The first weekend in Lent, Feb. 15-17, offers opportunities to learn more about church past and present at events held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and the Holy Spirit Retreat Center in Encino.On Feb. 15, 5 p.m., a Mass commemorating the 900th anniversary of the Order of Malta, a lay religious order that provides medical, social and humanitarian aid in more than 110 countries, will take place at the Cathedral with Our Lady of the Angels Region Auxiliary Bishop Edward Clark presiding. The event includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Chapel No. 2 (inside the Cathedral near the bronze doors) for an exhibition of photographic images of the story of the Order dating back to 1113. Two historians from Minnesota will be present to lecture on the exhibition. For more information, contact Michael Grace at [email protected]. On Feb. 17, 5:45 p.m., Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio Diocese in South Sudan will attend a dinner and give a talk (RSVP required: 323-735-5220) at Holy Spirit Retreat Center about conditions facing Catholics in South Sudan, the newest country in Africa, which is in a period of post war re-construction.The author of “Reconciliation in the Sudan: A Springboard for Social Transformation,” Bishop Kussala will discuss the manifold needs of his diocese and efforts being made to address them. Diocesan challenges include advancing education for all ages, pastoral and spiritual formation to heal war-time traumas, development of job skills, conflict resolution/reconciliation methods, and training of seminarians and health care workers, to name just a few. During his stay in the Los Angeles area from Feb. 15-27, the bishop hopes to speak to as many parish groups as possible. He is booked to speak at St. Sebastian Church in Los Angeles on Feb. 26, 6:45 p.m. Sister of Social Service Deborah Lorentz is helping with his schedule. She can be reached at [email protected].