Bishop Kevin Vann will serve as Honorary Chair of the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Western Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem taking place Sept. 27 to Oct. 1. More than 600 Knights, Ladies and Clergy from the Diocese of Orange will attend the event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Garden Grove. The theme of the annual meeting, “Pilgrims Together,” is fitting as members of the Western Lieutenancy will come from Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Phoenix, Tucson and Utah areas. 

History of the order 

The origins of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem date back to the First Crusade in 1099, when its leader, Godfrey de Bouillon, liberated Jerusalem. He founded the Order of Canons of the Holy Sepulchre as he sought to organize the religious, military and public bodies of the newly freed territories. In 1103, the first King of Jerusalem, Baldwin I, assumed the leadership of the Order, appointing crusaders who vowed to obey the Augustinian Rules of poverty and obedience under the command of the King of Jerusalem and to defend the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Land to the Order. The Order ceased to exist as a military body of knights after 1291, although it continued to survive in the European priories, keeping alive the ideals of the Crusader Knights: propagation of the Faith, defense of the weak, and charity toward others. 

In 1847 Pope Pius IX modernized the Order, issuing a new constitution that placed it under the protection of the Holy See and conferred its government to the Latin Patriarch. The Order’s fundamental role of upholding the works of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, while preserving the spiritual duty of propagating the Faith was defined. 

In 1949, Pius XII decreed that the Grand Master of the Order should be a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church and assigned the position of Grand Prior to the Patriarch of Jerusalem. In February 1996, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II enhanced the Order’s status. Headquartered in Rome, the Order is a Public Association of the faithful constituted by the Holy See under Canon Law. Today over 30,000 Knights, Ladies, and Clergy from around the world support the Order’s mission through various ministries and good works. 

Good works of the order 

The EOHSJ is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. In 2017 the Order provided financial support amounting to 87 percent of its budget. Funds were used to support students in 40 schools; to build new churches, convents, and rectories; to assist with parish renovations; to support orphans, the elderly and the sick; to sponsor seminarians; and to provide micro loans to Catholic Palestinian small businesses. Members of the Order are encouraged to make pilgrimages to the Holy Land and earn the Pilgrim Shell, the highest recognition of the Order. Throughout the year, members participate in monthly rosaries, Lenten retreats, Days of Recollection, Order feast day celebrations, interfaith educational events, Eastern Rite Catholic celebrations, midyear and annual meetings, and special projects in the Holy Land. 

Full story at OC Catholic.