The Knights of Columbus is well positioned to respond to challenges facing society and the Church, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said June 11.
“We all agree: The Knights of Columbus was made for this moment,” the supreme knight said in his opening address to the Organizational Meeting of Knights of Columbus State Deputies in New Haven, Conn. “The pandemic has created many urgent needs, which we are uniquely suited to address. Our Church and culture are asking tough questions, and our answers are the right ones for these difficult times.”
These answers, the supreme knight added, are the Order’s principles of charity, unity and fraternity.
Supreme Knight Kelly, who took office March 1, began his remarks by thanking Past Supreme Knight Carl Anderson for his two decades of leadership. “No one has done more to serve and strengthen the Order than our past supreme knight,” he said. “He carried forward our timeless mission in a time of significant change.”
The future of the Order, Supreme Knight Kelly said, will depend on continued progress in two key areas: charity and helping men to grow spiritually. New initiatives, such as an onboarding curriculum and an affiliate member program, are underway, he said, to both welcome and engage a new generation of members and help to re-engage inactive members.
The supreme knight also emphasized the Order’s legacy of defending human life through charity and pro-life witness. “Nowhere is our work for the vulnerable more important than our defense of the unborn. And nowhere is there more potential for progress,” he said.
Below are further highlights from Supreme Knight Kelly’s remarks:
“Everywhere we look, men are isolated, alienated, and longing for a life of meaning. Young men, in particular, are searching for something better. Many are turning inward. But our brotherhood can help them look outward — toward others, toward a mission and a purpose that is bigger than themselves. Whether college students, young husbands, new fathers, or longtime Knights, our brotherhood can help them lead the lives to which Christ has called them.”
“We live in a time of division and anger. Within society and the Church, people are turning on one another. But we show a better way, a path of reconciliation, not condemnation. We stand for the truth that unites people in common cause and brings them together to pursue the common good.”
“Some think of charity as philanthropy or mere volunteerism, but we know it to be much more. Scripture tells us it is the greatest of the virtues. It is seeing the face of Christ in others. It is serving Christ as if he were standing in front of us. As our Lord tells us in the Gospel of Matthew, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). For this reason, we are committed to more than good deeds; we are committed to what St. John Paul II called “a charity that evangelizes.”
“Knights across the world poured their energies into the Leave No Neighbor Behind initiative. We helped neighbors near and far, through millions of dollars in direct relief, hundreds of thousands of pounds of donated food, and countless acts of kindness and concern. We proved that ‘leave no neighbor behind’ isn’t just a phrase. You made it reality. … Time and again over the past 15 months, we saw that charity is our highest calling. And we saw that Knights always answer that call."
“Now we have begun an equally important initiative, the COVID Recovery Program. … Our goal is to get our councils and our parishes back to normal as quickly as possible. Nothing is more important, right now, to fulfilling our mission of strengthening Catholic families, providing for their financial needs, and helping those in need. Equally important is serving the Church in this difficult time. … The Knights of Columbus is rightly known as the ‘strong right arm of the Church.’ This is the moment to show that we are also ‘the strong right arm of the parish priest.’
“We must inspire a new generation of men to answer the call of becoming a Knight. You and I know that being a Knight is something special. I saw it in my grandfather, who joined the Order in 1915. I saw it in my father, a brother Knight who was so proud of everything the Order stood for. And I have seen it in my own life, too. Being a Knight shapes who you are, and it shapes how we go about our lives. In the Knights of Columbus, we get the man right. And by getting the man right, we get everything right. The marriage. The family. The parish. Even the nation. That is what we offer young Catholic men; that is the message we must take to them.
“We enter this new chapter with trust in God and confidence in Father McGivney’s intercession. I have no doubt that his intercession helped grant us the strength to serve the needs of so many over the past year. I am equally confident that Blessed Michael McGivney will guide us as we step forward once more. As we do, I can say with the highest confidence: The work our founder began in the Order, and that our Lord began in us, is far from over. The work of the Knights of Columbus is just beginning.”
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