With the support of approximately 75 per cent of voting delegates, the International Order of Alhambra has elected Gerald K. Forster as its new supreme commander.
The order is a 100-year-old Catholic fraternal organization that is devoted to serving the mentally and cognitively challenged. It boasts more than 4,000 members throughout Canada, Mexico and the United States. These members donate thousands of dollars and volunteer hours each year to group homes, summer camps, community programs and other services designed to help the mentally and cognitively challenged.
The order held its bi-annual convention and election of officers in Lexington, Ky. Forster, who hails from Port Franks, Ont., is the first Canadian in recent memory to ascend to the fraternal order’s highest office.
The Alhambra’s work with the mentally and cognitively challenged has taken on personal significance for Forster – he and his wife Shelley are the parents of a special child.
Upon receiving news of his election, Forster was jubilant, while remaining focused. “You all know where I stand,” he told his fellow Alhambrans. “While I am honoured to accept this office, I want my term of office to be about our special brothers and sisters in Christ. They are the reason our organization exists.”
Forster’s predecessor, Edward Fiorella, was noted for his strong pro-life statements defending the human dignity of the mentally and cognitively challenged. In a follow-up interview with The Interim, Forster promised to continue Fiorella’s outspokenness on this issue.
“I may not be as eloquent as Eddie,” Forster stated, “but you know how this issue touches me personally. Increasingly, the culture of death is attempting to dehumanize the mentally challenged. I don’t like it and I will speak against it. I will do so as supreme commander of the International Order of Alahambra and I will do so as a Catholic and a father. Each morning, I experience the love and humanity of our special brothers and sisters when my daughter gives me a hug before I head off to work. And I experience it every evening when she kisses me goodnight.”
Forster then shared that membership would also be a major theme during his term as supreme commander.
“As the debate over euthanasia grows, we need more people in our organization who can stand up for the culture of life. We need more people who are willing to stand and affirm that our special brothers and sisters are just as human and just as deserving of life as you and me.”
Forster invited those interested in finding out more about the Order of Alhambra to visit the order’s website at or call 1-800-478-2946.