Knights Declare 'We Stand with Peter' as 127th Supreme Convention Begins

Eight cardinals, more than 80 bishops and a hundred priests concelebrated the Mass that opened the 127th annual convention of the 1.78 million member Knights of Columbus in Phoenix this morning.

Several thousand Knights and family members have gathered for the convention at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort.

Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted was the principal celebrant and homilist at today’s Mass, which occurs on the feast of the patron saint of priests, St. John Vianney. The theme of this year’s convention is “We stand with Peter in solidarity with our bishops and priests,” and occurs during a “Year for Priests” declared by Pope Benedict XVI.

In his homily, Bishop Olmsted noted the special significance of opening “the Supreme Convention of the largest lay Catholic organization in the world, founded by a priest, Father Michael McGivney,” on St. John Vianney’s feast day. And he explored the subject of fear, which “is part of our human experience.  We all have fears to face, those that arise from natural causes, such as the squalls and storms on the Sea of Galilee, and other storms, more spiritual and social in nature, that arise within our hearts or in our relations with others.”

St. John Vianney’s life as a priest was spent in France in the years immediately following the chaos and persecution of the French Revolution, when Catholics “were ignorant of their faith and indifferent in their practice. Addictions were widespread. Marriage and the family were breaking down. Hope was running low. What they needed was a holy priest,” Bishop Olmsted noted.  “But they were afraid of the moral demands that faith would make upon them.”

“Perhaps this fear of moral demands is the greatest fear in society today,” Bishop Olmsted continued. “To be sure, there are other forces that hinder faith, things like relativism and skepticism, the lure of materialism and pleasure. But, when pursued, these false ideologies inevitably leave the heart unsettled and the spirit thirsting for more.”  Nonetheless, “we followers of Christ need not be afraid because, as the Angel tells Mary (Lk 1:37), ‘nothing is impossible with God.’”

Full text of Bishop Olmsted’s homily