The Annual Meeting is the one time during the year that we come together from all over the Lieutenancy to fulfill the mission of our Order: Annual Meetings are a balance of liturgical, spiritual, educational, and social elements. The highlights are the promotion of eligible members in rank, the remembrance of our deceased members, and the investiture of new members. Other opportunities for grace include the two Travelers Masses, the Adoration Chapel, Confession, Compline, spiritual direction, Vigil Retreats and the opportunity to interact with like-minded Catholics. In addition, the Meeting provides time for an update on the work of the Order in the Holy Land, and an explanation of how the Order’s funds have been used, and the exploration of issues facing Christians in the archdiocese of Jerusalem (the Latin Patriarchate). It also provides us the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the Order. Each member has a firm obligation to attend this meeting. The Annual Meeting is a 3-day event (Friday – Sunday) usually held over the first weekend of October. The location of the Annual Meeting rotates among the nine dioceses in the Western USA Lieutenancy.
The deliberations at the October, 2003 Consulta emphasized that, “Pilgrimage has always been, and still is, an important event in the life of the Order. It is a joint undertaking with high spiritual, penitential and symbolic value.” A pilgrimage to Jerusalem “is a strong moral and individual commitment for all those who are in a position to carry it out.”
Foremost in the mind of the first crusaders was a determination to pray at the Holy Places and, thereby, obtain forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. For nine hundred years, members of the Order have traced the route from their homes to the Holy Land to marvel at the places where Our Lord was born, preached, died and was resurrected.
A pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Land is a moral obligation of every Knight and Lady of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and should be realized with the help of God at least once during one’s lifetime.
A pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre of Our Lord and to the other sacred places is also an act of solidarity with our brothers and sisters living in the Holy Land. Our presence among them is an encouragement to the Christian minority in that land, among so many problems, pressures and difficulties. Also, a deepened faith that comes from experiencing the Land of the Bible and its people enables pilgrims to give special witness to those with whom they live and work.
The Lieutenancy is committed to promoting pilgrimages to the Holy Land as the best means of evidencing the Order’s commitment to the Christian Community in the Holy Land. The Pilgrim Shell is the most prized decoration of the Equestrian Order. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem or his delegate presents the decoration to Knights and Ladies who have visited the Holy Land and prayed at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The shell is based on the sea shells worn on the cloaks of pilgrims who successfully reached the great medieval shrine of St. James the Apostle at Santiago de Compostela, Spain, which is near the sea.
Information about upcoming pilgrimages can be found in the Lieutenancy’s newsletter, web site, and in other publications.
Section Mid-Year Meeting
The Area Councillors manage an annual meeting for their respective sections within the Western Lieutenancy. This meeting could be a Mass and a brunch or a luncheon or dinner with a Mass. Generally the bishop will preside over the Mass and give the homily. Capes will be worn for the Mass. The meeting will include spiritual, educational and social components. The Lieutenant or a designate will attend to report on the state of the Lieutenancy.
Days of Recollection and Retreats
These activities are held at the Section level and are arranged by the Area Councillor. Generally these are half day events.
First Monday Rosary
The Area Councillor will arrange for members in the Section to meet at a member’s home or at one of the parishes in the Diocese to pray the Rosary on the first Monday of every month.
Attendance at Funerals for Deceased Members of the Order
Members of the Order attend funeral services to honor the deceased Knight or Lady to comfort the family and pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased. Since funeral rites have a private character, the attendance of any delegation of the Order shall be subject to the deceased member’s family prior approval. In case the family approves, the Order shall attend the rite officially with a vested delegation.
Participation in Religious Ceremonies Outside the Order
Attending any religious ceremony outside of the Order is subject to having received a formal invitation from the competent Ordinary. It is the Lieutenant’s duty to determine the Order’s participation according to the kind of invitation, the occasion and the instruction given by the competent Ecclesiastical Master of Ceremonies. Usually, attending such ceremonies shall be limited to those showing a close connection with the spirit of the Order (rites during Holy Week, Corpus Christi, Exaltation of the Cross, Christmas).