The International Strategic Seminar of the Sovereign Order of Malta took place in Rhodes from the 12th to 17th February 2014, to discuss the challenges and strategies for the coming years. After Malta in 2004 and Venice in 2009, this year’s quinquennial conference was held in Rhodes, a location especially significant for the history of the Order as seat of the Grand Master and its government for 200 years, from 1310 to 1523.

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The meeting was attended by 350 representatives of the government of the Sovereign Order of Malta and the leaders of the national associations and priories, ambassadors, diplomats, members of the Order and responsible leaders of the volunteer corps.

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Representing the Cuban Association, participated the President, accompanied by the Vice-president, the Chancellor and the Treasurer.

The participants were organized into 15 working groups, which have addressed issues such as the mission of the Order as a sovereign entity, the response of the Order to Pope Francisco’s priorities, selection and training of new members and volunteers, the cultural identity of the Order, its mission to the marginalized and excluded … always looking after outstanding young people, as the Grand Master Fra ‘Matthew Festing wanted to remind us in his opening speech. “We are at a turning point in our history; must adapt our historical mission to the demands and current characteristics of world,” said the Grand Master, with the hope of being able to involve the youth in the life of the Order.

The Grand Master, in his opening speech, aimed at five objectives for this seminar Rhodes:

– The continuous renewal of the Professed Knights

– The governance and internal control

– Recruitment and leadership

– Internal Communications

– The protection of our status as “Sovereign Order”

The Grand Master said that the renewal of the First Class is essential to the religious nature of the Order and its survival. Knights of Justice are the heart of the Order today. To increase their number, the candidates need to be motivated, educated, enthusiastic, even examined. 2015 is dedicated by Pope Francis to the consecrated life, which provides an opportunity to reflect on the challenge of being a Knight of Justice in the 21st century.

With regard to governance and internal control, our decentralized and diverse activities are always requiring more appropriate procedures to ensure transparency and good governance, which have also been ordered by Pope.

The Grand Master stressed the need for early identification of the right people who can be properly trained to be ready to lead the Order with professionalism and humanity, in the light of our threefold nature: religious, humanitarian, sovereign. In particular, he expressed his desire to see young people taking an active part in the life of each Association, taking into account that the age profile of our membership indicates that 70% of our members are age 70 or older.

Regarding internal communications, the Grand Master insisted on improving communications between the associations and the central organs, so that our achievements are best known to the Grand Magisterium, and our members and our external contributors.

The Grand Master reminded us of the important role our international and diplomatic status provides, as a privileged tool to promote our international hospitaller works. Therefore our members should have a clear understanding of our Sovereignty.

Finally, the Grand Master established several points to be worked on during the seminar: development of CONTO, a better knowledge and understanding of our Rules and Commentaries, the importance of the Training Center, with special attention to the active participation of younger members, and improve communications both internally and externally.