New grand prior for Holy Sepulchre order in NZ

8 Lowe and Dunn

Auckland Bishop Stephen Lowe has been appointed as the Grand Prior of the New Zealand Magistral Delegation of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (EOHSJ).

Invested into the order in 2018, Bishop Lowe officially assumed his new role on July 3 at a ceremony at the Pompallier Diocesan Centre in Auckland. His term is four years, and he succeeds Emeritus Bishop of Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn as the Grand Prior. Bishop Lowe’s appointment came from Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the order’s Grand Master.

The Grand Prior assists the Magistral Delegate, and is the spiritual guide of the New Zealand members of the order.

The EOHSJ, which began in the 11th-century Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem, was introduced to New Zealand in 2011. It traces its origins to the Crusader knights who were assigned to guard the Holy Sepulchre — the tomb where the body of Jesus Christ lay between Good Friday and Easter Sunday — and to protect pilgrims making the hazardous journey to the Holy Land.

In modern times, the order has evolved into an association of the faithful with the mission of supporting the Christians of the Holy Land, in particular the religious, charitable and social
works of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

At the July 3 ceremony, Bishop Dunn received the title of Grand Prior of Honour, and was also presented with the Gold Palm of Jerusalem. These honours were authorised by Cardinal Filoni in recognition of Bishop Dunn’s distinguished service as Grand Prior in this country.

Before the presentation of the Gold Palm of Jerusalem to Bishop Dunn, the New Zealand Commissary of the Holy Land, Fr Anthony Malone, OFM, noted that “Bishop Dunn is the only second local ordinary in Australasia to be awarded the golden palm, the other being a diocesan archbishop in Australia”. The golden palm is the highest degree of this honour.

“Bishop Dunn has always been extremely generous when allocating his time to the affairs of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem,” Fr Malone said.

He detailed how Bishop Dunn had helped when the order was established in New Zealand.

“Since 2011, the order has gradually grown and, during these last 12 years, Bishop Dunn has been the grand prior of what is now a magistral delegation of the order. All these developments have only been possible because of the support and the guidance of Bishop Dunn.”

Among Bishop Dunn’s contributions mentioned by Fr Malone were the appointment of chaplains, assisting with membership application and investiture processes, presiding at ceremonies, supporting fundraising in parishes to help works of the order, and having St John the Baptist church in Parnell as the patronal church for the order in this country.

“Also, . . . alerting other members of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference to the work and the role of the order and, as a result, other dioceses in New Zealand now have active members of the order,” Fr Malone added.

“It is for all of these reasons, and for his constant and enthusiastic support of the order, that Bishop Patrick James Dunn richly deserves this award, the Golden Palm of Jerusalem.”

Bishop Dunn thanked the order for the honour, noting that the first Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Jean-Baptiste Pompallier, had visited the Holy Land on pilgrimage and had been made a member of the order. This took place in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in 1848, before Bishop Pompallier became Bishop of Auckland (he was previously vicar-apostolic). Significant portraits of Bishop Pompallier show him wearing the order’s insignia.

“I thank you for the wonderful commitment that you have shown for the support of the Holy Land over the years that the order has been established here in Auckland,” Bishop Dunn said. He also paid tribute to Fr Malone’s work with the order, noting how he had helped inculcate a love of the Holy Land among members.

“There has always been this tradition among Christians, this love for the land of Jesus,” Bishop Dunn added.

“I am deeply moved and greatly appreciate this honour that has been bestowed on me. Bishop Steve, thank you for taking on the mantle of being the Grand Prior. I know that is a work that you will fulfil with great dignity, and I know of your great love for the Scriptures and for the Holy Land.”

Bishop Lowe also noted the connection between the order and Bishop Pompallier, adding that, in this light, it was appropriate that his [Bishop Lowe’s] “morning Mass this morning was at Te Unga Waka, the Catholic urban marae here in Auckland”.

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Michael Otto

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