An ancient order of knights and ladies is attracting new members in Vancouver.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is a lay institution that traces its documented history back as far as 1336, but is believed to be founded even earlier. It has an estimated 30,000 members around the world, all dedicated to strengthening the faith of its members and to aid the charitable, cultural, and social works of the Catholic Church in Jerusalem and other Biblical lands.

This November, Lower Mainland residents James Kent Donlevy, Ethelyn David, and Natalie Mary Sonnen, became knights and ladies of this order.

"The order sponsors many needed charitable initiatives in the land of Christ's birth, most recently in addressing the challenge posed by the refugee crisis in the region, but also in fostering education and health care initiaties," said Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB.

But, he added, Pope Francis recently pointed out that the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem does not exist primarily for this.

"We need to recall from time to time - and today is such an occasion - that the first and highest purpose of our Order is to strengthen in its members the practice of Christian life, that is, to grow in personal holiness. The good Lord wants us to be saints."

Ethelyn David.
James Kent Donlevy, flanked by Knights of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. They are saluted by Knights of Columbus, a relatively younger organization (founded in 1882).
The order's members in Vancouver on the steps of Holy Rosary Cathedral.
Natalie Mary Sonnen, with husband J.P. Sonnen.