Last weekend, members of the Order of Malta in Australia hosted 98 delegates for the Annual Asia Pacific Conference of the Order of Malta in Melbourne. The Asia Pacific conference is the only annual international conference of the 900-year-old organisation worldwide attended by both the Grand Chancellor and Grand Hospitaller.
The Order of Malta is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. It is a lay religious order of the Catholic Church since 1113. Today, the Order of Malta is active in 120 countries caring for people in need through its medical, social and humanitarian works.
Day-to-day in Australia, the Order of Malta is best known for its ‘Coats for the Homeless’ program, its work in palliative care and annual Lourdes Day Mass celebrations. The Australian Association currently has in excess of 300 members and aspirant members across every State and Territory of Australia, assisted by over 300 volunteers.
“The theme of the conference was ‘Living our Faith in a Secularized World’” explained National President, The Hon Justice James Douglas. “The focus was for delegates to understand our priorities and plans at both a national and international level for both our charitable works and defence of the faith initiatives. We wanted them to have an opportunity to learn and contribute to the future plans of our Order.”
Topics ranged from internal reform to countries outlining their priorities and plans, as well as discussion and planning regarding projects in the region, such as the Order’s medical clinic in Timor-Leste and the annual Asia Pacific Camp for Disabled Youth.
Delegates from across the Asia Pacific region attended, as well as high charges from Rome, including H.E. The Grand Chancellor, Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, H.E. The Grand Hospitaller, Dominique Prince de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel and H.E. Reverend Monsignor Jean Laffitte, Prelate of the Order of Malta. They provided insight into international matters and reaffirmed that the Order’s 900-year-old mission is as relevant as ever.
“Our lay Order is not a contemplative Order; we live our faith by sharing and helping others. We are at the service of our Lords the Sick, the Poor and those in Need” explains H.E. The Grand Hospitaller, Dominique Prince de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel. “This is why, 900 years later, the hospitallers, like the volunteers and staff, are responding to Pope Francis’ invitation to ‘go to the outskirts’ to meet the others and with them to encounter Christ.
H.E. The Grand Chancellor, Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager was encouraged by the Asia Pacific’s growth in recent years but stressed the importance that the Order of Malta “must do more for the sick and poor and cannot get distracted from our mission.” He was encouraged by the regional plans presented at the conference to expand Hospitaller activities and urged Members to be actively involved with works, stating “we must go beyond being generous. We need to be with the poor to be part of their lives.”
The Order of Malta Australia will also play host in 2020 to the annual Asia Pacific Camp for Disabled Youth, to be held in the Gold Coast.
Upcoming Lourdes Day Masses are being held in Melbourne and Sydney on 7 December to which all are welcome. Attendees will receive a blessing for good health and a bottle of water brought from the shrine at Lourdes. Learn more at www.orderofmalta.org.au
With thanks to the Order of Malta Australia.