A well-attended Advent celebration closed the term of outgoing Michigan Area co-chairs Barbara Wilson, DM, and Robert Wilson, KM, who received a standing ovation for their six years of leadership and service to the Area.
The December 3rd event opened with Mass at the chapel of the Grosse Pointe Academy in Grosse Pointe Farms, celebrated by Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, ChC, with concelebrant Fr. David Tomaszycki. Afterwards, 78 Michigan Area Dames, Knights, auxiliaries, candidates, and guests gathered at the Grosse Pointe Club for the Area’s annual Advent brunch.
“It’s been a beautiful privilege to serve the members,” Robert Wilson told the audience. He noted that the Michigan Area is enjoying “a great flourishing of new members,” with 13 new candidates currently entering their year of formation, in addition to 12 associate members joining this year. In 2023, the Area also greatly expanded its social media presence through FaceBook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
The Wilsons and incoming Area chair Andy Smith, KM, announced that Kathleen Mastrangelo, DM, will succeed Patrick Jones, KM, as Area Hospitaller. Among other activities, she coordinates Area volunteers at St. Leo’s Soup Kitchen in Detroit, serving hot lunches to the homeless and needy.
Patrick Fabian, KM, will continue as the Area’s finance director, while Robert Wilson will coordinate membership efforts. Marcia McBrien, DM, will assist with event planning and communications. Thomas Larabell, KM, will continue as president of the Malta Dental and Medical Clinic. The Hon. Stephen Murphy, Auxiliary, will oversee the Area’s Prison Ministry and outreach to Auxiliary members.
Andy Smith also announced the creation of a new “Hospitality Ministry,” which will be led by Suzanne Bonventre, RN, DM, and Michael Bonventre, KM; Ky Cam and Stepanie Le, DM; Douglas Nelson, KM, and Donna Nelson, DM; and Christopher Rutkowski, KM and June Rutkowski.
Copies of the Area’s 2024 activities calendar were distributed. The Area will expand its practice of holding “First Saturdays,” which feature Mass, lectio divina, and breakfast, to add the Rosary and opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our Lady requested the First Saturdays devotion (Confession, reception of Holy Communion, recitation of the Rosary, and 15 minutes’ meditation on a Mystery or Mysteries of the Rosary) in reparation for sins of ingratitude and blasphemy against her Immaculate Heart.
Andy Smith also gave a “sneak preview” of a new online course in the Catechism, to be led by Peggy Stanton, DM, author of The Order of Malta Minutes with the Catechism and the creator of the “Malta Minutes with the Catechism” radio program that aired on Ave Maria Radio and other networks. She will be assisted by Marcia McBrien.
In appreciation for the Wilsons’ years of leadership and work, Andy Smith presented them with an icon of Our Lady of Philermo, which was written by Donna Nelson, DM, a local Michigan Area iconagrapher. The icon was then blessed and venerated by Archbishop Vigneron.
The event closed with Robert Wilson’s reading of “If You’re Missing Baby Jesus,” a true story from 1943, in which an extra Infant Jesus creche figurine and a sign in a dime store led a family to the aid of a desperate young mother and her children on Christmas Eve. The reading of this story on Christmas Eve has been a Wilson family tradition for 20 years. Robert Wilson said the story beautifully illustrates the Order’s charism to serve those in need.