JCU Trustee Fra' John T. Dunlap Elected Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta

John Cabot University Trustee Fra’ John T. Dunlap was elected Prince and 81st Grand Master of the Order of Malta, on May 3, 2023. Fra’ Dunlap is the first Professed Knight from North America to be elected Grand Master, a role he will hold for the next 10 years. He was elected by the Council Complete of State with an absolute majority of votes.

Founded in 1048 in Jerusalem to provide medical aid for pilgrims in the Holy Land, the Order of Malta is a lay religious order of the Catholic Church and at the same time a subject of international law.

From left: President Pavoncello and Fra' John T. Dunlap

From left: President Pavoncello and Fra’ John T. Dunlap at the 2018 Commencement Ceremony

Originally from Ottawa, Canada, Fra’ Dunlap studied at the University of Nice and graduated from the University of Ottawa. He then obtained a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Western Ontario. A member of the JCU Board of Trustees since 2003, Fra’ Dunlap was awarded the degree of Doctor of Public Service, honoris causa, by John Cabot University at the 2018 Commencement ceremony for his dedication to the improvement of the living conditions of the poor and underprivileged.

Fra’ Dunlap is a member of the New York State Bar and the Ontario Bar Association in Canada. In 1986, he joined the New York legal firm Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller, LLP, in New York City, becoming a partner in 1993 and specializing in corporate and immigration law. An internationally respected lawyer, since 1997 he has been legal advisor to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.

Fra’ Dunlap approached the Order of Malta and found his religious vocation in the mid-1980s during his volunteer work with patients suffering from AIDS and other diseases at the Cardinal Cooke Medical Center in Harlem, New York. Deeply dedicated to charity and helping the needy, in 1996 Fra’ Dunlap joined the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which oversees hundreds of hospitals in some of the poorest countries of the world.

In 2008, he took his Solemn Vows as Professed Knight, the first in the American Association of the Order to be given the title of Fra’, an abbreviation for the Latin word frater meaning brother. In 2009, Fra’ Dunlap was elected to the Order’s Sovereign Council. For over a decade he has served the Order of Malta as chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Names and Emblems and representative to the Alliance of the Orders of St John. In June 2022, he was appointed Lieutenant of the Grand Master.

According to its Constitution, the Grand Master is the head of the Order, and he has its prerogatives and sovereign honors as well as the title of Most Eminent Highness. It is up to the Grand Master, together with the Sovereign Council, to issue legislative measures not envisaged by the Constitutional Charter, to promulgate acts of government, and ratify international accords. He administrates, through the Receiver of the Common Treasure, the assets of the Order and convenes the Chapter of the Professed and the General Chapter.

The States with which the Sovereign Military Order of Malta entertains diplomatic relations recognize to the Grand Master the prerogatives, immunities, and honors befitting Heads of State.

Says JCU President Franco Pavoncello, “For the past 20 years Fra’ John T. Dunlap has been a voice of wisdom, friendship, and compassion in the John Cabot University’s Board of Trustees.  Fra’ John’s elevation to the rank of Grand Master is the crowning of a lifetime dedicated to helping those in need.  He is an inspiration for all of us at John Cabot University, and we wish him every success in his new role.”