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Becoming the Strong Right Arm of Our Parishes

During his midyear address to state deputies, Supreme Knight announces new initiative: Building the Domestic Church While Strengthening Our Parish

The Knights of Columbus is positioned to play a key role in Pope Francis’ call for a more active alliance between the Church and the family.

At the midyear meeting, held Nov. 20-22 in San Antonio, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson shared with the assembled state deputies several strategies to help the Order more vigorously assist in these efforts.

“To meet this need we will have to do some things differently. Our councils will have to become even more active in our parish communities,” Supreme Knight Anderson said.

The supreme knight pointed out that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops made clear the connection between the parish and the family in its 2012 document on the new evangelization, titled Disciples Called to Witness. The document notes, “The family, called the domestic church, is often the first place where one experiences and is formed in the faith.”

The Knights of Columbus works in accordance with the guidance of this document, particularly in its development of thousands of new parish-based councils; its new programs to strengthen family life; and its increasing commitment to serve the Church’s mission of a new evangelization through the parish.

The supreme knight noted that these three initiatives demonstrate how the Order is best situated to strengthen parish life, saying, “We are truly positioned today to move to a new level of service as the strong right arm of our parish.”

During his address, the supreme knight announced a new Orderwide initiative, Building the Domestic Church While Strengthening our Parish, that will help the Order reach this level of service. The new program’s success will align with progress in several categories.

Moving toward parish-based councils

Valuable resources should no longer be used to support home associations whose activities are outside the mission of the Knights of Columbus or the Church. Some home associations, because of the need to generate a constant stream of revenue just to maintain their buildings, have been forced into the facilities rental business, subjecting them to market forces, government regulations and liability risks.

“For this reason,” Supreme Knight Anderson said, “I am asking every council using facilities owned by a home association to undertake a serious assessment of how that relationship supports the council in its fulfillment of the core mission of the Knights of Columbus.”

If councils are parish-based, resources could be more successfully directed toward a mission of integrity with the core principles of charity, unity and fraternity.

Moving toward greater integration into the life of our parishes

Councils should begin to end the duplication of programs that compete with parish activities. Instead, Knights of Columbus resources of time, talent and money need to be used to strengthen existing parish-based and parish-sponsored programs.

Working more closely with parish-based youth ministry programs

More than ever before, young people are in need of greater evangelization, catechesis and pastoral care. Councils should be there for their parish’s youth, supporting them under the direction and supervision of their parish pastor. Additionally, councils should seek new ways to assist with the activities of parish-based schools.

As part of this new initiative, local units of the Knights of Columbus will no longer sponsor Boy Scout troops. Councils should move to end sponsorship by the end of 2015, but if that is not possible, in no case later than 2016. Instead, local units should encourage troops that they presently sponsor to become parish-sponsored troops. Such new parish-sponsored Boy Scout troops can and should receive the volunteer and financial support of local councils.

Additionally, councils should seek to more closely integrate their youth activities within the goals of the parish. Councils and assemblies in the United States and Canada that do not presently sponsor Squires Circles should not institute new circles. Instead, these local units should support new or existing parish-based youth programs.

When formulating your activities in the coming year, give priority to those that support the Domestic Church initiative, and always seek out ways to involve your wider parish community.

“The content of the Knights of Columbus has not changed,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. “We are a Catholic brotherhood based upon the principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. We are dedicated to faithful and unparalleled service to the Church. But what will change is the expression of that service so that our work may become even more relevant and effective.”

“The changes outlined today may be difficult for some,” the Supreme Knight said in his remarks. “Change is never easy. But the proven record of the past half century is clear: The closer the Knights of Columbus becomes to parish life, the closer we work with our parish priests, and the more we support Catholic families, the more our Order has grown in membership and charity.”

“The challenge of effective leadership is to lead change, not to be led by change,” he continued. “The leadership of the Knights of Columbus has always succeeded in leading change. And this is what I am confident you and I will succeed in doing in the days ahead.”

Additional details on this new initiative will be sent to councils in the near future. Also, a complete version of the supreme knight’s address is featured in the December 2015 issue of Columbia.