Chapter General of St. Lazarus & Feast of the Elevation of the Cross

Patriarch at the Installation of a New Grand Master for the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem

September 2008

Manchester, England

Arriving in Britain from Milan on the afternoon of 10th. September, and accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Joseph-Jules el Zerey, His Beatitude attended a series of meetings preparatory to the election of a new Grand Master for the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem. As Spiritual Protector of the Order, it was His Beatitude’s pleasant duty to preside over the service of installation in Manchester Cathedral and, at the invitation of the Order’s Grand Prior, Canon Paul Denby, to preach a sermon, setting out spiritual guidance for its members. The new Grand Master is His Excellency Don Carlos de Gereda y de Borbòn, Marquis de Almazàn. The various celebrations denoted a new spirit of unity, following on from the Order’s reunification, signed formally by the new Grand Master and witnessed by His Beatitude. His Beatitude and Archbishop Joseph-Jules also attended both formal and informal functions held by their hosts at Old Trafford Football Centre, in the evenings of 12 and 13th. September. Further details, photographs and videos can be found on the website of the Order:

Investiture of Grand Master

Dinner with Grand Master

Sermon of His Beatitude – Patriarch Gregorios III

At the Installation of The Grand Master of the Order of St. Lazarus

Manchester Cathedral, England – September 13th. 2008

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.

We thank the Lord for the agreement that we have reached: it is a gift of God. “This is the day which the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”[1] We thank all those who participated and worked hard to reach this wonderful weekend and blessed, happy end and happy day. We thank the Grand Magistral Council and the Committee for Reunification of the Order. As Solomon said, “There is …a time to love and a time to hate:”[2] so I think we have had enough of a time to hate and now indeed have a time to love and hate no more. One may say that this is not just a day of liturgical celebration, but a real celebration of the unity of our faith, through unity of the Order, in this magnificent Cathedral, which is a wonderful masterpiece of our ancestral faith.

Unity is the foundation of God’s work for all mankind: he wishes us to be one. He is one and wills all mankind to be one. If we are not united, we make God divided. Jesus eternally lays down for us the goal of his economy of salvation, “that he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” (John 11:52) One of the four marks of the Church is unity: unity in catholicity, diversity and plurality.

This unity makes today a really wonderful, unique day in the history of this remarkable Order of St. Lazarus. My predecessor, Maximos V, strove to reach this day, but did not attain it. Having worked hard through the eight years of my Patriarchate to serve this wonderful goal of unity, I dare say, as I always do, that I have loved you all in the same way and am equidistant from you all and equally close to each one: so I am the Spiritual Protector and, as we say in the Eastern tradition, your spiritual father.

This afternoon, we must consider the wonderful mission and role of our Order in the third millennium. During my first visit as Patriarch to His late Holiness, the Servant of God, John Paul II, he told us, by way of compliment to our Church, “You are a strong, united Church.” I would like to pass on this compliment and programme to our beloved Order in the third millennium: may you be a strong, coherent Order!

We have had a long time of separation: now we have a new Grand Master, who is not just the fruit of our election, but also of God’s will. He is Grand Master both by our will and God’s, as is stated in the text of the service of Installation. We have one Head, one Master and we must strengthen this new reality of our Order. We must give a new impetus to the Order in the third millennium. Allow me to give you some proposals, for that purpose.

  1. There ought to be a central Governing Council around the Grand Master, in order to ensure greater commitment to the Order and create better relations between the different Jurisdictions and the central Order.
  2. There should be established a new Commission, whose purpose would be to set out, on the basis of the Constitution, the principal guidelines for the common way forward for the whole Order. This Commission would set out an ecumenical, Christian vision of the Order.
  3. This Commission would also set out a quinquennial programme for the whole Order, always respecting the various goals of the different local Jurisdictions. There is global and local work for us to do.
  4. This Commission would also put together a programme for preparing and receiving new members, especially young people, in order to give new growth and youth to the Order and to prepare these novices to live out evangelical Christian values.
  5. There should also be established a common programme of projects for the whole Order, in all its local Jurisdictions.
  6. It should be remembered that one of the most important goals of the Order is supporting the Christian presence in the Holy Land , as a witness for Jesus, in his own country. A certain annual percentage could be designated to help the Holy Land , especially through the Patriarchal Charity that supports the projects of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. The Patriarch is ready to establish a special Committee, constituted in part from among the members of the Order of St. Lazarus, and partly from among members of the Melkite Church , to supervise the funds donated and their disbursement among the different projects supported by the Order of St. Lazarus.
  7. May I mention, in that regard, a concrete project? I am building a hospital in Damascus , so it would be suitable if the Order could help with this. The hospital will have the name of St. Paul , in the Year of St. Paul, in Damascus , the city of St. Paul . This project could be considered as a common project for whole Order of St. Lazarus, by way of thanksgiving for the unity reached in this Chapter.
  8. It would be suitable to organise visits by members of the Order to their friends in the Holy Land, Lebanon and Syria in order to see the projects of the Patriarchate, and to learn more about the institutions. Come and see!
  9. It is also very important to develop stronger relations between the different Jurisdictions of the Order of St. Lazarus and the Patriarchate, through the central government of the Order.
  10. So the Order can go ahead with a new vision for the future, particularly with regard to the recruitment of new members to the Order and especially amongst the young.
  11. God has helped us to find unity. It will require time for members to undergo a healing process with regard to the past, to move forward and to resolve local problems that persist among different Jurisdictions. So, through our unity, we shall be able to give an example of Christian unity.
  12. Thus, the Order will be able to fulfil the sayings of the Lord Jesus Christ and of St. Paul . Jesus says to us, “Ye are the light of the world.[3] Ye are the salt of the earth.[4] These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you…that ye should go and bear much fruit, and that your fruit should remain.[5]” St. Paul expresses the beauty of giving, saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.[6] For God loveth a cheerful giver.[7]

So I conclude my address to you, dear brothers and sisters, in the words of St. Paul, in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, “But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: as it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.[8]” And with St. Paul, I would like to express to you my thanks as Patriarch and Spiritual Protector and the thanks of very many people, who have been helped through you and to thank all the Jurisdictions that helped us, saying with St. Paul, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: as it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness, being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.[9]

Thanks be to God for unity and for all his gifts! God bless you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit

[1] Psalm 118:24 [2] Ecclesiastes 3:8 [3] Matthew 5:14 [4] Matthew 5:13 [5] John 15: 11, 16 [6] Acts 20:35 [7] II Corinthians 9:7 [8] II Corinthians 8:14,15 [9] II Corinthians 9:8-11

London – Feast of the Elevation of the Cross

From Manchester , His Beatitude and Archbishop Joseph-Jules flew to London on the morning of the 14th. September, where, together with Father Shafiq Abouzayd and other concelebrant clergy, they presided at the Liturgy for the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross in the Parish of St. John Chrysostom, at the Chu rch of St. Barnabas , Pimlico. After the Liturgy, a procession through the streets of Pimlico was held, followed by a celebratory lunch attended by clergy, parish and their guests. (See photographs.)

On 15th. September, His Beatitude and Father Shafiq were the guests of Mr. Bassam Aboukhater at the Dorchester to discuss matters concerning the parish and the Melkite Church abroad. While in London , His Beatitude also completed the preparation of his forthcoming book in English on “The Liturgical Practice of the Eastern Church.”


Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross