One of the Church’s oldest lay religious orders, the 900-year-old Sovereign Military Order of Malta, has for the first time held an international meeting in Australia, reports The Catholic Weekly.
The conference was held in Sydney of 40 delegates from the Asia/Pacific region to consider the region’s human needs in the light of the order’s two missions – to serve the poor and the sick and to foster the faith.
Members of the order are known as Knights Hospitaller, reflecting its origins; their presence in Sydney touching Australia with echoes of the 11th century Church and the Mediterranean 1000 years ago: the first Crusade and the many pilgrims who followed en route to the Holy Land. The order provided hostels for travellers and hospitals for the sick or injured.
World-wide today the ancient order has about 12,000 members and 20,000 doctors, nurses and paramedics in more than 120 countries, backed up by 80,000 permanent volunteers.
The Sydney conference, which was convened by the Grand Hospitaller, Baron Albrecht von Boeselager, who has held the post since 1989, took stock of the many Hospitaller works that the men and women of the Australian association of the order have been engaged in here and overseas, including an Australian surgical team in Hanoi and an eye care project and centre for the blind in Papua New Guinea and works in Myanmar, Lebanon and Sumatra.
Last year’s outlay was more than $500,000. Timor Leste is one of its paramount concerns.
FULL STORY Hospitallers in Sydney forum (Catholic Weekly)