Ordo Equestris Sancti Sepulchri Hierosolymitani

 

REFLECTIONS OF A RETIRING GRAND MASTER

 

In June 2007, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone informed me that I was being named Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Since that time, it had been my great privilege to be the admittedly unworthy leader of a truly great and historic organization of lay men and women around the world intent on their own spiritual development and on the support of their brother and sister Christians in the Holy Land, the land of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I had been a member of the Order since the early 1990s, after Cardinal Caprio and Russell Kendall had invited me to join. Cardinal Caprio had also kindly invited me to speak to the Grand Magisterium on the spirituality of the Order.

Thus, while the Order was known to me, I had not been deeply involved in its activities, much less in its administration. I do recall that I asked to be affiliated with the Eastern Lieutenancy of the United States, headquartered in New York, which included my home Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In that way also, my periodic contributions, small as they were, could be deducted from my Federal Income Tax! Unfortunately, because I worked in Rome as president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, I could not attend the meetings of the Lieutenancy.

After I was appointed Grand Master, however, I resolved to work every day in the central offices of the Order and to visit as many Lieutenancies as possible for investitures and for other special occasions.

I was happy to note that the then Governor General, Pier Luigi Parola, was working for ever greater transparency and accountability in the management of the finances of the Order. The fact that he had to commute from his home in Milan, however, was proving very wearing for him and very difficult for his wife. After accepting his resignation, I was extremely fortunate to obtain the consent of Count Agostino Borromeo, professor of Church history at two universities in Rome and president of the Circolo di Roma and a former chancellor of the Order, to become the new Governor General. Happily, Adolfo Rinaldi, agreed to remain in his important work as Vice Governor of the Order.

In the United States, Cardinal Justin Rigali agreed to assign Father Hans Brouwers of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as my personal assistant and I was happy to be able to appoint him also as vice chancellor and later chancellor of the Order. The Holy Father honored him with an appointment as Chaplain of His Holiness with the title of Monsignor.

I was also most grateful that Archbishop Giuseppe De Andrea, a priest from Ivrea who had become incardinated in the Diocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, before being appointed as Nuncio to Kuwait, kindly accepted being named Assessor of the Order, the prelate who acts on behalf of an impeded or absent Grand Master.

With the new leadership team in place, we were able to work to unify the staff by bringing the administration from offices at Sant’Onofrio on the Janiculum Hill back to our central office, after we guaranteed that the integrity of our records would be respected as a central entity of the Catholic Church and the Holy See. This made it possible for us to gather at noon every day for prayer and it reinforced the unity of our staff.
Shortly before I submitted my resignation to the Secretary of State and to the Holy Father, Governor General Borromeo made it known to me that the Order had achieved three “firsts” in the year 2010:

1) the largest amount of donations ever received: 10.3 million euros ($13.7 million);
2) the largest number of members in history: more than 28,000;
3) the largest number of jurisdictions: 58, with new jurisdictions in Brasil, Russia, South Africa, and Italy – with promising developments in India, New Zealand and Croatia.

As all our members know, it is our desire to have rental income from the Hotel Columbus
cover all the administrative expenses of the Grand Magisterium. Negotiations are continuing to this end – and it is our prayer that this longstanding preoccupation may soon be finally resolved.

I renew my thanks to Almighty God for the great grace to have been appointed by our Holy Father as the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

I renew my thanks to our officers and staff and to all our members for their splendid cooperation in a spirit of faith and charity.

I renew my thanks to Patriarch Fouad Twal and to the clergy, religious and faithful of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem for their wonderful example of fidelity to the Gospel in the midst of great difficulties.

I ask you all to pray for peace with justice in the Holy Land – and I ask you also to pray for me as I begin this final phase of my life. Be assured that I will be praying for all of you!

  

Gran Magistero dell'O.E.S.S.G.(c)
00120 - Città del Vaticano
Tel. 39 - 06 - 6877347
Fax 39 - 06 - 6877632