Self-proclaimed “history nerd” James Lu is Australia’s newest knight, having made an oath to serve the poor and disadvantaged as a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The 27-year-old accounting professional and parishioner at St Michael’s church in Belfield said his admittance to the ancient order “just felt right” and aligned perfectly with his vocation as a lay Dominican and his heart for Christians who are suffering war and deprivation in the Holy Land.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, the Grand Prior of the order in Australia, invested Lu into knighthood in a short but evocative ceremony at the beginning of Mass for the feast of Christ the King at St Mary’s Cathedral on 26 November.
Before his friends, members of the order and its chaplains, Lu promised to keep Jesus Christ at the centre of his life, and to bring hope and peace to the world and particularly to the Holy Land, with a special focus on the poor and disadvantaged there.
“Being in the order I’m keenly aware of the suffering of Christians in the Holy Land and the need of for us to redouble our efforts to support them, who are now facing some of the darkest days of their lives,” he told The Catholic Weekly afterwards, describing his investiture as “very profound and moving.”
Lu first learned about the order as a teenage altar server at St Mary’s during a previous investiture ceremony when a friend became a member.
“While is not a crusader order, the thought of being part of an organisation that traces its lineage from the early crusaders was something for me that was quite extraordinary,” he said.
“The thought that my membership in it would mean that I would be in no small way helping support the continued Christian presence in the Holy Land was something that was quite profound to think about.
“I thought and prayed about it and went to a few meetings as an aspirant and it was very clear to me that this was something I definitely wanted to be part of.”
The lay-led order includes both men and women, laity and priests, and is devoted to sustaining the spiritual, charitable, and cultural works of the church in the Holy Land, as well as preserving its holy sites.
Justice François Kunc, the New South Wales Lieutenant of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, told The Catholic Weekly that he was impressed by Lu’s dedication to his Catholic faith.
“He is a devout young Catholic man who swims against the tide of most 20-something young men because he actually practices his faith and wishes to become a faith leader by example,” he said.
“That’s exactly what we look for in the order, because its first task is to foster a life-long commitment in its members to a particular religious expression of their Catholic Christianity.
“Above all else the charism is to live out the Catholic life in a specific way because of the special connection that we have to the Holy Land and to the Holy Sepulchre.
“While there’s no single cookie cutter sort of mould, James is already well formed in the ways of prayer, spirituality and theology and that makes him one of the kinds of people we’d very much want to have as members of the order.”