“I don’t encounter Jesus in the poor and the sick because I am doing good works. I encounter Jesus in the poor and the sick because that’s where Jesus lives.”
This connection between our service work and our spirituality was made in a reflection by Barbara Patocka, D.M., at the fifth annual Mass and Town Hall Meeting held by the Washington, DC-Montgomery County, MD regions at Our Lady of Victory parish in June. About 45 members and auxiliary attended.
Following Mass, celebrated by Msgr. William English, a Federal Association chaplain, knights and dames heard presentations on three initiatives offering new and exciting opportunities to serve the sick and the poor.
Dr. Barbara Knollmann, D.M., spoke about the new Lourdes Outreach Committee’s efforts to contact pastors in three inner-city parishes to identify potential Lourdes malades. In 2018, two out of five malade candidates from these parishes made the pilgrimage, and it is hoped that others will follow in subsequent years. This outreach might also include renovation projects and other needs in which members can serve these parish communities. Drs. Clarion Johnson and Daniel Young also serve on this committee.
Clarion Johnson described a new outreach to Holy Cross Hospital exploring collaboration with knights and dames to serve the poor and the sick who come to the hospital, visit its community clinics, or seek help through the medical van. It is hoped that ideas for specific service projects will result. Dr. Dorothy Zolandz, D.M., co-chairs this outreach.
Kathryn Abell, GCM/Ob., talked about the many-faceted efforts of the Federal Association in prison ministry, particularly the Pen Pal Program, in which over 200 members write to individual men and women incarcerated in U.S. prisons. More volunteer pen pals are always needed.
Barbara Patocka, chair of the Association’s Spirituality Committee, closed the program with a moving reflection on the connection between our service projects and our spirituality, pointing out that Jesus says in Scripture that we encounter him not only in the Eucharist, but also in caring for the least of his brothers.
She said: “For those of us who are members of the Order of Malta, the best way to find Jesus ... is to take the time to really meet the poor and the sick, to ‘be with them’ as well as to ‘do for them’.... The greatest gift we have to give to the poor and the sick is our time, our presence, ... and sharing their journey. The greatest gift we receive is an encounter not only with the person who is poor or ill, but with Jesus himself.”
Regional Hospitallers Joan and Chip Glasgow of Montgomery County and Dr. Robert Holman of Washington, D.C., planned and hosted the event, which also included distribution of an excellent written description of regional service projects in which knights and dames can become involved. Additional copies can be obtained by emailing Joan at email@example.com, or Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.