Dear Members of the Order,
I wish to send to all my very best wishes for a Christmas both holy and serene, and a New Year that will bring many blessings.
As I look back over this eventful year, I wish to recall the passing of Fra’Andrew Bertie, the Order’s 78th Grand Master, in February, and to remember this great servant of the Order, who in his twenty years at the head of our historic institution did so much to modernise it and to encourage us all in its vital work to help the poor and the sick.
The charitable and hospitaller activities of the Order have grown exponentially as they have now extended to 120 countries. As I follow in his footsteps, I wish to emphasise my desire to carry on this splendid work, to encourage all members to concentrate on their programmes to help the sick, the poor and those marginalised by society, to help the handicapped, the lonely.
This year our International emergency corps, Malteser International/Maltarelief as well as our national Associations, have been in action in Burma, in Georgia, in Congo, in the Sudan, giving food, medicines, clothing and support to the victims of those events. I am most grateful to our members, personnel and volunteers who continue to carry out their works for those in need, 24 hours of every day of every week in five continents.
We plan a significant start to 2009, with an international strategic seminar in January, which will have a major impact on the Order’s development over the next ten years. Over 300 international delegates, representing the twelve Priories and the 47 national Associations of the Order, together with our Professed Knights, will meet to define the guidelines for the Order in the coming decade, according to our Spirituality in Action.
Happy Christmas and Happy new year,
May our dear Lady The Virgin of Filermo protect our Lords the Sick and the Poor, and you all.