Our Vocation to Fraternity
Approximately 2,000 Knights and their families, representing K of C jurisdictions from throughout the world, gathered in Orlando Aug. 5-7 for the 132nd Supreme Convention. More than 80 members of the hierarchy, including eight cardinals, and some 120 priests concelebrated the opening Mass, and the events that followed bore witness to the Order’s principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.
The theme of the meeting “You Will All Be Brothers: Our Vocation to Fraternity” was inspired by Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Peace Jan. 1. In that message, the pope observed, “The family is the wellspring of all fraternity, and as such it is the foundation and the first pathway to peace.” Noting the responsibility of Christians to serve those in need, he added, “Service is the soul of that fraternity that builds up peace.”
Such a message should find a welcome audience with Knights, whose first principle is charity and who recognize the importance of building up the Christian family for the health of the Church and society. The greetings that the Holy Father sent to the convention via the Vatican secretary of state reflected still further on this theme in light of the Knights’ mission.
In his annual report, delivered during the opening business session Aug. 5, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson noted, “Our charitable activity is all the more effective because it is supported by our fraternal brotherhood.” He reported that the Order now counts more than 1.85 million members and has set a new record in charitable contributions, with over $170 million and 70.5 million hours of voluntary service given during 2013. He likewise discussed the growth and strength of Knights of Columbus Insurance, which is protecting more Catholic families than ever before.
The meeting underscored various charitable initiatives, including the prompt relief provided by the Order following natural disasters in the Philippines and North America, the continued success of the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative and other programs, and a new partnership supporting wounded veterans.
Also discussed at the meeting was the Knights’ new family initiative, titled “Building the Domestic Church: The Family Fully Alive,” which kicks off this month in anticipation of the Synod of Bishops on the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization. The program, discussed in recent issues of Columbia, was a primary topic during a meeting of K of C chaplains that preceded the convention.
The themes of fraternity and unity were particularly evident during the annual States Dinner, as Knights and guests celebrated their unity of mission amid the diversity of jurisdictions. Following the annual awards session the next day, participants gathered for a film screening and prayer service celebrating the recent canonization of St. John Paul II and the significance of his teachings for the universal Church.
As the Knights’ membership continues to grow, several milestones were highlighted during the meeting as well. In addition to growth in Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania, the supreme knight announced the Order’s expansion to South Korea, the establishment of a fifth jurisdiction in Mexico and the growth of the Texas State Council to become the only North American jurisdiction to surpass 100,000 members.
From board resolutions affirming the centrality of religious liberty, the culture of life and the institution of marriage, to special awards recognizing outstanding service to the Order, the 132nd Supreme Convention encouraged all Knights to be steadfast in their mission of service to the Church and society.