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Knights of the Holy Sepculchre Welcome New Leader

Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, the new pro-grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, meets Baltimore seminarians Michael Rubeling and Joseph Langan at the order’s headquarters during a welcoming reception in Rome 16 September. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring) 

16 Sep 2011 – by Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Officials at the Vatican headquarters of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepculchre of Jerusalem welcomed U.S. Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien as their new pro-grand master.

Archbishop Giuseppe De Andrea, the assessor of the chivalric organization, placed a gold chain and pendant around Archbishop O’Brien’s neck and told him his new role “is like a chain that ties him to the Holy Land” and to the knightly order of the Holy Sepculchre.

The informal ceremony Sept. 16 took place in the order's headquarters — a 15th-century palace housing ornate ceilings and rooms decorated with three-dimensional illusions of finely detailed trompe l’oeil.

Archbishop O’Brien thanked everyone present, including the order’s honorary assessor, Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, for their warm welcome.

The archbishop said that just a month ago he had no idea that he would go from leading the Archdiocese of Baltimore to heading an order made up of nearly 25,000 members around the world. His appointment was announced Aug. 29.

“I am grateful to the Holy Father for his trust in me and hope in the years ahead I will be a help to the Holy See and to the wonderful land where Christ walked,” he said to all those gathered.

Archbishop O’Brien succeeds U.S. Cardinal John P. Foley, who resigned in February due to ill health.

In an interview with Catholic News Service, the 72-year-old archbishop praised the work Cardinal Foley had done for the order and said “I hope, if not to fill his shoes, to follow his footsteps.”

The archbishop has extensive experience in theology, education, communications and pastoral and spiritual care. He served as archbishop of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services for 10 years, as rector of the Pontifical North American College from 1990 to 1994 and as rector of the seminary at Dunwoodie, in New York. He was archbishop of Baltimore 2007-2011.

He said he believes some of the assets he’ll be bringing to his new appointment include his experience traveling the world helping Catholics in the military service, as well as knowing “most of the bishops pretty well in the United States.” About half of the order’s membership is from North America, he said.

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Tags: Jerusalem Middle East