Flags Wave High at States Dinner

The international unity of the Order on colorful display.

Members of the Church’s hierarchy, Knights of Columbus Board of Directors and their wives wave flags from the dais at the States Dinner Aug. 4.

A flag from every state and a song in every heart marked the lively spirit of the States Dinner Tuesday night at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention. The annual banquet gave delegates and their families from all over the world a chance to show their colors and share their pride in their home state.

As a band played songs from each state, province or jurisdiction, the delegates from that area stood to wave their flags and sing their songs. Some tunes were familiar, such as “Home On the Range” for Kansas, but others were composed for the occasion. Delegates who had connections to more than one locale stood up many times during the evening, and those who had friends in another state – or simply felt like standing and singing – joined the chorus more than once.

Celebrating 100 years since the first Knights of Columbus council was established on the island, Cuba was a featured delegation. Activities in the country have been revived in recent years.

The growth of the Order’s newest establishment in Poland was also evident. Polish delegates and their families filled three tables, and had many other tables waving flags in solidarity.

Members of the hierarchy, including nine cardinals, joined in the good-natured fun from the dais, and some came down to the ballroom floor to join members of their home state in song.

All the dinner guests stood and sang when the song of the host state, Arizona, was played, in appreciation for all the Arizona State Council has done in putting on the convention.

Pope’s Encyclical Cited

Amid the fun, some serious and inspiring words were offered by the speakers. In his keynote address, Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke about the recent social encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI (Charity in Truth), and the obligations of all Catholics to practice charity in their own personal relationships and in the public sphere. The pope warns against splitting the Church’s teaching into social questions and moral obligations, Cardinal George said.

“A main theme of the encyclical is that there is one Catholic teaching which combines the Church’s moral and social doctrine together with our protection of human life and dignity, the defense of marriage and the family, the protection of the poor, the pursuit of economic justice, and the practice of solidarity,” the cardinal said.

Observing that the “Church’s unity today is severely strained,” he thanked the Knights for their unwavering support of the Holy Father, the bishops and the clergy, and asked them t continue to pray for the members of the hierarchy in their efforts, with layperson, to build a culture of life and a civilization of love.

Also speaking were Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Primate of Canada and Archbishop of Quebec, who also underlined the need for unity within the Church – not for the sake of unity alone, but so the Church can become a more effective witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in truth and charity.

Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in the Philippines, thanked the Knights for continued support of vocations, communications and pro-life programs in his country.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix delivered opening remarks, offering a warm greeting and recounting some of the Catholic history of the Southwest, where “the Gospel has been preached by missionaries for almost 500 years,” dating back nearly to the discovery of the New World.