Service to Our Community
Working in partnership with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Order of Malta is currently involved in a series of service and advisory projects for the benefit of those in need throughout the five-county area of Greater Philadelphia. Our working relationship with the Archdiocese allows us to efficiently identify and direct our talent and energy where it can do the most good. Our current service projects include:
- Martha’s Choice Marketplace
- Serving over 900 families a month, Martha’s Choice and its integrated Montgomery County Catholic Social Services Center not only addresses the challenges of emergency food distribution in a dignified supermarket like environment but also provides a wide array of other services. Job search, nutritional education, parenting classes and cooperative programs are but a few of the many ways this Catholic Social Service initiative endeavors to empower its clients and in turn provide an opportunity for them to lead happier and healthier lives. For more than six years, the Order of Malta has been instrumental in supporting and advancing the goals of both the Marketplace and the Social Services Center. A grant from the Order of Malta made possible the purchase of much needed refrigeration equipment that was an important component of supporting the transition to a choice marketplace and also providing healthier options to the client base. Members of our Order actively assist in a number of key volunteer functions including; client intake and administration, data management, system automation consulting and product restocking. In addition, along with other community partners, members of our Order are active on the Marketplace’s Advisory Board, meeting regularly to share insights and assist in providing strategic direction.
- Prison Ministry
- In collaboration with the Prison Chaplaincy, the Archdiocese and other members of our faith-based community, the Order of Malta actively participates in the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Prison Ministry Committee. The committee meets regularly to explore new ways to introduce and extend the Body of Christ and the Catholic faith to our incarcerated sisters and brothers. With the help of the Federal Association’s Prison Ministry Committee, our Region has been able to supply English and Spanish language Bibles and Catholic study guides to inmates as well as much needed liturgical supplies to our Prison Chaplains. In 2020, in partnership with the Archdiocese, we produced a series of Advent Reflection Videos for distribution throughout the jail and prison system in the Greater Philadelphia Area. Thanks to Catholic Distance University, these videos were also distributed to prisoners throughout the USA via CDU’s Endovo Tablet Technology which allowed these messages to spread far and wide. In 2021 the committee hopes to build on this success with a series of videos for presentation in the weeks leading up to Pentecost.
- Higher Education and Graduate School Partnerships
- The Greater Philadelphia Area is home to several Catholic colleges and universities as well as vibrant Newman Centers at other institutions. We are currently exploring ways to collaborate with several schools and centers to expand the awareness of our Order, promote our Auxiliary and explore ways to advance our collective mission through the identification of new and existing service projects and spiritual activities to promote our fellowship. An early effort in this respect has been developing a relationship with the Penn/Drexel Newman Center at The University of Pennsylvania.
The Philadelphia Region participates in numerous spiritual activities, in the Greater Philadelphia and Delaware Valley, in partnership with both the Wilmington Region and the American Association.
For many years, Fr. Nicholas Rashford, S.J. has been the Region’s Magistral Chaplain. In 2019 Fr. Eric Banecker of St Francis de Sales in Philadelphia and Fr. Matthew Brody of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Doylestown, joined the Philadelphia Region as Associate Chaplains. Our Regional Masses are held in various Parishes throughout the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
In addition to Regional Masses, 2020 ushered in a series of virtual spiritual activities which have become very popular with our membership and neighboring regions:
- Virtual Rosary Prayer Sessions
- Formed as a temporary response to the Covid 19 Lockdowns, the Virtual Rosary Prayer Circle is now a permanent addition to our Region’s Spirituality Calendar. Not only has it proven to be an ideal way to stay connected more often but it also affords us a wonderful opportunity to experience the power of our collective prayers as we share our petitions and intentions each week. Rotating Mystery and Prayer Leader assignments are announced prior to each Wednesday evening session along with Zoom log in details. Members are encouraged to invite family and friends to join us in this enriching 30 minute session.
- Book Club
- Led by Dr. Steve Sammut, our Book Club meets bi-monthly to discuss themes and insights from various spiritual resources including commonly available theological texts, popular religious books and essays selected by Steve and participating members. A series of questions and reflection points are typically distributed prior to each session which help to facilitate the conversation and ensure an active and effective group dialogue. Sessions are conducted via Zoom conference call.
- Spiritual Reflections
- Guided by one of our Chaplains, the Philadelphia Region conducts Spiritual Reflections throughout the calendar year. The sessions are interactive and begin with a Bible reading following by a series of questions to facilitate reflection and group discussion. Past sessions have explored themes such as: Christian Hope, The Various Dimensions of Physical/Spiritual Healing and Using Our Faith to Find Common Ground in a Divided World. Originally started via Zoom conference calls, future sessions will endeavor to balance this with in person reflections and retreats.
With its beginnings as a division of the Delaware Valley Region, the Philadelphia Region of the Order of Malta - Federal Association officially became its own region in September of 2017. The region includes the City of Philadelphia and the surrounding counties that together comprise the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Robert Macri is the current Hospitaller, succeeding Clair Raubenstine who previously served two terms. George Gunning serves as Philadelphia’s Treasurer. The region is served by Magistral Chaplain; Fr. Nicholas Rashford S.J. of St. Joseph’s University and Associate Chaplains; Fr. Eric Banecker and Fr. Matthew Brody who are both of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Beyond participating in regional activities, a number of the members of the Philadelphia Region serve in various capacities at the Federal Association level. Among them are: John Reilly – Board of Directors, John Hoy – Spirituality Committee, George Gunning and Carol Macri – Stewardship Committee (George is also the Chair this committee) and Robert Macri – Prison Ministry Committee.
Our members also serve the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in various capacities on a number of archdiocesan committees, boards and ministries for Catholic Social Services and the Office of Life and Family.
All members of the Order, families and friends are welcome to participate in current and future Philadelphia activities and can contact Robert Macri at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.