Knights of Columbus leaders gathered for the annual Organizational Meeting of State Deputies June 9-13 in New Haven, Conn. — the first in-person meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given delays due to the pandemic, the meeting also marked the first time in the Order’s history that new Supreme Officers, supreme directors, and state deputies were installed on the same day.
Patrick E. Kelly was officially installed June 11 as the 14th supreme knight, having taken office March 1 and succeeding the 20-year tenure of Past Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. Deputy Supreme Knight Paul G. O’Sullivan and Supreme Secretary Patrick T. Mason, as well as the newest supreme directors and nearly 60 attending state deputies were also installed following Mass celebrated by Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore.
Immediately following his installation, Supreme Knight Kelly led attendees in praying the Litany of St. Joseph and consecrated his administration to St. Joseph.
The act of consecration read, in part, “O my Spiritual Father, I hereby consecrate myself and my administration of the Order to you. In faithful imitation of Jesus and Mary, I place myself and all my concerns under your care and protection. To you, after Jesus and Mary, I consecrate my body and soul, with all their faculties, my spiritual growth, my home, and all my affairs and undertakings.”
In a series of remarks over several days, Supreme Knight Kelly outlined his vision for the future of the Knights of Columbus. The state deputies and other K of C leaders participated in daily Mass, business sessions, fraternal events, and workshops on an array of topics including leadership, faith formation and evangelization, member engagement, insurance and investments, and more. Those unable to attend in person due to travel restrictions participated remotely. The meeting also featured visits to the Supreme Council headquarters, the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center and St. Mary’s Church, the birthplace of the Knights of Columbus.
Addressing an orientation meeting for state deputies-elect June 10, Supreme Knight Kelly stressed, “The role of state deputy is unlike any other in the Order. It demands certain virtues to be truly successful.”
He added, “Our job is to lead Catholic men in lives of faith and fraternity. But to do this, we first must be Christian leaders of the highest caliber.”
The supreme knight then discussed six virtues essential for success as a state deputy: prayerfulness, humility, integrity, courage, unity and foresight. By practicing these virtues, he said, state deputies will be better equipped to lead men in lives of faith and spiritual fraternity.
“I like to say that we don’t just have what men need; we are what men want,” the supreme knight said. “We must always be thinking about how to reach not only the men of today, but the men of tomorrow, and every day after. And we must always be looking to identify future leaders of the Order and give them the opportunities they need to learn and succeed. If we do that, the Order’s future will be secure.”
During his keynote address at the opening business session June 11, Supreme Knight Kelly said that the Order is well-positioned to respond to the challenges facing society and the Church, especially as COVID-19 restrictions ease. Through the Order’s principles of charity, unity and fraternity, he explained, the Order can address the urgent needs of communities and parishes.
“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,’” he said.
Supreme Chaplain Archbishop Lori, who led the Knights in worship throughout the meeting, also delivered remarks. He spoke on how K of C leaders should emulate Blessed Michael J. McGivney, whom he described as a “steadfast innovator.”
“Like our blessed founder,” Archbishop Lori said, “we prayerfully discern our priorities and plans, but then we also discern what it will take for us to accomplish them.”
Over the course of the meeting, both the supreme chaplain and supreme knight continuously underscored the centrality of the Eucharist in the Knights’ mission.
In his homily for the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary June 12, Archbishop Lori said, “Without the Eucharist, we cannot live the principles of the Order, for the Eucharist is the bond of unity and the sacrament of charity.”
During the closing session, Supreme Knight Kelly announced that the next Orderwide pilgrim prayer program will honor St. Joseph. An icon of the saint from St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montréal, which was also on display during the Mass and installation at St. Mary’s Church, will be shared with each jurisdiction in the months ahead.
The supreme knight also spoke about the reported new favors granted by the intercession of Blessed Michael McGivney and urged state deputies to continue praying for the canonization of the Order’s founder.
“It is a great time to be a Knight because of Father McGivney’s beatification, but also because of how active Father McGivney is in our spiritual lives,” Supreme Knight Kelly said. “Please remember to bring the things on your heart to Blessed Michael McGivney.”
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