New Yorker Professes Vows as Malta Knight

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Frà John T. Dunlap, a member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, professed perpetual vows as a Knight of Justice, the order's highest grade, at a Mass June 7 at St. Joseph's Church in Greenwich Village.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, was the celebrant. The homilist was Father John P. McGuire, O.P., chaplain of the order's Sub—Priory of Our Lady of Lourdes. Concelebrating was Msgr. James D. Watkins, assistant chaplain of the sub—priory.

Receiving Frà John's vows was Frà John A. MacPherson, Bailiff Grand Cross of Justice, who was acting as delegate of the grand master of the order, Frà Matthew Festing.

Knights of Justice, like members of other religious orders, profess vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Membership in the Knights is restricted to men; the other grades, or classes, of the Order of Malta are open to men and women. Members of the second class profess a special vow of obedience; members of the third class make a commitment, but not vows or promises. There are four Knights of Justice in the United States.

The Order of Malta has three branches in the United States; they are known as associations. Frà John is a member of the American Association. He is the regent, or religious superior, of the Sub—Priory of Our Lady of Lourdes, which is composed of members of the first and second classes in the American and Federal Associations.

"I am honored to be the first to be fully professed in the American Association," Frà John told CNY.

Frà John, 51, is an attorney practicing corporate law with Dunnington, Bartholow and Miller in Manhattan, and will continue in his secular profession. He joined the Order of Malta in 1996 and professed temporary vows as a Knight of Justice in 2004.

The rite of profession in which Frà John became a Knight of Justice contains two parts: Frà John was made a knight and then a friar of the order. He received the symbols of knighthood, including a sword, sword—belt and spurs, and a friar's habit and a stole bearing symbols of Christ's passion and death.

The Order of Malta, which began in 1099, is both a religious order of the Catholic Church and a sovereign entity under international law. It traces its origins to a hospital run by a group of men in the Holy Land to serve the sick and poor. The members later assumed military responsibilities to protect pilgrims. Eventually the military role ceased, but the order continues to serve the poor and the sick throughout the world.

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