THE ORDER of ST. NICHOLAS
“As faithful stewards, we give back to God a portion of His gifts to us to insure the support of the programs and projects that serve the people of our Melkite Diocese and others.”
Purpose and History
The Order of St. Nicholas was created in 1991 by the late Bishop Ignatius Ghattas. In 1980, his predecessor, Archbishop Joseph Tawil, established its now dissolved forerunner organization, the St. Nicholas Guild. In 1997, under the leadership of Bishop John A. Elya, the Order of St. Nicholas re-established itself officially as an unincorporated auxiliary of the Diocese of Newton, a non-profit corporation under the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. While our purposes are exclusively charitable, religious, and educational, the specific role of The Order of St. Nicholas is to help create and sustain an environment where our members are acutely aware of their faith, where service and stewardship are at the core of all activity, and where unity and harmony become the essence of our behavior. An elected Board of Governors and Officers directs and administers the activities of the Order under its own Constitution and Bylaws. For administrative ease, the national headquarters of the Order is located within the city where the presiding National Chairman resides while the treasury remains permanently located at the Diocesan Chancery, located in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Regional and local chapters of the Order are established in designated cities throughout the United States.
Individuals who are invested in the Eparchial Order of St. Nicholas are receiving one of the highest honors that can be bestowed by the Bishop of Newton and the Melkite-Greek Catholic Church in the United States. They are being receive into an order dedicated exclusively to the charitable, religious and educational needs of the Melkite Diocese of Newton. By providing the necessary financial, spiritual and social support, the Order of St. Nicholas helps to strengthen the Diocese in its spiritual and developmental efforts by promoting and expanding the Melkite Catholic influence throughout the United States. An invitation to become a member of the Order of St. Nicholas is very carefully considered and is directed only to those of exemplary character and ability who share the Order’s devotion to the needs of the Eparchy. Wearing the medallion of its patron, St. Nicholas of Myra, represents an obligation to serve faithfully on the part of each member.
Membership in the Order is open to all who may qualify under its rules and requires the submission of an application and payment of annual dues as set forth periodically by the Board of Governors. Currently, there are two membership classifications, Individual and Family, as set forth by the Bylaws. Members meet annually to elect new Board members.
The Projects Committee, in cooperation with the needs of our Diocesan Chancery and Office of Economos, determines annually which activities are to receive funds from the Order. The committee meets several times each year for consideration of projects to be included in the Order’s annual budget. Progress reports and general information is sent to all members through its official newsletter, Wonderworks.
Participation of Clergy and the Laity
Under the Constitution and Bylaws of the Order, the Eparch (the Greek word for “Bishop”) appoints several members of the clergy to serve on the Board. The Eparch, as Grand Protector and National Spiritual Advisor, appoints his Personal Representative to sit on the Board in the position of Grand Advisor. The remaining clergy appointees include priests who serve as Regional Chaplains and the Diocesan Economos who serves as Treasurer of the Order.
Standards of the Order of St. Nicholas
At the very heart of our Order is the lay membership. According to our Constitution and Bylaws, our membership is composed from the Diocesan faithful and others who share similar concerns and who qualify under the rules and regulations of the Order of St. Nicholas. Our membership therefore, is not only representative of a group of devoted and talented individuals from within the Catholic community and our nation’s borders, but may also reflect the presence and participation of a diversity of individuals. While the mission and scope of the Order of St. Nicholas is broadly defined, its noble purpose can be summed up in two simple words – “good works”! Therefore, it is by no means coincidental that the nickname of our venerated patron, St. Nicholas of Myra, is translated to mean “Wonderworker.” Our Constitution encourages the Order and all of its members to:
- adopt an attitude and lifestyle of Christian stewardship;
- promote the interests and welfare of the sick and needy;
- contribute time, talent and treasure to approved Diocesan agencies and institutions established to promote the welfare of the unfortunate;
- advance and promote existing projects and help create new ones devoted to helping the Melkite Eparchy in meeting its spiritual, temporal and humanitarian needs.
Criteria for Admission
The Membership of the Order shall be composed from the Diocesan faithful and others who share similar concerns and who qualify under the rules of the Order governing Membership and Membership Status. All persons who complete an application for Membership and satisfy the requirements of a category and classification of Membership shall automatically become a Member of the Order. Such person shall be entitled to Active Membership so long as he or she continues to satisfy the respective category and classification requirements.
Responsibilities of Members
Since the founding mission of our Order is to support the good works of our Melkite Catholic Eparchy, it is expected that all members will continue this tradition as their individual circumstances dictate by engaging in the following activities:
- Payment of the prescribed dues and contributions.
- Attendance at meetings of the Order, both social and religious, as their schedule permits.
- Volunteer service to the Order’s projects in their areas.
- Anonymous support of the needy in their parishes.
- Make every attempt to influence by example other like minded individuals to apply for membership in the Order.
In summary, the combination of our purpose and tradition, our requirements and responsibilities as listed above, and the moral humanitarian excellence symbolized by the St. Nicholas of Myra insignia that we proudly carry, together constitute the standards for admission that we are all expected to follow.
Investiture, Contributions and Dues
All new members are automatically invested into the Order upon notice of satisfactory receipt of application and admittance by the Diocesan Chancery and Office of the Economos. Dues are accessed to all members annually to sustain the projects and services that the Diocese provides. Formal investiture services are conducted at the National Melkite Convention and local parishes, at which time new members receive the official emblems of the Order.