Scores of people processed under sunny skies through downtown Fort Wayne to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday, September 17, as the North Central Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem inducted its newest members into the order during its Investiture ceremony, which was followed by a memorial Mass. Twelve candidates were named Knights, 11 were named Dames, and eight were named Priest Knights. The weekend, hosted in Fort Wayne, was a chance for members to connect, listen to lectures, take part in educational sessions, pray, visit local exhibitions, and take part in the official ceremony and induction of its new members.
The North Central Lieutenancy covers the geographical area of the states of Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. According to its website, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and for all the activities and initiatives that are necessary to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The contributions made by its members throughout the world are therefore the main source of funding for the institutions of the Patriarchate.
The Order’s Mission
The order’s support for the Christians in the Holy Land does not just take the form of financial contributions and prayers. All the order’s lieutenancies arrange formal pilgrimages, in the course of which members do not simply view and explore the area’s holy sites, but also have the opportunity to meet the people whom they are supporting and assure them that they are not forgotten.
The order is charged, in its constitution:
To strengthen in its members the practice of Christian life, in absolute fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff and according to the teachings of the Church, observing as its foundation the principles of charity which make the order a fundamental means of assistance to the Holy Land.
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 its traditional ties.
To support the preservation and propagation of the Faith in those lands and promote interest in this work not only among Catholics scattered throughout the world, who are united in charity by the symbol of the order but also among all other Christians.
To uphold the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
‘Ancient and Significant’
Deacon Matthew Levy and his wife, Lisa Levy, were both candidates who participated in the investiture ceremonies on the weekend of September 16-17. The couple said the most memorable part of the weekend in Fort Wayne was the sense of welcome and belonging felt the moment they arrived and the sheer delight of becoming members.
“Lisa and I have always felt a great love for the Christians in our Holy Land – that is why we have been so committed to leading pilgrimages,” Deacon Levy said. “But now we have an additional dimension to our spirituality by putting our faith into action as we now can be even more focused in supporting them.”
Sean McBride, a new Knight of the order, has been aware of the organization for quite some time because of the recognizable uniform and regalia. He learned about the group’s mission and details about the organization through a personal invitation from John and Patricia Becker, who served as the hosts for the Investiture weekend.
“There are a few things that stand out,” McBride said about memorable moments from the weekend. “These are a people of joyous service that take this charge seriously. Meeting such high-quality people made their company very enjoyable and fun. Being knighted by an archbishop [Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee] was truly amazing. The charge given to us, and honor bestowed upon us, was brought home in a big way. To see that many bishops and clergy in attendance … was a great gift to behold. The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem can trace its origins to Godfrey de Bouillon of the First Crusade.”
McBride said wearing the cape and Jerusalem cross as a means of evangelization is truly humbling.
“The Investiture was an initiation into something ancient and significant,” McBride said. “One can’t be anything but humbled. We pray our efforts and those of the order continue to foster care, promotion, and protection of the lands and people of Christ’s home while here on earth.”
The Investiture rotates each year throughout dioceses within the North Central Lieutenancy. John and Patty Becker and a host of volunteers led this Investiture in Fort Wayne. They expressed their gratitude to Bishop Rhoades for his excellent talk on the Eucharistic Revival and for presiding at the Mass on Saturday, September 16. They also thanked Father Jacob Runyon, the Rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Michael Dulac, the Director of Music at the cathedral, as well as Brian MacMichael and Karen Fitzpatrick in the Office of Worship for their assistance with the beautiful liturgies. Father Nathan Maskal and Michael Heinlein served as Masters of Ceremony. The next Investiture will be in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in the fall of 2024, followed by Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2025.
An ‘Outward’ Spirituality
Deacon Steven Jolly, who also was invested into the order over the weekend, became involved with the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem through a good friend and member of the order, Deacon Shawn Glanville.
“I met Shawn several years ago when we began our formation for the diaconate program in the Rockford diocese,” Deacon Jolly said. “We would travel to and from our classes together. Spending a lot of time together at class and other events, we became friends, sharing our experiences, studies, and prayer. During those times, we discussed our families, our spirituality, and other shared experiences and dreams. We discussed my desire to visit the Holy Land with my wife and other family members. Shawn had been on a pilgrimage and shared with me what an awesome trip it was – and also the plight of our Christian brothers and sisters. While I knew there were many problems and issues in the Holy Land, Shawn introduced me to the personal side of the situation. Our conversations focused on more than the political issues but also the socio-economic problems and how it impacted the people, especially the children. While I still wanted to visit the Holy Land, and will, I wanted to know how I could help now.”
Deacon Jolly found the experience inspirational and had many memorable moments throughout the weekend.
“The actual Investiture dubbing by His Excellency, Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki, is something I will never forget,” Deacon Jolly said. “As I looked up into the archbishop’s eyes, there was such a calming and peaceful look that I felt the Lord say, ‘This is exactly where I want you to be.’ It gave me a similar sense of peace and thanksgiving. I will never forget the singing performance on Saturday night. I found myself just closing my eyes during the Ava Maria and living in the moment. It was amazing,” Deacon Jolly said.
Deacon Jolly believes the Holy Spirit is alive and active in all our lives, and this opportunity, he said, will enhance his spiritual life.
“Not just because Jesus said the Advocate would come, but because I have seen the actions of the Holy Spirit in my life and the lives of others. I have been drawn to the Gospels and the life of Jesus and His Church for many years. I think this is why I am drawn to visit the Holy Land. Now, I have the opportunity not only to visit the Holy Land but to be a part of it through prayer, increasing awareness, and financial support. I think through my membership in the EOHSJ, I will connect and share my own spirituality with others in my family, parish, and community. Support of the Holy Land will help me turn my spirituality from an inward focus, just visiting the Holy Land, to an outward focus of how I can help those who live every day in the trials and tribulations of a political and economic society which hates you. For me, the Holy Land is not just a place to visit; it is an earthly connection between heaven and earth where our connection to Jesus and His Church is made manifest. Because of this, it offers all of us a chance to increase our spirituality and love of neighbor,” noted Jolly.
A Vocation of Holiness
Following the Investiture ceremony, the community celebrated a memorial Mass, before which the names of 23 members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem who died in 2023 were shared, and after each name was read, a bell tolled.
During his homily, Archbishop Listecki told the congregation that holiness is their common vocation. To lead a life of holiness, we must all be virtuous, he said.
Archbishop Listecki recalled how, during the news report of early “Saturday Night Live” skits, actor Chevy Chase would look into the camera and say “Good evening, I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not,” establishing a truism, which is the beginning of humility. God is God, and we are not, Archbishop Listecki said, adding that all need to make God a priority in our lives, stating that the problems with society occur as a result of God not coming first. He discussed how each of the Mass readings gave examples of God being made a priority – and God being ignored.
“I am constantly amazed and challenged by the witnessing of the love of people through Christ in our Church,” Archbishop Listecki said. “Whenever I think I’ve seen it all or experienced it all, something else comes up and pushes me and touches me in such a way to say I know God’s grace is acting and fully opening this person up to His love and to His life, which is going to be fully realized.”
Queen of Palestine
On Saturday, September 16, the order gathered for an afternoon ceremony at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in which the candidates authenticated their promises to live out the order’s mission and by its regulations. The event was presided over by Bishop Rhoades, who also blessed the capes of the incoming members.
The ceremony was followed by a votive Mass, celebrated by Bishop Rhoades, dedicated to Our Lady under the title Mary, Queen of Palestine, the patroness of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
“As Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulchre, we have pledged to assist our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land who are often at the crossroads of the battle between good and evil, afflicted by violence and terror, injustice, and hate,” Bishop Rhoades said in his homily. “We ask Our Lady, whom we invoke as the Queen of Peace, to watch over our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. The Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother and our Queen, is a sign of hope and comfort for all of us on our pilgrim way.”
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