Practicing a Charity That Evangelizes
The supreme knight and supreme chaplain emphasize the Knights’ example of service to those in need
The call for Knights of Columbus to practice a charity that evangelizes was the message that Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori brought to state deputies and state deputy-elects through their addresses to the 2015 Organizational Meeting of State Deputies.
Along with announcing the record-setting results of the 2014 Fraternal Survey, Supreme Knight Anderson described some of the challenges faced by the Knights of Columbus and the world over the past 14 years, including the tragedy of 9/11, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina and the recent recession.
“In spite of this, we have continued to grow in membership, in insurance, in charitable donations and in volunteer hours,” he said. “We — like all organizations — have challenges, but the bottom line is we need to overcome these challenges, we need to continue to grow the Order, we need to advance. When Pope Francis comes to the United States in September he will be canonizing Blessed Junípero Serra. Blessed Junípero Serra’s motto was ‘Always forward, never back.’ I think that is a good motto for state deputies.”
Supreme Knight Anderson also emphasized that local councils must continue to be pushed to strive for Star Council status, an achievement which ensures membership, insurance and charitable growth. At a minimum, he stated, 25 percent of all councils in each jurisdiction should earn Star Council status. Also discussed were various new materials — such as the 10 Steps to Recruiting Success brochure, a manual on membership growth, and a revised Membership Form (#100) — that will be sent to councils in July.
Additionally, because of the current threats to marriage and family, Supreme Knight Anderson said that programs like “Building the Domestic Church: The Family Fully Alive” and the Order’s Ultrasound initiative are now more important than ever.
“We need to win hearts and minds, one person, one family, one community at a time. That is why the Knights of Columbus is so potentially powerful — when people see the good we do, the charity that evangelizes, they see the positive influence of the Catholic faith,” he said.
In his address, Archbishop Lori spoke of the challenges the Archdiocese of Baltimore has faced over the past weeks. “You will be happy to know that the Catholic Church is deeply involved in the city. There are many city parishes, there are elementary and secondary schools. Two Catholic hospitals serve the West side of Baltimore, there is a massive presence of Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul, and [there are] many other smaller Catholic providers besides. Among those who are volunteering in our inner cities are Knights of Columbus, who help with food pantries, Coats for Kids and much more,” he said.
“My work as a diocesan bishop and your work as state deputies is distinct, but our work does not run on separate tracks,” the supreme chaplain added. “We are, in fact, aiming at the same goal: evangelization. The Order is based on four Gospel principles. Charity — God is love, love of God and love of neighbor. Unity — there is One God in Three Persons; one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Fraternity — in Christ we are sons of the same heavenly father, who are called to serve the one another and to serve the broader community. Patriotism — while longing for our true homeland in heaven we seek to create in our earthly homelands a civilization of truth and love. When you think about the fact that our Order is based on four Gospel principles, and that we were founded by a holy parish priest who sought to bring men and their families closer to Christ and the Church, then you take everything that is said to you this weekend about membership, council development and much more and see all this as a work of evangelization — as the work of spreading the Gospel. The Knights are the strong right arm of the Church in many ways, but the principal way is in helping the Church accomplish the mission Christ gave her: ‘Go teach all nations and make disciples of them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’”
Supreme chaplain parallels state deputies to Saint Boniface in facing challenges
Prior to his and the supreme knight’s addresses, Archbishop Lori was the main celebrant for Mass at St. Mary’s Church. In his homily, the supreme chaplain paralleled the state deputies’ challenges to those faced by Saint Boniface in “re-evangelizing the Church in Germany, as a good shepherd who echoed the Gospel.”
Seated with their wives at their sides, the state deputies listened attentively as Archbishop Lori explained that “you have plenty to do with Boniface, and Boniface has plenty to do with you.”
A well-educated, well-connected holy man with a promising career as a churchman in his native England during the eighth century, Boniface was a natural leader who chose the road less traveled to preach the Gospel in present-day northern Germany.
Just as Boniface was a natural leader, so too are the state deputies in attendance, said the archbishop.
“Your brother Knights saw leadership qualities in you. After all, they chose you to lead your jurisdictions. They are counting on you as leaders to advance the Order.”
Archbishop Lori went on to describe Boniface’s ability to greatly increase membership in the Church as a result of his deep belief and love of the Lord, explaining that the state deputies share this same capacity in their new leadership roles.
St. Boniface, using his skill of “attractive and persuasive” preaching, re-established the Church when her membership was dwindling. He provided to those that remained faithful “a new lease on life” and was the answer to their prayers.
Much as Pope Francis encourages Catholics today, Boniface urged those who were baptized Catholics to be missionary disciples in Christ. Father McGivney would spread this same message several centuries later, asking each Knight to not simply be baptized, but “an avidly practicing Catholic who takes your faith to heart and lives it daily and as a member of the Order.”
Many men are looking for support in their vocations as Christian husbands, fathers or religious. Just as St. Boniface encountered difficulties and challenges along the way, Knights have the ability to remove such “roadblocks” and continue with “the progress of the Gospel,” said Archbishop Lori.
In the spirit of Boniface’s courageous and martyred life, the supreme chaplain called for state deputies to look forward to the coming fraternal year with a message of hope. He asked each of them to “be a faithful and effective leader in the Order,” sharing his hope that each man’s “service as state deputy may bear abundant fruit for the Order, for the Church and for the world.”
Following the Mass, the Archbishop Lori blessed the state deputy jewels of office, which were then presented to the state deputy-elects by Supreme Knight Anderson.
Workshops, Membership, Service, Legal and Insurance
Following the morning Mass and then addresses from the Supreme Knight and Supreme Chaplain, the state deputies and state deputy-elects had a working lunch during which they met with staff and Membership Program Consultants to discuss the nut and bolts of membership recruitment and service programming.
Following the workshop, Vice President for Membership Growth Lou Barbour gave a presentation on growing the Knights of Columbus and the need for sustained year-long membership recruitment. George Hanna, Senior Vice President of Fraternal Services, followed with a talk on Knights of Columbus Service Programs that reach out to those in need. His presentation focused on individuals who were helped by the Knights.
Supreme Advocate John Marrella discussed various legal issues and also directed the state deputies to use the officers desk reference as a source for information. The final presentation was by Executive Vice President and Chief Thomas Smith Jr. on the need for the fraternal-insurance partnership in ensuring the growth of the Order and how valuable the support of a jurisdiction’s leadership is for the success of the insurance program.