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Order of Malta Australia


The Subpriory of The Immaculate Conception is a spiritual community within the Australian Association of the Order of Malta, founded in 2007 in the tradition of Subpriories and Grand Priories that have enriched the history of the Order. The Subpriory assists its members in leading a life of spirituality and in being a strong, shining light to other members in practising the charisms of our Order (tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum). The Subpriory is currently comprised of 35 members from Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore, illustrating that it serves a regional purpose for the Order.

The Subpriory welcomes inquiries from all Members of the Association who may be interested in becoming a Knight or Dame in Obedience. See information below on requirements for admission.  Please contact Confrere Professor David Kissane AC, Procurator, if you are interested.


Duties of Knights and Dames in Obedience

Members of the Subpriory seek through prayer, action and sacrifice to draw to its members the grace of God to empower them to live a life of deeper spirituality and greater involvement in the charitable works of the Order. Such Knights and Dames attend Mass as frequently as they can, pray consistently the prayers of the Church, and take part in an annual communal retreat of three days. Most importantly, they are very engaged with the charitable works of the Australian Association and endeavour to be hands on in the delivery of these works. Active engagement in the Order’s annual pilgrimage to Lourdes is greatly encouraged. The path to Obedience is thus this greater involvement in both the activities and prayer of the Order.

As a “spiritual” community, the Subpriory of The Immaculate Conception does not have its own works or ministries. Its purpose is rather to allow its members, to the extent they are able to do so, to take their spirituality back to the Association, and to roll up their sleeves and work side-by-side with other Knights and Dames. Members bring spiritual maturity, a readiness and ability to witness the Faith, an active caring of the poor and the sick, humility and discretion, and a strong knowledge of the Order, with respect for its Members and Superiors.


Year of Probation to join the Subpriory

The Promise of Obedience is a vocation that pursues a deeper involvement in the spirituality of the Order and a more generous service through involvement in its activities. It is not a promotion. Interested members submit an application to both the Subpriory and the Sovereign Council of the Order. The Grand Commander is the High Charge responsible for Members in Obedience.

Once approved by the Grand Magistry, new members undertake a year of preparation to help them establish a deeper level of spirituality by working with a ‘Master of Probation’ or Spiritual Director, undertaking spiritual reading and prayer, including preparatory 5-day retreats at both ends of their year of preparation. Thus a program of formation is intended to help the aspirant establish this deeper spirituality in readiness to take a formal Promise of Obedience and live this life committed to the Order. Somebody wishing to withdraw from the Promise needs to gain the approval of the Grand Master to do so.

Guidelines to assist those in Obedience are laid out in the Code and in the Regulations and Commentary of the Order of Malta. The Australian Subpriory is governed by Statutes approved by the Sovereign Council.


Taking the Promise and “Obedience”

The “Promise”, which binds in conscience, occurs in a formal ritual and obliges members to a life leading to Christian perfection in the spirit of the Order and in the sphere of its works. Members must diligently observe the divine law and the precepts of the Church so as to be a constant example of piety and virtue, of apostolic zeal and of devotion to the Holy Church, and undertake to utilize their temporal goods according to the spirit of the Gospel.

“Obedience” means “It is not the person’s will, but God’s that should be followed at all times.” The Superiors of the Order are intermediaries in this sense. “Obedience towards God and his Word is at the center… The Superior can only play a role as an instrument…”


History of the Australian Subpriory of The Immaculate Conception

With the support of the then Grand Master Frà Andrew Bertie in 2006 and the guidance of the then Grand Commander, our current Grand Master Frà Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, the Australian Subpriory was established under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception to advance the spiritual development of the members of the Australian Association. Its statutes were established under the guidance of its then President, HE Confrere Antony J Macken, AM, Knight Grand Cross of Magistral Grace in Obedience. The first Regent of the Subpriory was HE The Honourable Confrere Sir James Gobbo, AC CVO KGCSG, Knight Grand Cross of Magistral Grace in Obedience. The Principal Chaplain of the Subpriory is Rev Professor Gerald O’Collins, SJ AC. Australia’s first Knight of Justice in Solemn Profession, the late Frà Professor Richard Divall, AO OBE was an active member of the Subpriory over many years. From its initial establishment with ten members in 2006, and approval of its statutes by the Grand Master on Australia Day, 2007, it has grown considerably with the ever deepening spirituality of the Australian Order.


 Inquiry about joining the Subpriory

The Subpriory welcomes inquiries from all Knights and Dames who have been members of the Order for approximately five years, become actively involved in its charitable works, and made pilgrimages sponsored by the Order of Malta with Malades to Lourdes or to another Marian shrine.

Approval of prospective members is a matter of judgment, made on a case by case basis, as to whether the individual is appropriate to pursue this vocation and become a member of the Subpriory. This judgment takes into account, among other things, the individual’s spiritual maturity, humility, understanding of the Order, level of participation in the works and activities of the Order and respect for and affinity with other members of the Subpriory.

The process for approval of commencement of a year of preparation for the Promise includes consideration and consent by the President of the Association, the individual’s parish priest, the Regent/Procurator and Council of the Subpriory, the Prelate of the Order, the Sovereign Council and the Grand Master.

If you are interested in this vocation within the Order, please contact Confrere David Kissane.

The Australian Association

The Australian Association, formed in 1974, currently has in excess of 300 members and aspirant members across every State and Territory of Australia. We also have ongoing and strong links with the Order’s National Associations throughout the Asia Pacific Region including in Singapore and the Philippines and with members of the Order in New Zealand, Hong Kong SAR, Thailand and Korea. The Order of Malta is committed to serving Our Lords the Poor and Sick worldwide and has done so for over 900 years. This website shares with you the history, mission and current activities of the Order of Malta in Australia, and provides links to the work of the Order world-wide.