The testimony of a Dame of the Lieutenancy for Austria highlights the important place of women in the Order, of which they have been part since 1871.
Is being a woman inside the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem different to being a man? In my personal experience, a passage from the Book of Genesis (cf. Gen 1:27) is tangible in our Order: "God created man in his image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
The fact that we are fully accepted is what distinguishes our communities, thus creating a family atmosphere and a "religious homeland", in which each and every member contributes to the development of the charisms. Dames, Knights, lay members and clergy: we all have the same rights as witnesses of the Resurrection.
While the official positions are still mostly occupied by men, Dames are represented in the Grand Magisterium, they hold board positions in Lieutenancies and Delegations where they give essential input to charitable and social outreach, in the liturgy, in the organization of pilgrimages and common prayer. They can also take on the role of Lieutenant, Chancellor or Secretary and this is already happening in various Lieutenancies.
Our Lieutenant for Austria, Karl Lengheimer*, gave great importance to women occupying more space within the Order, of which they have been members since 1871. And thanks to his personal commitment, Dames are now represented on all of the Order’s delegations. The close working relationship between men and women are growing at all levels and we can perfectly describe this reality with the expression "the Order family."
Eva Maria Leiner
*This article first appeared in the 2016 annual review of the Lieutenancy for Austria. From 1 January 2017, Dr. Andreas Leiner became the new Lieutenant.
(February 14, 2017)