Called to Be Protectors
Gathering in a city steeped in 300 years of Catholic history, more than 2,000 Knights of Columbus, family members and guests attended the 131st Supreme Convention in San Antonio Aug. 6-8. Some 90 archbishops and bishops — 11 cardinals among them — and scores of K of C chaplains and other clergy members were among the participants, arriving from throughout North and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Europe.
The theme of this year’s convention — “Be Protectors of God’s Gifts!” — was adopted from Pope Francis’ first homily, which was given on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone greeted the convention in a letter on behalf of Pope Francis, noting how much the Order’s mission — including the Knights’ “many works of charity and evangelical witness” — dovetails with the Holy Father’s vision for the Church.
The cardinal noted that Pope Francis “invites each Knight, and every council, to bear witness to the authentic nature of marriage and the family, the sanctity and inviolable dignity of human life, and the beauty and truth of human sexuality.” In so doing, “Knights … respond to their vocation to be ‘protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another …’”
Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson detailed the Order’s achievements in his annual report, underscoring how the Order’s ample fruits stem from its deep roots in charity. “Charity has always been a defining characteristic of the Knights. … From the beginning, we have understood that God’s gifts include the poor, the suffering, the marginalized,” he said. “God is love, and his love is also a gift we have protected and shared abundantly over the past year.”
The supreme knight announced that charitable contributions had grown for the 13th consecutive year, while volunteer hours donated by Knights also reached a record high. K of C insurance in force surpassed a new milestone as well: $90 billion.
During the convention, Knights celebrated the recent establishment of two new councils in Ukraine and a round table in Lithuania, marking the Knights’ first international expansion since the Order chartered its first councils in Poland in 2006 (see page 16).
The annual awards session honored Knights for outstanding achievement during the past fraternal year. Two inaugural K of C awards were also unveiled during the convention: the Caritas Award for extraordinary works of charity and the Saint Michael Award for exemplary lifetime service to the Order.
The convention’s proceedings were grounded in faith and devotion, including large Masses that were celebrated each morning and the inauguration of the Order’s latest international Marian Prayer Program. Convention participants could also visit a chapel dedicated to eucharistic adoration and had the opportunity to venerate the first-class relics of 38 Mexican martyrs and of Blessed John Paul II.