The international character and worldwide appeal of the Knights of Columbus were on full display at the Opening Mass of the 131st Supreme Convention in San Antonio, Texas, with more than 2,000 Knights and their family members from many countries attending the liturgy that was concelebrated by prelates and priests from around the world.
The principal celebrant was Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio, who also delivered the homily. Concelebrating were 11 cardinals, dozens of other archbishops and bishops and more than 100 priests. The Mass was celebrated August 6, the feast of the Transfiguration, in the grand ballroom of the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country.
Leading the opening procession was an honor guard of more than 100 Fourth Degree Knights. The four state deputies from Mexico also processed carrying a large reliquary containing relics of all the Knights of Columbus martyrs from their country.
In his homily, Archbishop García-Siller thanked Knights of Columbus for their worldwide work of aiding those most in need, efforts that amounted last year to more than $167 million in charitable donations and 70 million volunteer hours. He mentioned in particular the Order’s relief work after the devastating hurricane in Oklahoma and the plant explosion in West, Texas. In both events, the Supreme Council supported the work of local Knights who provided immediate help to those directly affected.
The archbishop said, “Your principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism are vital for the Church and vital for our country and nations throughout the world.”
At the beginning of his homily, he echoed the words of Pope Francis at the recent World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, saying, “My brother bishops, priests, Knights and family members, it is good for us to be here in the presence of the Lord – gathered from throughout the world.”
The account of the Transfiguration from the Gospel of St. Luke tells of the brilliant divinity of Jesus, but also contains suggestions of shadows in the world, the archbishop explained. “The Transfiguration is both a dazzling experience that confirmed who Jesus is – the Son of God – and a frightening event that reduced the disciples to silence. There is both light and shadow in this story,” he said.
Among the shadows in today’s world, he continued, “is the constant migration of peoples” who are fleeing situations in their own countries and seeking a better life in another. The Church and all believers must seek ways to reach out and assist these people because they are brothers and sisters in the Lord, the archbishop noted.
He concluded, “Pope Francis’ words still ring for us a true challenge that shines with the light of the very principles of the Knights of Columbus: ‘Go. Do not be afraid. Serve.”