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  • Jul
  • 18

Equestrian Order attends Mass with spiritual leader

Posted By July 18, 2013 | 12:56 pm | Lead Story #3
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By Tanya Connor

NORTHBOROUGH – Local laity and clergy in an international order dedicated to supporting the Holy Land welcomed home their worldwide spiritual leader and celebrated the bishops’ anniversaries Saturday.
Members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem attended the Lord’s Day vigil Mass at St. Rose of Lima Parish, then had their annual diocesan dinner here.
Bishop McManus was main celebrant. Concelebrating were Bishop Reilly, Msgr. Francis D. Kelly, a Worcester Diocesan priest home from Rome on vacation, and other diocesan priests who are members of the order.
Msgr. Kelly said he is the order’s ceremoniere; he’s responsible for members’ spiritual welfare and for organizing liturgical ceremonies. He is also on the Grand Magisterium, the order’s 20-member governing board. He was able to attend the local celebration because he is back here this summer to visit family and the diocese.
In a separate ministry, in January Msgr. Kelly became the first U.S.-born canon of St. Peter’s Basilica in almost 50 years. The primary function of the two dozen canons is conducting liturgical services in St. Peter’s, he said.
He said he hasn’t yet met Pope Francis, but concelebrated Mass with him on Holy Thursday and again on July 7.
“He’s a very prayerful, devout celebrant and he gives great homilies,” Msgr. Kelly said of the new pope.
In his homily Saturday, Msgr. Kelly, who is celebrating his 50th anniversary of priesthood this year, noted that Bishop McManus is celebrating 35 years as a priest, and Bishop Reilly 60 years. Referring to the day’s Gospel, he said both have been Good Samaritans in their priestly ministry. (Bishop Rueger, who is celebrating 55 years of priesthood, was also scheduled to be at the Mass and dinner, but was unable to attend, organizers said.)
Msgr. Kelly said the mission of members of the Equestrian Order is to be Good Samaritans; they sponsor schools and health clinics in the Holy Land.
Ernie Rivard, a pastoral assistant at St. Rose of Lima, had introduced the Knights and Ladies of the order as people who commit themselves to a life of prayer and evangelization, especially in the Holy Land, and welcomed them to the parish. He spoke on behalf of the pastor, Father James A. Houston, who was away celebrating a wedding.
Cynthia Monahan, a member of the order from Christ the King Parish in Worcester, said the order works to keep Christians in the Holy Land by supporting institutions there, and members go on pilgrimage there.
The order is thought to date to the First Crusade, according to the website It included knights who were to defend holy places in the Holy Land.
Even after it stopped being a military body, it survived in European priories, which kept alive the knights’ ideals of charity, propagation of the faith and defense of the weak, according to the website.
Over the years, popes made changes to the order. Today it is recognized by the Church as a public association of the faithful that is “charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and for all the activities and initiatives which are necessary to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land.”
Mrs. Monahan said the Knights and Ladies in the Worcester Diocese are part of the Northeastern Lieutenancy, for which she is secretary and her husband, John Monahan, is lieutenant.
With nearly 800 members, this is one of nine lieutenancies in the United States, she said; worldwide there are 30,000 members in more than 57 lieutenancies.
The Northeastern Lieutenancy includes the (arch)dioceses of Worcester, Boston, Springfield, Fall River, Providence, Manchester, Burlington and Portland, she said.