Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem investitures, promotions celebrated in diocese
FORT WORTH — Dozens of tour buses unloaded more than 800 Catholics from Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Oklahoma on Oct. 15-17 in Fort Worth to participate in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem’s annual Rite of Solemn Investiture and Conferring of Promotions ceremonies.
The order, which rotates their annual meeting and ceremonies between locations in the four states, last visited Fort Worth in 2012.
Diocese of Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson, who concelebrated both day’s Masses, called it an honor to host the Order’s annual meeting.
“It connects us not only to other dioceses within our region and province but also to the Universal Church and particularly the Holy Land,” Bishop Olson said. “It also gives us an opportunity to be hospitable.”
The Order dates from 1096 and the First Crusade when knights fought to guard the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Order has since spread throughout the world with knights and dames now supporting the Holy Land— which has experienced substantial decline in Christian population — through prayer, presence, and financial support. That support has led to construction of numerous churches, schools, seminaries, community centers, and other outreach efforts.
Members of the Order during both day’s Masses arrived in full regalia of white capes bearing the red Jerusalem cross of the Order for knights and black capes and veils for dames.
Bishop Olson, during the homily of the Oct. 16 Memorial Mass and Conferring of Promotions, spoke of the importance of new and existing members of the Order.
“It can never be simply a matter of joining a club in which we try to fit in,” Bishop Olson said. “Our membership requires the belonging afforded us by Jesus Christ. The good news is that God has designed us for belonging and through Christ has called us to that mission and in the spirit has enabled us to fulfill it through service.”
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston delivered the homily during Oct. 17’s Rite of Solemn Investiture.
Cardinal DiNardo reminded the newly invested that Christ came not to be served but to serve and to give His life in ransom for the many.
“Jesus’ procession opens a way we can walk through and be with Jesus on the cross,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “As knights of the Holy Sepulchre, you take this cross seriously. You wear it on your clothing.
“Just follow Jesus to the cross is the message, pure and simple, in prayer and in action that may sometimes get you into trouble but that’s only because you’re being a servant.”
Cardinal DiNardo challenged members of the Order to bring others into the Church.
“Keep in your thoughts always our Blessed Lady,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “She’s an unraveler of all kinds of knots. Ask her to please be with you and to let you always walk toward her Son.”
Daniel Ali, a convert from Islam who grew up as a Kurdish Iraqi freedom fighter, delivered the keynote address Oct. 17 at Fort Worth’s Omni Hotel.
Ali spoke of the Order’s positive impact in the Holy Land.
“You go to the Holy Land and come out an entirely different person,” Ali said. “Everything speaks of the Lord.”
Ali talked of schools, churches, and other facilities made possible in the Holy Land thanks to the Order, the 19,000 students receiving educations, and the difference the Order’s presence and support makes for Christian residents of the Holy Land.
Though Christians are now in the minority, Ali urged perseverance and faith.
“Never underestimate prayer,” Ali said. “It’s the most precise weapon of mass destruction against the forces of darkness you will ever encounter. I’ve been to [the Holy Land] and seen the difference the Order’s presence makes. You are like stars shining in heaven, ladies and gentlemen. Be proud of what you’re doing and keep doing it.”
Rick and Kathy Claeger of Houston’s St. Michael the Archangel Church were promoted to the rank of commander during the Oct. 16 ceremony.
Both spoke of their desire to defend and protect the faith in the Holy Land and of the life-altering effects of their visit to the same.
“I can honestly say it changed our life from the standpoint that we can’t read Scripture without envisioning the beauty of the Holy Land,” Rick Claeger said. “Having been there brings it alive.”