Order of Malta

Order of Malta, American Association

St. Bernadette Ministry

Fostering Dignity in the Elderly, Frail, Sick, and Terminally Ill

 A Christian Response to the Culture of Death, Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Loss of Dignity and Denial of Personhood

“Life is a Gift, a Symphony to be Celebrated and Shared”


The St. Bernadette Ministry’s focus is to serve those who are near or at the end of life, the frail elderly living in nursing homes or at home, individuals who are experiencing loss of dignity, or those whose life is nearing sunset. It is a Christian response to the culture of death, physician assisted suicide and euthanasia, loss of dignity and denial of personhood. As a ministry specifically for the sick, we serve those who are terminally ill, in particular our malades, malades-in-spirit, and our members.

The Work

Everyone has a beautiful story to tell and to share in the preciousness of passing on wisdom. My Life Story: A Legacy Project is a way to remember and be remembered, it’s one’s important moments, a history as an autobiographical poem in prose in the storyteller’s own words. This, as a legacy document, is for them to share with and leave for their family and friends.

Background & History

This Biographical Legacy Project of the American Association of the Order of Malta is based on two programs. One is the clinical model developed by Dr. Harvey Chochinov’s Dignity Therapy which is now used to give patients in hospices and in hospitals who are on palliative care the opportunity to talk about their lives and preserve their history. 

The second model is from the Eastern Palliative Care, which is a partnership between Outer East Palliative Care Service, Order of Malta and St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne Australia offering home-based integrative palliative care. Their volunteer services include, yet are not limited to, companionship, respite, transportation, and the Biography Project.


Research with terminally ill patients showed that one’s sense of dignity literally made the difference between one’s desire to live or die. In areas where physician-assisted suicide was legal, the loss of dignity was more than any other reason to die, while pain was only 5%.

Order of Malta

American Association, U.S.A
St. Patrick’s Cathedral Parish House
14 E 51st Street
New York, NY 10022
(212) 371-1522