Order of St. Lazarus: Commandery of the Southwest Crest


  • Houston, TX


  • Colorado
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas

The Grand Commandery of the Southwest supports not only the International programs sponsored by the Grand Priory but also its own local charitable programs. These activities are as far reaching and diverse as our members.

In support of the Order’s International programs as sponsored by the Grand Priory, the Southwest Commandery has assisted the leprosy clinics in Mexico. John Thoma, KLJ, led a group in 2007 to the clinics located in the cities of Irapuato and Morelia, in order to deliver clothes and medical supplies. The following year, our Commandery gathered supplies for another delivery to the clinics in Mexico only to have these efforts thwarted by Hurricane Ike. John was able to align the Commandery with Medical Bridges, an organization that redistributes surplus medical supplies to those in need. Medical Bridges helped us relocate and deliver the promised supplies to Mexico.

Led by the efforts of John Thoma, our Commandery has helped to build a library, soccer field, and furnish a clinic in the border town of Piedras Negras, Mexico.  Since 2010, well over $100,000 of medical and dental equipment has been donated to the clinic through the efforts of John as well as Chari Hust, DLJ, who recognized the need and sought the donations from doctors who were transitioning their practices.

In 2008 the Grand Priory completed a commitment to St. Lazarus House a nonprofit organization located in Houston that provides a complete, low-cost program of wellness in a comfortable, non-clinical environment for chronically ill clients suffering from disease related to wasting syndrome or cachexia. The donation was to be used for refurbishing and remodeling their facilities.

The Center for Hearing and Speech (CHS) is the only full-service resource in Houston, and one of only two in Texas, that teaches children with mild to profound hearing loss to speak rather than use sign language. The Grand Priory supports this organization and its advanced technology.

As a Commandery we are involved in the support of the Covenant House of Texas which operates as part of an International network to help kids in crisis. Through its residential programs, community services and outreach efforts, Covenant House strives to keep young people off the streets. Its mission is based on faith and the belief that all children and youth have a right to love, respect and genuine concern. We have supported this Christian organization as a group by donating funds to equip an onsite laboratory, and additional funding has been donated to help support the dental needs of its residents. Additionally many of our members are actively involved as healthcare providers, board members, mentors and fund raisers for Covenant House of Texas.

Following the leadership of the Grand Priory of America, our Commandery has offered strong financial support to our local Hansen’s disease facility. While not widespread, this treatable disease, Leprosy, has infected many citizens in southeast Texas. The local clinic, staffed by a full-time nurse and 2 volunteer doctors, regularly treats 60-90 patients, and our funds help to get these patients to their treatment so that they can cure the disease.

Donate Life, a main organization promoting organ donation, held its biennial Transplant Games in Houston in 2014. This is an Olympic-style event of various games and events whereby organ recipients and donor families come together to celebrate the gift of life. Our Commandery bought and distributed T Shirts that promoted organ donation, and more than 20 of our members participated in the proceedings and in the opening ceremonies.

This year, we gave a generous donation to the PTSD Foundation of America in support of its Camp Hope. This facility provides interim housing for veterans and their families suffering from combat-related post traumatic stress disorder.

There are many U.S. based organizations that are supported by individual members of the Grand Commandery of the Southwest of which some are listed below:

  • Holly Hall Retirement Community
  • Houston Aphasia Recovery Center
  • The Brookwood Community
  • Camp Allen
  • Laity Lodge – Laity Renewal Foundation
  • Trinity School for Ministry
  • Ronald McDonald House

If you would like any additional information on the activities of our Commandery, please contact us, and we would be glad to share our resources and get you involved!

The Commandery of the Southwest was started in the mid 1970’s under the leadership of Harris Masterson III. Harry was introduced to the Order by friends in New Orleans, Louisiana, and he quickly established the Southwest Commandery based in Houston.

In 1975 Harry recruited Gene Loveland, David Garrison and Bob Woolfolk among others to join the Southwest Commandery with Bruce Harrington and Dick Stasney soon to follow.

The early members of the Commandery are responsible for our involvement in Covenant House of Texas, the leprosy clinics in Mexico and The Center for Hearing and Speech (CHS) here in Houston. The founding members purchased a house and had it moved to the CHS property in order to teach life skills to those participating in the program. This gift to CHS continues to impact the teaching program today.

When Harry stepped down as the Commander, he asked David Garrison to take the helm. Since then the Commandery of the Southwest has been lead by Gene Loveland, Bruce Harrington, Dick Stasney, Tom Knudson and Frank McWilliams.

The spirit of charity and volunteerism that brought our founding members together in the 1970’s still exists and is the driving force behind our Commandery today.

The Southwest Commandery holds meetings at homes of our members several times a year. One of the more popular events coincides with the Kentucky Derby which adds a bit of fun for the members and is often accompanied by a donation to a local charity. Our donations have been in support of the Hansen’s Disease team, Covenant House Texas, or other charity that is of interest to our members.

In early December, we celebrate St. Lazarus Day with a special service at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church and dinner afterward at either River Oaks or Houston Country Club. This meeting always affords us a chance to review our past year’s activities as we look forward new endeavors where we may best serve our community and humanity.