The successful experience of the Squires and Maidens in France inspires other Lieutenancies around the world.
The new Grand Master of the Order strongly desires that each Lieutenancy be inventive to allow the young people to join in the activity of Knights and Dames, following the example of what has been seen in France for many years with the successful experience of the Squires and Maidens. The Lieutenant for Canada-Montreal testifies here to his efforts in this regard, supported by Chancellor Alfredo Bastianelli, responsible for the question of admissions and promotions on behalf of the Grand Magisterium.
Over two years ago, I was appointed Lieutenant of the Lieutenancy for Canada-Montreal. No sooner was I installed than I flew to Rome for five days, where I participated in the Consulta, the quinquennial meeting of all the Lieutenants and the authorities of the Grand Magisterium. This new experience became a unique opportunity for me at the start of my mandate, to interact with Lieutenants from all over the world. I was very well received, particularly by the Lieutenants from France and Belgium. I had already heard of the experience of these two Lieutenancies with young people.
I had the privilege of speaking privately with our Grand Master and our Governor General. I told them about my priorities, which included the creation of a youth section at our Lieutenancy. My discussions with my two French and Belgian colleagues had shown me that not only were these experiences promising, but that in recent years, the new Investitures in these two Lieutenancies had mainly come from their youth sections. I quickly came to the conclusion that this experience could be adapted and put into practice at the Lieutenancy for Canada-Montreal.
When I returned, I was eager to take the first opportunity to convince colleagues on our board of this possibility. Two of them were then appointed to look into the question of setting up a youth section at our Lieutenancy. And so, in February 2020, they submitted a report to us which concluded that the project was feasible. Consequently, in August 2020, we unanimously accepted the principle of creating our youth section, “Squires and Maidens”.
We have therefore resolved to establish such a section for a period of three years “ad experimentum”, with certain conditions. So, we are going to set up a discernment and training programme to support young people (aged 18 to 30) for a minimum period of one year. At the end of this period, on acceptance of their candidacy by the Lieutenant and the Grand Prior, they will be received as “Squires and Maidens” during a liturgical celebration. They will then receive the symbol of their commitment, a particular cloak of their own. Their objectives will be to deepen their faith, to acquire a thirst for nobility of heart and a love for the Holy Land. They will have to make themselves worthy of their admission, participate in eight annual retreats, and make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, before becoming a Knight or Dame in the Order, if they wish, but not before reaching 30 years of age. No membership fee will be required of them, but they will have to bear the cost of acquiring their cloak and the cost of the pilgrimage. Collective activities will be organised to raise the necessary funds to cover these costs.
Last May, our new Grand Master reaffirmed the need to rejuvenate our ranks and to be open to young people and to our inspiring mission. Our Christian sisters and brothers in the Holy Land need us so much, it is our duty to ensure the succession of the Order. Young people today should find this adventure inspiring and able to give new meaning to their lives. Newly appointed, our Patriarch Bishop Pizzaballa affirmed that, “Christian hope is not the simple optimism that means everything is fine ... Christian hope gives meaning to what we experience.” This is what we want to share with those future “Squires and Maidens” who will come to join us. Our challenge is also to recruit these young people, and the need to arouse in them a taste for the “divine”. Our prayers are essential in this and only our faith in this project will allow us to find the means to achieve it.
All the members of the Board of Directors of the Lieutenancy for Canada-Montreal are unanimous in believing that this experience of establishing a section of young “Squires and Maidens” is essential to ensure the growth of our Lieutenancy. I would even add that the presence of young people in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is essential to ensure its sustainability. All Lieutenancies around the world should set up similar youth sections in the short term.
Let us pray to Our Lady Queen of Palestine that our wishes come true.
Lieutenant for Canada-Montreal