The weekend of July 28 to 30, 2017, a retreat was preached by Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Vicar for Jerusalem of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The three days were a chance to reflect deeply on what it means to be Knights and Dames of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Msgr. Marcuzzo expanded particularly on the importance of the Resurrection, the need to pass through the Cross to experience a new life in Christ and the special vocation for the members of the Order who have such a direct bond to the Holy Land.
The first regional meeting of Lieutenants and Magistral Delegates of the region from South Africa through Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Guam and Taiwan was held in Sydney, Australia on 28 July, 2017.
The meeting was attended by the Lieutenants of the Philippines, Australia Queensland, Australia New South Wales, Australia Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, the Magistral Delegate from New Zealand and a representative from Taipei, Taiwan. Unfortunately Guam and South Africa were not able to attend.
In the words of the Grand Master’s message to the retreat: “This gathering is a sign of the growing strength of our Order in your vast region of the world – the first to greet the rising sun of the new day”. The region is indeed vast.
70 Knights and Dames attended the event. Because of the great distances, regional gatherings are very special events. The meeting commenced with the prayer to Our Lady Queen of Palestine. A letter from the Governor General Leonardo Visconti di Modrone expressing his spiritual and personal support and best wishes for this first regional meeting was circulated and read to those assembled. The minutes from the previous meeting which was a meeting only of the Australian Lieutenants were tabled and items not appearing in the agenda were dealt with.
The agenda discussed the spirituality of the Order, in particular the formation of new members, and we agreed that a major task for the future is the development of a process of formation for future Lieutenants. It is planned to bring possible candidates to future meetings to promote their formation. We realized that spiritual activities of individual Lieutenancies are similar and range from monthly Holy Masses with the social meeting after the Mass to annual seminar type meetings with visiting speakers and an annual general meeting. In some there is also the practice of praying together the Rosary at the end of Mass.
We considered some means to improve the level of donation which is significantly retarded in Australia by the lack of any taxdeductible ability. We discussed as well about how to attract younger members and about the importance of developing the field of communications. Locally speaking, some Lieutenancies are producing a newsletter either quarterly or monthly of quite a high calibre.
The idea of a unified national project of solidarity at the benefice of the Holy Land for the five Australian Lieutenancies could give new impulse to the members and result in an increase of the level of donations and there was interest in the issue of the day care centers for the children of foreign workers in Israel and in the projects supporting the Christian refugees, particularly in Jordan. This idea will be further discussed. Everybody was very impressed by the current project by the Lieutenancy for the Philippines of having the priest in Amman, Jordan, to serve the Filipino migrant workers community.
As a visit of the Grand Master to Australia and New Zealand is anticipated in September 2018, the Australian Lieutenants will meet in Perth, Western Australia, at the end of April 2018. We chose to continue the regional meeting on an annual basis as occurs in Europe and North America. The Lieutenants meeting was then followed by a retreat. The meeting and retreat were highly successful and it is planned to have an Australian national retreat for the Order approximately every two years, the next being in 2019.
Vice Governor General for Asia and Pacific region