Following the ideal of Saint John of God approximately 1,150 order brothers are working in 52 states on every continent in more than 400 health care and social facilities. Together with nearly 45,000 full-time and 8,000 voluntary workers they care for approximately 20 million people every year.
The Order of the Brothers Hospitallers is a mendicant order and with the help of means entrusted to them, primarily help those people, who are especially in need. In numerous countries the order works in cooperation with the national health authorities (health ministries, ministries of social affairs, and service providers on regional and community level), and the facilities of the order are a part of the public health care network.
The health care and social facilities of the order, especially in developing countries, are intended to make up for the deficiencies of local health care, basing on the principle of subsidiarity.
In addition to general hospitals the Brothers Hospitallers also lead numerous facilities for the mentally ill. Furthermore, the order maintains several facilities for the mentally and physically disabled, as well as homes for the elderly and homeless people. Therapy facilities for drug users and addicts also belong to their services offered worldwide. Recently the range of activities has been expanded with hospice work, palliative care, care of patients suffering from AIDS or Alzheimer, as well as many other special disciplines.
The Brothers are supported in their mission by appr. 45,000 co-workers. In addition, there are also 8,000 voluntary workers and numerous benefactors who are convinced by the values of the order and who support the work of the order both ideologically and financially.
As an establishment of the Catholic church the aim of the order’s work is to heal the whole human being in every aspect (care, healing, service, facilitation, rehabilitation etc.). Therefore evangelisation always stands in the foreground of efforts regardless of different social and political factors. With their lives, the Brothers proclaim the happy message that Jesus Christ brought to mankind. The first form of evangelisation is that every person is taken up without differentiation, the Brothers invite them to a quest of meaning, and try to lead them gently to Christ and his church. In a more and more materialistic and egoistic society, the order is understood to be the living presentation of “the church of love and mercy”.
As far as its organisation is concerned, the order is divided into eight province delegates, two general delegates, one vice province and 20 provinces. The Austrian province is one of the oldest provinces.
Austrian order province
In 1605 Prince Charles I. of Liechtenstein founded the first Brother hospital in Feldsberg (Valtice) in the northern Alps – that was the mother house of every province in Central Europe. Due to the numerous foundations a strong “network of hospitality” has been quickly evolved, extending from the Baltic states to Trieste and from Westphalia to Banat. The size of the province and the working conditions of the Brothers were constantly changed by the political and historical upheavals in Europe. After the political change in 1989 the connections with the Brothers in the former communist states could again be intensified.
The Austrian province also includes the convents and facilities in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which are legally three province delegates of the Austrian order province. Currently 32 Brothers with solemn profession, six Brothers with simple profession, as well as a novice and two oblates are living in the province. In the four states the order cooperates with altogether 7,000 workers.
The leadership of the province
In the second district in Vienna, where the Brothers established their first hospital in Vienna in 1614, there is the building today, which, in addition to a pharmacy and the Vienna convent on the 1st floor, also accommodates the headquarters of the province and the central administration office of the Austrian province. The offices of the full-time and voluntary workers can be found at 16 Taborstraße, next to the headquarters of the province.
Until the 1980’s the order members arranged the administration tasks. But as the number of the Brothers decreased and the quantity of work increased, more co-workers were employed, working for the headquarters of the province and the secretary of the province. The co-workers continuously received more responsibility. Thus, there is a secular common leader of the order province since 1996.
Provincial and order management
The main responsibility for the well-being of the order province is carried by Father Provincial Ulrich Fischer. He is supported by the province counsellors Father Paulus Kohler (Vienna), Father Martin Macek (Brünn), Father Imre Kozma (Budapest) and Father Matthias Meczywor (Graz-Marschallgasse).
They regularly meet at the so-called “Definitorium” in order to discuss important topics and make decisions. Since 2007 the province has for the first time gotten a secular province secretary, Robert Bühringer (Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University). He is responsible for the administrative tasks of the order.
The headquarters of the province also serve as an interface between the province and the leadership of the order in Rome.
The management of the province
The central administrative department of the Brothers Hospitallers Austria is the central governing seat for every facility in Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, as well as for the numerous cooperation partners in these four states.
The central administrative department also performs numerous service tasks. It is under the control of Director Adolf Inzinger, the economic common leader of the order province.
The order recognised early that certain activity fields should be connected in order to be able to react quickly and proactively to challenges and to accomplish the tasks.
Therefore, a central data processing centre was established in Eisenstadt more than 35 years ago. As time passed, further central facilities have been established. These facilities include for example central purchase, commercial controlling, staff management, public work, management of the work of in the delegates or central care management.
The co-workers of the province headquarter are involved in the coordination of the whole Austrian order province, they launch processes and monitor their implementation.
The order’s own software company “Care Solutions” (offices in St. Veit/Glan), which was specially established for the management of digital patient documentation, and the magazine “Pomegranate” in the second district of Vienna also belong to the headquarters of the province.