Membership in the Order
Unlike some chivalric order whose membership is open to non-Catholics, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is reserved solely for practicing Catholics. Membership in this Order is the highest Papal award which can be conferred on clergy and laity alike. It is precisely that faith that bonds them so closely to the Sovereign Pontiff. The investiture ceremony itself requires the pledge of fidelity to the Holy Father and defense of the Faith with a Profession of Faith, which, of course, only the Catholic faithful could undertake.
The Nomination Process
Existing members of the Order usually nominate, through their Section Representative, new members each year. Nominations must be reviewed and approved by the Section Representative and by the candidate’s pastor and bishop. The Lieutenant then extends letters of invitation. Dossiers of accepting nominees are prepared and, if approved by the Lieutenant, forwarded to the Grand Prior for review. Once approved by the Grand Prior, the dossiers are forwarded to the Grand Magisterium in Rome where the Chancellor reviews them and sets them before the International Admissions Committee. Once approved, a diploma is prepared and signed by the Grand Master of the Order and forwarded to the Vatican Secretary of State for review and signature.
The nomination of a candidate to the Order is strictly confidential until the offer has been approved by the nominee’s bishop and an invitation has been extended to the candidate by the Lieutenant.
Your Call to Membership
The Constitution provides that “members in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem are distinguished by:
Membership in the Order presumes an active personal commitment 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.
Duties of Knights and Dames
Membership in the Order presumes a firm willingness to develop and deepen the three characteristic virtues of the Order: Zeal for self-renunciation in the midst of a society of abundance, generous aid to the weak and those without protection, and a courageous struggle for justice and peace.
The words of Pope Paul V are still relevant:
“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses. Bearing witness is the external manifestation of our adherence to Christ through faith as well as testimony of hope and charity in service to our brothers and sisters.”
The duties and responsibilities of Knights and Dames of the Order today are:
To observe and promote the objectives of the Order; which relives in a modern manner the spirit and ideals of the Crusaders, with the Arms of the Faith, of the Apostolate and of Christian charity, more specifically:
- Practice the virtue of charity supporting and aiding the Church and the Catholic Religion in the Holy Land.
- Promote the preservation and the propagation of the Faith in the Holy Land, and to aid the Catholic Missions in their activities and in their religious, charitable, cultural, and social institutions, particularly those of and in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with which the Order maintains traditional ties.
- Intensify the practice of the Christian Faith in absolute loyalty to the Roman Pontiffs.
- Bring together the Catholics from all over the world, in the love and service to the Holy Land, uniting them in charity by the symbol of the Order.
- Foster in all Catholics and non-Catholics of every nation, interest in the Holy Places.
Endeavor to attend daily Mass, but in any event to attend Mass not only on Holy Days, but at the following times when a Plenary Indulgence is granted to members of the Order under the usual conditions:
- The Feast in honor of Holy Mary Queen of Palestine (last Sunday in October)
- The Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross (September 14)
- The Feast of St. Pius X (August 21)
- The Feast of St. Helena (August 18)
The annual meeting and investiture is the one time during the year that we come together from all over the Lieutenancy to pray, invest new members, learn and socialize. This meeting provides an update on current conditions in the Holy Land and an explanation of how the Order’s funds have been used. It also provides us the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the Order. Each member has a firm obligation to attend this meeting. The annual meeting and investiture in the Middle Atlantic Lieutenancy is a 2-day event (Friday and Saturday) that is usually held at the end of October. The date and location of the meeting is published on our website and in a mailing in late spring.
Recurring Financial Obligations
On an ongoing basis, membership costs include the annual meeting and investiture expenses and the annual charitable contribution. We ask each member to contribute to the mission of the Order according to his or her capacity to do so. This amount will vary from member to member according to their circumstances, which may even change from year to year. Nevertheless, the annual charitable contribution should be sacrificial, meaning that the amount of the contribution should be such that it is missed by the member and causes the member to reflect upon the mission and needs of the Order throughout the year and not just when the annual contribution is made. The minimum amount of the annual charitable contribution is set by Rome. Any member who intends to contribute an amount below the minimum must inform the Lieutenant in writing and request to be excused for good cause. As some members cannot contribute the minimum charitable contribution, we rely on the generosity of those who can contribute more to achieve the total amount requested by Rome to complete the year’s charitable projects.
For more than 150 years the Popes, including the present Holy Father, have given our Order the unique mission of supporting the embattled Christian Community in the Holy Land. Each knight and lady is expected to support that Community both by his and her prayers, by being actively engaged in the works and mission of the Order, and by financial contributions in support of our mission. We cannot stress too strongly the importance of the annual charitable contribution, which is forwarded to the Grand Magisterium in Rome to be used to support the works of the Latin Patriarch. We publish the annual financial statement at the annual meeting so that you know precisely where your funds are going. We also publish information from the Grand Magisterium about its distribution of the funds. A list of the projects and works of the Order can also be found on our website.