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Knights Help Young Men Grow in Faith at World Youth Day


By Andrew Fowler
Kim and Drew Dillingham

Kim and Drew Dillingham

Knights of Columbus members were some of the hundreds of thousands pilgrims that journeyed to Panama to participate in World Youth Day, an international event organized by the Catholic Church to allow young people from around the world to join together and celebrate their Catholic faith.

One traveled from Nevada with his diocesan group. Another journeyed from Washington, D.C. with his wife and baby daughter, while two more organized pilgrims that came from just outside the Beltway. One more trekked with a mission organization from Texas.

The young Knights in Panama, along with thousands of other pilgrims, attended “Fiat,” a two-part festival event on Jan. 23 at the Figali Convention Center co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus where popular Catholic speakers discussed ways about becoming servants to Christ. The Knights of Columbus has promoted and sponsored events at World Youth Day since the early 1990s.

Daniel Lang of Council 16207 at the University of Nevada, was one of those in attendance at “Fiat.” He traveled with a group from the Diocese of Reno as the council’s representative. His brother Knights had helped him fundraise for the trip, a trip they knew would help him on his vocational path.

Lang is discerning the priesthood or religious life, and his council “recognized that. They wanted this for me because they knew this could help me.”

Marvin Padilla and Max Korzan

Marvin Padilla and Max Korzan

Lang joined the Knights of Columbus at age 18 after noticing the Order’s involvement within his parish.

“I think you should become a Knight because it is a community of Catholic men which is sometimes hard to find in your age group,” said Lang. “For me, no matter what city I go to … I find people who are like me and share the same values of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.”

Lang was one of the many pilgrims who got to hear from Drew Dillingham, a Knight who spoke at World Youth Day, along with his wife, Kim.

Dillingham first met Kim met at the opening of the St. John Paul II National Shrine, a Knights of Columbus initiative, in Washington, D.C. From then, they began dating, while putting Christ at the center of their relationship. That has carried on into their vocation to marriage and raising their 9-month old daughter.

“I wanted to get up there and share with men that marriage will bring you joy,” said Dillingham. “God calls us to be fruitful and multiply and if we say yes to that, he will bring all of that and more to your lives through your children.”

He and Kim called upon the pilgrims to “Ask not what your Church can do for you, but what you can do for your Church.” Dillingham sees the Knights among the lay group at the forefront of serving the Church.

“When I think of Church institutions that are doing the most to evangelize lives, Knights and FOCUS are at the top of the list,” said Dillingham. “I would encourage everyone to learn more about them and to get involved in the organizations.”

Marcus James (center in blue) with other pilgrims, with Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston and Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron.

Two young Knights, Marvin Padilla and Max Korzan led a group from the Washington D.C. and Maryland areas to the gathering in Panama. Korzan sparked interest in the trip through an announcement at Evenings with Merciful Jesus, a young adult event held at the St. John Paul II National Shrine.

Padilla was impressed by how “Fiat” brought together not just young adults, but everyone, so they could become “strong with the faith.”

Both Padilla and Korzan expressed that what differentiates the Knights of Columbus from other Catholic groups is the fraternity.

“I’m now realizing, thanks to the Knights of Columbus, what it really means to be a man, what it means to be Catholic and to take part in that,” said Korzan. “As soon as you start digging, you realize just how much they do and how important the Order is.”

While the Knights in D.C. were organizing their pilgrimage, College Knight Marcus James signed up to volunteer at “Fiat” and to participate in a mission trip leading up to it. The week before World Youth Day, the college Knight from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, traveled with a FOCUS group to El Guabo in the northern part of Panama.

Forty families welcomed the group into El Guabo with celebratory fireworks. The residents of El Guabo can go months without a priest, so missionary volunteers, like James, play an important role.

But it’s groups like the Knights that inspire such missionaries.

“If it weren’t for the Knights, I probably wouldn’t be on this mission right now,” said James.

When his group arrived in Panama City to prepare for “Fiat,” James was told that he and his mission group would be participating in the central ceremony of the event: Eucharistic adoration. James was selected to be an altar server for the procession around the Figali Convention Center.

“To be able to bring Christ among his people like that and to see their reactions, the multitude of people that were there, it was awesome,” said James.

In moments such as participating in the Eucharistic adoration, James described the Knights as a tangible way for men to put their faith into action.

“Men want to give a part of themselves to the Church but a lot of them haven’t really figured out how. I think the Knights fill that role,” said James.

To put your faith into action, join the Knights. Click here.

Share your story with andrew.fowler@kofc.org