Annual meeting of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem culminates with Mass

October 28, 2014

HOUSTON — Nearly 1,000 regional members of an ancient order charged with the preservation and protection of the Church in the Holy Land gathered to witness the making of new knights and ladies during an annual meeting in Houston of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

The annual weekend meeting of the order’s Southwestern USA Lieutenancy, held Oct. 17 to 20, culminated with a packed investiture Mass at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, the order’s Grand Prior, accompanied by 22 bishops and 61 priests and deacons, was the Mass principal celebrant. 

Cardinal DiNardo told 128 new members, including several clergymen, they were taking on the heavy burden of the Jerusalem Cross, which is the order’s insignia, in their service to the Church in a land torn by divisions among Christians and other peoples. He quoted the Holy Father in describing it as a place “lamentably marked by violence.”

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem traces its origins to the first crusade to liberate the Holy Land from the domination of non-Christians during the early 11th century. Nearly a thousand years later, the means have changed, but not the mission of protecting the faith in the birthplace of Christianity where, because of political instability and persecution, the number of Christians is dwindling. 

Outgoing lieutenant Dennis Malloy, who leads the regional office in Houston, said the knights and ladies of the order, nominated for their virtue, witness and service to the Church, commit to support the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem through “prayer, purse and presence.” 

An unspecified but not insignificant, minimum contribution marked for the Church in the Holy Land is required annually for the upkeep of holy sites, schools and hospitals. New knights and ladies make a life-time commitment and also agree to pray for peace and make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem at least once.

The Southwestern USA Lieutenancy, which covers Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, ranks second in the world in dollar contributions to the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem. It enjoys tremendous support from the region’s episcopate as well, Malloy said. There are 300 knights and ladies from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Malloy noted the order is also deeply concerned with social justice, ending war, taking down walls that separate peoples and praying for peace. “If you are a Palestinian in the Holy Land you appreciate the importance of that.” 

Ginger Niemann, who with her husband, John, organized the massive weekend gathering, said she hoped the beautiful Masses, meetings and formal evening events would be moving, inspiring and educational. 

“I hope people go back feeling closer to their Church, to their God and fellow members, and have a better understanding of what the plight of Christians in the Holy Land is,” Niemann said. 

Randy Blair, a knight from the Diocese of Laredo, was present at the grand investiture Mass. He described it as incredibly powerful. His membership in the order over the last 3 years has meant a lot to him. 

“It’s brought me much closer to the Church. It really has,” Blair said.