In the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minn., every seminarian entering his pastoral assignment year receives a cash gift of $500, and every new priest received at ordination his choice of $500, a traveling Mass kit, or an engraved chalice and paten with carrying case.
These gifts are provided through the generosity of the Chalice Program sponsored by Bishop Edward Fitzgerald Assembly 548 in Rochester. Most recently, they were given to three seminarians and Father Matt Wagner at the latter’s ordination in late June.
The gifts are offered to the seminarians and priests “in thanksgiving for the gift of their vocation and with a request to remember in their daily prayers all deceased Knights from the Diocese of Winona-Rochester,” said assembly member Michael Sheehan. “The Chalice Program thus is centered in two important tenets of Knighthood -- the ongoing support of our seminarians and priests, and a commitment to honor and always remember our deceased brother Knights.”
The present Chalice Program dates to 2014, in effect resurrecting a long-dormant program of the same name. It happened after Faithful Navigator Tommy Carey asked Ambrose King to head a committee to study and make recommendations on the question of re-establishing the initiative.
“It was Ambrose's vision, supported by his committee, which shaped the recommendations on what was to become our program,” Sheehan said. With the backing of both Carey and King, the committee drew up principles and bylaws that won the assembly’s unanimous acceptance.
The Chalice Program was initially funded out of the assembly’s treasury but “is now sustained by ongoing generous gifts from members and member councils and fund raisers,” said Sheehan.
Matthew Nordquist, one of the three seminarians to receive a Chalice Program gift in late June, is presently serving his pastoral assignment year at Pax Christi Parish in Rochester. He is a member of Fairmont Council 1575.
“I have immense gratitude for the support and financial care the KCs have granted me over the years,” said Nordquist. “As Father McGivney loved the priesthood, so his Knights of Columbus continue to do so. Being a brother Knight has allowed me to more clearly see the work our blessed Lord is doing through these men striving to be close to his Sacred Heart.”
Father Wagner, a member of Winona Council 639, said his ordination gift was very meaningful.
“The Knights of Columbus have been a steady source of support from the very beginning of my seminary career,” said Father Wagner, parochial vicar at Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and St. Casimir’s Parish in Winona. “Whether it be spiritual or financial support, they have accompanied me in my journey, and have encouraged all the seminarians and priests of our diocese so well for many, many years.”
The “selfless lives” of Knights, he added, “encourage me in my own ministry, and I’m blessed to be able to call so many of the men in my parish brother Knights.”
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