News

vaticano08Participating in a 900th birthday celebration is a once-in-a-life-time experience. Nearly 4,500 members and volunteers of the Order from all over the world gathered in Rome to celebrate this significant event.

It was nothing near a regular birthday bash with all the party trimmings. The week long celebration was a time for thanksgiving, taking stock of what the Order has done and is doing, planning for the future and renewal of our commitment to our vocation as members of the Order.

The Order’s work today resounds in a similar way that its achievements did more than 900 years ago. Over nine centuries, the Order has evolved from caring of the sick in Jerusalem and rendering aid to pilgrims in the Holy Land to “new and more ample forms of apostolate in the area of charitable assistance and service of the sick and the poor, but without ever abandoning the original ideals, especially that of the intense spiritual life of individual members”, observed Pope Benedict XVI. The Order has indeed remained faithful to its charism – Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum (defence of the Faith and assistance to the poor and the suffering).

It is remarkable how an organization that is 900 years old remains passionate about its original cause. Despite its existence for centuries, it is not getting frail with age but growing stronger and wiser.

Members of the Order give of themselves unconditionally in serving our Lords the sick and the poor. National Associations and International Organisations of the Order work unceasingly in promoting and growing the mission of the Order. The amount of work that is going on worldwide bears witness to the truth and beauty of our Faith.

To ensure relevance and growth of the Order, it is proactive in identifying and preventing potential problems, and not adverse to change. The two examples cited below are among several that illustrate the openness of the Order to adapt and cater to current needs.

In response to a common observation that many of the Order’s members are getting on in age, National Associations were exhorted to recruit younger able candidates to renew and continue the good work of the respective Association. To improve communication, SHAREPOINT – a platform for sharing information – was launched to facilitate communication between countries and efficient retrieval of up-to-date information.

Are we just a successful, dynamic charitable organization with a worldwide network? We are more!

Throughout the week-long celebrations, we were reminded that we are different from other organisations that perform similar charitable works. What distinguishes us is our unrenounceable spiritual identity and high religious ideals. As members of a religious order, we are not just a “bunch of do-gooders” but witnesses of our Catholic faith. The intense spiritual life of individual members is a prerequisite for the grace to love and serve the poor and sick unconditionally.

When in Rome, we were called to welcome “this time of grace” and “continue to walk along this path, bearing concrete witness to the transforming power of faith”.

Rose Lu
Chancellor
Order of Malta, Singapore