Alaskans among new members of ancient Catholic order

Amid the fanfare of a brass quintet and the dulcet tones of the Anchorage Concert Chorus, Edwin Cardinal O’Brien, Prior of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, enrolled 10 new Knights, 13 new Ladies, and five new clerics at a Mass held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral in Anchorage on Sept. 20.

Assisting Cardinal O’Brien were Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz, Bishop Peter Smith — the auxiliary bishop of Portland, and more than 20 deacons and priests. Also in attendance were more than 200 members of the order’s northwest chapter, along with about 70 attendees from the general public.

Founded during the First Crusade in the 11th century, the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre were formed as a military order, taking vows of poverty and obedience to the King of Jerusalem. However, the order’s military charism has been defunct for at least 500 years, and was modernized by Pope Pius IX in the 19th century. Since the papacy of Saint John Paul II, the order has been a public association of the faithful per canon law. Its chief charisms are to strengthen the practice of Christian life in its members, to propagate the faith, and to assist the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

The investiture ceremony in Anchorage was the conclusion of the four-day annual conference for the northwest chapter of the international order. This year’s meeting took place in Anchorage.

The Mass included a choral setting of Psalm 122, the traditional song sung by pilgrims to Jerusalem since the time of King David, as well as a chanted Veni, Creator Spiritus by the Anchorage Concert Chorus. Knight candidates were then formally recognized and took oaths to be “soldiers of Christ.” After this, Cardinal O’Brien knighted each candidate with a short sword and presented him with spurs and a small Jerusalem cross, the insignia of the order. He then admonished them to “repeat incessantly: We adore you, Christ, and we bless You, because with Your Cross You redeemed the world.”

Similarly, upon receiving oaths of fealty from the Ladies-elect, Cardinal O’Brien encouraged them “to imitate those pious women who followed the Lord, providing him with the necessities of life, and, who with lively faith and tears of compassion, watched over His Holy Sepulchre.” Each Lady received a black silk mantilla and cape. Clerics who were enrolled received stoles with an embroidered Jerusalem cross.

Notable Alaskan Knights-elect included Alaska State Representative Mike Hawker and Chad Resari, both of Anchorage. Alaskan Ladies-elect included Carol Carlson, Michelle Fornielli and Kerry Whitney, all of Anchorage. Deacon Mick Fornielli of St. Patrick Church in Anchorage was the only Alaskan cleric invested.



In his homily, Cardinal O’Brien reminded attendees that being a disciple of Christ contradicted worldly expectations, both then and now.

At the time of Jesus, rabbis were always preaching, hoping that disciples would join them, said Cardinal O’Brien. “The more disciples, the more successful the rabbi. But Jesus said, you have not chosen me, I have chosen you.” (John 15:16).

He noted that neither Saints Peter and Andrew, nor James and John, nor Matthew the tax collector, hesitated when Jesus called.

“No discussion, no questions, no bargaining, no guarantee — come, follow me,” Cardinal O’Brien said. “What magnetism!”

To put things in perspective, Cardinal O’Brien recalled being on vacation a number of years before with a fellow priest. As they had observed a battered old fishing boat and a weathered fisherman gathering his nets and making ready to put out to sea for several days, Cardinal O’Brien suggested to his friend, “Why don’t you go up to that man, and say, ‘Come, follow me?’”

“I don’t think he would want to do that, and if he did, I’m not sure what the result would have been.”

Quoting scripture scholar Father Raymond Brown, Cardinal O’Brien remarked that Jesus calls us to a “monomaniacally consuming vocation — nothing gets in the way.” Cardinal O’Brien then soberly reminded the Knights, Ladies and clerics that Jesus was calling them to a deeper discipleship, to a commitment with this monomaniacal intent.

“That’s what this is all about today. To follow Christ, and, knowing that it will cause suffering and sacrifices,” he said. “That’s what the crosses on your vestments indicate. You must take up your cross every day. The church, through your bishop, has invited you to a deeper share in the discipleship of Christ.”

Cardinal O’Brien closed his homily by encouraging the Order to find new ways to give themselves and to find Christ in others: in their families, at their occupations, among friends, to strangers, and even their enemies.

“There is a challenge to embrace the cross, in solidarity and charity with His brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, still suffering from persecution,” the cardinal emphasized. “It is your vocation to know, love and follow Jesus — without conditions or reservation.”

Click here to view photos from this event.

'Alaskans among new members of ancient Catholic order'
has no comments

Be the first to comment on this post!

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright © 2021 Catholic Anchor Online - All Rights Reserved