Knights of Columbus are called to take ‘co-responsibility’ for church with ‘heart of a father’

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Knights of Columbus
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, is accompanied by Fourth Degree members of the KofC as he leads a Eucharistic Procession outside St. Mary's Church in New Haven, Connecticut, June 9, 2023. (OSV News photo/Tamino Petelinšek, courtesy Knights of Columbus)

(OSV News) — Knights of Columbus are called to have “the heart of a father” while taking “co-responsibility” for the mission of the Catholic Church, said Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly.

“Our witness as Knights … is more important than ever,” Kelly said. “We must be witnesses to the love of God and witnesses to the heart of the Father in heaven.”

He shared his thoughts during a keynote address at the Knights’ annual Organizational Meeting of State Deputies, which took place June 8-11 in New Haven, Connecticut.

This year, the gathering, which drew upward of 70 state deputies from the U.S., Canada and throughout the world, coincided with the Knights’ June 7-9 assembly of more than 40 state chaplains. At present, the Knights count some 2 million members worldwide, with more than 16,000 local councils.

Joining Kelly at the meetings was Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, the Knights’ supreme chaplain, who celebrated a June 9 Mass at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, where the fraternal order was founded in 1882 by Blessed Michael McGivney, the parish’s assistant pastor at the time.

After the liturgy, Archbishop Lori led state chaplains, Knights of Columbus Supreme Officers, board members and state deputies in the first Eucharistic procession to be held at the Knights’ organizational meeting.

Throughout the gathering, participants attended daily Mass and workshops, while visiting key sites in the life of Blessed McGivney, such as St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, Connecticut, where the young priest served as pastor until his death in 1890 at age 38. The church also has gained recent recognition as the site of a possible March 5 Eucharistic miracle that is currently under investigation.

Blessed McGivney “truly lived and loved with the heart of a father — a heart completely dedicated to the service, protection and formation of those in his care,” Kelly said.

He pointed to the success of the Knights’ Aid and Support after Pregnancy (ASAP) initiative as an example of how the Knights are realizing Blessed McGivney’s vision for the organization. Launched in 2022, ASAP has to date raised more than $5 million for mothers and babies, born and unborn.

Noting that faith formation and evangelization are his top priority, Kelly said the Knights’ Cor initiative — piloted earlier this year and focusing on prayer, formation and fraternity — will expand broadly.

“The word ‘cor’ is Latin for ‘heart,’ and the purpose of the Cor meeting is to get to the heart of the matter, and to form men to have the heart of a father,” said Kelly. “That is something every Catholic man needs.”

As part of Cor, the Knights will debut “Men of the Word,” a new Bible study for Catholic men that “(shows) men how to pray with Scripture,” said Kelly. “When it comes to understanding what it really means to be an authentic Catholic man, God’s Word … is one of the most powerful tools that we have.”

In his own keynote, Archbishop Lori described Cor as “absolutely providential,” saying the initiative would be undergirded by the “friendship” that has been “key in the Knights of Columbus.”

“The order has brought together men and their families from around the world in faith, friendship, and in service, (and) … has created bonds of love and friendship among families that are part of the order,” he said.

Those bonds in turn are “rooted in the one who is supremely trustworthy, namely Jesus Christ, the Father’s beloved Son,” said the archbishop.

Along with Cor, a new season of the Knights’ “Into the Breach” video series on marriage and fatherhood also is set for release at the Knights’ Supreme Convention in August, Kelly said.

He stressed that in all of its activities, the Knights have “(worked) side by side with our priests and bishops.”

“We’ve cared for widows and orphans, we’ve strengthened the faith, and time and again, we’ve stood up to defend our faith against bigotry and intolerance,” said Kelly. “This is the power of co-responsibility. It’s the ‘how’ of the Knights of Columbus.”

“It’s how, in each generation,” he added, “we’ve been the ‘strong right arm of the church.'”

Gina Christian

Gina Christian is a National Reporter for OSV News.