The International Strategic Seminar in Rhodes
Over 350 participants from all over the world
The Sovereign Order of Malta’s International Strategic Seminar was held from 12 to 17 February 2014. The five-yearly conference brought together the Order’s government, leaders of the national associations, ambassadors, diplomats, members of the Order and directors of the volunteer corps to discuss future strategies and the challenges to be faced. After Malta in 2004 and Venice in 2009, this year the meeting venue was Rhodes, so significant in the Order’s history as seat of the Grand Master and government for over 200 years from 1310 to 1523.
Divided into 15 “Working Groups”, over the four days some 350 participants discussed the Order’s mission as sovereign entity, its response to Pope Francis’ priorities and the selection and training of new members and volunteers. Other topics included the Order’s cultural identity, its mission to help the marginalized and excluded with a constant focus on the young, as the Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing recalled in his opening speech. “We are at a turning point in our history; we have to connect our historic mission with the needs and hallmarks of the modern world,” the Grand Master said, expressing the hope for an increasing involvement of the young in the Order’s life.
There were many opportunities for prayer during the event, that culminated with a guided visit of the old town of Rhodes, followed by a procession and closing mass in the church of St. Francis of Assisi.