Mark McMullen is senior vice president for Membership & Marketing for the Knights of Columbus Mark manages a team dedicated to growing membership across the world while helping jurisdictions achieve their specific membership goals.
The Knights of Columbus follows a fiscal calendar known as the “Fraternal Year” – it begins in July and continues through the following June. He spoke with Knightline staff to share why welcoming new men to the Knights of Columbus is more important than ever in today’s world, which Knights have impressed him most during the pandemic, and how to start the Fraternal Year off right.
Knightline: Why is it important to welcome new men to our Order right now?
McMullen: It’s important for men to join us because, honestly, the Church and the local communities need help now more than ever. A lot of churches are reopening. Who if not the Knights to help them do that? With the Leave No Neighbor Behind program model, we are well positioned to help our churches and to help our people in the local communities. The more men who join, the more help that we can provide to people locally.
Knightline: We’re in a unique time, with social distancing restrictions and limited face-to-face interactions. How can we welcome new members during this time?
McMullen: There are four big ways to welcome new members right now. Number one is welcoming men to join online. By visiting our website, men have the ability to become a member of the Knights of Columbus in minutes. Online membership has been a real success at driving growth now more than ever before because councils can’t bring guys in with in-person ceremonies.
The second option is welcoming men to take part in a virtual online exemplification. You’ll remember that back in November, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson introduced the new Exemplification of Charity, Unity and Fraternity, a ceremony in which Catholic gentlemen commit themselves to living out the principles of the Knights and the Church in the presences of their families and communities. When March came and the pandemic hit, obviously councils couldn’t get together to host their own exemplification ceremonies. Immediately, we began working to bring that exemplification online to allow men to join virtually. More than 4,500 men have joined us through our online virtual exemplifications to date, which is really exceptional.
The third option for joining is the on-demand version of the virtual exemplification, which began in early June. The on-demand exemplification takes away the need to attend an exemplification at a specific time. Candidates can click on the link and join us whenever their schedule permits, and they still have the full exemplification experience. Councils can provide the Invitation PDF to the candidates that are ready to join.
Finally, we’ve also encouraged our jurisdictions to develop their own virtual ceremonial teams. This way, there’s the opportunity to provide a local and more personalized feel to the exemplification experience. For example, your chaplain can be a part of it, and your local general agent or field agent can introduce himself at the end of the ceremonial. There’s a lot of benefit to localizing the virtual ceremonial experience and we’re encouraging more and more states to do that.
Knightline: What resources do Knights have to start the year off strong?
McMullen: The webinars that we’ve been doing have really been a help to members. Some councils struggle with membership growth — we have resources for that. Some struggle with keeping members active — we have resources for that too. Also, our regional training directors are providing great support to state, district and council leaders via both virtual and in-person training sessions. In addition, I’ve always promoted the use of our Everyday Heroes and Into the Breach videos that councils can share with prospective members. These videos are great in inspiring men to join the Knights.
Knightline: Since the coronavirus began, what’s impressed you most about Knights of Columbus members?
McMullen: The thing that’s impressed me the most is how our Knights have embraced both the Leave No Neighbor Behind program and online membership during this time of pandemic.
As jurisdictions were making a final push to achieve their membership goals in June, they made effective use of online membership to drive growth. For example, Louisiana needed to bring in 34 new members on the last day of June to achieve Circle of Honor. By taking advantage of online membership, they welcomed 39 new Knights on June 30 — earning their jurisdiction a place in the Supreme Knight’s Circle of Honor.
Also, June was our very best month we’ve had in the history of online membership. The last week of June more than 500 men joined us online.
Overall, it’s been really impressive to see how quickly our Knights have adapted to the times. They’ve jumped to get out there to help people in need in their local communities and their local parishes during this time of pandemic.
Share your story of how your council is helping strengthen people’s faith and offering support during this time. Email email@example.com.
Originally published in a weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. Access Knightline’s monthly archives.
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