The Knights of Columbus donated $100,000 to St. Rose of Lima Catholic Parish in Newtown, Conn., to support ongoing parish programs related to last December’s elementary school shooting.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson presented the gift following a 6:30 p.m. Mass at St. Rose on Monday, Sept. 30. Bridgeport Bishop Frank Caggiano was the principal celebrant and homilist. The supreme knight and Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose, also made remarks at a brief ceremony following Mass.
The Newtown elementary school shooting gripped the nation and the world as the small community mourned the loss of area residents, including 20 children, following the tragic Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“In the 24-hour news cycle, we often read or see the news, are affected for a time, and then quickly move on,” said Anderson. “But the people of Newtown could not simply ‘move on,’ and our gift and award are meant to acknowledge that the work of Msgr. Weiss and the St. Rose of Lima community continues.”
He said Msgr. Weiss, in particular, continues to assist the families that lost loved ones and helps with many practical matters, including community projects and donations.
The donation of funds follows the presentation of the organization’s new Caritas Awards “for exemplary works of charity,” one of which was awarded to Msgr. Weiss.
Conferring the award at the Knights' annual international convention last month in San Antonio, Anderson paraphrased Pope Francis, explaining that “Monsignor was able ‘to sympathize with the brokenness of others without losing his own strength and identity,’ which was no easy task under these circumstances.”
At the convention, Anderson explained that the award goes to the heart of the Knights’ mission: “To come to the aid of neighbors and friends in their hour of need.”
Now, more than nine months since the shootings, he said, the time of need continues.
Also receiving a Caritas Award at the Knights’ convention was Newtown’s Knights of Columbus St. Virgilius Council 185, which was represented by Grand Knight Timothy Haas. The Newtown Knights quickly got involved in assisting the parish and community in the days following the school tragedy.
Their first priority was spiritual as the council established a program that asked people to pray a minimum of three Hail Marys on behalf of the victims and their families, the first responders and teachers, and the Newtown community. With the help of the Knights’ websites, the efforts spread and more than 105,000 people signed up, offering a total of more than 3.25 million prayers.
The Knights also served as ushers at eight funerals for children and helped in the parish when it was overwhelmed with messages of condolence and other logistical challenges.
The new award was established earlier this year by a vote of the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors and will be conferred on future recipients when merited. The Caritas Award becomes the second international award given by the organization. Previously, the Knights of Columbus has, on occasion, given its Gaudium et Spes Award, conferred in recent years on Mother Teresa of Calcutta; Cardinal John O’Connor of New York; and Jean Vanier, the internationally renowned founder of L’Arche, a network of faith-based communities that care for people with developmental disabilities.