The Chicago Region welcomed four new knights from its Class of 2020 in an Investiture Mass attended by about 100 people on May 22 at The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Chicago.

While a great departure from the Investiture Weekend in Washington, D.C., the Chicago Region's Class of 2020 set themselves apart in terms of their resilience, dedication and gratitude, regardless of where Investiture took place.  Friends and family filled the pews at Our Lady of Pompeii to support their loved ones as they made their commitment to the Order. Afterward, a joyous celebration took place until the wee hours at Erie Cafe, a favorite haunt of members of the Chicago Region. 

The Chicago Region welcomes Basil Damukaitis, Gibran Espinoza, Patrick Kelly and Tom Leverso to the Order. In a reflection about his path to joining, Tom Leverso, K.M., shares his thoughts below.

“Having a local Investiture for the Chicago Region Class of 2020 was a necessary part of my path, and I am grateful for it.

“I will not belabor the reader with everything about the uniquely long formation period for my class; it is already well known. However, the story of the deep, contemplative discernment of what it meant to be a knight lasted for me until the day of Investiture. The Order’s local service initiatives reinforced my continued contemplation. The Investiture ceremony itself and the dinner reception afterward provided definition.

“In the five days preceding the Investiture, I prayed about whether I was finally ready for the Order. I did not pray about “Investiture,” but rather the idea of seeking to enter the Order. Unexpectedly, though, my prayer arrived at concrete thoughts on how to improve myself—a part of my personality that I recognized, but with which I struggled.

“Through both Investiture and preparation for it, the opportunity to improve presented itself. Call it the Holy Spirit’s intervention, saintly intercession, or finally just applying the common sense that God bestowed upon me, but the Order revealed itself to be my path.

“Yes, true of any Catholic school boy, I needed “Nun Time” to solidify the prayer and realize why the Order made absolute sense; serving the poor is truly part of who I am. On the day of my Investiture, I went to volunteer at one of our local service partners, the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. Upon arrival, one of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin was waiting with a task to perform with her as well as with one of the dames, both of whom I have grown to consider as my family. I worked for three hours, comforted by the sense that my efforts were assisting the poor, not just the toiling in a garden.

“I belong helping those who do not have the means to help themselves.

“The significance of my Investiture was further supported by the fact that the Chicago Investiture Mass was held at The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii—the parish of my great-grandmother and a spiritual home for the Chicago Region.

“Our hospitaller, Rick Klein, took care to ensure that the Investiture Mass replicated the details within the Mass of the Investiture usually held in Washington, D.C., and to which knights and dames are accustomed.

“For me, while the Investiture Mass generally marked a moment in my spiritual growth, the Mass represented, on a much larger scale, the culmination of years of contemplation and discernment for me.”

Photo Caption: Just a few hours before he was invested as a member of the Chicago Region of the Knights of Malta Federal Association, Tom Leverso (left) spent time in service at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels, located in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.  Joining Tom are Rick Klein, hospitaller of the Chicago Region, and Sr. Jaime Mitchell.

Photo Caption: Kari Balck— fiancée of Tom Leverso—and son Stanton became cherished supporters of Chicago Region members as Tom prepared to join the Order of Malta.  Kari joins Tom regularly to serve the poor at Our Lady of the Angels.  Pictured with Tom, Kari and Stanton is Myrrh the greyhound.

Photo Caption: Fr. Richard Fragomeni (left), associate chaplain of the Chicago Region and rector of The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, and Bishop Robert Lombardo (right) concelebrated the Investiture Mass with Monsignor Michael Boland, magistral chaplain for the Order.

Photo Caption: Basil Damukaitis (left) and Gibran Espinoza (right) enter The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii for Investiture Mass on May 22.

Photo Caption: Fra’ Tom Mulligan, president of the Federal Association and member of the Chicago Region, processes in to Mass.

Photo Caption: Patrick Kelly (left) and Tom Leverso (right) enter The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood.


Photo Caption: Chicago Region Hospitaller Rick Klein addresses the congregation.

Photo Caption: Monsignor Michael Boland processes in while Sister Jaime (left) from the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels looks on. 

Photo Caption: Bishop Lombardo welcomes those being invested, as well as all dames, knights, family and friends present for the Chicago Region Investiture of the Class of 2020.