Building the Domestic Church
In his recent apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis asks, “Who is making an effort to strengthen marriages, to help married couples overcome their problems, to assist them in the work of raising children and, in general, to encourage the stability of the marriage bond?”*
We answer: “The Knights of Columbus.”
Because the light of faith is first transmitted within the family and nurtured in the parish, we have started programs to strengthen both our families and our parishes. These programs give everyone, especially young fathers, the tools they need to bring their families closer together and closer to God. They are also concrete ways in which we can reach out and accompany wounded families.
At our last Supreme Convention, we launched the Holy Family Prayer Program, which features a beautiful image of the Holy Family. In every jurisdiction, Knights have brought this program into their parishes. To date, more than 1,310,000 participants have attended 6,859 prayer services through our Holy Family Prayer Program.
Our Building the Domestic Church: The Family Fully Alive program includes monthly themes, meditations, Scripture readings and activities for the whole family. It is a program for all families, but it is designed especially for young families. It can help families that need new ways to bring the light of the Gospel into their homes.
Our Consecration to the Holy Family will strengthen families spiritually by inviting Jesus, Mary and Joseph into their homes. Our supreme chaplain has written An Act of Consecration to the Holy Family, which I encourage every Knights of Columbus council and family to embrace. And I encourage our councils to make this prayer available at every parish.
Imagine millions of Catholic families consecrated to the Holy Family leading a new evangelization of family life!
Last November, we announced another new initiative: Building the Domestic Church While Strengthening Our Parish. It combines two great traditions of the Knights of Columbus: building up Catholic family life and strengthening parish life.
Our councils thrive within the parish, and every parish can be strengthened by the work of a Knights of Columbus council. Within the parish, we can be a leaven and a witness.
With our thousands of parish-based councils, it is time that the Knights of Columbus step up and be a dynamic engine within the parish that promotes Catholic family life and new charitable initiatives, and that calls Catholic men to greater spiritual formation and evangelical action.
And these programs will do one more thing: They will help make our parishes more family friendly, especially for young families. I ask each of you to take to heart our responsibility as leaders of the most important Catholic men’s organization in the world. What we do in our families and parishes will change the history of the Catholic Church in our communities and help to ensure its future.
The strong right arm of the Catholic Church must also be the strong right arm of the parish church.
Today, this is what it means to be a light to the nations.
When a bishop or pastor looks for a men’s organization to help him revitalize his parish, he should always look first to the Knights of Columbus, because we are men who witness to our faith and bring with us programs designed to strengthen our families and our parishes. We seek a new alignment between our councils and our parishes, one that will strengthen them both.
As we align councils more closely with our parishes, the board of directors has concluded that parishes are best suited to charter Boy Scout troops. Councils are strongly encouraged to continue their volunteer and financial support for Scout troops under the sponsorship of the parish and with the guidance of their pastors.
Councils with an active Columbian Squires circle should discuss with their pastors how Squires’activities can be better integrated into the parish’s youth ministry.
Active Squires circles will continue to be supported from the Supreme Council office and should continue helping to form young men in their faith and the principles of our Order. However, our primary focus should be on integration with our parishes and their youth programs. Thus, new circles should not be formed, and inactive circles should be disbanded.
Before the end of this summer, I would ask that every grand knight meet with his pastor to discuss how his council can better support parish-based activities – including youth ministry – and how our Domestic Church programs can be put at the service of every parish.
*. Pope Francis. Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Apostolic Exhortation (Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2016), 42.