Order of Malta Mass Underscores Unifying Pursuits in Aiding Refugees

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Isabel Torres-Ullauri, a new dame of the Order of Malta, said that while joining the Sovereign Military Hospitaller order, she thought of her beloved late husband, who was to be installed as a knight. “He passed away last year. I felt he was with me here today. This is extremely emotional, and very heartwarming,” Mrs. Torres Ullauri said after the annual Order of Malta Investiture Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The Oct. 26 liturgy was celebrated by Cardinal Dolan, and concelebrated by nearly 30 priests. Cardinal Dolan is the principal chaplain of the order’s American Association. Attendance was about 700, including longtime members of the Order, and families and friends of the new members. Organizers said 85 women and men were invested as new dames and knights.

“The Order of Malta is true charity, and true charity is doing something for others who can never pay you back,” Mrs. Torres-Ullauri, a Manhattan bank executive, told CNY. “My faith means everything to me. I am a lifelong Catholic. It is what forms us. It is what guides us in doing the right thing for others.” Her husband, Dr. Modesto Torres-Ullauri, was a cardiologist. The cathedral is her home parish. She was one of 36 new dames at the Investiture Mass.

Christopher B. Lacaria, a Manhattan attorney, was among the 49 new knights. “This is a very meaningful Mass. It represents a link from a long chain of tradition and service of the Church, defense of the faith, and service to the sick and the poor,” Lacaria, 31, said in a brief interview after the liturgy.

“I think the message of unity was very important and timely,” he said of the cardinal’s homily, “because of the times that we live in where there is so much division and mistrust.”

Lacaria, who said he is new to New York, attends Mass at the cathedral. “I got to know the Order through participation in its works here in New York.”

Cardinal Dolan, in his homily, said, “Strive to preserve the unity—the unity of the Holy Spirit through the bond of peace. So writes St. Paul in the First Reading (Ephesians 4:1-6).”

The cardinal underscored the worldwide significance of the Order of Malta, citing its unifying pursuits and good works, such as assisting refugees. “The Order brings integration, healing and unity,” Cardinal Dolan said, adding, “Knights and Dames, Holy Mother Church needs unity, for sure…The Most Precious Blood of Christ was shed on the cross—the cross that we wear over our hearts.”

During the investiture, Peter J. Kelly, president of the American Association of the Order of Malta, asked the black- and red-robed dames and knights to-be, “Ladies and Gentlemen, what do you desire?” The recipients responded in unison, “We ask the mercy of God, and to be received into the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta.”

The cardinal prayed, “O God, look graciously down on those your servants who wish to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in our Order. Instill Your grace in their hearts and in our hearts. Let us not take false pride in our membership, but rather let us be humble in your service.”

Kelly also asked, “Are you ready to follow the banner of Christ, and of the Order, to witness and defend the Catholic Faith, and to do works of charity, as the Order requires?”

The recipients replied that they promise, “calling on the name of God, in chivalrous fidelity, always to bear witness to the Catholic Faith, to defend the Church, and to lead my life in accordance with the teachings of Holy Mother Church.”

Kelly later declared, “…I invest you in the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta.”

The new knights and dames later processed up the middle aisle, each to receive his or her own eight-pointed Cross of the Order from the cardinal—the men’s crosses inside black boxes, and the women’s inside red boxes.

Installed as conventual chaplains were Retired Auxiliary Bishop Peter A. Rosazza of the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn. (in absentia), and Bishop Alfred A. Schlert of the Pennsylvania Diocese of Allentown. Installed as magistral chaplain was Father Owen B. Moran, pastor of St. Rose of Lima parish, East Hanover, N.J., Diocese of Paterson.

In addition to New York, the new knights and dames came from a number of states, including Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Florida, as well as New England and the tri-state area.

Among the new knights and dames were 10 from the Archdiocese of New York. They are: Ann Bave, Ryan Dougherty, Christopher Lacaria, Isabel Torres-Ullauri and Jason Pelletier of St. Patrick’s Cathedral; Amber Vitale and Eric Vitale, of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in lower Manhattan; Mary Brady of St. Ignatius Loyola parish, Manhattan; Pierre Ferragu, SS. John and Paul, Larchmont; and Anna Miller, St. Vincent Ferrer, Manhattan.

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