State leaders from across three continents gathered in New Haven, Conn., on Wednesday for the annual Organizational Meeting of Knights of Columbus State Deputies.
The five-day meeting began with an evening dinner banquet, where state deputies and their wives shared food and conversation with their colleagues from around the globe.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson addressed the crowd, expressing his excitement for the new and unique opportunities facing the state leaders in the year ahead.
Also shared was his enthusiasm for the election of Pope Francis, the American hemisphere’s first pope, whom he noted had already “won the hearts and minds of millions and millions of Catholics around the globe.”
The Supreme Knight went on to emphasize that the beginning of the pontificate of the new Holy Father presents Knights with a fantastic opportunity. As members of an important Catholic organization, the newly-elected and re-elected leaders “can stand alongside Pope Francis, helping him to build the Church.”
“Pope Francis often says that ‘true power is service,’” Anderson noted, “and nothing could be more accurate in describing leadership in the Knights of Columbus.… We have an opportunity and a responsibility to be right here in this historic moment, and we have to be ready in each and every jurisdiction.”
The Supreme Knight also spoke of the tragedies that have occurred over the course of the past fraternal year and Knights’ response to each of them, mentioning the devastating floods and damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut; the horrific events of the Boston Marathon bombing; the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting; and the recent devastation in West, Texas, and Oklahoma.
“Knights have stepped up,” Anderson said, “and have been leaders in these communities.” Knights, he continued, are called to “truly be our brother’s keeper. And we demonstrate that every day.”
Part of being our brother’s keeper, he counseled, is inviting our brother Catholics to join the Knights of Columbus. “Membership in the Knights of Columbus changes lives,” Anderson said. “It helps them to deepen their faith, extend their hand in service, and participate more fully in the life of their parish and the Church.”
Referencing the teachings of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, the Supreme Knight encouraged each state deputy to strive to give the “‘gift of self,’” a gift that doesn’t “just cut a check, but binds together our communities and makes our neighborhood work.”
The state deputies were invited to New Haven together with their wives, Anderson noted, because the “tremendous effectiveness of the Knights of Columbus is because of our commitment to families.” And also because “state leadership is a team effort, first and most importantly between husbands and wives working together to strengthen Catholic families, Catholic parishes, Catholic schools, and our entire neighborhoods and communities.”
Establishing his goal for the forthcoming fraternal year, the Supreme Knight closed by saying that he hoped that this meeting would prepare the state deputies to “build the best year in the history of the Knights of Columbus.”
“We will have succeeded,” he concluded, “if a year from now you can say this was your best year as a Knight of Columbus.”
Over the course of the next five days, the state deputies will work together, learn together and pray together, enjoying a full program of talks, workshops and special Masses.