Thomas Hamling, the new director of ceremonials, is responsible for the development and maintenance of the ceremonies and protocols of the Order. Tom is actively involved in his parish and with day-to-day council life; he has served as grand knight, state retention director and financial secretary — a position he has held for more than 22 years.
How did you first get involved with the Knights of Columbus?
I started my volunteer career with the Knights of Columbus in high school, when I joined the Squires in Burnsville, Minn. I learned fraternity quickly and had the unique experience of being elected to serve as state chief squire.
Article originally published in Knightline, a monthly resource for K of C leaders and members. To access Knightline archives, click here. I joined a college council — St. John’s University Council 5136 in Collegeville, Minn. — in October of my freshman year, and have been an active grassroots volunteer ever since. Early on, I was involved in our First Degree team on campus. My college council also had a Second Degree team that would travel around to local areas, so my weekends were often spent traveling doing Second and Third Degree ceremonies.
How does being a Knights help you express the Catholic faith and engage in parish life?
I see my Knights of Columbus experience, my parish life and my faith journey as being very, very closely connected. I helped start a council at my home parish 11 years ago, and I marvel at the transformation of new Knights who recognize that they are on a faith journey and are not alone.
Like many Knights, service to my parish doesn’t end with Knights of Columbus events. Aside from our involvement with our youth group, catechism classes and retreats, my wife and I have been volunteers in our parish Pre-Cana group for 20 years. For us, it’s also a renewal of our own Pre-Cana every year, and it’s fantastic.
What’s your experience working at the Supreme Council home office?
Most of my career has been on the fraternal side of the business, working in the General Office. The work has allowed me to work closely with state and district level volunteers and create many close fraternal bonds.
What do you see as the chief benefits of this new ceremonial?
The most exciting thing for me is that our family and friends can witness the ceremony and the commitments that we’re making. I think it’s going to have a really big impact and give the public a better sense of what the Knights of Columbus is all about.
How does this new ceremonial enhance the membership experience?
The fact that we’re respecting our members’ and candidates time and effort is important.
Because I am so heavily involved on the local level, I have always been interested in reducing administrative time and increasing volunteer time. This ceremony says, “Candidate, I am respecting your time and effort.” Do we still have important messages? Do we have important virtues and principles to convey? Yes. Our new ceremony will continue to deliver them, just more succinctly. We’re going to continue to learn these principles through our interactions in our council meetings and in our Faith in Action programs.
With the new ceremony, we’re respecting our members’ time and we’re introducing them to our principles. When a member completes the ceremony, that’s when the fun starts — we get to help men along their faith journey.
Questions about the new ceremonials can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-752-4739.
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