The local Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre gathered Oct. 17 with Bishop Edward Malesic and Auxiliary Bishop Michael Woost for a dinner and discussion focused on building its membership.
The EOHSJ is an ancient chivalric order under the direction of the pope. The efforts of this worldwide order of men and women or knights, dames, and priest knights, support the preservation of holy sites in Israel under the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and provide humanitarian and educational services to support Christian presence in the Holy Land. The order dates back to at least the First Crusade in 1099.
Addressing those gathered, Bishop Malesic talked about the important work of the order to provide funding to keep the holy sites open, preserved and accessible to pilgrims. “Your prayerful support is needed now, more than ever, and we would like to grow the order here in Northeast Ohio,” he said.
EOHSJ Lt. Tom Olejniczak, who traveled from Green Bay, Wisconsin to join the gathering, also spoke about the purpose of the order in carrying out acts of charity that support operations and making it possible to maintain the Christian presence in the Holy Land. He outlined the structure of the order -- which consists of 30,000 members worldwide -- and the nomination process.
Sir Jeff Abood was the featured speaker, filling in on behalf of Issa Bandak, CEO of Caritas Baby Hospital in Bethlehem, which is supported by the order. Bandak was unable to leave Israel given the current circumstances.
Abood spoke about the children’s hospital and its need for expansion, which includes plans to add an outpatient surgery center and expand the number of beds in the newborn intensive care unit. Caritas Baby Hospital, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary, is the only pediatric hospital in the West Bank. It provides approximately 50,000 treatments per year to Palestinian children from infancy to age 18.
“The hospital’s mission is that no child shall be refused medical treatment in Jesus’ birthplace,” Abood said.
The evening ended with cake in celebration of Dawn Olejniczak’s birthday. Members and their invited guests continued discussions on the order, the support of the Holy Land and Caritas Baby Hospital and the invitation to join the order.