The Catholic Church in Poland and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church recently honored Past Supreme Knight Carl Anderson for his many years of service — particularly his pro-life witness, his promotion of St. John Paul II’s teachings, and the establishment of the Knights of Columbus in both Poland and Ukraine.
“John Paul II changed the history of Poland and the United States,” Mr. Anderson said upon receiving the Totus Tuus Award at the Royal Castle in Warsaw Oct. 9. “It was the honor of my life to assist, in some small way, his mission and to continue his legacy.”
The Totus Tuus Award was presented to the past supreme knight during an event sponsored by the Foundation Work of the New Millennium, an organization founded by the Catholic Church in Poland in 2000 in response to Pope John Paul II’s visit to his home country the year prior.
Mr. Anderson has long promoted the late pontiff’s teachings and legacy. In 1983, he served as a visiting professor at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. He was then fundamental in the expansion of the Institute, becoming the founding vice president and dean of the branch in Washington, D.C., in 1988.
During his tenure as supreme knight, the Knights of Columbus established the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington as a major pastoral initiative of the Order. At the 129th Supreme Convention in August 2011, then-Supreme Knight Anderson stated the shrine “will be a place where pilgrims from throughout North America will encounter the mission and legacy of one of history’s greatest popes.”
The Order also produced several films about the Polish pontiff and his legacy during Supreme Knight Anderson’s 20-year tenure, including John Paul II in America: Uniting a Continent and Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism.
Mr. Anderson’s recognition by the Catholic Church in Poland follows another international honor presented two months prior. On Aug. 15, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church bestowed its highest honor on the past supreme knight, inducting him as the seventh member of the Order of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky. The medal of the order was presented by Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia on behalf of Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halyč and other bishops during the archeparchy’s annual Dormition pilgrimage to Sloatsburg, N.Y.
That honor came only a month after Mr. Anderson’s book Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love, written in 2009 with Msgr. Eduardo Chávez, was published in Ukraine. Translated into Ukrainian by Dr. Iryna Ivankovych, the book was released July 8 with a livestreamed event in Lviv.
The recent awards also highlighted Mr. Anderson’s instrumental role in expanding the Knights of Columbus into Poland and Ukraine.
In 2005, Mr. Anderson announced that the board of directors had voted to accept an invitation from the Polish bishops, and Pope John Paul II, to expand the Knights of Columbus for the first time to Europe. Since the first councils in Poland were chartered in January 2006 — marking the first international expansion in nearly a century — the Order’s presence there has grown to 152 councils with more than 6,700 members. The expansion into Europe continued when the first councils in Ukraine were founded in 2013.
Learn more about Mr. Anderson’s 20 years of leadership as the 13th supreme knight in the February 2021 issue of Columbia.