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Annual Investiture Promotions Ceremony, Vigil and Investiture Mass Maynooth

Annual Promotions and Admission Ceremonies

Beatitude Foud Twal

Each year the Lieutenancy gathers in St Patrick's College, Maynooth, Co Kildare, the seat of the Pontifical University and Seminary for its Chapter Meeting.


Over the weekend 20-21 July 2012 c250 members and guests gathered to witness existing members being advanced in rank, and these members noted the formal admission of six postulants, one dame and five  knights.

The promotion ceremony commenced at 5.30pm in the College Chapel with Stations of the Cross, followed by conferral of insignia and diplomas of promotion by the Most Rev’d Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath and Grand Officer. Following the promotion ceremony, the postulants gave their promise of fidelity to the Order witnessed by His Excellency the Lieutenant, Nicholas McKenna. The Ecclestical Master of Ceremonies, Commander Vy Rev’d Feargal McGrady was awarded with the Gold Palm of Jerusalem for distinguished service to the Order.

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The general business of the Lieutenancy was conducted on Saturday morning at its annual Chapter meeting presided over the by H.E. the Lieutenancy. Amongst those in attendance were His Excellency the Governor General Conte Agostino Borromeo His Excellency Thomas McKiernan, Grand Magisterium, His Excellency Bartholomew McGettrick,  Grand Magisterium. His Excellency Dr. David Laurence Gilbert Smith, the Lieutenant of England & Wales, His Excellency Joseph Quinn the South African Magistral delegate, Derick Williamson representing the Scottish Lieutenancy, and Dr. Markus representing the Swiss Lieutenancy.

In his address H.E. Agostino Borromeo , Knight of the Collar noted that the charitable work of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem represents an institutional commitment which flows from the first and fundamental purpose stated by our Constitution: "the strengthening of the Christian life" of its members.  By explicit mandate of the supreme pontiffs, the Order, as institution, addresses all its charitable efforts towards the Holy Land. Indeed the  Constitution states that the Order contemplates among its aims "to sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works and institutions of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, particularly those of and in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with which the Order maintains traditional ties". The reference to "traditional ties" is a reference to the recent history of the Order. Every year the Grand Magisterium, by means of the  Commission for the Holy Land, undertakes special projects,  such as the construction or renovation of churches and schools. In agreement with the Patriarchate, individual projects are selected which the Order undertakes to finance, sometimes also over several years. Currently the two major projects for year 2012 concern the completion of the church of Aqaba (Jordan) and the extension of the school of Rameh (Israel). As a general guide, we estimate that between 2001 and 2011 the Order sent to the Holy Land an approximate figure of  €71.7 million.

In relation to possible future perspectives, he spoke about the new challenges tied to special socio-demographic situation. The Catholic community is a small community, Christians are today a negligible percentage of the population, representing probably 2%. Among these, about a half are Catholics: they therefore represent a very small minority surrounded by a majority of Jews (in Israel) and Muslims (in Jordan and in the Palestinian Territories). It is unthinkable that Christians are no longer present in the cradle of Christianity, that the Holy Land becomes a museum in which only stones and monuments remain as only witness of the ancient community living there for 2000 years. This aim can be fulfilled only if its members are able to achieve a high professional training and to reach levels of excellence in a cultural background. This is why the Order pays a special attention to education and university institutions. But the real problem is to offer people decent living conditions. Humanitarian aid is needed in times of emergency, however it is not a solution. In conclusion the Order was and remains faithful to the original mandate given to it by the Holy See. Being knights and ladies of the Holy Sepulchre, we do not have to forget the power of prayer: hence let's invoke God so that harmony, peace and justice may triumph in the land made holy by the preaching of Christ, by His Passion, death and resurrection. And let me hope that by means of these intentions in our hearts, each of us wishes to attend, today and tomorrow, our traditional liturgical celebrations.

H.E Thomas McKiernan, a member of both the Grand Magisterium and the Holy Land Commission stated that the role of the Holy Land Commission is to be sure charity is properly and efficiently used in the way members have requested. They do so by making site visits, one, sometimes two, a year, examine the proposals, property, bids, and meet with the pastors, principals, teachers, parents, architects and Patriarchate personnel. They accept only those projects justified on the basis of detailed and convincing verification of the costs and benefits to the Christian community.

He went on to say that the Order has  currently two major projects for 2011 /2012 the total cost for these two projects, over two years, is €3.5m. In 2012/2013 the Commission have identified several projects. The preliminary cost of these project is €820,000. These  include renovation of a nuns house in Aboud, Palestine, renovation of the Vicariate in Amman, Jordan, a pastoral Centre in Tel-Aviv Israel,  renovation of priests house in Misdar, Jordan and a new priests house is AI Wahadneh, Jordan.

Commenting about the importance of pilgrimage he recalled that his father once told  there would be many important events in his life but only a few life changing events. His  first visit to the Holy Land, and the places where Jesus was born, lived, worked and died for us, was one of those life changing events. Go, see the work the Order is doing. Members will be welcomed with open arms and when you see the churches, the schools, the students  and the seminary that you support,  and experience, first hand, the appreciation of the families, you will come home a changed person.

At 11.35am the Lay Master commenced the procession into the Chapel. The procession of 130 members was led by a three member colour party, followed by the sword bearer, Chev. John Turley. Mezzo-soprano Lynda Lee provided the choral music and the Royal Salute was played by a trumpeter at the Consecration. H.E Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, participated in the con-celebrated Mass.

During the course of his homily Commander Rev Fr Timothy Bartlett said “I believe the various Orders of Knighthood and Chivalry still have a vital role to play in the Church. Because if one quality should characterise a Knight or Dame of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem above all others, it is courage. When our predecessors undertook the first Crusades, not only did they give up their possessions to ensure that no-one was in need, like the Christians in our Second Reading, they set off into the unknown with fearless courage. They did so because something of great importance to the patrimony of humanity was at stake. It was the preservation of what we sometimes call today ‘the fifth Gospel’ – the sites of God’s saving activity through his Son-made-flesh in the Holy Land.

Today those sites are largely secured, though the rights and freedoms of the Christian minority in the Holy Land remains a matter of great concern to our Order and to the Holy See. That is why we are so pleased to have with us today Fr Ephraim, from the ancient city of Nineveh in the Diocese of Mosul in Iraq. We assure you Fr Ephraim of the prayers, solidarity and support of the Lieutenancy of Ireland for the people of your Parish and of your Diocese in Iraq . We are grateful for the heroic witness of your faith and the example of so many martyrs like Fr Raheed Ghanni, who inspire us with their gentle, joyful but fearless courage in the face of violent opposition and even death itself.”

Subsequently Séan Cardinal Brady, Grand Prior,  accepted the admission of the new members by dubbing each Knight with an Order sword and display of spurs. The new members were then cloaked by the Lieutenant, assisted by the Chancellor, Chev Charles Kelly.

At the subsequent luncheon each newly admitted was welcomed. His Excellency the Lieutenant welcomed Fr. Ephriam Luay Gogo from Iraq, a colleague of the late Fr. Raheed who was so violently martyred after the celebration of Mass with his Parish community in Mosul. We are so proud that the memory of Fr Raheed and his heroic faith is commemorated in the mosaic in the new apse of the Irish College in Rome. As members of the Order, our aim is to promote this life of faith, and therefore we take seriously the call to live out the forthcoming Year of Faith. We do so through promoting awareness of the needs of our sisters and brothers who struggle to maintain a Christian presence in the Holy Land. We do so by raising funds to support Christian Schools and projects in the Holy Land. We do so by encouraging people to become familiar with what has sometimes been called the fifth Gospel – that is the Holy Land itself, and all its most Holy Christian sites.