By Sir Stephen Luchetta, KGCHS & Lady Kristin Luchetta, LGCHS, Orange Area Co-Councilors     9/27/2018

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. 

The meeting will open on Thursday with a Spiritual Pilgrimage to St. John Maron Catholic Church to participate in an Eastern Rite Maronite Liturgy. Following Mass attendees will enjoy a Middle Eastern dinner while learning about similarities and differences between the Roman and the Eastern Rite. 

Friday activities include a golf tournament and docent tours of the Christ Cathedral campus. A Ministry Fair will take place at the hotel, showcasing ministries the Order supports. Bishop Marc Trudeau will celebrate a traveler’s Mass at the hotel in the afternoon. Retreats for investees, promotees, and members will be held on Friday evening. The investee retreat will be held in the Chapel in the Sky at Christ Cathedral. The promotee retreat will be held at St. Catherine Academy. And the member retreat will be at the hotel.  

Saturday begins with the Promotional and Memorial Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin Vann in the Christ Cathedral Arboretum. After lunch members will attend an educational forum. His Excellency Sir Patrick Power, vice governor general, North America, will discuss the good works of the Order. Members will enjoy a “Day at the Park” family-style dinner, followed by dancing on Saturday night.  

On Sunday morning members may visit the Adoration Chapel and attend confession. The Formal Investiture Mass will be celebrated by the Grand Prior of the Western Lieutenancy, Archbishop José Gomez at St. Boniface Church in Anaheim on Sunday afternoon. Members will return to the hotel for a formal reception and the Grand Ball. The Annual Meeting concludes on Monday with the Traveler’s Mass & Rosary, celebrated by Bishop Timothy Freyer.  


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.  

“We were blessed to experience our first pilgrimage to the Holy Land in October of 2016 and will always cherish the memories of walking in the footsteps of Our Lord and witnessing the good works and accomplishments of the Order. We are honored to have the opportunity to serve as co-chairs of our annual meeting,” said Sir Stephen, KGCHS and Kristin Luchetta, LGCHS.