“The sick and the poor are always with us, it’s just a matter of responding in one way or another,” says Fra’ Matthew Festing, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, reports the Catholic Weekly.
The Englishman, former soldier and art connoisseur and now professed religious, was in Sydney earlier this month as part of an Australian visit, the first ever by a Grand Master in the history of the Order, the world’s oldest Catholic charity.
“The Order has been very Euro-centric for a long, long time and it’s only really in relatively recent times that the thing has become spread right across the world,” he says.
“My predecessor would have certainly come here, but, the poor man, he was ill for quite a long time. He was actually ill for three or four years, and therefore all of the things that he was expected to do and would have done, he simply wasn’t physically able.
“I’m now charging around, as it were, going to the places where he was expected to go but couldn’t.”
He acknowledges that it is a “hell of a long way from here to the other side of the world” and admires Australians who attend events in Europe. “For us Europeans, it’s much easier, of course.”
Fra’ Festing says the idea of the Order of Malta being present across Australia was once a “pipe dream and not a reality”. But the local association, which was formed in 1974, continues to flourish.
FULL STORY Former soldier now sets his sights on world's needy (Catholic Weekly)