A dynamic 2012 Highlights of events by the Grand Priories of Malta and Gozo (January 2013)
The past year has also been a milestone year for the Malta and Gozo Grand Priories who celebrated in style the 10th anniversary of Lazarite presence on the islands. Considering the fact that, ten years ago, the Order was represented in Malta by a mere Commandery comprising of 10 confreres and consoeurs (seven of which are still active today), it is indeed a great achievement by all our members to register the fact that today the local Lazarite presence in Malta and Gozo is indeed the biggest concentration of members within a chivalric organisation operating on the islands.
During the last year, the Malta and Gozo Grand Priories of the Order hosted with the most efficient professionality the first International Lazarite Symposium from the 18th - 22nd of April. It was indeed the largest worldwide gathering of Lazarites in these last decades with our Confreres and Consoeurs from all over the world joining us in this unique event. In Malta's capital, Valletta, the solemn procession of Knights and Dames of the Order needed three streets to be fully accommodated, creating a unique spectacle never before seen on the islands.
The Solemn investiture of the Grand Priories of Malta and Gozo was also held in the massive Knights' Hall of the Mediterranean Conference Centre in the capital, the largest indoor gathering place on the island which accomodated an 800+ strong investiture. This was indeed the biggest ever investiture ever held in the Maltese islands from the time of the Knights of Saint John, who were the overlords of Malta up to the 18th century. Many local and international dignitaries joined our Grand Priories during this ceremony.
Membership of the Order in Malta and Gozo continued to rise steadily and such an increase in local membership during 2012 inevitably necessitates that the Grand Priories roll of officers be changed during 2013 in order to ensure that all the members who wish to be active within the Order's structures will find their rightful place within the Grand Priories.
Lazarite delegations from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Canary Islands, Denmark, England, Germany, Gozo, Hungary, Isle of Man, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Sicily, Slovakia, Ukraine, United States of America and high delegations from the UGP member Orders of the Sacred Medical Order of the Knights of Hope, the Union Corps San Lazare International and the Special Rescue Group of the Saint Lazarus Corps were in attendance.
During 2012, the Grand Priories of Malta and Gozo were also host to the bi-annual gathering of the Supreme Grand Priory of the whole Order, which gathered at the Sacra Infermeria in Malta's capital. During this meeting, apart from the various interesting workshops which were conducted by the Grand Officers, the latter were also confirmed in their positions by the Supreme Grand Prior, after H. E. Richard Comyns of Ludston was unanimously re-elected in his post as Supreme Grand Prior, a position he accepted for a further year within the Order.
Last year also saw the official opening of the new audio-visual, multi-purpose hall, aptly named Sala Pagliarello Averna after one of the main benefactors of the Order, Chevalier Giovanni Pagliarello and his daughter Dama Maria Louisa Pagliarello Averna from Italy, the owners of the Averna and Pernigotti chain worldwide. This new hall within the Order's headquarters started to be used as a Knightly gathering place and also for extensive first aid courses by our confrère members of the Special Rescue Group. Additionally, the Malta Girl Guide Association, numbering more than 1300 members locally, who also signed an alliance agreement with the Saint Lazarus Foundation, made good use of the meeting room throughout the year.
Additionally, 2012 also saw the Order’s growth by means of its membership derived from within Malta's elected, local government representatives by means of membership within the Order of an ever-increasing amount of Councillors, Mayors and Executive Secretaries. To date, the Order's membership in Malta and Gozo includes the Mayors and Councillors of various local councils, including Cospicua, Fgura, Kalkara, Marsa, Marsascala, Mosta, Paola, Qala (Gozo), Qrendi, Santa Lucia, Santa Venera, Tarxien, Valletta, Victoria (Gozo), Zebbug and Zurrieq.
Another commemorative plaque was commissioned by the Grand Priory of Malta in 2012 so as to permanently register the achievements of the Order in Malta during 2012, in the town of Tarxien. This symbolic event was jointly executed with the Mayor and Councillors of the Tarxien Local Council, led by the Chevalier Paul Farrugia KLJ CMLJ. During this activity, the Supreme Grand Prior of the Order planted a commemorative tree in a public garden in Tarxien and also unveiled the commemorative plaque at the entrance of the public garden. This commemorative plaque now joins the other permanent reminders of the Order's presence in Malta and Gozo which have been erected in various prominent areas in the islands.
During 2012, the Grand Priory of Malta also issued its own book outlining the history of the Order's presence in Malta during these last ten years. The book was indeed most sought after not only by the members and postulants of the Order, but also by the public in general since it outlined and mentioned all the local and international charities which have benefitted from the Hospitaller work in Malta and Gozo and which, by the end of 2012, had received more than Euros 150,000 worth of donations by the Order.
During 2012, the Grand Priory of Malta was entrusted by the Supreme Grand Priory of the Order to conduct various high level meetings within the Vatican City with the Church's highest ecclesiastical leaders. To this effect, various delegations to the Vatican City were effected during the year and high level meetings with top Cardinals and indeed the Vatican Secretariat of State were conducted. During the course of 2013, the fruits of such meetings will be properly and duly announced by both parties.
Also in 2012, the Grand Priory of Malta in collaboration with the Valletta Local Council led by our Confrere, the Mayor Alexei Dingli CMLJ, organised a choral recital at the Basilica of Saint Dominic the Great in our Capital in aid of the Foundation for the Restoration of the Basilica. This event was coordinated by means of our confreres from the Grand Priory of Sicily and three Italian choirs participated in front of a packed basilica.
Additionally, a further Choral Recital was organised by the Grand Priory of Gozo in the Church of Saint Augustine the Great in Victoria, Gozo, this time in aid of the Fondazzjoni Kenn u Tama, a Gozitan registered NGO which aids and assists women victims of domestic violence and abuse. Again, the event was a huge success.
The last event for 2012 was yet another hugely successful activity jointly organised with the Valletta Local Council, this time in the ancient church of Saint Paul the Shipwrecked in Valletta, Malta. This time, the Saint Lazarus Foundation organised a Yuletide Concert with the Italian 60 member strong Orchestra dei Ciclopi which performed an end of year event to a packed congregation and included a number of sacred and classical musical pieces and popular Christmas tunes.
But by far the most important Hospitaller work enacted by the Order during 2012 was the synergy operation created with the cooperation of the management of the Saint Vincent de Paule Elderly Residence, numbering 1200 patients from all over Malta and Gozo. The first contacts and initiatives with Saint Vincent de Paule were commenced by our Special Rescue Group, during Father's Day and Mother's Day, wherein delegations of the SRG and officers of the BASIC Society visited the patients there and gave them all a number of presents on these two days - some presents of which were also donated by the Grand Priory of Malta.
A further event was organised for the residents of Saint Vincent de Paule at the latter's main auditorium wherein the Saint Lazarus Foundation took the opportunity of also organising a Choral recital with its guest three Italian choirs at the elderly residence to the delight of the patients at the Residence in what turned out to be a very well attended event.
As was announced in the April 2012 investiture, the Alliance agreement with the Malta Girl Guide Association and the Saint Lazarus Foundation included the channelling of a number of the former's activities specifically to aid and assist the residents of Saint Vincent de Paule. This outreach programme proved to be indeed very much sought after by the elderly and the Saint Lazarus Foundation was indeed lauded by the SVDP officials for their commitment to hands-on Hospitaller aid. One must also, at this point, laud the professional and superlative manner by which the Malta Girl Guides Association tackled this outreach project and congratulate their officer's team led by Consoeur Marjoe Abela CMLJ. The MGGA will be continuing our joint outreach programme with SVDP up to June of 2013.
The first event for 2013 organized by the Grand Priory of Malta was, yet again, at the main hall of the Saint Vincent de Paule Residence for the elderly. This New Year concert, staged to a packed hall full of residents, was organized under the auspices of the Parliamentary Secretary of the Elderly, the Honorable Mario Galea MP and was indeed our tangible commitment for hands on Hospitaller work within the community.
Throughout 2012, we are also pleased to report that the Special Rescue Group of the Saint Lazarus Corps, who form part of the United Grand Priories of the Order and who are based in Malta, continued their close cooperation with our Malta and Gozo Grand Priories and also their invaluable work in the instruction and demonstration of first aid and other health related courses and programs. As part of our Alliance agreement with the Malta Girl Guide Association, the latter’s officers were, throughout 2012, fully inducted by the SRG in various first aid programs and such programs will also be made available during 2013. Additionally, various public demonstrations were organized by the SRG in order to further project its Lazarite and Hospitaller work on a national level.
Donations during 2012. The following amounts were pledged and donated by the Grand Priories of Malta and Gozo throughout 2012:
Malta Girl Guides Association: Euros 4,000.
Saint Vincent de Paule Elderly Residence: Euros 1,500.
Basilica of Saint Dominic the Great: Euros 500.
Fondazzjoni Kenn u Tama: Euros 1,000.
Basic Society: Euros 1,000.
Kor Mirabitur: Euros 2,000.
Zghazagh Azzjoni Kattolika: Euros 200.
Further donations in kind were also given to the Basilica of Saint Dominic the Great, the Church of Saint Paul the Shipwrecked and the Saint Vincent de Paule Elderly Residence. Additionally, the Special Rescue Group of the Saint Lazarus Corps will be benefitting from the pledged ambulance to be brought over to Malta in 2013. These donations cumulatively amount to Euros 20,000. This Hospitaller work will be continued throughout 2013 but needs the cooperation and assistance of each and every one of our members in Malta and Gozo.