About the Order The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilization. The 13,500 Knights and Dames remain true to its inspiring principles – nurturing, witnessing and protecting the faith and serving the poor and the sick.
The American Association Founded in 1927 as the first association of the Order of Malta in the Americas, the association is headquartered in New York City with over 2,000 knights, dames and volunteers in 16 states working with the poor, sick and incarcerated and giving witness to the Catholic faith.
Spirituality Knights and Dames join the Order of Malta to pursue their spiritual growth over a path laid out by Blessed Gerard more than nine hundred years ago, seeking to nurture and witness the Faith and assist the sick and the poor.
Spirituality in Action Members are involved in hands-on work involving over one hundred organizations and ministries. Food banks, hospitals, pregnancy support centers, homeless shelters and mentoring at risk children are just some of the activities in which members engage.
The Subpriory is legally a “juridical person with the structure of the Order (Code, Art. 220). A modern creation, it resulted from the establishment of the new “Second Class” within the Order of Malta by Pope Pius XII (1956). Membership was later extended to Dames and non-nobles and the title of “Knights of Obedience” was changed to “Knights and Dames in Obedience.”
Both Professed (First Class) and Knights and Dames in Obedience (Second Class) belong to the Subpriory. The Subpriory draws its membership from the Third Class and is intended to be a guide to the Third Class in the development and practice of their spirituality. The Regent, elected by the membership and appointed by the Grand Master, is the religious superior of the Subpriory. Under the Code, the Regent may be chosen from among the First or Second Class members of the Subpriory.
The Promise of Obedience as a “Life Decision” and a higher commitment to the Order.
The bond established by the “Promise” of Obedience is stronger than the promise made by Tertiaries or Oblates in other Orders. Obedience is a “life decision” before God through one’s religious superiors in the Order. Withdrawal from the Promise of Obedience is permitted only with the permission of the Grand Master, with the vote of the Sovereign Council.
The “Promise”, which binds in conscience, obliges members to a life leading to Christian perfection in the spirit of the Order and in the sphere of its works. Members must diligently observe the divine law and the precepts of the Church so as to be a constant example of piety and virtue, of apostolic zeal and of devotion to the Holy Church, and undertake to utilize their temporal goods according to the spirit of the Gospel.
Specifically, this is done by attending Holy Mass frequently and by reciting prescribed daily prayers, taking part each year in a three-day silent retreat of the Subpriory, and by regularly seeking the counsel of a Spiritual Director. A member in Obedience is also obliged to be an active member of one’s Association to the extent of one’s abilities and circumstances.
To become a Knight or Dame in Obedience is to become a member of a spiritual family (the Subpriory) within a larger family (the Association) and to continue to help those in need, follow the Word and receive the Sacraments on a regular basis. Membership in the Subpriory is NOT to step away from the Association and its charism but rather to enter more deeply into the mission of the Order to witness the Faith and to serve the poor, sick, and all others in need! Moreover, Knights and Dames in Obedience do NOT enjoy privileges or precedence with respect to other members of the Order.
Obedience to Whom?
“Obedience” means “It is not their will, but that of their Superiors which should be obeyed at all times… Obedience towards God and his Word is at the center… The Superior can only play a role as an instrument…”