As Knights of Columbus leaders gather for annual mid-year meeting, Supreme Knight Kelly urges them to grow in faith, expand the Order’s membership, and advance the mission established by Blessed Michael McGivney.
Knights of Columbus state deputies gathered in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 5-7 for their semi-annual meeting. Speaking to leaders of nearly 70 jurisdictions, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly encouraged them to grow in faith, expand the Order’s membership, and advance the mission established by Blessed Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus.
In addition to keynote addresses and special Masses, highlights of the meeting included the launch of the Order’s new St. Joseph pilgrim icon prayer program and the presentation of the St. Michael Award to four Knights for exemplary service to the Order. The three-day meeting also featured a panel discussion focused on Leading with Creative Courage, and breakout sessions that addressed topics like evangelization and faith formation, membership growth, marketing and member experience.
In his address to state deputies Nov. 5, Supreme Knight Kelly reminded them that Blessed Michael McGivney was “a man of action.” He added, “Our Founder was not content to watch and lament the struggles of his parishioners and community. He rose to meet those struggles head on — decisively and courageously. By establishing the Knights of Columbus, Father McGivney gave men a place to stand as brothers, bound together in charity, unity and fraternity.”
Supreme Knight Kelly continued, “Let’s do what Blessed Michael McGivney did in his time and form the Catholic men in our time. The Knights of Columbus was made for this mission. Now, let’s fulfill it, once again.”
The supreme knight also called on state deputies to grow deeper, as men of faith, and broader, by expanding the Order’s membership. “A lot of men, especially young men, are looking for meaning and answers. We offer both — a life of service and a life of meaning. Don’t just encourage men to adopt our initiatives; explain to them why our initiatives matter, and how the Knights can help them be the kind of men God is calling them to be,” he said.
Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore also addressed the state deputies, saying, “Our debt to Father McGivney is incalculable. ... Without him, countless Catholic men would have lost their faith and countless families would have been set adrift. Because of his holiness, barriers such as time, place, and culture dissolve. He accompanies us on our journey of faith today, wherever we may be, no less than he accompanied his 19th-century parishioners of St. Mary’s in New Haven.”
Archbishop Lori added, “When we venerate Blessed McGivney throughout our jurisdictions, we are inviting him to smile upon us from his place in heaven, and more than that, we are inviting him to visit us in our need.”
On Saturday, Nov. 6, Archbishop Lori celebrated a Votive Mass in honor of St. Joseph. He drew from Scripture two important virtues in St. Joseph’s life — his obedient faith and his trustworthiness — noting, “These two virtues ought to stand out in us as Knights of Columbus, and especially in us who are leaders among our brother Knights in the Order.”
Archbishop Lori said obedience of faith means that, due to the working of God’s grace, “our hearts are repaired, cleansed, transformed and fully attuned to God’s will, especially to God’s mysterious plan for the redemption of the world.”
He added, “St. Joseph’s vocation to foster the earthly life of Jesus is, of course, unique, but all of us have been called to the obedience of faith. Father McGivney envisioned his Knights, above all, as men of obedient faith, who, with their wives and children, would live their vocation to the fullest.”
Regarding St. Joseph’s example of trustworthiness, Archbishop Lori reminded Knights, “In choosing Joseph to care with a father’s love for the Incarnate Son of God, the Eternal Father recognized in St. Joseph a man of utmost integrity, a man who perhaps had no idea what God had in mind for him but nonetheless went about his daily life and work with honesty and reliability.”
In brief remarks following the Mass, Supreme Knight Kelly launched the Order’s new pilgrim icon prayer program, inspired by Patris Corde, the apostolic letter of Pope Francis announcing the Year of St. Joseph that began Dec. 8, 2020. The prayer program features an icon of St. Joseph holding the Christ Child from St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. Recalling his Oct. 25 meeting with Pope Francis in Rome, Supreme Knight Kelly noted, “The Holy Father was grateful that we’ve made St. Joseph a central focus of our spiritual efforts.”
Previously, Supreme Knight Kelly entrusted his tenure as Supreme Knight to St. Joseph. In his introduction to the two-year pilgrim icon program, the Supreme Knight encouraged Knights and their communities to “turn in prayer to St. Joseph,” “give thanks to God for the gift of his fatherly example and ask St. Joseph to be a father to us,” as we seek to “grow in our own imitation of St. Joseph’s quiet strength, integrity and fidelity.”
The St. Joseph icon is the latest sacred image to be featured in the Knights of Columbus Pilgrim Prayer Program. Every few years, the Supreme Council selects a sacred image that is particularly inspiring to Knights and their families to be featured in the program. The icons travel from council to council and serve as the centerpieces for rosary-based prayer services in parishes around the world. Since its inception in 1979, the program has held more than 174,800 local council and parish prayer services with some 22 million participants. Featured images have included Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Częstochowa, Our Lady of Pochaiv, Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Charity, Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians and the Holy Family. For more information about the St. Joseph Pilgrim Icon Program, Knights are encouraged to visit kofc.org/pilgrimicon.
During the meeting’s closing session on Nov. 7, Supreme Knight Kelly honored four Knights with the St. Michael Award for exemplary service to the Order. Receiving the St. Michael Award were Augustinian Father John Grace, former director of chaplains for the Knights of Columbus; Former Supreme Warden George W. Hanna; Supreme Master Dennis Stoddard; and Col. Charles “Chuck” Gallina (USMC-Ret.), the supreme knight’s advisor for military and veterans affairs.