by Jane Gladden
On Saturday, October 29, 20 J 6, the San Diego members of the Western USA Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem visited St. Thomas More Parish for a morning of prayer and reflection to celebrate Pope Francis ‘ Jubilee Year of Mercy. Originating in the 12th Century, it is the oldest Order of Knights and Ladies in the world whose primary mission is to preserve the Christian presence in the Holy Land where currently only 4% of the population is Christian.
Because of the philanthropic work and efforts of this 23,000- member, worldwide organization, Christian schools, orphanages, hospitals, and other soc ial services are able to continue their ministries in the Holy Land. At the October 29 event, a Mass in honor of Our Lady of Palestine, was celebrated by Bishop Emeritus Robert Brom and Rev. Michael Ratajczak, our pastor.
Also concelebrating were Msgr. Dennis Mikulanis and Rev. John Proctor. In his homily, Bishop Brom emphasized Pope Francis ‘ call for mercy, noting that Jesus is Mercy made Flesh and Mary is the Mother of Mercy. “We will mercifully be fed,” Bishop Brom added, ” with the Eucharist at this Mass so that we become food for the poor- to have healing for those who are hurting.” Following the Mass and the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a breakfast was held i11 the Parish Center where members gathered to renew acquaintances and enjoy community.
Members Martha and Dick Lyles shared that it was an honor to be asked to join the Order and then to Ii ve out their lifelong commitment to uphold the rights of the Church in the Holy Land. Member Margo Kyd said that she was drawn to the beautiful work of this Order when she was made aware of the serious risk of losing a Christian presence entirely in the land where Jesus lived and died. She noted that members often make pilgrimages to the Holy Land to better understand and support the Christian community there while also witnessing to Muslims in an effort to promote unity.
Her calling, she said, was a surpri se to her as most callings are, but she developed very strong feelings for her mission having learned that the Order provides 90% of the food supply in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and Jordan). Margo concluded : “This is a humbling and beautiful mission. ” Bishop Brom closed the gathering with a presentation again focused on Our Holy Father’s continuing theme of embracing God ‘ s Mercy. “We are only as. Christian as we are merciful. There is no mercy without compassion. Our Church is an Oasis of Mercy.”