Welcome Remarks of Reverend Monsignor Walter R. Rossi

Year of Faith Pilgrimage
& Knights Tower Carillon
50th Anniversary Celebration

Basilica of the National Shrine
of the Immaculate Conception
Washington, D.C.
September 8, 2013

It is my pleasure as rector, to welcome you to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as together with the Knights of Columbus, the National Shrine celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Knights Tower Carillon and pause during this Year of Faith on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to reconsecrate the Knights of Columbus to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Rising nearly 330 feet above this northeast sector of our nation’s capital, the Knights Tower houses a 56-bell carillon which rings throughout the day summoning us to prayer and beckoning us to raise our eyes to the heavens.

I cannot help but think that when these bronze bells are brought to life in sound, in some small way they contribute to the task of the New Evangelization as with each ring of the carillon, God’s existence and the presence of the Church is made know.

We are delighted to have so many Knights and their families with us, as well as the Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, and his wife, Dorian, Supreme Officers, State Deputies and the most impressive Fourth Degree Honor Guard.

It is a privilege to welcome as the celebrant and homilist for today’s Mass, the Supreme Chaplain and Archbishop of Baltimore, Archbishop William Lori. Archbishop Lori is no stranger to Mary’s Shrine having been with us on many occasions during his time as a priest and auxiliary bishop of Washington. As a matter of fact, Archbishop Lori was ordained a bishop here in Mary’s Shrine in 1995 and currently, His Excellency serves as a member of the National Shrine Board of Trustees. Welcome, Your Excellency.

It is always a pleasure to welcome His Eminence Cardinal William Baum to Mary’s Shrine. His Eminence is the Major Penitentiary Emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary and former Archbishop of Washington. In addition, His Eminence is a great friend to us here at Mary’s Shrine as well as to the Knights of Columbus.

We are so very happy to have the Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada with us this afternoon, Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix. When I met His Excellency last month during the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in San Antonio, we spoke of today’s event. Archbishop Lacroix told me that he had often watched Masses from the National Shrine, but had never celebrated Mass here. And so, Archbishop, your visit today is all the more special - and not only are you here, but, you are also on television!

We are delighted to have so many priests with us this afternoon, many of whom serve as chaplains to Knights of Columbus local and state councils.  We extend a very special welcome to those who join us at home through the the Eternal Word Television Network, Salt and Light Television of Canada and CatholicTV of Boston. We thank Mother Angelica and her staff, as well as the staff of Salt and Light and CatholicTV, for broadcasting today’s Mass.

I am also so very grateful to all those who assisted with preparing and executing today’s pilgrimage, most especially Knights from Supreme Headquarters in New Haven, local Councils of the Knights of Columbus and the staff of the National Shrine.

In his letter to the Knights of Columbus gathered for the Supreme Convention in San Antonio, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, asked “each Knight to rekindle through personal prayer, ongoing catechesis and works of charity, the light of faith which expands our horizons, opens our hearts to love and guides our steps as individuals, families and nations along the path of hope to which God constantly guides us and all of human history.”

It is my fervent prayer, that during this Year of Faith Pilgrimage to this great Marian Shrine, Our Lady, who gave birth to the Light of World, will intercede on your behalf, so that each Knight, their families and all who participate in this Holy Mass and pilgrimage, will rekindle the light faith, and follow ever more closely the path to which God constantly guides us.

Vivat Jesus!