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NEW HAVEN, CONN. – Pope Francis recognized the Knights of Columbus for the fraternal order’s efforts to build a “fraternal, just and equitable world,” on the eve of the Knights’ 138th annual convention.
For the first time in its 138-year history, the Knights of Columbus will not meet in person for its annual supreme convention. Instead, this important meeting will be held virtually Aug. 4-6, with members tuning in across the world to key convention events broadcast from New Haven, Connecticut.
This virtual convention, necessitated by the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, is not the only historic aspect of this year’s event. The 2020 convention will also celebrate the upcoming beatification of the Knights’ founder, Blessed Father Michael McGivney.
In recognition of the unique and important time in which the convention is being held, Pope Francis extended his well-wishes to the Knights of Columbus through a letter from Vatican Secretariat of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin, dated July 14, 2020.
The message acknowledged the meeting’s theme, “Knights of Fraternity,” and the Order’s work during the pandemic, saying, “The theme of the Convention – Knights of Columbus: Knights of Fraternity – is a timely reminder of the vision that guided the foundation of your Order. … In these days, your Order has provided charitable support on the local, national and international level to individuals and communities suffering because of the pandemic or otherwise often forgotten or marginalized.”
The letter added that “His Holiness is grateful for these and for the many other countless ways in which the Knights of Columbus continue to bear prophetic witness to God’s dream for a more fraternal, just and equitable world in which all are recognized as neighbors and no one is left behind.”
Additionally, the papal message included the Holy Father’s appreciation for the Knights’ work on behalf of persecuted Christians, the unborn and all those are marginalized because of the pandemic or other circumstances, as well as his confidence that the beatification of Father McGivney “will be a stimulus for Knights to deepen their commitment to live as missionary disciples in charity, unity and fraternity.”
The letter continued, saying that Pope Francis “is confident that Father McGivney’s heroic virtues and example of faith will inspire you to seek each day in prayer the wisdom and strength to practice ‘a fraternal love capable of seeing the sacred grandeur of our neighbor, of finding God in every human being’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 92). As a parish priest, your Founder knew well and wished to impress on his flock the urgency of the Gospel mandate, ‘Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me’ (Mt 25:40).”
2020 Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention Public Events
The full papal message will be read aloud during the convention’s opening Mass on Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 6:30 p.m. (EDT), which will be celebrated by Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of the Archdiocese of Hartford at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven. St. Mary’s is where Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 and where his remains are interred.
Following the Mass at 8 p.m. (EDT), Supreme Knight Carl Anderson will deliver his annual report, highlighting the achievements from the past fraternal year and new initiatives for the Order.
On Aug. 5 at 2 p.m. (EDT), an annual memorial Mass will be offered for all deceased Knights of Columbus and their families. During Mass, Deputy Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly will read the Order’s necrology, sharing the names of Knights of Columbus leaders who died since the last convention. This includes Past Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant, who passed away on Feb. 15, 2020, and was the Order’s longest-serving supreme knight, holding office from 1977 to 2000.
Finally, at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 5, an awards session that recognizes the outstanding service of our Knights and their families to their parishes and communities will be held.
All of these events will be shown on kofc.org/convention. In addition, broadcast coverage of some events will be provided by EWTN, Canada’s Salt + Light Television and the CatholicTV Network.
About the Knights of Columbus
The Knights of Columbus is one of the world’s leading fraternal and service organizations with
2 million members in more than 16,000 parish-based councils. During the past year, Knights around the world donated more than 77 million service hours and $187 million for worthy causes in their communities. The organization also provides financial services to groups and individuals, resulting in more than $112 billion of life insurance in force, and through its money management firm, Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors, it invests in accord with Catholic social teachings. From helping children in need, to providing wheelchairs for the disabled, to helping stock food banks, to offering top-rated and affordable insurance products to its members, the Knights of Columbus has supported families and communities for more than 138 years.
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