Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
This last weekend I joined the Knights and the Dames, members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, for the induction of eleven individuals from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee into the Order. It took place in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, which was a long six-hour-plus car ride, but well worth the travel.
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (EOHSJ) is an order in the Church established by the Pope to care for the specific needs of the faithful. The Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order are charged with the care of the Holy Shrines in Jerusalem, most especially that of the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the promotion, protection, and support for the Christians in the Holy Land.
Another Order in the Catholic Church is the Order of Malta, officially the Sovereign Military Hospitaliers Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and Malta. The Order of Malta runs hospitals and clinics around the world and makes pilgrimages that bring the sick to Catholic Shrines. I know that the Knights and Dames, members of the Order of Malta from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, regularly accompany the sick to Lourdes, France. When they share their experiences with me it is obvious that their faith is elevated and strengthened.
I have been a member of the Equestrian Order for almost twenty years. It has been a privilege to participate in the good works of Charity that the Order has accomplished in the Holy Land. I can testify to the great appreciation that the Patriarch of Jerusalem possesses for members of EOHSJ. Without the support which the Order offers, the effect of the Church would be greatly diminished. Members are encouraged to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to visit the various sites and view the work among the Christian community.
Potential members for both Orders need the support of their local Ordinaries (Bishops) to join the Order.
This year I had the privilege of presiding at the Investiture of the new members. There is a deeply spiritual component in the service where the new inductees are reminded of their spiritual responsibility before God. They promised to live lives reflecting the gospel mandate and witness to the Church in word and deed. As they received the garb of the order and the insignia which they will wear at various formal liturgical gatherings, I placed my crosier on their shoulders as a sign of the bond they now possessed before Christ and His Church. This is the moment they became Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order.
I must admit I have always been a bit uncomfortable with the term “Dame.” A Knight is easy to figure out. It emerges from the feudal system when knights represented individuals dedicated to virtue in a great quest of service and faithfulness to virtue. A Dame is the equivalent of a Knight. However, I believe that our modern world, especially our culture, has lost the true definition of Dame. I have always refrained from referring to any of my female friends as a “dame.” The closer our relationship the more likely it is I would get slugged. The term “dame” might be recognized by anyone who frequented a saloon or watched the musical “South Pacific,” when the sailors sang “There is nothing like a Dame.”
The modern equivalent of “Dame” is “Lady.” I can attest to the fact that the women of the Order that I have met and have become dear friends are definitely “Ladies.” They are as dedicated and committed to the mission of the Order as their Knight counterparts.
As a Church we are blessed to have individuals who are willing to serve the Catholic Faith. The joy of service and the love of the faith was evident in the eyes and smiles on the new members as they took their places next to the senior members of the Order, all who are seeking to use their gifts and talents to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the September 28, 2021 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.