September 15, 2011. (Romereports.com)
The Order of Malta is a lay order of the Catholic Church that has been
committed to serving the sick and the poor since it's beginnings in the
12th century. The current Grand Master, Fra' Matthew Festing recently visited the American University in Rome to explain how the Order carries out it's mission of caring for those who most need it the most.
Fra' Matthew Festing
Grand Master, Order of Malta“We're very much I would say a bottom-up rather than top-down organization and therefore if the local people on the ground, wherever it is, identify a problem, we generally go with it because we take their advice. It's no good our sitting here in Europe telling people what to do in the middle of South America.”
The Order of Malta currently has operations spanning the globe, including in the Horn of Africa where a famine continues to devastate the local population. The Order is providing aid in Kenya, feeding around 17,000 people.Fra' Matthew Festing
Grand Master, Order of Malta“I suppose the most pressing problem at the moment, which of course is a really serious problem, is the Horn of Africa, because of all these displaced people.”
Other projects include providing coats to the homeless in Australia as well as providing medical care for the uninsured in the United States.
Fra' Matthew Festing has been serving as Grand Master since 2008 and has been able to maintain a sense of humor about his position in addition to his duties.Fra' Matthew Festing
Grand Master, Order of Malta“I don´t have much option. You can describe it either as a life sentence or a death sentence. I don´t know which is more appropriate. But you know, I'm there, I was elected and I have to get on with it.”
The Order of Malta is present in 120 countries and holds it's own diplomatic relations with 104 nations.
Their work is carried out in hospitals and elderly homes, many of which rely on the work of volunteers located on the front line against the fight against poverty and sickness.