2009-02-14 / Top News

Vicki Riel Invested Into Order of Malta

Vicki Bankard Riel (center) with her husband, Dick, and their daughter, Melissa Jaffar, at her investment in New York. Vicki Bankard Riel (center) with her husband, Dick, and their daughter, Melissa Jaffar, at her investment in New York. Vicki Bankard Riel of South Bend, Indiana, was invested into the Order of Malta with 100 others at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City last November 14. His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan conducted the investment into the order, known formally as Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.

The group encourages members to dedicate themselves to the sick and poor.

"I was likely selected because of my association with the National Christ Child Society, having been the national president a few years ago, and other charitable work," said Mrs. Riel, who grew up during summers on the West Bluff.

She was accompanied to the ceremony by her husband, Dick, and their daughter, Melissa Jaffar. A white-tie celebration followed at the Waldorf Astoria.

The Order of Malta is a lay religious order of the Roman Catholic Church and the oldest Order of Chivalry in the world, with a rich history dating to 1099. It was originally formed as a hospitaller order and religious order and later became a military force during the Crusades. It is governed by a Grand Master who holds the rank of Cardinal as the head of the religious order and who reports on the activities of the Order directly to Pope Benedict. The Order of Malta is also a sovereign entity that maintains diplomatic relations, exchanges ambassadors with governments throughout the world, and has a permanent seat at the United Nations.

The Order has become the oldest established charitable institution in the world, running hospitals and ambulance services in many countries, establishing mission hospitals providing disaster relief and serving the poor around the world. It is headquartered in Rome with national associations and priories in 60 countries. Some 11,000 members and 80,000 trained volunteers perform charitable works in more than 110 countries. The United States has three chapters with more than 3,000 members.

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