Niagara University Professor Awarded by Order of Malta for Work with the Homeless in Toronto

by | Oct 3, 2017 | News

Dr. Christian Elia, an assistant professor of education at Niagara University’s campus in Ontario, was recently presented with the Order of Malta’s Bronze Medal, Order pro Merito Melitensib, in recognition of having conferred “honour and prestige on the Sovereign Military Order of Malta” through the Hunger Patrol program.

The award was conferred in Rome on June 24 on the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, and presented to Dr. Elia in Ottawa on Sept. 9.

Pictured, from left, are Andre Morin, president of the Canadian Association of the Order of Malta, Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, grand chancellor of the Order, and Dr. Christian Elia.

Dr. Elia, who is a member of the Canadian Association of the Order, with the rank of Knight of Magistral Grace, coordinates Hunger Patrol. The program entails the preparation and delivery of homemade soup every Saturday evening to the homeless and poor in three Toronto-area locations.

Dozens of men and women consume the soup, as well as bread and assorted pastries that are donated by an established bakery in Toronto’s Bloor West Village, which is home to Hunger Patrol’s operations. In addition to the soup and baked goods, dozens of sandwiches are also distributed, made caringly by two separate groups of developmentally disabled adults and adolescents.

The Hunger Patrol crew also dispenses new socks and underwear each week, in addition to donated pants, sweaters, hats, gloves and jackets, essentially anything that might be of use to people in need.

In accordance with Niagara University’s mission and in association with NU’s IMPACT program, preservice teachers have the opportunity to fulfill service requirements by volunteering with Hunger Patrol.

To learn more about how to participate in Hunger Patrol, please contact Dr. Elia at

“We congratulate Dr. Elia and thank him for developing a program that speaks to Niagara University’s Catholic and Vincentian identity,” said Dr. Chandra Foote, dean of the College of Education. “It is wonderful for our students to be able to earn practicum hours while serving individuals who are poor and marginalized with Dr. Elia and his confreres in the streets of Toronto.”

Niagara University’s College of Education offers undergraduategraduate, and doctoral programs. It holds Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation accreditation in the U.S., Ministerial Consent through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in the Province of Ontario, and accreditation through the Ontario College of Teachers.

Niagara University has had a strong presence in Ontario, Canada, for the past four decades, educating Canadian students both on its New York campus and at various sites in the greater Toronto region of Canada. To learn more, please visit

The Order of Malta is one of the oldest institutions in Western and Christian civilization, a lay religious order of the Catholic Church since 1113. It is neutral, impartial and apolitical, dedicated to the preservation of human dignity and the care of all those in need, regardless of their race or religion.