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Chaplains Are Key to Life of Knights

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More than 80 Knights of Columbus state and local council chaplains gathered for their annual meeting immediately after the completion of the Supreme Convention in St. Louis. Held August 3, the Chaplains Meeting was chaired by Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who called the assembled priests “successors to Father McGivney,” the founder of the Knights of Columbus.

Also speaking at the meeting were Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, Deputy Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly and Dominican Father Jonathan Kalisch, director of chaplains and spiritual development.

The purpose of the meeting was for chaplains to discuss their role as the Order’s spiritual directors and share experiences and ideas on how to develop the spiritual life of Knights and their families.

The supreme knight said that Pope Francis’ document Evangelii Gaudium on the Joy of the Gospel, which speaks of building joyful and radiant fraternal communities, should serve as a guide for Knights and their councils. “That’s who we are,” he said, “That’s who we need to be even more.”

Chaplains should work with council leaders to assure that they are building a fraternal community that will develop the spirituality of each member and attract other men to join, he added.

Studies have shown, the supreme knight said, that the surest way to transmit the faith to the next generation is for children to see their father pray. Therefore, chaplains should promote the Order’s Building the Domestic Church While Strengthening Your Parish initiative, which encourages men to live out their faith not only in church but also at home and in public, he said.

Archbishop Lori said that although the Knights of Columbus is run by laymen, chaplains should remember that “Father McGivney started the Knights to help families in need. Never forget that the Knights of Columbus was born in the parish, founded by a holy and dedicated parish priest.”

He added, “The most important thing that we can provide to the Order and its councils is pastoral care. Set a tone of faith, a tone of fraternalism. Encourage our brother Knights to be bridge builders among themselves and with pastors and with people in their parishes.”

Father Kalisch began his address with a simple fact. “When councils flourish,” he said, “there is always a strong and involved chaplain.” The role of a chaplain is more than offering a few words at a monthly meeting, he continued. He encouraged chaplains to introduce a spiritual aspect into every council gathering and sponsor regular faith practices such as monthly eucharistic adoration.

Deputy Supreme Knight Kelly spoke about new initiatives, including online spiritual formation resources and the development of a Knights of Columbus digital app, which are designed to attract younger men to the Order.