Order of Malta Moment

January 17, 2013

Regional Report – Houston

Volunteers packing food parcels at the Mamie George Community Center in Houston.

In 2011 the Houston Region of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta decided that we needed a signature project where all of our members could use their time and talents to practice charity toward our neighbors, especially the poor and the sick. Few of our current projects at that time fully engaged our entire membership in fulfilling our mission as Knights and Dames of Malta.
Bob Signorelli, our previous Hospitaller, and Stephen Sleezer, our current Hospitaller, were instrumental in helping get this project started. Stephen recounted that, “We approached Catholic Charities and they presented their new facility, the Mamie George Community Center as such an opportunity. Initially, it didn’t seem like it was what we wanted because it was quite a distance to travel for some of our members. Furthermore, we had never had a project that would require so much monthly participation by members as well as involve so many additional volunteers outside of our membership. But after touring the facility, we knew this would be a very worthy project.”
A primary service at the Mamie George Community Service is the Community Food Fair, a component of the Basic Needs Services Program that offers supplemental food to Fort Bend Community residents who are in need of food, compassion, and encouragement. Many of the clients served are living below the poverty level with the largest age demographic representing individuals ages 18 -64 years; Hispanic families and individuals represent the highest ethnicity demographic with African American families and individuals following at second. In an effort to provide services beyond the brown paper bag of food items, the Center designed the food fairs to have an educational component covering topics like nutrition, disaster preparedness, financial literacy, and fair housing.
Ernest Lewis III, the Center Director for Catholic Charities, commented on the success of the project, “To effectively volunteer at the Community Food Fairs volunteers must understand our clients and be sensitive to their struggles and cultures. Knights and Dames of Malta realize this expectation and consistently provide good care to our clients. For each food fair, the group ensures that bi-lingual volunteers (Spanish and English) are present to assist with individuals with language barriers. This proves to be a huge help and brings comfort to our clients who speak little to no English. Not only do the Order’s dedicated members offer their time and faith, but also their expertise from diverse professional backgrounds and in-kind support. Through this partnership with the Order of Malta our work brings to life Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston – Houston’s vision statement – People of Faith, Helping People in Need Achieve Self- Sufficiency.”
Since the Order of Malta started this project in September 2011, we have managed 16 Food Fairs, distributed 156,626 pounds of food, including holiday turkeys and hams, and have had a positive impact on the lives of 3,667 families, benefitting approximately 12,749 individuals.
Each and every month we have 30-40 volunteers and in 2013, we will manage 12 Food Fairs, distribute an estimated 125,000 pounds of food to nearly 3,000 families, benefitting approximately 9,000 individuals. This project has allowed the Houston Region to work towards its goal of practicing charity toward our neighbors, especially the poor and the sick. - Bill Schoeffield

Charlotte Members Follow-up Lourdes Companionship

Pictured in the chapel at Belmont Abbey College (l-r) - Paul Polking, Abbot Placid Solari, OSB, John Gannon, Dr. Marty D’Amore, Dr. Don Joyce, and Jerry Schmitt.

For the past two years members of the Charlotte Region have demonstrated that service to a Lourdes malade can be extended far beyond the pilgrimage. In 2011, Dr. Marty D’Amore, a young radiologist from Gastonia (a Charlotte suburb) made the pilgrimage with companions Tim Quinn, his medical school roommate, and Chuck Meakin, a close friend and medical colleague.
A year earlier Marty had been diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. All who accompanied him on the pilgrimage were impressed with his openness to the messages of Lourdes. In particular Marty began to sense the burden of his Cross becoming an offering to God. Upon returning from Lourdes, many pilgrims expressed their desire for a continuing relationship with Marty. The idea surfaced of giving him an outing each week while his three children were in school, while also providing his lovely wife Kirsten with some free time. The result has been a weekly activity, whereby volunteers take Marty to Mass and lunch. Under the enthusiastic leadership of John Gannon, the participants have increased to a pool of about 20 Knights, Dames, spouses and candidates. Although two people are always assigned for a particular Mass and lunch, often several additional supporters attend the Mass and lunch thereafter if their schedule permits. Abbot Placid Solari of Belmont Abbey frequently celebrates Mass for the group at the monastery’s chapel, and Bishop Emeritus William Curlin, long-time spiritual director of the Lourdes pilgrimages, has also been very supportive in visiting and having lunch with Marty and his escorts. While Marty and his family have expressed their gratefulness in many ways, without a doubt the opportunity to serve them has been a tremendous blessing for the Order in the Charlotte Region. - Jerry Schmitt & Ed Ruff

Order of Malta – Q & A

Question - What does the 900 year anniversary of the Papal Bull mean? What are we commemorating?
Answer - On February 15, 2013, the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta will commemorate the 900th anniversary of its initial papal recognition in the sacred bull of Pope Paschal II, PIE POSTULATIO VOLUNTATIS. In that document the Holy Father set in course the juridical operation of the Order founded in the late eleventh century in Jerusalem by Blessed Brother Gerard.
Although the precise date of the foundation of Brother Gerard’s hospital has been lost to history, the institution was a thriving activity by the time of the European Crusaders’ arrival in the city in 1099, four short years after Pope Urban II had delivered the address to the assembled clergy in the Council at Clermont in France. Thus began the crusading movement that would dominate both papal and political policy in Europe for the next 200 years.
Concerned by growing reports of strife in the Holy Land, molestation of Christian pilgrims, and the reality of Christian vulnerability at the hands of Muslim Seljuk Turk invaders after the fall of the Byzantine army in the Battle of Manzikert in Asia Minor in 1071, Pope Urban articulated the need for an offensive to liberate the Holy Places from control by those who did not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ.
Pope Urban died in 1099, a few weeks after the Crusaders whom he had inspired had liberated the Holy City from Muslim control. At that time a Benedictine monk of the Cluniac tradition succeeded him, taking the name Paschal II. As with his recent predecessors, beginning with Saint Gregory VII, Pope Paschal faced growing problems with the Christian powers of Europe, a constant impediment to papal support for the Crusades.
In granting the bull of 1113, Pope Paschal not only cemented Brother Gerard’s establishment as a religious order of the Church, but also granted it the juridical independence that has made possible the service aspect of its mission to Our Lords, the Poor and the Sick that has been its hallmark for the past 900 years. - Henry Lane Hull, Federal Association Historian

Florida Retreat

All Federal Association members and candidates are invited to the Federal Association’s annual Florida Retreat on January 25-27 at the Marywood Retreat House outside of Jacksonville, Florida. Located on the shores of the St. John’s River, Marywood provides a peaceful and picturesque setting for 2 ½ days of prayer and spiritual reflection. Fr. Eric Hollas, OSB, a professor of theology at St. John’s University (MN) and a chaplain of the Western Association of the Order, will be the retreat director. Please click here to open up the retreat “brochure” that has information about the retreat house and the retreat director – and it will have the complete schedule for the weekend. You will also be able to access our very-easy-to-use on-line registration form. Please contact Warren Powers or the Federal Association office if you have any questions or if we can be of any assistance.

Upcoming Events:

Jan 20 - 25 - New Orleans - Order of Malta Home Repair Program - work week # 2. Please click here for details and sign-up sheet.
Jan 25 - Wash DC - National March for Life - 10:30 AM - Mass at Immaculate Conception Church, lunch, transportation to march. Please click here for information and sign-up.
Jan 25-27 - Florida Retreat - Marywood Retreat Center in Jacksonville. Please click here for more information and to access on-line registration form.
Feb 8 - 11 - Rome - Pilgrimage to Rome to commemorate 900 year anniversary of the signing of the Papal Bull that officially recognized the Order of Malta an order of the Catholic Church.
Feb 21 - Wash DC - Lenten Evening of Reflection - 6:30 PM - Mass at Church of the Annunciation followed by soup supper and reflection.
Mar 3 - 9 - Nicaragua - Order of Malta Medical Mission to Nicaragua. For information, please contact Dr. Frank Schmidt .
Mar 10 - 15 - New Orleans - Order of Malta Home Repair Program – work week # 3. Please here for details and sign-up sheet.
Mar 24 - 29 - New Orleans - Order of Malta Home Repair Program – work week # 4. Please here for details and sign-up sheet.
April 4 - 5 - Wash DC - Day of Formation for candidates and sponsors of class of 2014.