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    What to Expect for Council Life in New Year

    Thomas McCaffrey, vice president of Fraternal Operations, on how to maximize your charitable impact in time of pandemic

    By Andrew Fowler 7/27/2020
    Thomas McCaffrey, vice president of Fraternal Operations

    Thomas McCaffrey has served as the vice president of Fraternal Operations at the Knights of Columbus since early January 2020. He leads a team responsible for council operations and member experience, seeking new ways to effectively engage Knights as well as making operations easier for council leadership.

    The Knights of Columbus follows a fiscal calendar known as the “Fraternal Year” – it begins in July and continues through the following June. As the Order begins the new fraternal year, Knightline staff sat down with him to talk about the past year’s successes and the upcoming year’s challenges.

    Knightline: What have been some of the successes in the past fraternal year you have seen? What have been the challenges? What has it been like leading this department during a time of social distancing?

    In November, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson introduced the new Exemplification of Charity, Unity and Fraternity, a ceremony at which Catholic gentlemen commit themselves to living out the principles of the Knights and the Church in the presences of their families and communities. McCaffrey: The 2019-2020 Fraternal Year proved to be an historic year for the Order. The new Exemplification of Charity, Unity and Fraternity has been one of the biggest successes. It has been well-received Order-wide. When the pandemic hit, our team was able to offer the new exemplification both through scheduled and on-demand online events. It has never been easier to join the Knights of Columbus and attend an exemplification ceremony. We are proud of that.

    Furthermore, our team helped to form and promote the Order’s Leave No Neighbor Behind initiative increasing our charitable impact by helping member, parish and community.

    It was quite challenging to adapt the in-person operations of a 137-year-old organization to virtual operations in just a few weeks. However, our team managed to develop methods and procedures for virtual meetings, elections and virtual officer installation ceremonies.


    To make all this possible, we streamlined our communications to fraternal leaders through webinars and the Fraternal Leadership Advisory newsletter.

    It has been an honor to lead this department during this time of work-from-home. I applaud my team every day for their commitment to the Order, their work-ethic and their generous flexibility.

    Knightline: What are your focuses for the upcoming fraternal year?

    McCaffrey: As the pandemic remains with us for the foreseeable future, our team will continue to provide guidance for councils to enhance their virtual operations and increase their charitable impact. We continue to think creatively how to best implement the priorities of the Order. 

    Knightline: What will be the challenges in the upcoming year?

    McCaffrey: Fraternity. It is hard for a fraternal organization to be its truest self in times of social distancing and virtual operations. Video conferencing and phone calls and text messages just aren’t the same as in-person gatherings. However, we must not lose heart, but step up our efforts to do charitable works and serve the Church and one another in creative and meaningful ways.

    Knightline: How can councils have a successful year in this time of uncertainty and social distancing?

    McCaffrey: Councils must learn to operate with the pandemic restrictions in place for the next several months. Some great blueprints for success lie in the Star Council Award and the Leave No Neighbor Behind initiative.  Creative and energetic councils will serve their neighbor, and God, in incredible ways.

    Share your story of how your council is helping strengthen people’s faith and offering support during this time. Email knightline@kofc.org.

    Originally published in a weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. To access Knightline’s archives, click here.

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