The Vital Role of Chaplains
Annual session gathers ‘spiritual strength’ of Knights
The upcoming Year of Faith and the importance of the New Evangelization were studied in detail at the Chaplains Meeting, which gathered 70 state and local council chaplains for their annual session at the Supreme Convention on Monday afternoon.
Representing jurisdictions throughout the Order, the chaplains shared ideas on how they can continue to help Knights grow in an authentic relationship with God.
Archbishop William Lori, supreme chaplain, presided at the meeting, which was conducted by Father John Grace, O.S.A., director of Chaplains Programs and Development. Recognizing that Archbishop Lori is attending his first convention since being appointed last May as head of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the chaplains gave him a standing ovation.
Father Grace called the Year of Faith, which begins October 11th, a perfect opportunity for chaplains to deepen the faith of Knights through catechetical initiatives, special Masses, conferences and parish gatherings to underline the importance of spiritual development in the adult years.
He noted “the strength that we as priests can bring to the Order,” through teaching, preaching, counseling and administering the sacraments. “Our councils need our chaplains," he said. “I tell people all the time when you have an active chaplain, you have an active council that can do an extraordinary amount of good.” Challenging the chaplains, he said, “Let’s begin with ourselves, using the Year of Faith to deepen our own spiritual life as priests, then we will be ready to draw our people into that deeper experience of Jesus Christ.”
Father Grace added that every council must embrace the New Evangelization, which he described as proposing the Gospel to all peoples, those in foreign countries traditionally thought of as “mission lands” and those closer to home, in families, workplaces, neighborhoods, parishes and councils.
Asked what the Knights are planning for the Year of Faith, Archbishop Lori mentioned a few initiatives, including using his monthly column in Columbia magazine to deepen the spiritual life of Knights by explaining the faith foundation of the Order’s four principles – charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. He will also provide instruction and resources on important topics such as the social teachings of the Church and the development of a consistent prayer life.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said that the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization are perfect opportunities for the Knights of Columbus, which has councils in parishes standing ready to assist the pastor.
“From my perspective, it all boils down to what our Catholic laymen are going to do,” he said. “How will we take our responsibility to evangelize the culture?” The life of the Church is in the parish, he noted, and Knights must work with their pastors to build up the life of the local parish, he said.
The Order’s Catholic Information Service will do a series of booklets on the New Evangelization, the first of which was given to the chaplains at the meeting, titled “What is the New Evangelization?”
Recalling the Guadalupe Celebration which was held the day before with more than 50,000 people filling the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Supreme Knight said that Our Lady of Guadalupe is the key to the New Evangelization, stating, “She is the path on which we will build a Civilization of Love.”
Proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI for the universal Church, the Year of Faith, begins October 11, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Designed to be a period of catechesis, spiritual development and renewal within the Church, the Year of Faith continues until the feast of Christ the King in 2013. It will open with a Synod on the New Evangelization, for bishops throughout the world.