Dear confreres and consoeurs, dear supporters of the Order around the world,
Christmas is a time of joy, of light and of hope. Let us open our hearts to the Son of God, and welcome Him, as we recognise His presence amongst all our brothers and sisters, especially the elderly, the sick and those in need. Let us do this so that, even during this celebration which is so important to us believers, our commitment of solidarity with our brothers and sisters is always paramount.
On this occasion of Christmas, I wish to take the opportunity of thanking you all – members, volunteers, the hardworking staff in our medical and relief services – for your faithful commitment throughout the year to those in great need. May I offer my special consideration to those of you who are working in areas of great danger, because of wars, famine, or natural disasters.
You wear our octagonal cross on your uniforms where in so many regions on the planet you work amongst people who are suffering. Our cross is a symbol which is always more appreciated in the very difficult situations where it is so important to promote dialogue, and to bring help to those whose lives and worlds have been stripped of everything that is familiar. You represent hope for millions of people. This is, and has always been, the essence of the historical mission of the Order of Malta: Tuitio fidei et Obsequium pauperum.
In recent months, I have met with the Holy Father several times and I am delighted to share with you his constant interest and his encouragement that we continue to strengthen the mission of the Order. It gives me the deepest satisfaction and inspiration to represent, both in Italy and in the world, an institution which works in harmony to carry out its important mission.
2019 has seen intense diplomatic activity for the Order: during my official visits to Slovenia, Germany and Bulgaria, and with the very many representatives of nations and institutions who are received at the Grand Magistry, I have emphasised the importance of dialogue, of solidarity, acceptance, mutual respect and understanding.
This year has also seen many pilgrimages and many summer camps for the young disabled, held in very many countries around the world. It always gives me great joy to see with my own eyes the real spirit which animates the young in our religious family.
The year 2020 will be an important one for the Order of Malta: on 3 September we will observe 900 years since the death of our Founder, Blessed Gerard. We will celebrate this important anniversary during our international pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which will take place in the second week of November. But also, I would ask our Grand Priories, Subpriories and National Associations to organise religious ceremonies to mark the precise day of the passing of our Founder.
I also hope in 2020 we will be able to accomplish further steps for the reform of our Order.
May I wish you and all your dear families a Holy Christmas, a Christmas of great joy and a Christmas of peace and serenity.
With my confraternal regards,
Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre