IN THIS ISSUE of Columbia you will see some of the extraordinary works of charity undertaken by our brother Knights in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
During Holy Week, I was asked by the White House to join the president and vice president on a conference call with thousands of faith leaders and report to them on our efforts. A prominent evangelical pastor and a rabbi representing the Jewish Federations of North America spoke as well.
While people of many faith traditions are doing wonderful work, what is striking about the Knights of Columbus response is its variety.
First, there is the multimilliondollar food assistance program being carried out through our “Leave No Neighbor Behind” initiative. Launched during Holy Week in more than 20 cities in the United States and Canada, it is moving throughout both countries as our brother Knights team up with local food banks.
Blood donations have been an important part of our charitable work for nearly a century, and now, when the need is so great, we are again stepping up.
“Leave No Neighbor Behind” encourages each council to reach out to every brother Knight – offering a helping hand should he or another member of his family be especially vulnerable or challenged by the pandemic – as well as to others in need in our parishes and neighborhoods.
We have also made available through our Church Loan program a $100 million emergency fund to provide loans up to $1 million to help U.S. dioceses continue operations during this crisis.
Overseas, we are working with the Vatican’s Bambino Gesù pediatric hospital in Rome to create a new treatment room for infants with COVID-19 infections. We are supporting Catholic hospitals and a medical clinic in Iraq and Lebanon, as well as programs in the Philippines in response to the pandemic.
At a time when it is more important than ever, we again made possible the Holy Father’s Holy Week broadcasts, as well as his special Urbi et Orbi blessing in light of the pandemic.
We continue to encourage the spiritual and prayer life of our families – the “church of the home” – through our Building the Domestic Church program. When I announced this initiative several years ago, I said that it would strengthen not only Catholic family life but also our parishes. No one could have foreseen its importance now, when so many parishes have temporarily closed.
These times call us to greater courage and fortitude and greater charity and compassion. It is a time to intensify both our personal and our family’s spiritual life. Our Novena for Protection in Time of Pandemic has been prayed countless times around the world.
I have found two quotations especially encouraging in these days, and I share them with you here.
The first is from the diary of St. Faustina Kowalska, recording Christ’s words to her:
“I will not delude you with prospects of peace and consolations; on the contrary, prepare for great battles. Know that you are now on a great stage where all heaven and earth are watching you. Fight like a knight, so that I can reward you. Do not be unduly fearful, because you are not alone.”
The second is from a homily St. John Paul II gave in Baltimore in 1995: “There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us. And on the far side of every cross we find the newness of life.”
During this Easter season, as we continue to face the evil of this pandemic, let us fight like knights – Knights of Columbus – with all the weapons that charity, unity and fraternity place at our disposal.
Let us continue in this great work that we have begun, secure in our faith in the cross and mindful of St. John Paul II’s affirmation in the same homily: “This is our witness before the world.”
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