Catherine Flax-Kosecki posed for photos with family to remember the day she was invested into the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta’s American Association in a ceremony at a Mass Cardinal Dolan celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“It’s one of the most exciting days of my life. This is such a blessing. It’s unbelievable,” Ms. Flax-Kosecki, a parishioner of Holy Family in Manhattan, told CNY. “I thought at times in today’s ceremony that I wonder if this is what a little glimpse of heaven might be like because it’s just so joyous, so beautiful.”
Ms. Flax-Kosecki was one of the more than 125 people invested as dames and knights of Malta Nov. 5. Her husband, Roman Kosecki, and her son, Zeke Kosecki, attended the Mass and ceremony.
“This was really a big deal for her, and I wanted to come and show love. I’m extremely proud,” Zeke said.
Cardinal Dolan was joined at Mass by Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski of St. Louis; Bishop Jerome Feudjio of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands; Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez of Brooklyn; and many priests and deacons. Archbishop Rozanski and Bishop Feudjio were installed as conventual chaplains.
The Sovereign Order of Malta, a lay religious order of the Catholic Church, dates back to 1113 and is now active in 120 countries, caring for people in need with medical, social and humanitarian assistance.
“My dear knights and dames of Malta, might I begin by applying to all of you in Malta those gracious compliments that St. Paul gave to the Romans from our first reading from God’s holy word in the Bible this afternoon,” said Cardinal Dolan in opening his homily.
“You, too, to use the phrase of St. Paul, are full of goodness. My brother bishops and priests will agree you’re filled with goodness towards Jesus and His church, and for that I say thank you.”
Cardinal Dolan asked everyone to reflect on the reading’s vocabulary, with words such as God, grace, Jesus, sanctification and the Holy Spirit.
“They’re all invisible,” he said. “We can’t see them. They can’t be studied in the laboratory. They can’t be seen under a microscope. They can’t be detected on an MRI. They’re unseen. So what St. Paul is teaching us this afternoon, knights and dames of Malta, is the Biblical lesson of the primacy of the invisible. This is mightily significant for the apostle St. Paul, who insisted we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Cardinal Dolan added from the reading that states what’s seen is transitory and what’s unseen lasts forever.
“You get the message here, it’s important for us. The invisible in life is actually the most real,” the cardinal said.
Michael Rafferty, a parishioner of Assumption in Westport, Conn., who was scheduled to be invested in 2020, said taking part in this year’s Mass “is a beautiful thing that was well worth the wait.” He looks forward to helping the order serve the sick and poor.
“The order was able to adjust quickly and do more contact-free service (during the pandemic), but it’s always more impactful for us spiritually and for the people that we’re helping to look at them face to face and be able to serve them in that way,” he said.
Ms. Flax-Kosecki explained why the order attracts so many people to assist those in need.
“Somebody said yesterday that the eye of the needle is very very small, and let the poor, the sick and the needy grab your hand and pull you through. That’s what it is,” she said.
The following knights and dames are from the archdiocese:
Dames of Magistral Grace
Susan Esson, Manhattan
Catherine Flax-Kosecki, Manhattan
Marisa Greason, Manhattan
Elizabeth Keegan, Manhattan
Helen Lowe, Manhattan
Phyllis Pregiato, Bronxville
Marianne Zero, Yonkers
Knights of Magistral Grace
Jose Daniel Bascones Aoiz, Manhattan
Peter Clemente, Manhattan
Brian Duperreault, Manhattan
Marco Gennari, Manhattan
Michael Gordon, Manhattan
Paul Klimos, Manhattan
John Campbell Rathborne, Bronxville