44th Ceremony of Investiture of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta (KMFAP) on the 20 February 2022 in Miami, USA
 
After two years of severe health and security restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 44th Knighthood Ceremony of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, Federation of the Autonomous Priories (KMFAP) was held at the Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach, Florida, USA, on the 20th February 2022. It has been our pleasure and privilege to be able to hold again our investiture in this historic monument, which has its origins in Spain, near Segovia, completed in 1147 and became the home of the Cistercian monks. At the beginning of the 20th century the monastery and the cloister were sold. To move the building to the United States, every wall and structure was dismantled stone by stone, the 35.000 numbered pieces were bound and packed into more than 11,000 wooden crates and shipped to America. It took 19 months to build in its original form on this current site, in a beautiful garden setting in North Miami Beach, Florida. Time Magazine called this project “the biggest jigsaw puzzle in history”. It was inaugurated in 1953 and is now owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida.

 

The knighting ceremony took place in cooperation between KMFAP Ceremonial Corps – the International Organising and Protocol Committee – and the Grand Priory of Florida in the old monastery halls, where Cistercian monks walked for over 700 years. The day of the investiture coincided with the United Nations World Day of Social Justice (Equality Day), observed also on the 20th February, recognizing the need to promote social justice worldwide, which is the core value of our Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. It includes efforts to tackle significate issues of our time such as: human rights, poverty, exclusion, gender inequality, unemployment and social protection.



The event started at 4.00 pm, with the General Chapter (GC) of the Knights, the meeting was conducted by H.G. George Popper, Lieutenant General of the Grand Master, Prime Minister and Vice President of the State of the Order, by a brief welcoming. Then the participants listened to the reading of the Magisterial Charter 02 /2022 by Sir James Angleton, Grand Prior of Florida, written by the Grand Master Prince José about the Delegation of Power to H.G. George Popper, Knight of Grand Collar, Lieutenant General, Prime Minister of the Order, Executive Grand Chancellor of the Sovereign Order of Cyprus, and Eminent Grand Prior of the Hungarian Langue to act on behalf of the Grand Master at the Ceremony of Investiture of the Knights and Dames in Miami.



Afterwards featuring the presentation of KMFAP as a historic Order, its leadership and mission by Sir Karl DelaGuerra, Knight Commander of Cyprus, Prior of North Carolina, with video films about the goals and activities of its humanitarian institutions in Africa, Hungary, Slovakia and Malta.




A short talk and presentation was given by Lady Anna Popper on her visit to and contacting for further research the National Library of Malta, where tens of thousands of valuable documents relating to the Knights of Saint John are kept with great care and professionalism. She presented photos (and a copy) of one of the most important documents from the archives: the Deed of Donation of the Maltese Islands (Malta, Gozo Comino, Cominetto) and Tripoli (Africa) to the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, offered by the German Roman Emperor Charles V, in 1530. From that date, the 268-year-long rule of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem in Malta commenced (after being expelled from Rhodes /Greece, where they stayed between 1308-1522). In 1798 they were forced to leave Malta and their new capital Valetta due to the occupation of the Maltese Islands by the French army, led by Napoleon.



The General Chapter continued with the introduction of the Postulants, one by one, and handing over documents: Postulant diplomas, the Code of Chivalry, the One Tari coin in folder with Certificate. The GC ended with the ancient tradition of the Order of Saint John, the Watch of the Arms, to get acquainted with the still valid symbols, traditions and moral values of the knights.



THE KNIGHTING CEREMONIAL:

The essential part of the event followed: the Ceremony of Investiture, held in the beautifully decorated Chapel of the Ancient Spanish Monastery, starting with the Processional Entrance – the solemn marching in of the postulants, the knights and dames wearing their red or blue capes with the 8-pointed Malta cross, and the officials of the Order, on the majestic music of Mozart. According to the protocol the last persons to enter the monastery’s chapel were Sir James Angleton and H.G George Popper, the knighting officers.


The USA flag was saluted with the US Anthem and the flags of KMFAP and the Sovereign Order of Cyprus entered while listening to the Anthem of the Order.



The speaker announced the presence of the following countries: USA, Hungary, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Austria, Congo Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo), El Salvador. Several knights and Dames from Hungary, Portugal, Malta and the US State of Indiana also attended this significant event and took an active part in the preparation and execution of the ceremony.



After the Prime Minister briefly welcomed and greeted the guests, Sir James Angleton – Grand Prior of Florida read the Address of the Grand Master to the Postulants.



In Perpetuam Rei Memoriam:
on every solemn occasion we commemorate our Knights, Dames and Great Predecessors and our members who have passed away since the last ceremony. Following our tradition, we ask the members of the Order, the postulants and the esteemed audience to applaud our deceased knights, who can not be with us anymore, to recognise the good deeds and accomplishments they have achieved in life, and listened to Ave Maria by William Gomez, performed by Mr. Mário Arevalo, tenor USA, native of El Salvador. He provided the musical accompaniment for the entire ceremony with his impressive voice, repertoire and much appreciated appearance.



Sir Karl DelaGuerra, KC – Prior of North Carolina was asked to tell his thoughts on a timely subject: What does it mean to be a Knight in the 21st Century?



The Several Acts followed with the below announcements:
1./ Appointment of Sir Karl DelaGuerra to the position of Grand Prior of North and South Carolina (Magisterial Decree 02 / 2022)
2./ Creation of the Magisterial Council of Dames of KMFAP and appointing Lady Constance Delis Angleton to the position of President (Magisterial Decree 05 / 2022)



Knighthood Ceremonial:
After the announcement of the President of KMFAP Admission Board that all candidates were accepted to be knighted at the present ceremony, the following postulants were inaugurated, accompanied by their Godfathers or Godmothers, and became members of our Order:
• Sir Susumo Azano (Mexico)
• Sir Demetrios Christos Kirkiles (USA)
• Sir Henry Peter Noriega (USA)
• Sir Max Justin Pomeranz (USA) --- as Knight Commander
• Sir Ramon Ramirez-Melendez (Puerto Rico / USA) • Lady Kary Ramirez (USA)
• Sir Richard Preston Tonkinson (USA)
• Lady Jennifer Valoppi (USA)
• Sir Anthony Ernesto Cambo (USA)
• Sir Ernesto Cambo (USA)
• Sir Steve Farah (Brazil)
• Sir Henri Nsika (Congo-Brazzaville / USA)



Congratulations to our new Dames and Knights, and we are proud that they are all very successful, committed and morally good people in their lives and achievements, so far to be worthy of this honourable acknowledgment. Dear new Sisters and Brothers, be welcome among your Brethren!

At the conclusion of the event, the speaker expressed gratitude on behalf of the highest leaders of the Order to all the fellow knights and dames, who contributed to the preparation and conduct of this memorable and successful event, to: Lady Anna Popper, Lady Erika Macsári, Sir James Angleton, Lady Constance Delis Angleton, Ms. Viktória Pozmann, Sir Szilveszter Tánczos, Sir Péter Polyák, Sir Jonathan W. Wallace, Lady Natalia B. Wallace, Sir Zoltán Hossó, Sir András Niklós, Sir Davis Russell Waite, Sir Ádám Schuman, Sir José Pepe Diaz, Mr. Mário Arevalo and Mr. Julio Naranjo.

Presenting a Key to Miami-Dade County for H.G. Sir George Popper:
At the very end of the ceremony Sir José Pepe Diaz, Knight of Malta, Chairman of the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, asked to take the floor to present and hand over a golden Key to Miami-Dade County to His Grace George Popper, while praising the devoted work and activity that Sir George has been performing for the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem since 2000. A Key to the County extends an official welcome to those receiving it and also recognizes proven leaders whose contributions have enriched the society immeasurably. The most populous county in Florida, Miami-Dade County is home to 34 incorporated municipalities, cities, towns and villages, as well as to unincorporated communities and neighbourhoods.



 The ceremony of investiture was closed by the official photo session.

In recent years, it has been the 6th Ceremony of Investiture of the Order in the United States, after several years of hiatus, where the Order enjoyed great prestige and recognition in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's. Here, too, the dames and knights actively continue the goal set at the founding of the Order, to provide humanitarian aid to the needy, which is still the main activity of KMFAP today. In the spirit of this moral principle and in accordance with the needs of today, our knights and dames in many parts of the world provide selfless assistance to people in need in various forms, regardless of any discrimination, by offering their own financial resources. I must emphasize that the members of KMFAP do not seek and accept state or public funds anywhere. Keeping always in mind the humanitarian slogan of the Order: “The reward of generosity is generosity itself”.

We truly wish and hope to meet you all again soon!



24th February 2022