Speaking to nearly 500 Members, family, friends, and newly invested, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., placed his message in last month’s Investiture Mass in the larger context of the then upcoming visit of our Holy Father, Pope Francis. He spoke of those who have drifted from the Church, and of the cultural challenges facing our nation, calling on all of us to reflect on our Catholic identity.
"As, knights and dames of the Sovereign Order of Malta, we take on a particular responsibility to manifest in our words and deeds that Catholic identity that is symbolized by the cross we wear on our uniform, " he said in his homily. Drawing on the words of Pope Francis, he added, "that all baptized...share the responsibility for the primary mission of the Church to evangelize and share our faith with the world."
This solemn Mass, during which 59 new Members were welcomed into the Order, anchored a weekend that brought together members from 26 regions for an annual Members' meeting with the Federal Association leadership, the presentation of awards, and a Defense of the Faith program, topped off with the annual dinner dance.
On behalf of the Sovereign council, Federal Association President Margaret Melady presented the Grand Cross pro piis meritis to Msgr. Edward J. Dillon, Magistral Chaplain, and the Cross pro Merito Melitensi to Thomas J. Hughes, KM, Robert M. Gallagher, KM, and Lawrence O. Demaree, KM. Additionally the Cross pro Merito Melitensi was presented to Rev. Daniel Anthony Flens in Chicago in June of this year.
The next day President Melady presented her President’s Awards to Lawrence B. Neuhoff, KM, Joan M. Cincotta, DM, Cynthia M. Wilkinson, DM, Marguerite Baxter, DM, Loretto Kane, DM, Jeffrey D. Ludwig, KM, Leon T. Knauer, KM, Sidney D. Spencer, KM, and Frances L.V. Spencer, DM.
President Melady was joined by other officers of the Federal Association in presenting a summary of the spiritual, and Hospitaller works of the Order in 2014 along with a financial recap. Members can read the details in the upcoming Annual Report.
Monsignor Dillon, Magistral Chaplain, Atlanta Region
Peter Scudner, KM
Msgr. Edward J. Dillon, known for his leadership as chaplain on the Lourdes Pilgrimage, is chaplain to the Atlanta Region with its 50 members, five candidates and 16 auxiliaries. He was awarded the Grand Cross pro piis meritis, a great honor that has been presented fewer than six times in the 88-year history of the Order in the U.S. It was created in two classes in 1920 to recognize clerics who have demonstrated longstanding devotion to the Order of Malta and its two charisms of service to the sick and the poor and defense of the faith.
The Grand Cross consists of a black “collar” ribbon edged on each side in red, from which a golden crown and a white cross edged in gold are suspended. In the middle of the cross is a round medallion featuring a white Maltese cross on a red field. Around the medallion in gold on white are the Latin words: MIL. ORDO EQUITUM MELIT. BENE MERENTI - literally “The Military Equestrian Order of Malta Well Deserved." On the back is written A.D. MCMXX, the date of the creation of the award.