ROME – The Spring meetings of the Grand Magisterium of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem were held in Rome last week for the first time face-to-face after three years of online meetings due to the pandemic. Representing the Latin Patriarchate at the meetings was the CEO Mr. Sami El-Yousef, who presented reports on the financial and administrative issues of the LPJ as well as updated the Grand Magisterium about the status of the educational, pastoral, and humanitarian activities across the diocese.
Of particular interest of discussion was the increased pastoral activities after the pandemic; the continued challenging humanitarian situation even as the pandemic impact was receding; the return of the schools to normal functions; and an update on the projects funded by the Order over the past three years. He also reported on new emphasis areas being the restructuring of the Vicariate in Cyprus and the need to dedicate additional resources there, as well as the full incorporation of the Vicariate for Migrants and Asylum Seekers into the structures of the LPJ.
Mr. El-Yousef also highlighted some of the strategic directions of His Beatitude being the establishment of pastoral centers to better serve the needs of the faithful in each of the main countries within the territory of the LPJ. Works have started on the first building renovation for the establishment of a pastoral center serving the Galilee in Haifa that will be the home of the youth center there. Similar plans are being developed for centers in Palestine and Jordan.
During the discussions, the report of the Chairman of the Holy Land Commission Professor Bart McGettrick, who made a visit to the Holy Land in March, highlighted the dire humanitarian conditions of families supported by the various humanitarian funds and the need to increase such funding; the need to consider additional project funding in the second half of 2023; and the need to address the issue of deferred maintenance, especially at the LPJ schools in Jordan and Palestine. There was interest expressed by the Vice Governor for North America Mr. Tom Pogge to investigate the possibility of a special capital campaign to support the LPJ schools in order to take care of deferred maintenance and improve the quality of the schools.
In addition to the reports from the LPJ and the Holy Land Commission, the Grand Master, His Eminence Cardinal Filoni, was ever present and highly engaged in the discussions and gave his own reflections. From his part, the Governor General Ambassador Visconti gave an extensive report about the activities of the Order as well as an update on the renovations of the Palaze del Rovere. Mr. Saverio Petrillo, Treasurer of the Order, from his side gave the financial reports of the Order for 2022 which shows a balanced financial statement. All four Vice Governors (North America; Europe; Latin America; and Asia and Pacific) gave reports on the activities of the lieutenancies in their territory, not to mention reports from the Chancellor and the Communications director.
The next meeting of the Grand Magisterium will be held in November 2023 to coincide with the meetings of the Consulta which is held once every five years where all Lieutenants and Grand Priors will be in attendance for a full week of discussions and reflections. The theme for the Consulta of 2023 will be on formation.
The meetings concluded positively as everyone in attendance appreciated the live face-to-face discussions and exchanges that left great satisfaction about the work of the Order in support of the Holy Land, with a special focus on the Latin Patriarchate. Mr. El-Yousef thanked all in attendance for the priceless support that the Order and the various Lieutenancies provide to the LPJ on an annual basis whether for institutional support, educational support, humanitarian and pastoral activities, and the various project funding.