Grand Master’s New Year message for 2012
Dear Members, Volunteers and Friends of the Order of Malta
As we celebrated the most joyous event in the Church’s calendar, the birth of Christ – and gatherings with family and friends in warmth and hospitality – we did not forget those whose lives are not so fortunate. Many of our Priories and National Associations are particularly focussed at this time in the year on bringing food and care and warmth to the homeless. They are part of the work our members and volunteers are involved in, right around the globe, in an atmosphere of Christian love.
The Order of Malta reaches out to those in great need, and during this past this year we noted an increase in natural disasters around the world. Many thousands suffered from floods, famine, earthquakes. We managed to provide humanitarian relief in many of these situations, but we see, too, that the calls on us everywhere do not diminish.
At the same time, our daily support for those needing our help goes on.
As the European Year of Volunteering has just drawn to its close, I wish to acknowledge the deep gratitude the Order feels for the untiring work that you, our thousands of volunteers, have carried out, together with our members, not only during this special Volunteer year which has marked your efforts internationally, but every year.
To be a volunteer in the service of the works of the Order of Malta is a demonstration of Christian charity and of our personal experience of Christ. Pope Benedict XVI has explained that ‘We also become visible instruments of His love in a world that still profoundly yearns for that love amid the poverty, loneliness, marginalisation and ignorance that we see all around us.’ As you go among those who need your help, you are witnesses to the importance of human dignity and the importance of love.
Throughout 2011 our volunteers all over Europe assisted in countless activities to help others. There are so many examples – from the homeless who come daily to our shelters, to the refugees who crowd onto the islands of Lampedusa and Malta or into our hospices in many European cities. There are the handicapped pilgrims whom so many of you accompany to Lourdes, and to your own national shrines; to the support you give the elderly housebound, and to those who are lonely or frightened or malnourished. There are the soup kitchens where you prepare nourishing food in the bitter winters; and there are those of you who sit and play with and read to the young in schools and orphanages in Eastern Europe. All these acts, however small, of kindness and of love, and of consistency and commitment, are what lights the world and what brings warmth and hope to those so in need. Every day you reflect the nine hundred year-old mission of the Order to care for the sick and the poor, no matter who they are.
Dear volunteers, the Order salutes you! Continue your work, never give up, never forget that the gesture you make can make another’s life happier.
Dear members, as we work together to provide healthcare, education, support for the handicapped, refugees, the elderly, the homeless, small children – the world’s vulnerable – I reflect that we have carried out this work for almost a thousand years in the name of Christ. And we will go on doing it. Your participation is vital to these untiring efforts, and I thank you all.
A very fulfilling 2012.