The Order’s new Building the Domestic Church While Strengthening Our Parish initiative was the focus of discussion at the annual Knights of Columbus Chaplains Meeting, conducted in conjunction with the 134th Supreme Convention in Toronto.
Held Aug. 4, following the close of the official convention proceedings, the meeting was chaired by Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore and attended by 72 state and local council chaplains, including a number of bishops, from all the areas of the world where the Order is active.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and Dominican Father Jonathan Kalisch, director of Chaplains and Spiritual Development for the Supreme Council, gave presentations during the three-hour meeting.
After outlining the cultural and legal challenges faced by the Church and the Order in societies that are turning more radically secular, the supreme knight said that the response of Catholics must be positive in attitude and practice. Toward this end, he said, the Building Domestic Church initiative offers a host of resources for families and parishes to grow in the knowledge and the practice of the faith.
The initiative is designed to be embraced by families, councils and parishes working together to enhance the spiritual, moral, social and charitable lives of each, he said.
Among the resources of the Building Domestic Church initiative are the Consecration to the Holy Family, which includes a prayer to the Holy Family composed by Archbishop Lori, and a booklet titled Into the Breach, written by Bishop Thomas Olmsted originally for the men of his Phoenix Diocese, and now reprinted by the Supreme Council with a new study guide.
“With these two resources, we can reach men on an intellectual and a spiritual formation level,” said Supreme Knight Anderson. “We have to push these programs into our families and into our parishes. We do this for ourselves and for the generations to come. We are the Catholic husbands, the Catholic fathers, the Catholic grandfathers, and we need to step up to protect our kids and grandkids.”
Other Building the Domestic programs are the Affirmation of Wedding Vows for couples, recommended to be performed in parishes on Father’s Day; a diocesan-wide Holy Family event based on the Order’s Holy Family prayer program, and the Building the Domestic Church: The Family Fully Alive booklet, a month-by-month guide for families on faith, prayer and charitable works within the family.
More programs and resources will be introduced in the present fraternal year, he added.
Speaking personally to the bishops and priests, the supreme knight said that Knights of Columbus councils need regular input from their chaplains, who are asked to help form Knights spiritually and invite them more deeply into the life of the parish.
In his address, Archbishop Lori spoke of a “missionary shift” for councils based on the teaching and example of Pope Francis. Councils must reach out with new initiatives to help those in need and to attract more men to their ranks.
“We should focus not just on maintaining our councils, but rather on transforming our councils into missionary units, making for a dynamic organization, working hand in glove with the pastors of their parishes,” he said.
He pointed out that the Building the Domestic Church initiative should not be viewed as one more program for councils and parishes. Instead, the initiative takes two aspects that the Order has always focused on – families and spirituality – and brings them to a new level of focus and care.
“These are the basic elements for evangelization in our time, responding to the particular cultural challenges of our day,” he said.
Father Kalisch said that the Order’s chaplain’s program is growing, and thanked the assembled chaplains for their participation and input. A survey conducted by the Supreme Council shows that a desire to grow in faith and spirituality is among the main reasons why a Catholic man would want to join the Order, he reported.
“That finding really gives a great meaning and focus to what we do as state and council chaplains,” he said.