Father Allan Wolfe, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Chambersburg, and Dr. Robert Springer III, a member of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Lancaster, were invested into the Sovereign Military Order of Malta on July 17 at St. Joseph Church in Lancaster.
Bishop Ronald Gainer served as the principal celebrant and homilist for the votive Mass in honor of the birth of the Blessed Mother, who is the patroness of the Order of Malta.
One of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilization, the order is the first lay order of the Catholic Church, founded in 1048.
The order dates to the 11th century, when the Knights of Malta established a hospital in Jerusalem to care for pilgrims. Pope Paschal II officially recognized the monastic community as a lay religious order in 1113. Today, the order’s 13,500 Knights and Dames remain true to its principles of nurturing, witnessing and protecting the faith and serving the poor and the sick.
During the Rite of Investiture on July 17, Bishop Gainer blessed the insignia – the Cross of the Order – representing Christ’s passion and his love for all. The insignia, a white Maltese cross, was presented to Father Wolfe and Dr. Springer, who were also given the garments of the order.
Lancaster was established as a Hospitaller region in 2006, and Father Wolfe – former pastor of St. Joseph and San Juan Bautista parishes in Lancaster – has served as its Associate Chaplain. Lancaster members have been consistently active in volunteering with pilgrimages to Lourdes and the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. The Knights and Dames in the Lancaster Hospitaller region are dedicated to supporting the annual Sanctity of Life Mass and Defense of the Faith Series, as well as St. Anne’s Retirement Community in Columbia, the Brown Bag Lunch program at St. Anne Parish in Lancaster, and the Catholic Worker House’s Saturday Soup Kitchen.
For more information, visit http://regions.orderofmaltafederal.org/lancaster.
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness