WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two Catholic military chaplains and two lay supporters of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS) were invested Saturday in the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the successor of an ancient military force established some 900 years ago to protect a very jewel of Christendom—the Tomb of Christ.
Crusader Godfrey de Bouilllon established the order immediately after the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099. Approved by Pope Pascal in 1113, the Order remains active today mainly as a charitable organization working through the Near East Welfare Association to support clinics, schools, orphanages, and other facilities to serve the needy in the Holy Land.
During a Solemn Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle Saturday afternoon the following were inducted into the Order:
- Father James E. O’Neal, a U.S. Army chaplain based in Korea;
- Father Paul G. Passamonti, a U.S. Army chaplain based in Japan;
- Colonel Charles H. Gallina, USMC (Ret.), the representative of the Supreme Knight of Knights of Columbus to the AMS;
- Mrs. Deborah Jolissaint, a nurse at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland who has been an active supporter of the AMS.
The mission of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is to revive, in modern form, the ideals of the Crusades, with the ever-effective weapons of the Faith, the apostolate and Christian charity. More specifically, the Order’s purpose fosters the preservation and propagation of the Faith in the Holy Land, assistance to the missions of the Latin and Eastern Rites, provision for its charitable, cultural and social undertakings, and defense of the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, the cradle of the order.
Father O’Neal said the honor of investiture has practical significance. “It’s more than just symbolic,” he said. “We actually participate in the charitable works of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, the ‘Pontifical Mission,’ as it’s called, in Jerusalem, to help provide education for Arab Christians and clinics and hospitals, orphanages and universities—that type of thing.”
Father Passamonti, who traveled some 7,000 miles for the investiture ceremony, said it was well worth the trip from Japan: “To come such a long way to receive such a high honor is a very moving experience… For me, it means a greater commitment to missions, to charity, to catechesis, and to a deeper spirituality.”
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore, recently appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Pro-Grand Master of the Order, was Principal Celebrant and Homilist at the Mass of Investiture. Among Concelebrants was His Excellency, the Most Reverend F. Richard Spencer, auxiliary bishop and Episcopal Vicar for Europe and Asia of the AMS.
Bishop Spencer said:
“The recipients of this honor have contributed beyond the call of duty and we are gratified for their service to God and to country. On behalf of His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, we rejoice in their selection and we look forward to their continued service in our archdiocese.”
To find out more about the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, visit: http://www.holysepulchre.net/ .
As the nation’s only archdiocese without geographical boundaries, the AMS endorses priests for on-site ministry at more than 200 locations throughout the country and around the world to Catholics and their families in the U.S. armed forces, VA Medical Centers and overseas civilian posts. Worldwide, an estimated 1.5 million Catholics depend on these priests to serve their spiritual and sacramental needs.
For more information on the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, visit http://www.milarch.org .