two of our former volunteers who came here to do something meaningful with their lives. We had sent them to nursing school because they had shown so much talent and now they are proud professional nurses and we are proud of them. Well done Nomusa and Zandile! (See photo on the left!)

Blessed Gérard's Care Centre has had a tremendous impact not only on the wellbeing of our patients, to whom we provide a comprehensive system of holistic care, but also on their families and communities to which they belong. In addition, it is the families and loved ones of our own full-time and volunteer staff who have benefited greatly from the fact that their family member has found a new purpose in his or her life, and the people who wear our uniform are greatly appreciated and respected by the public at large.

Looking back over these ten years of service of Blessed Gérard's Care Centre, I am humbled by the tremendous and highly effective support we have received:

The recognition and praise we receive from the Church, the government and the public.
The friendship and tremendous support from our brothers and sisters in the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, especially the British Association of the Order of Malta, Malteser Hilfsdienst Germany and the Canadian Association of the Order of Malta.
The friendship and fraternal bond with the Most Venerable Order of St. John in South Africa. We are truly delighted by the presence of the Chancellor of the Order of St John in South Africa Major Ian Crowther and the Executive Officer Mr Craig Troeberg and all our friends from the Order of St John in kwaZulu/Natal and rejoice in our mutual respect and shared commitment to serve under the same eight-pointed cross.
We are thankful for the countless prayers of so many spiritual supporters and
the reliable help of our donors locally and overseas who have enabled us to raise €2.5 million in donations over these ten years, which we have needed and spent on our varied work on the needy entrusted to our care. A special word of thanks is due to my own religious community, the Missionary Benedictines, and there especially to Inkamana Abbey, which has entrusted the work I do as my special missionary task. We thank the Benedictine Mission House in Schuyler, Nebraska in the United States of America and my own mother monastery, the Archabbey of St. Ottilien in Germany for their great financial and moral support. We thank the government of the USA for their PEPFAR programme and the Catholic Relief Services Consortium for funding a large part of our antiretroviral treatment programme.
We are proud to have been able to raise a significant portion of our funds here locally in South Africa. Worthy of special mention are
The AIDS Department of the South African Catholic Bishops' Conference,
Mr. Victor Claudius - our extremely diligent and successful private fundraiser - who has put his life at the service of charity, taking nothing for himself and putting all his heart and strength into helping the less fortunate. Victor, we are so proud of you and owe you a great debt of gratitude!
We thank Nampak,
the South African Sugar Association,
Tongaat-Huletts and
I could go on with a long litany of benefactors and I really do in my prayers.

Grateful we are for the extremely dedicated service our staff and volunteers have given and are giving to those entrusted to our care and I would like to read out all their 848 names. They are all worthy of being mentioned by name. They are the champions of charity and without them our care centre would be but a skeleton. Their names are engraved in the heart of our Lord and in the hearts of our gentlemen patients whom they have served in such an exemplary manner. We are so proud of you and eternally grateful. May God bless and reward you all for your wonderful service in His divine fullness of grace! It is thanks to you that we have such a good reputation and are admired and praised worldwide.

Dear festive assembly, my heart is overwhelmed and full of the greatest joy.
I would like to sing a solemn song of praise to the Giver of all good things, our Lord and God, who has inspired and enabled us all to do what we have done:
All glory, praise and honour be to God, the Almighty, kind and loving Lord!
May His divine grace be praised and gratefully acknowledged, which has made everything possible and which has carried us even through the very most difficult times and situations!<
And here we stand, O Lord, with empty but open hands [see photo right], ready to have them filled again with Your grace, to pass it on to those entrusted to us and thus continue our divine calling true to our motto "tuitio fidei at obsequium pauperum", which we all wear on our uniform badges, to uphold and defend the faith and serve those in need.

May the good God hold you all in his hands and continue to enable us to be instruments of his divine love.

Thank you all and may God bless you always!

Presentation of the President's Award of Merit 2006

Mrs Susanne STAUFFER

Mrs Susanne Stauffer has been an active member of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard since 2 September 2004.
She came to South Africa as a foreign volunteer for one year and after that year she came back for another year of voluntary service.

On 16 June 2005, Mrs. Stauffer, whom we all affectionately call "Susi", took over as the educational director of Blessed Gérard's Children's Home.

After Mrs Kalkwarf was murdered on 6 April 2006, Susi agreed to take over from her the entire project management of Blessed Gérard's Children's Home.

The Council of Dedicated Members of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard decided on 20 April 2006 to invite her, Rev. Sipho and Deacon Thomas Müller to become candidates for dedicated membership and to act as dedicated members with immediate effect already.

The Board of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard appointed her as the Deputy Executive Director of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard on 10 August 2006.

On 28 September 2006, the Department of Home Affairs extended Ms Stauffer's residence permit for a further three years, after which she will be eligible to apply for permanent residence in South Africa, as she has agreed to stay here forever, seeing her vocation in the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard as her life's work.

The President of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard has awarded Mrs Stauffer the President's Award of Merit for 2006 for her outstanding care for the children as the overall director of Blessed Gérard's Children's Home her outstanding responsibility and unparalleled willingness to dedicate her entire life to the voluntary service of our organisation.