A Reporter's Notebook
Perspectives on the Just Concluded 125th Anniversary Convention
After the Memorial Mass on Thursday morning, Franklin Roosevelt Cummings, past state deputy of South Carolina, said he was very satisfied with the convention. “I thought the whole convention was impressive, especially in that the Vatican Secretary of State came to be with us,” said Cummings, who was attending his ninth Supreme Council event. “And I was impressed with all the bishops who came.”
Virginia Cummings, his wife, said, “You get a really warm and happy feeling about the experiences you’ve had. It’s really like a family, meeting people from year to year and renewing friendships, and sharing your experiences with them.
” Every Knight should try to attend at least one convention,” she concluded. “It will change your life.”
A States Dinner Proposal
What better place than a Knights of Columbus convention to propose marriage?
That was Richard J. Garneau Jr.’s idea when, in the midst of the Iowa state song at the States Dinner Tuesday night, he dropped to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend named – appropriately – Heather Knight!
Garneau, 34, a district deputy, grew up in a K of C family and says the future Mrs. Garneau, 25, has been a big help already at KC fundraiser.
States Dinner Time for Fun and Reflection
The States Dinner showed how the Knights of Columbus can be formal, prayerful, compassionate and joyfully footloose all in one evening’s program. With Knights dressed in white dinner jackets and their wives in gowns, the dinner’s attendees waved flags from their jurisdictions and sang and swayed to the music as the state songs were played.
Even cardinals and bishops seated on the dais stood and waved flags and cheered in the spirit of the evening. Joining the fun was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, who received the Order’s Gaudium et Spes Award at the beginning of the program. When the Vatican anthem was played, waved the Vatican flag and sang the anthem in Latin.
The evening, hosted by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, began with a prayer by Supreme Chaplain Bishop William Lori. Events included talks by cardinals and bishops from around the world and concluded with the screening of a film that recently was uncovered in the Knights of Columbus archives. It showed the pilgrimage of Supreme Officers to Rome for an audience with Pope Benedict XV, and highlighted the close relationship the Order has enjoyed with the pontiffs of the 20th century.
Souvenirs and Good Will Exchanged
The lobby of the Gaylord Opryland was the scene for a fraternal fun fest as delegates and their families from many jurisdictions exchanged Knights of Columbus state pins and other souvenirs.
Some carried maps of the United States, pushing pins from a particular state into the map to chart their progress toward getting one from each state. Others attached pins to lanyards on their necks, or to their jackets.
Calls abounded in this annual State Convention tradition: “Does anyone have Vermont … California … Mexico?”
“We’re missing eight jurisdictions all together,” said Julie Haselhorst of Kansas to her 13-year-old daughter, Briana, who kept a checklist of all K of C jurisdictions. Her sister, Stacy, 15, was busy trading Kansas pins for other ones.
“We got the Philippines. We got Poland, and also Alaska,” said Mrs. Haselhorst. “They were especially important because we wanted to get some pins from outside the continental United States.”
Her husband, Dean Haselhorst, a member of Gorham Council 2794 is religious education chairman for the Kansas State Council. “This is a great family event,” he said. “Our daughters really love collecting all the pins and keeping score.”
When the family gets back home, they will stick all the pins in a map of the United States and frame the map.
“For pins outside the United States., we’ll draw in the country and put the pin in that way,” Mrs. Haselhorst said. “It’s a lot of fun, and also educational.”
By bringing his children, Haselhorst is continuing a family tradition. His father brought him to his first Supreme Convention in 1976, when he was 15 years old. “It runs in the family,” he explained. “I went with my dad when he was a district deputy. Now I’ve been a district deputy myself, and I bring my children.”
The Knights, he said, is all about family. “There’s a lot of togetherness. There are a lot of good Catholic people who are role models and take the faith seriously.”
Patrick Schuller, Arizona State Advocate, also saw the souvenir exchange as a perfect family event. His two teenage girls were running around the hotel lobby getting pins as he and his wife, Nikki, watched them build a collection.
“The Knights have gotten me more involved in my parish, my community, and overall in the state council,” he said. “My daughters have friends all over the state. There’s just a great community of Knights families and we stay together.”
Sunday, August 5, 2007
The 125th Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention has brought Knights, spouses and families, as well as bishops and priests from all parts of the world to Nashville, the capital of Tennessee.
From the Philippines to Poland, and from Canada to Mexico, some 2,800 delegates and their families are here to celebrate 125 years of faith in action.
Some of them took the time to speak to KofC.org:
Attending their first Supreme Convention are John and Hannah Smith, from Rehoboth Beach, Del., where John is a member of Council 2997. He has been a Knight since 1957 and is celebrating his 50th anniversary of service to the Order. He is also a permanent deacon in his parish.
“This is a great organization, and I love it,” said John Smith. “They do marvelous things. The most important thing for me personally was when I took my Third Degree in 1957. It made such a deep impression upon me how important our faith is in keeping us on the right track.
“The Order has given me the strength to go on. I think it’s one of the reasons I eventually became a deacon, going through that [Third Degree] experience of having to know and defend your faith.”
Hannah Smith added, “We were looking forward to coming to the convention, taking part in the big celebration and the Masses, and being a part of this event, which means so much to the Knights. We feel very close to the Church, and the Knights is a big part of that. It keeps you close to God and close to family.”
Ernest Plus, Fourth Degree district marshal for the Diocese of Nashville, is serving as entertainment chairman for the Tennessee State Council during the convention. He is making sure every that delegate receives a warm welcome and feels at home during their stay.
“We’re excited to have everyone come to Tennessee, and hope they get a flavor of our Southern hospitality,” he said.
He observed, “This is the largest gathering of Catholics in the history of the state of Tennessee. Catholics are a minority in the state, however, we are an influential minority. We have folks who are very strong in local government and the community, and the Knights are a part of the so many good works in the state.
“Our numbers are growing in Tennessee, not just from transplants from other areas, but we have a lot of people going through RCIA, we have conversions and people coming to the faith as they see the Church as it really is, not as they’ve been taught to think about it.”
South Carolina State Treasurer Tom Monahon is attending his fourth convention with his wife, Kathy.
“What I’ve been impressed with the most in the past is seeing all the cardinals and the bishops that come, especially at the opening Mass at the start of the convention,” Tom commented.
“Truly we are a Catholic organization. You come away very impressed and very inspired.”
“The early morning Masses and being able to go to Mass every day really makes this experience special,” said Kathy Monahon. “Another big thrill is that you see so many people who you met the year before and the year before that. It’s so nice to reconnect to this real community of wives.”
Dominican Father Bernard Mulcahy was the main celebrant at the Mass offered early Sunday morning at the convention center. Formerly the assistant director of the Supreme Council’s Catholic Information Service, Father Mulcahy is enrolled in a doctoral program in systematic theology at the Catholic University of Australia.
He made a special trip to Nashville to help with the many liturgies.
“In the readings today God is telling us to be wise about the things of this world,” Father Mulcahy said. “You should not build up treasures here while neglecting the true treasures God has for us in heaven.
“In my homily, I tried to connect this message with the Knights of Columbus and the need for vocations. Most people think that to have a vocation means to have some secret inner experience of being called, but that rarely happens. The key is to choose wisely a form of Christian life that allows you love God more and more.
At his first Supreme Convention, Connecticut District Deputy Paul Healy said that he was pleased to see Knights from every region of the world. “There is no other organization that has the same kind of global reach, all under the Catholic name,” he said.
“The 125th anniversary is very important to the Order, especially at a time when a lot of fraternal organizations are not doing well, the Knights of Columbus continues to succeed. The fact that the Vatican has chosen to send such an important member of the hierarchy as Cardinal Bertone to our convention indicates, I think, how much the Vatican appreciates the great work that the Knights do,” he added.
The archbishop who signed the documents to open the cause for canonization of the Order’s founder, Father Michael J. McGivney, offered the evening Sunday Mass at the convention center. Archbishop Daniel Cronin, who is retired as the ordinary of the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn., said that he always sees the convention as a family gathering.
“We have the families of the Knights all here present within the family of the Church, the body of Christ,” he said. “It is a wonderful thing for us to be here together and share the faith, and share the gifts of the Lord, gathering as one family.”