Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem
Priory of St. Michael & St. George

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History of the Priory of St. Michael & St. George

What is known now as the Priory of St. Michael & St. George in New York City was originally established as the Priory of Greater New York, New Jersey and New England on Sunday, 19 January 1964, and bore the name Priory of St. George of New York. This was done at a Grand Convent held at the home of Chevalier John D. Leet in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. At the time, there were a total of 19 members of the Grand Priory of the United States, with 13 of them then in the new Priory of New York. Chev. Eugene A. Gatterdam III was named the first Prior of the Priory of St. George at New York. At that time, he named the first officers of the Priory.

The Priory grew to thirty-three members within three years, and had become informally active, meeting in the homes of the Prior and other members. In 1966, Grand Prior Sir William Young Pryor appointed the Grand Secretary, F. Daniel LeVert Coleman as the Prior of St. George at New York. The Prior and Officers were formally elected in November at the 7th Regiment Armory on Park Avenue, where future meetings were also held. In the following years, the Priory continued to grow, and within two years reached 87 members.


The Priory of St. Michael & St. George held a joint Convent with the Priory of St. Patrick (led by Hon. Andrew O'Rourke, later Grand Prior) on board the museum carrier USS Intrepid. RADM O'Rourke had run for governor of New York State, and his adversary, Gov. Mario Cuomo also joined in the festivities. At this Convent, His Imperial Highness Prince Ali Reza Pahlavi, the younger son of the Shah of Iran, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, was received into the SMOTJ Order of Merit, and was made a Companion of the Priory of St. Michael & St. George.


New Priories

The Priory of St. Michael & St. George is responsible for establishing two new priories. The Priory of St. George was established as a Commandery, then elevated to Priory, in New Jersey by Chev Alan Moore, GCTJ, who was the time the Assistant Prior and Treasurer. The Priory of St. James was established in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (originally established as a Commandery under the jurisdiction of St. Michael & St. George, with Chev. Dr. James Anthony Bartholomew Drury, GOTJ, at the helm).


Local and International Charities

The Northern Dispensary, a dental clinic located in Greenwich Village, became the primary charity of the Priory. While Chev. Edumnd Voyer GCTJ, GMTJ, was Prior, The Northern Dispensary closed, and a retreat for troubled youths, Halfway House, became a major beneficiary. At this time the Rev. Dr. Tom Pike joined the Priory.


The Bentley Trust is a legacy left to the Priory of St. Michael and St. George by the late Dame Charlotte Fowler Bentley, DGCTJ. She was the widow of Past Prior, Col. Chev. Robert A. L. Bentley, GCTJ, and a long-time benefactor of the Priory. Dame Charlotte died the 24th of June 2001, and in her will established a fund, from which the annual proceeds are to be used for the charitable purposes of the Priory. The Bentleys were members of numerous social organizations and gave generously of their time, talent and resources. The Priory of St. Michael and St. George was fortunate to have had these two remarkable people as members, leaders and friends. Their philanthropic efforts have positively impacted many lives.


For several years, the Priory contributed to the Knickerbocker Greys, an organization founded in 1881 , and is the oldest after school activity for boys and girls ages 6 to 16. Cadets undergo a series of experiences over the years that build leadership, self esteem, character, confidence, social skills, etiquette, patience, empathy, perseverance, enthusiasm, public speaking, and problem solving, The Leo House, a Roman Catholic short-term dormitory residence providing reasonable accommodations for visitors to New York City, has also been a recipient of the Priory.


In recent years, the Priory has had the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem as its major international charity. The American Friends is a non-profit, non-political partnership nurturing the church in the Holy Land. Their efforts support the work of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in two major hospitals, several schools, 29 parishes and 35 service organizations in Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, an area of 121,000 square miles.


United Nations

The Grand Priory, early on, was actively seeking opportunities such as creating an embassy in Jerusalem, having its own passport, and even acquiring territory. One successful venture was having the SMOTJ being recognized with Observer Status at the United Nations. Official United Nations Observer Status followed a period where the Grand Priory, under the efforts of the Priory of St. Michael & St. George in New York, and the Priory of St. Charles, King and Martyr in Washington, offered consultative services to the United Nations. Subsequent to Observer Status being recognized, two members of the Priory of St. Michael & St. George were appointed as Ambassadorial Observers: Michael Harrison Charles, GCTJ, and CDR John F. V Cupschalk, GOTJ. The Priory also hosted two SMOTJ Observers to the United Nations from the Danish Knights Templars, who provided a provocative talk on the work the International Order was playing in the Holy Land.


The Priory of St. Michael & St. George Today

In recent years, the Priory has held its annual Festive Dinner at the famed Le Cirque restaurant in New York City. The white-tie dinner is the not only the social highlight of the year, but also the Priory's main fund raiser. Previous venues for this event have been held at Social Register Clubs, including The Colony Club, River Club, Penn Club, Princeton Club and Women's National Republican Club.


In its twentieth-sixth year, the Priory of St. Michael & St. George registered its Coat of Arms with the Grand Herald. The Priory's Herald, Charles Tingley, KTJ, designed it. The description: Argent a cross gules over all a flaming sword or, in the first quarter the arms of a windmill without sails proper. (A white shield with the red cross of St. George upon which is the golden flaming sword of St. Michael. In the upper left the arms of a windmill in brown from the coat of arms of New York City.)


Priors of the Priory of St. Michael & St. George at the Semicentennial of the Grand Priory

Prior I      1964 - 1968     Eugene Gatterdam

Prior II     1968 - 1972     F. Daniel LeVert Coleman, GCTJ, GMTJ

Prior III    1972 - 1976     Thomas Darlington GCTJ, GMTJ

Prior IV    1976 - 1980     Col. Robert L. Bentley GCTJ

Prior V     1980 – 1983    Edward A. Gillespie, GCTJ

Prior VI    1983 - 1987     Hamilton R. Wager, GCTJ

Prior VII   1987 – 1994     Col. H. Harding Isaacson, GCTJ

Prior VIII  1994 - 1996     Robert E. Gorman, GCTJ

Prior IX    1996 - 2004    Edmund Voyer GCTJ, GMTJ

Prior X     2004 - 2007   Michael Harrison Charles, GCTJ

Prior XI    2007 - 2009   W. Michael Margolin, GCTJ

Prior XII   2009 - 2011    Thomas D. Halket, Esq., GOTJ

Prior XIII  2011 - 2014     CDR John F. V. Cupschalk, GOTJ

Prior XIV  2014 -           Stephen J. Storen, GOTJ