College Knights looking for direction and guidance in life need look no further than St. Joseph, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly told hundreds of young men gathered virtually for the 56th Knights of Columbus College Councils Conference.
“As college Knights, St. Joseph can help you answer two key questions before you: What kind of a man do you want to be? And, more importantly: What is God calling you to do with the gifts he has given you?” the supreme knight said.
Knights of Columbus college councils, which are active on nearly 150 campuses in the United States and Canada, aim to help men contribute to Catholic life on campus through faith formation, service and brotherhood. This year’s College Councils Conference, held Sept. 24-25, brought college-aged members together under the theme “Go to Joseph.”
Supreme Knight Kelly stressed that St. Joseph can be both a powerful intercessor and a model of courage for young Knights making foundational decisions about their lives. He added that by joining the Knights of Columbus, they have already set out on the right course.
“As a college knight, you’ve already made a decision that sets you apart and sends a powerful message,” Supreme Knight Kelly said. “Joining the Knights says to your campus and to the world: ‘I am a man of faith and I’m not afraid to take a stand.’ That’s no small thing, especially now. You are following Christ at a difficult time and place.”
Keynote speaker Father Donald Calloway, MIC, urged college Knights — in a world where there is “so much confusion about what it is to be a man” — to imitate the servant leadership of St. Joseph. Noting that many attendees will be called to fatherhood, Father Calloway encouraged them to look to Joseph under his title “Pillar of Families.”
“If men are not there to shore things up, to hold things up, to be pillars, things are going to collapse,” he said. “No, you have a role to play: servant leadership. You have to be sacrificial.”
Father Calloway, a member of Father Peter Paul Maher Council 6793 in Silver Spring, Md., challenged his brother Knights to foster and deepen personal devotion to St. Joseph. He suggested three ways to do so: first, honor St. Joseph every Wednesday, the day traditionally dedicated to him; second, pray the rosary and meditate on his silent witness; and third, consecrate oneself to him. At the conclusion of his address, Father Calloway then led the Knights in a prayer of consecration to St. Joseph.
After the supreme knight’s message and keynote address, several councils were honored for their witness and service on campus throughout the last fraternal year. The Outstanding College Council Award, which recognizes the college council that best exemplifies the mission and ideals of the Order, was presented to St. John Henry Newman Council 11323 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va.
Throughout the pandemic, the Knights at Virginia Tech provided opportunities for Catholic men on campus to gather at socially distanced events, including kickball games, cookouts and Bible studies. They also engaged in service projects, such as maintaining the grounds at the Catholic Campus Ministry’s Newman House and raising money for local charitable organizations, including a local pregnancy resource center. (The Knights held a “tonsure drive,” collecting more than $5,000 for the organizations by shaving the tops of their heads.) One of the council’s most visible witnesses to the faith was the eucharistic procession the Knights organized and held on campus.
Watch the Virginia Tech Knights, and other award-winning councils, in action on their campuses in these short videos:
Additionally, college councils were awarded in the following Faith in Action program categories:
Faith: University of Florida (Gainesville, Fla.) - Constructing Chapel Furnishings
Members of the council worked with their chaplain to design and build six kneelers and an altar rail for the chapel in their new Catholic student center. The kneelers have supported the council’s prayer life and are used during Eucharistic adoration.
Family: Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas) - Spring Men’s Retreat
A day-long retreat organized by the council focused on building brotherhood and discussing the call to authentic masculinity. The retreat consisted of talks about vocations, masculinity in the modern world, and St. Joseph. Participants also prayed the rosary, stations of the cross, Liturgy of the Hours, engaged in Eucharistic adoration, and attended Mass.
Community: Villanova University (Villanova, Pa.) - Cemetery Cleanup
In early May, council members cleaned the cemetery for deceased Augustinians on campus. They cut grass, moved debris, and scrubbed dirt off the gravestones so that names were more clearly legible. The project was completed as an act of remembrance in honor of the Augustinians who passed away during the pandemic.
Life: Saint Joseph Seminary (Saint Benedict, La.) - Fight Against Human Trafficking
After council members heard a presentation about the horrors and current state of human trafficking in Louisiana, they organized their first drive-thru po’ boy sale fundraiser. The sale raised $1,000, which was donated to Metanoia House, a local organization supporting the recovery and rehabilitation of female adolescent victims of human trafficking.
Leave No Neighbor Behind: Southern Illinois University (Carbondale, Ill.) -Thanksgiving for Families
Members of the council worked with their Newman Center to make more than 400 Thanksgiving meals for families in need in the Carbondale area. After working three days preparing the food, Knights packaged the meals and delivered them to the families.
To become a member of the Knights of Columbus, visit kofc.org/join.