State Deputies and KofC Leaders Gather to Discuss Membership
Knights of Columbus leaders from throughout the Order gathered in San Antonio, Nov. 20-22, to discuss the current state of membership recruitment into the Knights of Columbus and plan for the future.
In his opening remarks to the assembled state deputies on Friday night, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson thanked them for their efforts that led to the Knights of Columbus reaching 1.9 million members the week prior to the meeting.
“Thank you for hitting the 1.9 million members mark,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. “Everyone worked hard to get us here … and today we start heading to two million.”
The supreme knight asked the assembled leaders to urge their jurisdiction’s council to accelerate their efforts to work with their pastors to strengthen their parishes and also seek to strengthen Christian family life.
“The family as domestic Church is central to both the work of the New Evangelization and to the future sustainability of our parishes — also the future sustainability of the Order,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. “But the Catholic family cannot perform this important mission on its own. The reason is simple: as Pope Paul VI observed, the family can only truly be a domestic Church when its daily life ‘mirrors the various aspects of the entire Church.’ And for this to become a reality the family must be more fully integrated into the sacramental life of the parish.”
Knights of Columbus parish-based councils today are not only places that provide invaluable support to parish life in terms of charitable and social activities, he said, they also are a primary place to support the evangelization of family life through the mission of the domestic church. Councils can do this by more fully integrating families into the life of the parish through the many programs of parish-based councils, he said.
“If we do this, then we will continue the legacy of Father McGivney—a legacy, which as Pope Benedict observed, was to promote spiritual renewal among Catholics by strengthening them in holiness and unity,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. “And as a parish priest, Father McGivney saw that this renewal could be assisted in powerful ways in the parish by the new organization he had established.”
To help councils become more integrated into their parishes, the supreme knight announced the new initiative, Building the Domestic Church While Strengthening Our Parish.
“This new initiative builds upon our past programs and accomplishments,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. “At the same time it requires that in the future we do some things differently.”
(Note: The full copy of Supreme Knight Anderson’s speech and details on the Building the Domestic Church While Strengthening Our Parish initiative will be included in the December issue of Columbia.)
Keeping the Word of God, Religious Freedom, and Growing the Order
On Saturday morning, Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore celebrated Mass with the Knights of Columbus leaders. In his homily spoke about the celebration of the day’s feast Mary’s Presentation in the Temple.
“None of us has been given Mary’s unique vocation and none of us has her unique and God-given privileges, but all of us are called to be those disciples ‘who hear the Word of God and keep it,’” Archbishop Lori said. “What could this mean for you and me except a daily process of surrendering ourselves, moment by moment, to the saving will of God? What could this process of surrendering to God’s will mean for us, the family of the Knights of Columbus, but that we seek to live and embody the Gospel principles of our Order.”
Following Mass, Archbishop Lori addressed the Knights of Columbus leaders as part of the opening business session on religious freedom and Pope Francis’ comments on it during his visit to the United States.
“As leaders in the Knights of Columbus, what can we do to preserve the God-given gift of religious freedom, endangered abroad and threatened at home? First, we must continue to help brother Knights and their families to understand what the Church teaches about human dignity, truth and religious freedom, especially in the Declaration on Religious Freedom of Second Vatican Council,” Archbishop Lori said. “Second, we must lead our brother Knights and their families in praying for those in many parts of the world who are persecuted for their faith … for a renewed spirit of vigilance in our country and in many liberal democracies where fundamental freedoms are slipping through our fingers. Third, our elected officials need to hear from us. And finally, we defend our freedoms by exercising our freedoms, by worshipping, by educating, by engaging in works of charity, (and) by making our voices heard in the public square.”
Also during the opening business session, Louis Barbour, vice president for Membership Growth, reviewed with the state deputies the areas they need to consider for reaching their membership goals in the next seven months: holding one Admission Degree each month, look to state and local leaders as a resource, and focus on earning Star Council status.
Supreme Knight Anderson ended the morning session by addressing the challenges of membership recruitment, particularly, the short-term task of meeting the 2015-16 fraternal year goals, and the long-term challenge of recruiting young fathers and husbands to bring new dimensions to the Knights of Columbus and strengthen the sustainability of the Order.
“What we do (as leaders of the Knights of Columbus) makes a great difference, and because of that we have to do the best we can,” Supreme Knight Anderson said.
Following the opening session, the state deputies attend a variety of workshops throughout the day.
Closing Remarks and Looking to the Future
During the closing celebration of Mass on Sunday, Archbishop Lori in his homily told the assembled Knights of Columbus leaders and other attendees “What a pleasure to celebrate the beautiful feast of Christ the King with all of you, the family of the Knights of Columbus. For our knighthood is at the service of Jesus Christ, our great King and Shepherd, and our gallant service seeks to advance not an earthly kingdom, but rather a kingdom ‘not of this world,’ the Kingdom of God.
“So what does all this mean for me and you as members and leaders of the Knights of Columbus?” he continued. “It is simply this – if we want to become permanent citizens of the Kingdom of God, then our passport, our green card, is charity. Charity and compassion are how we acknowledge the true sovereignty of Christ our King.”
Following the Mass the attendees gathered for a closing business session where they watched a 20-minute recap of the 2015 Supreme Convention. Supreme Knight Anderson offered then his closing remarks in which he thanked the state deputies for their work, Archbishop Lori for his spiritual leadership and Senior Vice President of Fraternal Services George Hanna – who is retiring – for his outstanding service to the Order. “George and his wife Yvonne are stellar examples of what it means to be a Knights of Columbus family. And we thank them for their service,” he said.
Pope Francis is giving us a better appreciation, understanding and attitude toward the Church, Supreme Knight Anderson said. No organization is more committed to the pope’s message of charity, unity and reaching out to those on the margins than the Knights of Columbus. He added that we need to reach out to those men who want to follow that message and invite them to join.