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A True Knight for Today


by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson

The heroic witness of Kendrick Castillo demonstrates the fullness of a life lived for others

Carl A. Anderson

THERE ARE THOSE who say we don’t have heroes anymore.

Kendrick Castillo proves them wrong.

One day last May, Kendrick woke up as if it were any other day. An 18-yearold young man, he went through his normal morning routine, packing his backpack and heading to school in a suburb of Denver. It was an exciting time for him. As a high school senior, he looked forward to his graduation ’ only days away ’ and the promising life that lay before him.

But on that Tuesday afternoon, everything changed. After lunch, as Kendrick sat at his desk, a troubled student entered his classroom and pulled out a gun. In that instant, Kendrick made his decision ’ he charged the assailant.

Kendrick gave his fellow classmates the precious seconds they needed to hide or escape, before he was shot. But while he courageously saved lives, he selflessly gave up his own. In Kendrick Castillo, a life was tragically lost ’ but a true hero was born.

As a nation, we mourn Kendrick’s death, even as we celebrate his courage. As an organization, the Knights of Columbus is especially moved by his example of selfless sacrifice. His father, a member of the Knights, has said that his son “wanted to be a Knight of Columbus because he wanted to help not only people, but his community.”

Kendrick Castillo did exactly that. A faithful Catholic to the end, he lived and died according to the teaching of Jesus Christ: “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13).

In a better world, Kendrick Castillo would still be with us. That Tuesday would have gone like any other ’ no shooting, no grief, no resulting search for answers. Sadly, that is not the world we live in. Ours is marred with sin and strife and suffering. But that doesn’t mean we have no hope. Heroes give us hope.

There have always been ’ and there will always be ’ those who inspire us with their selfless actions. Some, like Kendrick Castillo, have given up their lives for the sake of others. Others are still among us, living their lives for others, in ways big and small.

To find them, we must know where to look. Some think of heroes as having supernatural powers, only to be found in comic books or movies, and in the mythic tales of ancient Greece and Rome. Others associate heroes with celebrities ’ great athletes, talented artists, the beautiful, the wealthy, the powerful, and so on. Yet true heroism has a different face.

Heroism lives in ordinary people who do extraordinary things. They practice the timeless principles of courage, truthfulness, humility and self-sacrifice. Like Kendrick Castillo, they put the interests of others ahead of themselves, even if it costs them everything.

If we look around, we’ll see that plenty of people still embody these characteristics in their daily lives. They are often unknown or unacknowledged because they don’t seek publicity. They also come from unexpected places and their heroism emerges at unforeseen times.

One of the most inspiring aspects of serving as supreme knight has been meeting so many brother Knights who are true everyday heroes — heroes who sacrifice to advance our principles of charity, unity and fraternity.

A famous 14th-century treatise on knighthood advises Christian knights to be men of integrity and devotion, for as the writer observes, “they are in danger every day, and at the moment when they think themselves to be the most secure, it is then that they may suddenly have to undertake demanding and dangerous adventures.”

The integrity of the knight included the commitment to defend those in danger who could not defend themselves and the courage not to recoil in the face of danger.

We are told that Kendrick Castillo wanted to join the Knights of Columbus and so to be more like us. My sincere hope is that because of his example, our brother Knights will want to be more like him.

Vivat Jesus!

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