On 30 August 2018 the Grand Master, Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, along with his secretary Father John Bateman departed Rome for the great Southland and New Zealand. They arrived in Perth Western Australia to be guests of the Australian Lieutenancy-West Australia as their initial point of contact. The tour would subsequently go through the Lieutenancy for South Australia in Adelaide, Lieutenancy for Australia-Victoria in Melbourne, Lieutenancy for Australia-New South Wales in Sydney then the Magistral Delegation of New Zealand in Auckland and finally the Lieutenancy for Australia-Queensland in Brisbane. The tour was busy and demanding and they left Australia on September 20 for Philadelphia and New York and returned to Rome on October 2. I joined them in Perth West Australia on first of September and can certainly attest to the demands of this lengthy and demanding tour.
This was the second time the Grand Master has made an exhaustive tour of Australia and in fact the third time he had been to Adelaide and Melbourne. The members of the order throughout Australia greeted his visit with quite significant enthusiasm and their preparations for their vigils and Investitures were quite diligent thanks to the efforts of Father John Bateman who provided advice several months ahead of the visit. 25 Knights and Dames were invested by Cardinal O’Brien during these days. A new Prior for the Lieutenancy for Australia-Victoria, Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli was installed in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne. Also Bishop Tim Harris of Townsville in north Queensland, where there is a section of the Queensland Lieutenancy, was invested as a Knight of the Order in the Cathedral of Stephen in Brisbane. He will of course act as coadjuctor Prior to the section in North Queensland.
The effort made by the various councils to organize various social functions produced some very memorable and informal gatherings across the continent. Most of the Lieutenants (and Magistral Delegate) and members of their councils came to the Cardinal’s Mass each morning in the various cities. While in Australia the Grand Master circulated to all members worldwide his letter about the child abuse scandal in the Church and he spoke very strongly on this issue at the formal dinner for each Lieutenancy and Magistral Delegation. It is fair to say that the Knights and Dames found this enlightening and were very pleased to hear his strong words in such a public forum. Clearly this was a superb stamp of approval on his leadership. His Eminence throughout the tour repeatedly talked about the plight of the Palestinian Christians and the need for increased donations given the withdrawal of the United States aid. This of course will only increase the demands placed on the Order for support.
I can certainly attest to the intensity and demands of the tour of Australia and New Zealand which His Eminence undertook joyfully.
Paul C Bartley,K.G.C.H.S.
Vice Governor General for Australia and the Pacific