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Order of St. John of Jerusalem Holds Investiture Ceremony on St. Croix

Newly inducted members of the Order stand with H. E. Grand Hospitaller Vice Prior Dr. Vincent Bonagura GCSJ. Left to right: Chevalier Scot McChain, Dame Natalie Bethel, Chevalier Cordero Bonamy, H. E. Dr. Vincent Bonagura, Pastor Gerald Williams, Chevalier Thomas McOsker, Dame Kimberley Causey-Gomez, and Chevalier Charles Sealy II.

Solemnity, pomp and pageantry were in top form on the afternoon of Saturday, April 30, as six new members took the oath to serve the sick and the poor in their roles as Knights and Dames of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem Knights Hospitaller (Commandery of the West Indies).

The ceremony, held in the historic Lord God of Sabaoth Lutheran Church in Christiansted, St. Croix, was conducted by Pastor Gerald Williams in the presence of the Lieutenant Grand Master’s Representative H.E. Grand Hospitaller Vice Prior Dr. Vincent Bonagura GCSJ. Bonagura admonished the new members to take their oath seriously in keeping with the historical mission and purpose of the Order and add new life and vigor in the excellent charitable contributions to the local communities in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Haiti and The Bahamas, which are under the umbrella of the West Indies Commandery.

In his allocution address, Chevalier Owen Bethel, commander of the West Indies Commandery, reminded the members and guests that the Order’s direct heritage dated back to the Holy City of Jerusalem in 1048 through “the continuous Hospitaller works of the first brothers of the Order for all those in need, regardless of their religion or social status.”

He further noted that “this ancient Order of Chivalry is among the oldest still in existence.” The Order, comprising three Grand Priories, 14 Priories and 26 Commanderies, has a presence in 12 countries around the world, and provides support to the sick and the poor through various financial and material means to hospitals, clinics, orphanages, social service agencies, non-governmental organizations and palliative care homes throughout the world.

Chevalier Duncan Hurd, herald of The Priory, who also served as master of ceremonies for the event, expressed his elation at the caliber of the new members, and he noted their commitment and passion for the mission of the Order. He said, “This augurs well for the continuation of the work of the Order throughout the region” and reiterated the hope of Commander Owen Bethel that “the Order will expand and make its presence felt throughout more countries in the region.”

Members of the West Indies Commandery of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem Knights Hospitaller gather outside the Lord God of Sabaoth Lutheran Church in Christiansted, St. Croix, after the Investiture Ceremony. (Submitted photo)

Membership is by invitation only. He welcomed the new members: Dame Natalie Bethel (Bahamas), Chevalier Cordero Bonamy (Bahamas), Dame Kimberley Causey-Gomez (St. Croix), Chevalier Scot McChain (St. Croix), Chevalier Thomas McOsker (Puerto Rico), and Chevalier Charles Sealy II (Bahamas).

Chevalier Dr. Alfred Anduze, immediate past commander, noted the significance of the ceremony taking place on St. Croix. According to historians, in 1661, Governor De Poincy of St. Kitts bought St. Croix as his private estate and then later deeded it to the Knights of Malta, a group then known as the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. After several changes of ownership, the island was subsequently sold to the United States of America as a part of the Virgin Islands in 1917.

Dame Virginia Angus, treasurer for the Commandery, highlighted the various local and regional charities which the Order has supported, such as Light House Mission, My Brother’s Workshop, Catholic Charities for Haiti Fund, Frederiksted Health Clinic, Family Resource Center, and the Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged.

The beneficiaries of this year’s event include the Lutheran Social Services in the U.S.V.I., The Persis Rodgers Home for the Aged and The Bahamas Feeding Network.

For further information, please contact Owen Bethel at 242-424-2345 or obethel@gmail.com

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