Knights of Columbus Supports
For the third consecutive year, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson joined nearly 200 military veterans, active service personnel and volunteers sponsored through the Archdiocese for the Military Services and Knights of Columbus during the 57th International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, May 15-18.
Prior to the start of the international ceremonies, the American pilgrims were welcomed at a Mass celebrated on Thursday, May 14, at the shrine’s Rosary Basilica. In his homily, Bishop F. Richard Spencer, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Military Services and the episcopal vicar for Europe and Asia, shared the significance of the pilgrimage site which has been “a place of pilgrimage for over a hundred years.”
He asked the pilgrims, many of whom were wounded after serving in combat and military duty, to continue to “heed our Blessed Mother's call to conversion of heart so that the world might be a better place for all.”
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson expressed similar sentiments in an address to this year’s pilgrims, as he encouraged the pilgrims to “prayerfully seek God through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, the celebration of the sacraments and fellowship with military personnel from countries throughout the world.
“Our commitment to veterans and active-duty military personnel has never wavered,” Supreme Knight Anderson continued. “We not only provide spiritual support and catechesis to members of our Armed Services, but we also offer scholarship programs for seminarians who will serve as military chaplains. Beginning in 2014, the Knights of Columbus partnered with the Gary Sinise Foundation to help provide custom-built homes for severely wounded veterans. In addition, countless individual Knights volunteer their time to Veterans Affairs Voluntary Services programs throughout the country.”
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services was the homilist and main celebrant for Friday’s Mass welcoming the international pilgrims. The archbishop was accompanied by several military chaplains, including eight Catholic priests, to further meet the spiritual needs of the pilgrims.
Following the opening Mass, the American pilgrims and volunteer joined veterans from other countries at various ceremonies, prayer services, military band concerts and processions. Among the Knights of Columbus volunteers were Supreme Master Dennis Stoddard and Assistant to the Supreme Knight for Military and Veterans Affairs Col. Chuck Gallina.
The pilgrimage is the latest chapter in the Order’s long history of providing hospitality and spiritual resources for military members. During the First World War, the Knights of Columbus Army Hut program assisted members of the military throughout Europe. Immediately following the end of the war, the Order organized the first-ever international military pilgrimage to the Marian shrine at Lourdes.
Since then, the Knights have helped sponsor war relief activities and programs for veterans.