On 25 October 2014, the Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart celebrated the centenary of the death of St Benedict Menni who founded the order. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Nicholas at Our Lady of Dolours, Fulham.
In his homily, Bishop Nicholas reflected on the work of the order, 'I must say, I’m deeply touched to encounter the story of St Benedict Menni and of the Sisters and Brothers who have been inspired to follow him in the 20th and 21st centuries. It seems to me your story has extraordinarily prophetic value for our times. Saint Benedict and Sister Josefa understood the need to care lovingly for people with dementia more than a century ago, while the rest of the world is only now waking up to this reality.'
Recalling the suffering and humiliation that St Benedict endured in his lifetime, Bishop Nicholas said, 'He offered them to the Lord for the salvation of souls. His whole life he made a consecration of the order to God, setting the Hospitaller project at the foot of the Cross. And what a grace it has been for the world, for both the members of the order and for so many who have received help from its members.'
The Congregation of Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was founded in Ciempozuelos-Madrid (Spain) on 31 May 1881, by St. Benedict Menni, Priest of the Order of St. John of God, María Josefa Recio and María Angustias Giménez, who were chosen by God to provide a solution for the lack of healthcare for, and social exclusion of the mentally ill of that period. Their work would combine two fundamental aspects: charity and science.
They formed the founding group that dedicated their lives to provide an answer for a profoundly neglected sector of society: the mentally ill. The Congregation’s mission embodies and expresses the charism of hospitality.
The Sisters Hospitallers devoted themselves to continue with Jesus’ mission to care for the mentally ill and the physically and mentally handicapped, with special attention for the poor, who are still forgotten and neglected. At present the Congregation is present in 27 countries, Europe, South America, Africa and Asia.
The full text of Bishop Nicholas' homily can be found here.