For the first time in 138 years, delegates to the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention gathered not in person but online. The annual meeting, held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, was hosted in New Haven, Conn., Aug. 4-5, and livestreamed to Knights around the world.
The Supreme Officers conducted a business session from the Knights of Columbus Museum, and convention Masses were celebrated at St. Mary’s Church, the Order’s birthplace, newly restored with K of C support. The officers were joined by delegates from Connecticut and the District of Columbia, and delegates in many other jurisdictions gathered locally in order to participate as a group (see page 10).
The theme of this year’s convention — Knights of Columbus: Knights of Fraternity — followed themes that focused on the Order’s other foundational principles: charity, in 2018, and unity, in 2019. The principle of fraternity was put into powerful relief as the Order prepares for the beatification of its founder, Blessed Michael McGivney, Oct. 31.
“Through the spiritual genius of Father McGivney, the Knights of Columbus became a way for Catholic men to transform friends into brothers,” said Supreme Knight Anderson in his annual report (see page 16). “In the two decades that I have served as supreme knight, I have come to believe that it is our fraternal strength that is the distinctive hallmark of the Knights of Columbus.”
A letter of greeting from Pope Francis (see page 2), sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, likewise stated: “The principle of fraternity has always inspired in the Knights that ‘creativity of charity’ inculcated by the Gospel … for a more fraternal, just and equitable world in which all are recognized as neighbors and no one is left behind.”
In his annual report, the supreme knight detailed the scope and impact of the Order’s charitable outreach and Faith in Action programs during the past fraternal year. He also announced an effort to support persecuted Christians in Nigeria and a new prayer program featuring St. Michael the Archangel, among other initiatives.
The following pages feature highlights from the convention’s proceedings, including the full text of the supreme knight’s annual report. For more coverage, visit kofc.org/convention.
THE LIVES OF St. John Vianney and Blessed Michael McGivney overlapped for a few years. Father McGivney was born in August 1852 and St. John Vianney died in August 1859. They both ministered to the faithful amid the turmoil and challenges of their own time and place.
St. John Vianney is simply known as the Curé of Ars. “Curé” means pastor, one who cares for, and to that task he devoted his life in what was initially an almost Godless French village with a population of just 230 people. “There is little love for God in that parish,” the bishop had told him. “You will be the one to put it there.” …
The Curé of Ars embraced a grueling schedule and undertook to do penance as if to wrest from God the graces of conversion for his wayward parishioners. He spent as many as 18 hours a day in the confessional … and his sermons were an exercise of preaching the truth with love, calling people to repentance and faith. … And now his heroic sanctity lives on, as evidenced by the great devotion of Catholics to the relic of his preserved heart, which has been made available for veneration under sponsorship of the Knights of Columbus. …
The France of St. John Vianney’s life and ministry was a country raw with the French Revolution and the transformation it had wrought. There had been a brutal attempt to de-Christianize the country, although the overthrow of religion did not succeed totally or everywhere. … And all this was done under the battle cry of the revolution: liberté, égalité, fraternité — liberty, equality and fraternity. In other words, Gospel values, but turned upside down on their heads.…
Not many years later, here in the state of Connecticut, Father Michael J. Mc- Givney, with a priestly heart modeled after the Curé of Ars, did the same. … Out of the depths of pastoral charity that every priest is called to, Father Mc- Givney responded with firm conviction about the God-given meaning of liberty, equality and above all fraternity.
In founding our fraternal Order, he helped to save countless families from the indignity of destitution, and in doing so he also helped save them from the hopelessness that can lead to a loss of faith in God, in the Church, and even in a nation. Charity, unity and fraternity were the watchwords of Father McGivney’s vision, strengthened by patriotism. …
In many ways our world stands at a crossroads today, one that should give us pause. We are witnessing attempts to redefine “liberty, equality and fraternity” in revolutionary ways that demand the most careful discernment, a discernment enlightened by both faith and reason.
Like the courageous watchmen and fearless shepherds that St. John Vianney and the Blessed Michael J. McGivney were in their day, we too need to be faithful to the truth about God and man that brings us together at this Mass; namely, that only in Jesus Christ and his Gospel can people find the real freedom, equal dignity and fraternity for which we all have been created and redeemed.
— Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford, Homily, Feast of St. Jean Vianney, Aug. 4
LET US TURN to today’s Gospel episode of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. As we join those early disciples, we find they are deeply discouraged. … Amid their bewilderment, the risen Lord joins them along the way. Although they do not recognize him, they instinctively trust him, sensing an immediate bond of fellowship with him.
Well behind those disciples on the road to Emmaus are parishioners from this parish of St. Mary in New Haven, Conn., parishioners hailing from the late 19th century. Not limited by time or space, the risen Lord is walking alongside them as well, but those parishioners are joined also by their new assistant pastor, Father Michael McGivney.
They do not know him well, but they sense in Father McGivney a capacity for friendship that endears him to them. This priest is no showman; rather, he is there to point out the risen Lord who walks with them on their journey toward eucharistic fellowship. In that same spirit of solidarity, this young priest founds the Knights of Columbus so that, along the way, none of his brothers or their families will be left behind. …
In response to the disciples’ confusion and bewilderment, the risen Lord chides them for their lack of faith, but then he opens their minds to the understanding of the Scriptures. Later on they would say, “Were not our hearts burning as he opened the Scriptures for us?” …
A born teacher and leader, Father Mc- Givney unfolds the Gospels for the Knights by teaching them the principles of charity, unity, and fraternity … inducting them into a eucharistic fraternity that unites them in a divine charity that flows straight from the heart of the risen Lord.
In our own journey of faith today, Father McGivney’s voice continues to echo and re-echo as the Knights of Columbus helps husbands, spouses, and their families to embrace the faith with confidence and love in these challenging times. The principles of the Order are like keys that unlock the Scriptures, helping us not only to take comfort in the Catholic faith that we share, but also helping us to practice that faith proactively, with enthusiasm and zeal.
At length, those first disciples arrive at Emmaus … whereupon the Lord took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them. With that, their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread. Simultaneously, Father McGivney is leading his brother Knights to a deeper love and understanding of the Eucharist as the source of a fraternity whose bonds are unbroken by death.
Today, in this eucharistic fellowship, our care and concern for brother Knights and family members extends beyond the confines of this world as we commend them, with the help of Father McGivney’s intercession, to the risen and exalted Lord.
— Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Homily, Memorial Mass, Aug. 5
THE ANNUAL Supreme Knight’s Award Session, which was livestreamed Aug. 5, honored achievements related to fraternal leadership and service. Below are details about the five international program awards, as well as select honors for insurance sales and membership growth.
The St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Community, which serves Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., was without a full-time priest from October 2017 to October 2019. In the absence of a chaplain, the Knights from St. Francis of Assisi Council 16356 stepped up to serve their fellow Catholics. Throughout the year, these Knights oversaw a weekly eucharistic holy hour and prepared the base’s shared, nondenominational chapel for Mass every Sunday. Knights also brought together Catholic families with a monthly Family Prayer and Movie Night. When the base finally received another full-time Catholic chaplain, he found a strong Catholic infrastructure still in place.
The Knights of Cardinal Primate Stefan Wyszyński Council 15672 in Częstochowa, Poland, decided to celebrate International Women’s Day in a distinctly Catholic way. On Saturday, March 7, the council hosted a gathering and lecture for families, reflecting on the holy Family as a model and providing opportunities to honor the wives and mothers. The next day, during Mass, the council chaplain and pastor led the families in a consecration to the holy Family, and a collection was taken up for a parish family with a child that has special needs.
Since 1972, the Knights of Bishop Hill Council 5468 have led the charge of serving the less fortunate of Campbell River, British Columbia, with their Christmas hamper Fund. Supported by annual donations from the community, the CA$115,000 fund provides food, toys and other gifts, filling more than 1,100 hampers that are distributed to families and individuals who face financial difficulties. Additional attention is given to senior citizens and those with mobility limitations. By providing logistics and manpower, Council 5468 has built the Christmas hamper Fund into a massive program aiding those in need.
When children with special needs require help, the members of Blessed Mykolay Charnetsky Council 16848 in Zolochiv, ukraine, go above and beyond to offer their support. For example, when a young boy with cerebral palsy needed a walker, the council purchased a custom walker for his use. When a family needed lifesaving medicine for their child, the council donated more than $1,400 to pay for the medicine, and a member traveled to Germany to purchase it. In addition, for the Feast of St. Nicholas, the council donated gifts, worth a total of $15,000, to 50 children in support of their ongoing care.
Leave No Neighbor Behind
When the pandemic hit, Most Precious Blood Council 6134 and St. Finbar Council 15728 in Brooklyn, N.Y., used personal loans to purchase food for those in need, beginning with six families who were unable to receive unemployment or stimulus checks. The councils are now packaging and distributing boxes with a week’s worth of groceries to about 160 families every weekend. They have also hosted blood drives and helped feed frontline medical staff, and officers continue to reach out to other parishioners, growing the number of volunteers.
Leading general agents: Kevin Pierce of Oklahoma (211% of quota) and Robert Abbate of Virginia (184% of quota).
Leading field agents: Tyler Meyer of the Schafer Agency in Kansas (415% of quota) and Jon Deakin of the M. Stice Agency in Pennsylvania (385% of quota).
Top recruiters: Past State Deputy Walter Streit of Father Bonner Council 7599 in Edmonton, Alberta, was recognized as the top recruiter for 2019-2020 for the Order’s insurance territories, signing up 217 members. Noel Lacanilao of Manila (Luzon South) Council 1000 was recognized as the top recruiter for the Order’s non-insurance territories for signing up 1,055 members.
EVERY NIGHT before Jaime Morales heads to bed, he asks himself one question: “Did I do something for somebody today?”
Jaime’s wife of nearly 30 years, Laura, and their four daughters — Abigail, 24; Jessica, 21; Victoria, 18; and Nathalia, 17 — share this commitment to service. Together they were recognized as this year’s Knights of Columbus International Family of the Year for their witness of faith and support of their parish and community.
Jaime and Laura grew up in Mexico, but today the family lives in Cody, Wyo. They belong to St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Parish, and Jaime is a member of Bishop Maurice F. Burke Council 4031.
Council member Ken Stockwell — now a member of the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors — invited Jaime to join more than 15 years ago.
“I asked Jaime to be a Knight because he was the epitome of a Catholic gentleman,” Stockwell said. “Jaime has a rich, deep faith, which he shares. He just was the perfect candidate to be a Knight of Columbus.”
As father to four girls, Jaime has found encouragement and support in the Knights’ Catholic brotherhood.
“I find friends. I find brothers. I find truly good friends there,” Jaime said.
When the Morales family moved to Cody in the early 2000s, St. Anthony’s didn’t have any Hispanic Catholic outreach, but they soon changed that.
The Morales family helped start a monthly Spanish-language Sunday Mass. When it began, Laura was the music coordinator and the four Morales daughters were altar servers.
The family also started an annual Cinco de Mayo fundraising dinner, organized celebrations for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, incorporated Las Posadas into the parish’s Christmas celebrations, and taught English as a second language courses.
The Morales family has also assisted with other council activities, such as a live Stations of the Cross, and helped with the day-to-day needs of St. Anthony Parish. Jaime landscapes the church grounds, and Laura provides cleaning services for the parish buildings.
“They’re a wonderful example of Catholic family,” said their pastor, Father Vernon Clark. “They are extraordinary people and I’m blessed by them. So is our parish.”
Jaime dreams of one day moving back to Mexico and helping strengthen the Knights of Columbus in his home country, where the Order was first established in 1905.
“The Knights of Columbus is like another school. It’s another education,” he said. “I want to take this school and start more councils around my country.”
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