(SAN ANTONIO) – As the 131st annual convention of the Knights of Columbus began in San Antonio, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson delivered an annual report that chronicled the record-setting activity of the organization during the fraternal year just ended.
The new record includes donations of more than $167.5 million to charity and the volunteering by members of more than 70 million hours of service.
The supreme knight highlighted various charitable programs carried out by Knights in more than a dozen countries. Activities ranged from providing new winter coats to children, to helping amputee victims in earthquake-devastated Haiti, to stocking food pantries, to helping victims of disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, the recent explosion in West, Texas, and the tornados in Oklahoma.
“We help change countless lives and communities around the world,” Anderson said. “Our charitable service not only helps the temporal needs of our neighbors, but our personal witness of charity can also evangelize as we live Christ’s commandment of love.”
In a reference to the powerful witness of Christian charity provided by the new pope, the supreme knight tasked every member with bringing “the example of Pope Francis into his home, his parish and his community.”
The supreme knight also highlighted several other achievements from this past year, including a new record for total membership of 1,843,587, the expansion of the Knights into Ukraine and Lithuania, and an insurance milestone of more than $90 billion of life insurance in force.
Anderson also spoke of the organization’s defense of life, marriage and religious liberty, saying, “The culture of life and civilization of love will not be built overnight. But we will continue to work day and night to build them through our example, our words and our prayers.”
Announcing this year’s convention theme, “Be Protector’s of God’s Gifts,” a line chosen from the inaugural homily of Pope Francis, Supreme Knight Anderson said: “For over the past year you have been good stewards of God’s gifts! Our Order is stronger today than ever before, and, my brother Knights, the best is yet to come!”
The 131st Supreme Convention will continue from Aug. 6-8, as more than 2,000 attendees – consisting of Knights and their families and more than 100 members of the Catholic hierarchy including 11 cardinals – come together to celebrate and review the previous year and to look forward to the year ahead.