Equestrian Order reflects on Feast Day, violence in the Holy Land

The Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem are entrusted with an important mission from the Holy Father – to serve as witnesses to the Christian faith, and as supporters and protectors of the Church and the living Christian communities in the Holy Land.

While always important, this mission has a renewed urgency as violence in the Holy Land has increased since terrorists attacked Israel in early October, putting the entire region, including Christians and sacred sites, in peril.

Given the war in the Holy Land, the timing of the annual gathering of the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order within the Diocese of Venice for the Order’s Patroness Feast Day, Our Lady of Palestine, was particularly poignant.

The Mass took place Oct. 28, 2023, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice, with Jesuit Father John Belmonte, Diocese of Venice Superintendent of Catholic Education, standing in for Bishop Frank J. Dewane who was unable to participate.

Bishop Dewane did send his regrets for being unable to attend and shared a message of fraternity and support to the Knights and Dames and their continued mission through Father Belmonte.

Father Belmonte opened the Mass with a Prayer for Peace in the Holy Land, following the example of Pope Francis, who called the entire world to pray for peace in the Holy Land. In his message, Pope Francis called upon Catholics to take the side of peace in the conflict, not with words, but with “prayer and total dedication.”

“War solves no problems,” said Pope Francis. “It only sows death and destruction, increases hatred, multiplies revenge. War erases the future.”

During this time of shocking atrocities, Father Belmonte said the solitary voice of Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, made an incredible gesture of sacrifice. Cardinal Pizzaballa, who is Grand Prior of the Equestrian Order, in an act of “moral courage, in a living witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, offered himself as a living ransom for the children who are being held captive in Gaza by terrorists.”

“It is at a time like this when we turn to Our Lady for peace and comfort, as our devotion to Our Lady is truly limitless,” Father Belmonte said.

The Mass concluded with Father Belmonte leading the Knights and Dames in an additional Prayer for Peace in the Holy Land, written by fellow Jesuit Father David Neuhaus, Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, for Migrants and Hebrew-speaking Catholics.

Following the Mass, the Knights and Dames attended a luncheon which included an informal meeting.

Sir John J. DeStefano, KGCHS, the President of the Diocese of Venice Section of the Equestrian Order, who helped organize the gathering, expressed his gratitude to Father Belmonte for celebrating the Mass, and to Bishop Dewane for his continued support of the Knights and Dames of the Order.

DeStefano also updated the Knights and Dames about the ongoing mission to support those in need in the Holy Land. This is a shift from the direct support of building schools and maintaining churches in the region, as the humanitarian crisis is something that requires immediate attention.

The Order’s mandate originates from the time of the crusader knights who were responsible for protecting the Christian pilgrims traveling to the sacred sites. Today the Order’s members continue to aid the Church in the Holy Land and to strengthen the practice of Christian life amongst its members.

The Equestrian Order exists within the local Dioceses and works closely with the Universal Church in unity of prayer and communion of purpose. Members are chosen from “among persons of a deep and practical Catholic Faith and of unblemished moral conduct, who are particularly worthy of merit in respect to the Order and Catholic good works in the Holy Land.” The Order is present in nearly 40 countries worldwide and there are about 30,000 Knights and Dames of the Order.

The religious character of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre is obvious not only in its objectives and requirements for membership but also in the ceremonial investiture of its newly elected Knights. This ceremony combines a profession of faith with the ancient ritual used for the conferral of knighthood. The candidates do not take monastic vows but promise to live an upright Christian life in accordance with the commandments of God and the precepts of the Church, in absolute loyalty to the Supreme Pontiff, as true soldiers of Christ.

Prayer for Peace in the Holy Land

Our Lady, Queen of Palestine, extend your hand over the Holy Land and over all who live there: Jews, Muslims, Druze and Christians, Palestinians, Israelis, migrant workers and refugees.

Our Lady, intercede for us all and especially for the Church, the Body of your Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord. We have been sent to preach Good News to all in the land that is yours and His, the land of the patriarchs, kings, prophets, apostles and of the first community formed to walk in the way of your Son, the Mother Church of Jerusalem. This mission needs the courage and the perseverance, the wisdom and the faith that were yours, pray for us.

On your knees He, who was your Lord and Master, learnt to speak and to pray, to act and to obey. We ask you to teach us to speak and to pray, to act and to obey today in the land called to be holy.

In the midst of war and hatred, walls, occupation and discrimination, fear and rejection, instruct us how to be instruments of justice and peace, pardon and reconciliation.

We affirm with you that he is our peace. Show us the way to incarnate in our life as Church both fidelity to your Son and an embracing love for all in this land, especially for those who are the poorest and the most excluded, the homeless, the refugees, the prisoners, those who are maltreated, oppressed and are victims of injustice.

Our Lady, Queen of Palestine, you are our mother, given to us by your Son on the Cross. With you, we are called to be witnesses to the Resurrection that already heralds His Kingdom. Modeling ourselves on you, we ask Him to anoint us as Spirit filled proclaimers of the Good News that He has vanquished death by His death on the Cross and has given life to those in the tombs. May we, members of His Body the Church, be living signs that point to the Kingdom that is already among us.

Amen.

 

Mother Mary, Queen of Palestine, pray for us.
Father David Neuhaus, SJ, Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, for Migrants and Hebrew-speaking Catholics.

Equestrian Order celebrates Feast Day

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem on Oct. 25, 2021, the Feast of Our Lady of Palestine, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Bishop Dewane praised the Knights and Dames for their commitment to the protection of the Holy Land and for having the courage to stand up as examples of men and women of faith who through their thoughts and hearts commit to service in response to the call of the Lord.

The Bishop spoke about the continuing struggles of Christians in the Holy Land, something the Knights and Dames of the Order are very familiar with. Of particular concern is the loss of faith among the younger generations which has created a disconnection from the peaceful teachings of Jesus Christ. The Bishop urged the Knights and Dames to be part of the greater solution of inspiring the younger generations to remain in Holy Land.

The annual Mass fell on the Order’s Patroness Feast Day, Our Lady of Palestine, which was approved by the Holy See in 1933. The Feast Day asks all to join in praying to the Virgin Mary for special protection of Palestine and the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Sir John J. DeStefano, KGCHS, the President of the Diocese of Venice Section of the Equestrian Order, helped organize the Mass and expressed his gratitude to Bishop Dewane for his continued support of the Knights and Dames of the Order.

The Equestrian Order is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and for all the activities and initiatives which are necessary to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The Order is present in nearly 40 countries worldwide.

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre exists within the local Dioceses and works closely with the Universal Church in unity of prayer and communion of purpose. Knights and Dames of the Order care greatly for the fate of this land, and endeavor to sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works and institutions of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

In exercising its mission in support of the Christians in the Holy Land, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre spiritually and financially supports structures pertaining to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (schools, seminars, centers), both through stable and continuous projects as well as projects that can vary from year to year depending on the needs.

Worldwide there are about 22,000 Knights and Dames of the Order in 52 countries. In 1926 the Order was founded in the United States of America, and has today grown to 10 lieutenancies, with the Southeastern Lieutenancy comprising of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.

News briefs from week of October 26, 2020

Virtual Diocesan Concert Series begins Nov. 6

The Diocese of Venice is proud to announce that a virtual concert series will be offered to the faithful at noon on the first three Fridays of November 2020. The concerts will be livestreamed from select Parishes in the Diocese and offer a broad selection of Catholic music. This is being offered as many remain home due to the ongoing global pandemic and miss the richness of music. The series begins at noon, Nov. 6, 2020 and will return on Nov. 13 and Nov. 20. Each segment will be live and last approximately 30 minutes. Anyone can view the live stream through the Diocese of Venice Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dioceseofvenice. You do not need to register to view live events on Facebook. For more information, please contact Gail Ardy at 941-484-9543 or ardy@dioceseofvenice.org.

Equestrian Order celebrates Feast Day

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem on Oct. 27, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. The annual Mass is held as close as possible to the Order’s Patroness Feast Day, Our Lady of Palestine, which is Oct. 25 and was approved by the Holy See in 1933. Following the Mass, two Knights and two Dames were presented with honors from the Order by Bishop Dewane. The Feast Day asks all to join in praying to the Virgin Mary for special protection of Palestine and the holy city of Jerusalem. The Equestrian Order is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and for all the activities and initiatives which are necessary to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The Order is present in nearly 40 countries worldwide.

Adopt a family for Christmas

Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities is looking for people who want to make Christmas special for single mothers and their babies by providing gifts from their wish list. If you are interested in adopting a family for Christmas or want to donate a gift, please contact Rita Millner, Case Worker for Our Mother’s House at 941-485-6264, or email rita.millner@catholiccharitiesdov.org. All wrapped gifts must be delivered before Dec. 9, 2020. Our Mother’s House is committed to helping homeless mothers and their children achieve self-sufficiency.

Students take action to prevent bullying

An Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School student makes a pledge to promote unity during a rally to end bullying on Oct. 21, 2020 in Venice.

Diocese of Venice Catholic School participated in the annual Unity Day on Oct. 21, 2020, to take action in their world and stand up against bullying. At Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice, students wore orange to school and took a pledge of acceptance, kindness, and inclusion.

Students in this second grade class at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers write positive, kind and thoughtful notes about their classmates as part of Unity Day, a effort to promote kindness and stop bullying.

In addition to wearing orange, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers students in a second-grade class wrote a positive, kind and thoughtful thing about each student in the class and placed it in their kindness buckets. These were just a few of the activities which took place at Diocesan Catholic schools.

If you need help from Catholic Charities

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance or tele-mental health counseling, please call the number for your area listed below 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Services have expanded to include assistance in applying for state and federal benefits if you have lost work due to the COVID-19 Pandemic:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407,
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423,
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404.

Food distribution from Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities food distribution will take place only at the following times and locations. Please call the regional number for more information.

  • Monday-Friday, 9-11 a.m., Guadalupe Social Services, 211 S. 9th St., Immokalee, the Soup Kitchen is providing meals-to-go;
  • Tuesdays, 9-11:30 a.m., Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center, 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples;
  • Thursdays, 9 a.m.-noon, St. Margaret Parish, 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston;
  • Fridays, 9-10:30 a.m., St. Paul Parish, 1208 Oak St., Arcadia;
  • Fridays, 9-11 a.m., St. Leo the Great Parish, 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs;
  • Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon, Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry, 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers.

How to Help

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. is in urgent need of your financial support during its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org/donate or send a check to: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis. The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ to donate to your Parish. The Faithful may also contribute through usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.

 Dispensation

As Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to listen to public health data and hear from Priests and Parishioners about the experiences at Diocesan Parishes, the dispensation given to attend Sunday Mass has been extended through Nov. 27, 2020, and depending on conditions, perhaps longer. At the same time, Bishop Dewane invites the Catholic Faithful who are able, to return to their Parish for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Please check the Diocese of Venice website for any updates.

Livestreaming

The Diocese of Venice will continue livestreaming the Mass through the Diocese website (www.dioceseofvenice.org) and Facebook pages from the Catholic Center in Venice at 9:15 a.m. daily as the dispensation to attend Mass remains.

Equestrian Order celebrates Feast Day

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem Oct. 26 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Bishop Dewane praised the Knights and Dames for their commitment to the protection of the Holy Land and for having courage to stand up as examples of men and women of faith who through their thoughts and hearts commit to service in response to the call of the Lord.

The annual Mass is held as close as possible to the Order’s Patroness Feast Day, Our Lady of Palestine, which is Oct. 25 and was approved by the Holy See in 1933. The Feast Day asks all to join in praying to the Virgin Mary for special protection of Palestine and the holy city of Jerusalem.

The Equestrian Order is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and for all the activities and initiatives which are necessary to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The Order is present in nearly 40 countries worldwide.

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre exists within the local dioceses and works closely with the Universal Church in unity of prayer and communion of purpose. Knights and Dames of the Order care greatly for the fate of this land, and endeavor to sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works and institutions of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

In exercising its mission in support of the Christians in the Holy Land, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre spiritually and financially supports structures pertaining to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (schools, seminars, centers), both through stable and continuous projects as well as projects that can vary from year to year depending on the needs.

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