A Vatican-approved lay order of knights and ladies charged with protecting Christianity in the Holy Land announced it will hold its annual meeting in Denver in the fall of 2014.
Some 700 members of the North American division of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem will gather to discuss ways to preserve Christianity and raise awareness of Christian suffering during its meeting Sept. 19-21 in the Denver Archdiocese. Prelates and priests will join the meetings and liturgies at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and Holy Ghost Church in Denver.
Archbishop Samuel Aquila spoke to the order’s northern lieutenancy that met in Des Moines, Iowa, September 2013.
“In the Holy Land the situation has not deteriorated as drastically as it has in Syria, but Christians there are still faced with difficult circumstances that lead many of them to emigrate,” said the Denver archbishop, who is a member of the order. “The unrest in places like Syria, Egypt and Iraq has contributed to a refugee crisis in the region, and this has impacted Christians, too. In Syria alone, the two-year conflict has caused 450,000 of the country’s almost 2 million Christians to flee their homes.”
He added that a reported 58 percent of Christians—from 70 percent down to 12 percent—left Bethlehem over the past several years, according to the order.
Patrick and Joan Bridges are co-chairs for the order’s publicity committee, planning the annual meeting that will include local speakers, including Tim Gray of the Augustine Institute, general meetings for members, and an investing of those inducted into the order. The general meetings will be held at the Hyatt Regency Denver.
A welcome Mass is scheduled at 5 p.m. Sept. 19 at Holy Ghost Church. Masses will also be held Sept. 20 and Sept. 21 in the afternoon at the Cathedral Basilica, when new members will be inducted. Knights and ladies are recognized by their white or black capes marked with the Cross of Jerusalem, the emblem of the order.
The public is invited to the liturgies.
The members will discuss specifically how to support and foster a Christian presence in the Holy Land through prayer, finances and pilgrimages.
“It’s going to be great because it will provide more of an awareness of the suffering of the Christians in the Holy Land,” said Joan Bridges. “The Church is universal and we need to recognize those members who are suffering and reach out.”
The order dates back to the first crusade when Godfrey de Bouillon liberated Jerusalem. The crusader leader reorganized the religious, military and public bodies of the Muslim-free territory and founded the Order of the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre, according to the order. Baldwin I, king of Jerusalem, then assumed leadership of the canonical order and appointed successors.
Today, the order is charged with strengthening members in the practice of Christianity, sustaining charitable works and institutions of the Church in the Holy Land, preserve the faith and uphold the rights of the Church.
Archbishop Aquila urged all members to be active in the public square and have courage to be joyful witnesses to the faith and not to “hesitate to speak up for Christians who are being persecuted in the Middle East.”
Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
The northern lieutenancy’s annual meeting will be held Sept. 19-21, 2014 in the Denver Archdiocese. The gathering will include general meetings at the Hyatt Regency Denver, liturgies at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and Holy Ghost Church, and an investing of new members to the order. To learn more, visit www.holysepulchre.net.