by PETER GRACE
An ancient Church order established in New Zealand for more than 100 years achieved a local milestone this year.
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem has had a change in status for the New Zealand Section.
The Order traces its origins back to religious knights who defended the Tomb of Christ during the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in the 12th century.
When it was set up in New Zealand in 1911, it was as a section of the Lieutenancy of New South Wales. This year, however, the New Zealand Section was raised to the autonomous status of a Magistral Delegation, with the Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Patrick Dunn, as Grand Prior, and Jack Gibbs as Magistral Delegate.
The change was formalised on November 21 at a Mass at the Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph in Auckland. In addition, two aspirants were invested as Dames in the New Zealand Section — Carleen Blucher and Patricia O’Sullivan.
In his homily, Fr Anthony Malone, OFM, quoted part of the Harry Kemp poem, The Conquerors. “People like the Mongolian leader Genghis Khan, the Greek emperor Alexander, the French emperor Napoleon, the kings of Spain, of England, of Italy and countless others. As the poem says, they have all perished like fleeting shadows.
“But conquering down the centuries has come Christ the swordless riding on a donkey.”
The world believes being a king means being ambitious, powerful, intelligent and rich, said the knight chaplain of the Order in New Zealand. “To enjoy the esteem and respect of people, you are required to be ruthless.”
But the Feast of Christ the King was a time to re-examine priorities, to be concerned for the hopes of others, to be sensitive, responsive, and interested in others.
“This is what all members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem commit themselves to: for the Church, for the people, and for the land where Jesus our New members Dames Carleen Blucher and Patricia O’Sullivan (front) with their respective sponsors, Pat and Suzie McCarthy. king once walked, preached, healed and proclaimed the beginning of his kingdom of love and mercy.”
After the Apostles’ Creed, Dames Carleen Blucher and Patricia O’Sullivan were invested, with their sponsors robing them in the attire of the Order.
His Excellency John Secker, KGCHS (Knight Grand Commander of the Holy Sepulchre) of New South Wales, then presented spurs and a sword to Barry Gibbs, KCHS, of New Zealand.
This symbolised the separation of New Zealand from New South Wales. The Order pledges its support for the Holy Places of the Holy Land and helps preserve a Christian presence there by various good works and financial and technical help.