Many years ago, several hundred in fact, a certain group of saints was dedicated to serving Christians, doing good in and around the holy city of Jerusalem. The Knights Templars’ outlook was chivalrous, and their hearts were true, as they daily risked life and limb to serve their fellow man. These men were best known as the warriors of the Crusades, and protected pilgrims on the treacherous routes from their homes to the Holy City.
While this exact order is no longer in existence, and the mortal danger is past, there is still a group closely related, as far as their goals and outlook, and criteria for member acceptance.
The group consists of Christians, and is now called the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (SMOTJ). In the Bible, the New Testament instructs Christians to go into Jerusalem (their local community) for various reasons, including serving each other. While the Christians in that century were referring to the exact town of Jerusalem, this modern version of “Jerusalem” refers to wherever the local communities are. In the case of Marilyn Geery, her Jerusalem is St. Charles.
As the Prior X of St. Louis the Crusader, Geery has embodied this charge as she serves her community through the local SMOTJ. Specifically, she recently led her “knights and dames,” as they are called, in a service project designed to help people who are being served by emergency services. To accomplish this, they have provided a few hundred stuffed teddy bears to local police and firefighters, who then pass them along to anyone they are helping in an emergency situation. At first thought, one may assume that the bears would be given just to children. However, Geery learned early on that even elderly people appreciate the comfort a stuffed animal can bring.
One of the first times she donated teddy bears was to Christian Northeast Hospital, where her daughter, Jaclyn Kloecker, worked as a first responder. Geery had assumed that the bears were suitable just for children, but her daughter told her otherwise. Kloecker informed her mother that elderly people especially like having a teddy bear for comfort too, and so now, bears are donated with that in mind. Because the little animals were so well-received at her daughter’s workplace, she decided to provide teddy bears for the St. Charles City’s Police Department, Fire Department, and Ambulance District.
In the beginning, they purchased the bears in bulk from an online discount store, with the cost covered by the Knights’ preexisting budget, however, a “Silent Knight,” (an anonymous donor) took over the cost. To make sure the bears were clean, and stayed clean, Geery and her team processed each bear very carefully. Specifically, due to mite concerns, the bears were first laundered, and then frozen for a time. To denote who provided the bears, a tag was attached to each. After the bears were cleaned and tagged, they were individually polybagged. The result was about three hundred stuffed bears, ready for police and firefighters to give to anyone who may have found themselves in an accident, a fire, or any other myriad emergency situations.
As you can see, the Knights Templar have evolved quite a bit in their nine hundred years. From their dangerous journeys to Jerusalem, to serving people in traumatic situations, the Knights have always been ready to serve.