Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 24, 2005
Knights alleviate pain
Knights of St. Lazarus support Palliative care
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Ian Brown is proud of the history of the Knights of St. Lazarus, a 900-year-old, world-wide Christian order committed to alleviating human suffering. He is just as honoured to command the local group of 35 men and women who work to raise funds in support of hospice palliative care in the capital region.
"I wanted to do some good and one of the joys of retirement is that you have the time to put your heart and soul into something like this," said Brown, commander of the Edmonton group.
"We certainly give as much support as we can, particularly in palliative care with those afflicted with HIV and AIDS. It is the modern-day leprosy."
At the time of the First Crusade some 900 years ago, the Knights of St. Lazarus began when lepers were forbidden to enter Jerusalem. They were banished to an ancient hospice outside the city's north gate where a monk tried caring for them. Brown said the hospice is still there.
Secular knights and soldiers sought outlets for their Christian beliefs and military prowess. Several became "warrior monks" to defend the faithful and the Holy Land while others, known as hospitallers, served the ill. The secular knights formed four major orders in the early 1100s, one being the Knights of St. Lazarus.
"It is a Christian organization. There are about 5,000 members throughout the world. We have 600 members in Canada, with the grand priory of Canada in Ottawa," Brown said.
Originally from England, Brown is a retired captain in the Royal Air Force. In Canada, he enlisted in the Canadian Army reserves. After moving to Alberta, Brown was appointed to serve as aide-de-camp under former Alberta Lt.-Govs. Helen Hunley and Gordon Towers. He was elected as Edmonton Knights of St. Lazarus commander a year ago.
While the Roman Catholic Church has not officially recognized the order, Brown said Pope John Paul II expressed his appreciation for the relief work its members did in Eastern Europe when communism collapsed.
The order has been associated with Catholic Social Services (Sign of Hope) for 15 years, financially supporting Kairos House, a hospice for men and women living with HIV/AIDS. In that time, the order has helped to provide bedroom furniture, construction of basement bedrooms and new windows. Donations from the order have helped with new carpeting, paint, landscaping and patio furniture, as well as support for outreach programs and some operating costs. The order also provides Christmas presents for residents of Kairos House.
The order relies on gaming for its revenue, but it is in the midst of diversifying its funding sources.
In 2005, the Edmonton commandry raised $86,000 from one casino.
An important component of the Order of St. Lazarus is promoting Christian ecumenism. To achieve this objective, it provides nine bursaries to Canadian theological colleges. The first Alberta bursary of $25,000 was established in 2000 at Newman Theological College. The money was provided jointly from the grand priory and the local commandry.
Last year, the award was renamed the Msgr. William Irwin Bursary in Ecumenism to honour the late priest's 12-year membership and dedicated support. A similar bursary was recently established at St. Stephen's College at the U of A.
And on the secular front, Grant MacEwan College received a palliative care nursing bursary.
"Maintaining the order's traditions of helping the sick and being Christ's faithful servants is tremendously rewarding," Brown said.
For more information about the Order of St. Lazarus call Ian Brown at 1-780-361-2233 or visit www.stlazarus.ca.