Knights Give Thanks to Priests at Convention’s Opening Mass
Cardinals, bishops and priests concelebrate in presence of relics of St. John Vianney.
The life and legacy of Venerable Michael J. McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, offer a fitting priestly example for clergy and laity alike in this Year for Priests, said Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted during the opening Mass for the 127th annual Supreme Convention, August 4.
The vision of Father McGivney, who founded the Order in 1882, has been responsible for untold good for generations, through the Knights of Columbus, Bishop Olmsted said.
Noting that the Mass was being offered on the feast day of St. John Vianney, the patron of all priests and the saint that Pope Benedict chose as a model when he proclaimed the Year for Priests, Bishop Olmsted said that the liturgy provided an occasion to give thanks to God for the priesthood and all good and holy priests, and for the gift of the holy Eucharist.
Two relics of St. John Vianney were carried in the opening procession and placed in the sanctuary, aside the altar.
Bishop Olmsted, head of the Diocese of Phoenix, where the Knights of Columbus convention is being held this week, was the main celebrant and homilist at the Tuesday Mass, which was attended by some 2,000 delegates and their family members.
Concelebrating the Mass were a number of cardinals, and about 60 bishops and 80 priests from the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and Poland, countries in which the Order is present.
The international character of the Knights was highlighted in the opening procession, which featured Matachines dancers dressed in brightly colored, traditional Mexican garb, who went joyfully down the main aisle of the convention hall, followed by horn and trombone players.
Then came a long honor guard of Fourth Degree Knights in full regalia, followed by the liturgical procession of cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons and servers.
The intercessions were read by state deputies in English, Spanish, French, Tagalog and Polish.
‘Be Not Afraid’
Citing the Gospel reading of Jesus walking on the water to his frightened Apostles, who were in a boat, Bishop Olmsted said in his homily that there is a good fear and a bad fear. “Slavish fear” causes us to lose hope, but “fear of the Lord” is actually one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit that leads us to cling more closely to Christ.
Today, he said, many people do not follow God and the Commandments because they fear moral demands.
“Perhaps this fear of moral demands is the greatest fear in society today, a fear that keeps people from surrendering in faith to the Lord,” he said. Still, the demands of the Gospel are real and life is often difficult, he acknowledged. These facts are an invitation to offer our fears to God, who “can calm every storm.” Even as Peter was sinking in the sea after boldly setting out to walk to Jesus, he “found enough faith to cry out, ‘Lord, save me!’” Bishop Olmsted said. “Jesus at once stretched out his hand, caught Peter, and began to walk with him back to the boat.”
The bishop said that this incident may have inspired Peter to write years later in his Epistle, “Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the suffering of Christ” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Bishop Olmsted concluded that these words “are timely and full of meaning for us Knights of Columbus in particular, as we pledge again our loyalty to the Successor of Peter, Pope Benedict XVI, and as we renew our commitment to the vision left to us by Father Michael McGivney. Whatever ‘trial by fire’ the Lord may give us to endure, whatever fears we may have to face, let us trust the words of our Redeemer, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.’”