At the Knights of Columbus’ 55th College Councils Conference, students from across North America heard the call to be Catholic heroes on campus by exemplifying Christ’s love during a time of social unrest and an ongoing pandemic.
“The problems afflicting our nation will not be solved by anger, violence, or by those who shout the loudest,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in his remarks to attendees. “They will be solved by those who have the strength and the courage to love — not only by what they say, but by what they do. This is the Christian way. This is the Catholic way. This is the Knights of Columbus way.”
The conference, which was held virtually, met under the theme “Brothers in the Breach,” on the heels of a K of C-produced video series calling Catholic men to embrace brotherhood and virtue in a world in crisis. College Knights, who are present on nearly 150 campuses across North America, face a unique challenge of continuing their legacy of brotherhood and service amid the pandemic.
In an address to the attendees, Deputy Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly noted that the times call for the virtue and heroism exemplified by K of C founder Father Michael McGivney.
“He chose to live a life in service to God and to others. It was a choice that changed the world and put him on the path to sainthood,” Kelly said. “He never lost sight of his calling, and he never stopped calling on the men of his day to fulfill their own.”
Harrison Butker, a Super Bowl champion and current kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs, is one such Knight listening to God’s calling. In his keynote address to attendees, Butker recalled his time as a college Knight at Georgia Tech, where he was transformed by the witness of a brother Knight.
“I am here today because a close friend from my time at Tech didn’t hesitate to speak to me about the Gospel,” he said. “My best friend, Grant, didn’t allow fear of rejection to keep him from being an instrument of light in my life, and I am the Catholic I am today because he went out on a limb and showed me love. He showed me Christ.”
Butker challenged the young Knights to share their faith with their friends, just like his own friend did.
“We must continue to fight for truth, united in prayer and service, never losing sight of our vocation and call to holiness,” Butker said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the spring, Knights mobilized to help those in need in their parishes and communities by launching the Leave No Neighbor Behind initiative, and college Knights have found creative ways to do that. Knights at the University of California, Los Angeles recently prayed the rosary with brother Knights around the world through a video conference call.
Even before the pandemic hit, college Knights found creative ways to serve their neighbors. In Houghton, Michigan, where harsh winters bring an average of 400 inches of snow per year, Knights from Michigan Technological University Council 17238 regularly chopped firewood for the elderly to help keep them warm. In recognition of these Knights’ exemplary service, they received the Outstanding College Council Award at the College Councils Conference.
(Full list of award-winners.)
As college Knights confront new challenges this year, Deputy Supreme Knight Kelly said that they can continue to look to Father McGivney, who will be beatified Oct. 31.
“The key to Father McGivney’s accomplishments was courage,” Kelly said. “He could have said he was too young to become a priest. But he didn’t. He could have said he needed more experience before founding the Order. But he did it anyway. He could have said that he hadn’t lived enough life to address the needs he saw around him. But he stepped into that breach without a second thought.”
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