THE PHRASE “Renaissance man,” referring to a person with wide-ranging interests and talents, tends to be overused. I use this term only when it really fits, as it does in the case of Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. He truly is a Renaissance man.
I speak from experience. I met him in 1980 in Washington, D.C., introduced by a mutual friend, Father Lorenzo Albacete. The rest, as they say, is history.
Father Albacete had a profound influence on many young Catholics, including our future supreme knight and his wife, Dorian. Together they explored faith, culture and spirituality, thus encountering the depth and beauty of the Catholic faith while growing in commitment to the Church’s mission. Exactly what the Lord had in mind for Carl Anderson was yet to unfold. It was clear, however, that the 1978 election of Pope John Paul II was an event that crystallized his thought, faith, prayer and service.
After earning a degree in family law, Anderson placed himself at the service of the most vulnerable — the unborn in particular. He championed the pro-life cause both on Capitol Hill and in the White House. Along the way, he learned how government works, and about advocacy and communications, skills he would put to good use leading the Knights of Columbus.
At the same time, he immersed himself in Pope John Paul II’s vision of human dignity and the irreplaceable role of the family in a justly ordered society. He also embraced the Order’s fidelity to the Holy Father and to the Church’s mission, not to mention the extraordinary reach of its charities.
With the approval of Archbishop James Hickey of Washington and support from the Knights of Columbus, Anderson led the way in establishing an American session of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and Family in Washington. He became its first dean and taught for the Institute both in Rome and in Washington. Meanwhile, he engaged in the fraternal life of the Order, rising to become the state deputy of the District of Columbia. It was my honor to be his state chaplain.
‘He brought to this role more than a remarkable set of interests and skills. He also brought vision — rooted in the original vision of Blessed Michael McGivney, yet attuned to the changing needs and circumstances of our day.’
In addition to the supreme knight’s knowledge of law, government, philosophy and theology, I must add his deep interest in and understanding of art, music, history and literature. He studied the intersection of faith and culture and developed formidable executive abilities. Clearly, the Lord prepared him well for his calling as supreme knight.
Anderson was installed as supreme knight 20 years ago, dedicating his service to Our Lady of Guadalupe. He brought to this role more than a remarkable set of interests and skills. He also brought vision — rooted in the original vision of Blessed Michael McGivney, yet attuned to the changing needs and circumstances of our day.
He has guided the Order to live more deeply its foundational principles of charity, unity and fraternity. He has emphasized the Order’s role in helping men live their faith and be better husbands and fathers. He has sought to root councils more deeply in the life of the parish and thus be “the strong right arm” of our parish priests. He has tirelessly promoted the cause of our founder, Father McGivney, and heroically championed international and domestic religious freedom. He has intensified the leadership of the Order in the cause of life. He has strengthened the John Paul II Institute and established the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. And under his leadership, K of C Insurance and the Order’s investing services have reached new heights, not only in sales and returns, but also in ethical standards.
Let me conclude with a word of tribute to the supreme knight’s wife, Dorian, and to his family, who have accompanied him every step of the way. Thank you, Carl and Dorian! May God bless you, and may your good work bear abundant fruit for years to come!
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