Dear brother Knights,
You know well the high esteem in which I and so many priests hold the Knights of Columbus. Recent statements from Cardinal McCarrick and the Holy Father show that they appreciate our Order and wish to do all they can to encourage Catholic men to join and to take an active role in our good works.
The Cardinal writes that the Knights “have been a visible sign of faith in this local Church for more than 100 years, and have a special commitment to promoting charity, fraternity, patriotism and support for the priesthood. I, myself, have been a member of the Knights of Columbus for more than forty years. Our Holy Father recently referred to the Knights as ‘the right arm of the Church.’ The reason is clear. The Knights of Columbus is one of the largest charitable organizations in the United States. Locally, members reach out in so many ways, from volunteering in parishes, supporting archdiocesan agencies such as the Kennedy Institute for the developmentally disabled and always being ready to assist at special archdiocesan events.”
The Cardinal is a realist and knows that not every pastor has been as welcoming as he could have been to our presence and efforts. As an antidote to this confusion and to eradicate such biases, he tells the priests and laity alike, “When you are approached by a Knight or when the Knights conduct a recruitment drive in your parish, I strongly encourage you to give consideration to joining this outstanding Catholic organization. It will open up so many opportunities for you to serve your neighbor and your Church.”
Yes, the Cardinal is quite right that “the Knights are committed to upholding family life and assisting families through insurance programs, fraternal support and other benefits that help keep families strong.” Remember that our efforts to recruit men is not limited to our membership drives and we should always have a Form 100 in our wallets for a prospective candidate.
During an audience in October, Pope John Paul II thanked the Knights of Columbus for their service to the Church. He said, “On this occasion I wish to express once more my deep gratitude for the unfailing support which your order has given to the Church’s mission. This support is shown in a special way in the Vicarius Christi Fund, which is a sign of the solidarity of the Knights of Columbus with the Successor of Peter in his concern for the universal Church. But it is also seen in the daily prayers, sacrifices and apostolic works of so many Knights in their local councils, their parishes and their communities.”
The Holy Father recalled the many direct ways in which the Knights have assisted the Holy See, particularly in contributions for the restoration of St. Peter’s Basilica and their financial support which has made it possible to have the Pope’s voice heard worldwide on radio and television. The Holy Father added that the Knights of Columbus sponsored the restoration, completed in July, of two chapels of the Vatican grottos dedicated to the Virgin Mary, as well as of frescos in St. Peter’s.
The Pope encouraged the Knights to be faithful to the vision of their founder, Father Michael McGivney, whose cause of beatification is under way, and to “continue to seek new ways of being a leaven of the Gospel in the world and a spiritual force for the renewal of the Church in holiness, unity and truth.”
Take pride that we are an important cell in more than 2,000 councils and that we count 1.6 million members as our brothers worldwide.
Fraternally yours in Christ,
Father Joseph Jenkins