Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly traveled to Poland and Ukraine during Holy Week to meet with Knights and witness and encourage their ongoing humanitarian efforts in response to the war in Ukraine.
During his visit, the supreme knight was able to convey the support and gratitude of Pope Francis as well as his own. The Holy Father received Supreme Knight Kelly in a private audience at the Vatican on Monday, April 11, before the supreme knight and his family continued to Poland. During the audience, the pope blessed an Easter basket with food representing the 10,000 K of C care packages that Knights in Poland were preparing to send to Ukraine. The boxes, which contained food such as meat, flour, pasta and chocolates, in addition to an Easter candle and a letter from the supreme knight, were made possible by financial support from councils Orderwide.
Seeing photos of Polish Knights assembling the boxes, Pope Francis enthusiastically said, “Bravo! Bravo!” He later added, “Go on! Go on!” — making a gesture with his hands to express a heart bursting with love for others.
Supreme Knight Kelly joined Polish Knights the next day at a warehouse in Łańcut, helping to load some of the Easter care packages into a “Charity Convoy” — a handful of 18-wheelers bound for Lviv, Ukraine.
After stopping at the Order’s Mercy Center on the border in Hrebenne, Poland, he continued to the town Rava-Ruska, in western Ukraine. With Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki of Lviv and Ukraine State Deputy Youriy Maletskiy, the supreme knight personally delivered some of the care packages to displaced families who, thanks to financial support from the Order, have taken refuge at a 14th-century monastery in the Archdiocese of Lviv.
At the monastery, Supreme Knight Kelly met with Ukrainian Knights who had come from throughout their war-torn country and shared with them the pope’s commendation of their service.
“He was deeply moved and wanted me to extend his thanks to you,” the supreme knight said. “What you are doing here really exemplifies the kind of courage that Father McGivney had when he founded the Knights in order to serve his parishioners who needed help.”
The supreme knight then officially installed State Deputy Maletskiy, who is overseeing the Order’s humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. At a time when the principal of patriotism is especially meaningful for Ukrainians, Maletskiy also received authority to welcome Knights into the Fourth Degree.
The following day, the supreme knight visited Our Lady of Częstochowa Parish in Radom, Poland, where Knights and other volunteers had assembled 5,000 of the Easter care packages. After learning more about the myriad efforts of the local Knights, including prayer initiatives and a parish-based Mercy Center to assist refugees and welcome them into the community, the supreme knight helped to load some of the boxes, which were bound for Kyiv.
On Holy Thursday, he and his family visited a Caritas-run retreat center outside Częstochowa, which is now serving as an orphanage for about 100 Ukrainian refugee children, with support from the Knights’ Ukraine Solidarity Fund.
The supreme knight concluded his visit at St. Wojciech Parish in Częstochowa, home to another parish-based Mercy Center, where he was received by Ukrainian refugees before meeting with members of the Poland State Council.
“It’s hard to express how much I have learned the past few days about the spirit and the faith of the Polish Knights,” he said. “You demonstrate both faith and action — and the powerful thing is that you put them together as men of faith in action.”
Learn more about the Order’s efforts and support the Ukraine Solidarity Fund.
Logos & Emblems
Fraternal Leader Advisory
Knights in Action
Share your Knights in Action News
Please contact the
Knights of Columbus News Bureau