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.
Initially each of the participating Associations had launched their own Ministries with the first one beginning in 2007. There was no formal interaction regarding prison ministry among the Associations of the United States until 2013.
Grand Masters involvement
Early in 2013 the Grand Master asked the three United States Associations to work together on prison ministry which led to semiannual meetings which began with a prison ministry conference in 2014. This initiative worked particularly well, and since Canada had been distributing a U.S. publication that relationship led to an invitation to Canada to join our three Associations. The Grand Master’s request has led to what today is a seamless operating structure known as the North American Prison Ministry Apostolate.
Genesis of the Strategic Plan process
It became clear in 2015 that to operate most effectively and add value to our activity we needed a Strategic Plan. Thus at the March Annual meeting in Washington, D.C. an initial process was authorized. Subsequently each of the four Associations appointed steering committee representatives.
The Committee used the following four questions among its 9 lay members to develop ownership, focus and alignment:
What got each of us interested in Prison Ministry (PM)
What are the 2 to 4 things you like the most about PM
What are the 2 to 4 things you like the least about PM
What are 2 to 4 things that need to be improved
The first question is designed to provide a perspective of the motivation of each Board member. One consensus on the second was the recognition that prison ministry is a Christian response to the great need of suffering souls. A common response on the third question was the need for more member and prison Chaplain participation. Responses to the fourth question reflect a need to focus on re-entry-to-society initiatives.
Bob Fredericks, Apostolate Chair, simultaneously conducted a survey to identify how many members, Chaplains and others/volunteers we are now supporting. The current estimate is approximately 2,500. He has also established that we are the largest Catholic outreach to the incarcerated in the world.