Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City told hundreds of members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem at an Oct. 5 Mass that all are "called to be missionaries of the good news."
"The best way to do that is to begin right here," he said in his homily at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. "As an order, we must heal each other's wounds, care for one another and be willing to forgive as we have been forgiven if we hope to bring this new life to others."
He called the order's Oct. 4-6 gathering in Salt Lake City "a wonderful opportunity for prayer, worship and deepening the bonds that unite us, so that we can be effective in our mission as Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre."
The order, which has its roots in the medieval crusades, now works to help Christians living in the Holy Land, among other ways, by running hospitals, orphanages and schools. It has 20,000 members worldwide.
The Salt Lake City conference marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of the order's Western USA Lieutenancy, which encompasses nine dioceses in Utah, Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada.
The 70 or so Knights and Ladies in Utah support the order's worldwide efforts and are active locally. They have First Monday rosaries in Ogden, Salt Lake City and Park City, support English language book drives to help parochial school students, and raise funds by selling olive wood rosaries handmade in Bethlehem.
Bishop Wester was the main celebrant of the Mass, which honored Our Lady Queen of Palestine.
Concelebrants included Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu, Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Orange, Calif., Abbot Eugene J. Hayes of the Norbetines' St. Michael's Abbey in Orange County, Calif.; and Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, who is grand prior of the Western USA Lieutenancy.
Retired Bishop Tod D. Brown of Orange attended the conference Oct. 6.
During his homily, Bishop Wester referenced some of Pope Francis' words at Assisi, Italy, from the previous day, that "the Christian knows where Christ's wounds are."
"You and I are called to find Christ's wounds, particularly in the Holy Land, and to heal them," Bishop Wester said.
After the Mass, Thomas E. McKiernan, a member of the order's grand magisterium, reported on its operations and finances, including information about the Hotel Columbus in Rome, which is owned by the order. After a planned renovation, "the revenue from this hotel will fund the total administrative expenses of our order. That means that 100 percent of your donations will fund the projects in the Holy Land," McKiernan said.
Emphasizing the value of the schools that the order supports, McKiernan said that when peace comes to the Holy Land, Christians will need to be educated if they expect to be part of the leadership. "Education is the only ladder I know of out of poverty," he added.
In a keynote Oct. 5, Bishop Kicanas told the Knights and Ladies their bishops "are very proud of all that you do in the name of the Church for the people in the Holy Land, the Latin Patriarch, for the children in those schools.
They bring their faith to the world's challenges, he told them.
"As Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre it's not so much about wearing outfits, " he said, referring to the cape and beret members may wear on formal occasions. "It's not so much about bearing titles or names, it's a further call to us to holiness. That is what our faith is all about, deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ."
Cardinal Mahony gave the homily at the Oct. 6 Mass. He based it not on the day's readings but also touched on the pope's message at Assisi, which focused on three points: that Catholics must listen, walk and go forth.
Growing in one's faith depends on listening, the cardinal said. "The emphasis has been to deepen our lives in Jesus Christ, especially through listening through his word and speaking with him."
As for walking, he said, the pope has emphasized the idea that all Christians are on a pilgrimage.
The Knights and Ladies "are a very unique and blessed, blessed community of believers," Cardinal Mahony said, "because by not only are we co-disciples of Jesus Christ, we share a common mission, which is the Holy Land and the Christian people of those lands. And so as we walk together, we soon realize that right in the midst of our movement together is Jesus.
"Jesus is with us on our journey, and Jesus is giving us hope and deepening our faithfulness, our fidelity to Jesus, the Gospels and his teachings."
Regarding "going forth," the cardinal this includes sharing the presence of Christ with others, as well as "being faithful to Jesus' words and teachings, the teachings of the church, (the) constitution of the order, being faithful in all of those ways is what brings us to the fullness of God's life and love."