On March 17, Knights worldwide joined a nine-day campaign of prayer to conclude March 25, the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, coinciding with Pope Francis’ consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in St. Peter’s Basilica.
In a message urging participation in the novena, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly wrote, “Together, we’ll ask Our Lady to intercede on behalf of those directly impacted by the conflict, to give strength to our Ukrainian and Polish Knights working so hard to deliver relief, and to help bring peace and healing to the region.”
The novena — initiated by Catholics in Ukraine and first requested by the Latin-rite archbishop of Lviv, Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki — has been one of many prayer initiatives undertaken throughout the Order for peace in Ukraine.
Indeed, Knights in many places — including Ukraine and Poland — participated in prayer services and Masses for weeks prior to the Russian invasion. The Order’s birthplace, St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., was the site of one of a number of K of C-organized Holy Hours held Jan. 26, in response to the Holy Father’s initial call for a special day of prayer for peace.
Days after the invasion and another worldwide day of prayer on Ash Wednesday, Supreme Knight Kelly addressed a letter to grand knights Orderwide, underscoring the Knights’ two-part response to the humanitarian crisis — charitable support facilitated by the Ukraine Solidarity Fund, and prayer, especially Holy Hours and rosaries for those suffering.
“While the benefits of our prayers may not be as tangible as dollars spent on food or medicine,” the supreme knight wrote, “we trust that their effects are even more important.”
He also referred to a conversation with Archbishop Mokrzycki and Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, who were among the first members of the Order in Ukraine.
“It was moving to hear the witness of both men, who are ministering tirelessly and courageously to a people facing unimaginable stress and turmoil,” the supreme knight wrote. “I promised that the Knights of Columbus would accompany them and their people both in prayer and material support.”
Several days later, on March 10, both archbishops and a delegation of Ukrainian Knights participated in a historic event — an ecumenical prayer service for peace at the Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lviv, led by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, papal almoner and official representative of Pope Francis.
“From the very beginning of the war, and before the war, we knew that the situation was very dangerous, uncertain,” Archbishop Mokrzycki said in an interview following the prayer service. “We encouraged our Christian people to pray and participate in the sacraments, because we know that prayer has power. We know from history that prayer has defeated evil many times and has won wars.”
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