I recently attended the Knights of Columbus 135th Supreme Convention in St. Louis, a gathering of over two thousand from throughout North and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Europe – bishops, clergy, Knights and their families – to celebrate what the Knights of Columbus accomplished over the past year and to give encouragement to the members as they carry out the mission of the Knights of Columbus in their local church. The theme of this year’s convention was “Convinced of God’s Love and Power.”
Throughout their history, since 1882, the Knights of Columbus have been a force in responding to the challenges of the times, those challenges presented by the culture, and the challenges faced in society around the world. The Knights’ dedication and commitment to the mission of Jesus Christ is expressed through the ways in which they serve as the Lord’s hands. As we all know, the heart of Christianity is not a series of principles or ideas. It is the person of Jesus Christ who extends his deep love for us and then propels us into action, sacrificing our own lives for others. This is the work of the Knights of Columbus.
Those who are “convinced of God’s love and power” find this as the source of the Christian life and mission. This underlies the work of Christian charity and fraternal charity which is the hallmark of the Knights of Columbus and their councils throughout the world.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, in his annual report given at the convention, shared the major accomplishments of the Knights of Columbus over the past year. He spoke of new records in charitable giving, with more than $177,500,673 given last year. Over the past decade, the Knights of Columbus have donated $1,622,606,995. Over 75 million hours of volunteer service by its members around the world reflect countless individual acts of kindness and love, changing the lives of many people. Other accomplishments include increased membership and the sixteenth consecutive year of growth in insurance sales.
The Knights of Columbus led the way worldwide in assisting Christians facing persecution, especially those facing genocide in the Middle East. They have provided more than $13 million to persecuted Christians since 2014 in the form of food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care. Supreme Knight Anderson shared, “Christians who endure suffering and death for their faith in places like Iraq, Syria and Egypt, show us how to confront terrible evil with the weapons of love and truth. They are a brilliant witness to God’s love and power.”
Two new initiatives were announced to assist Christians at Risk. First, on November 26, the Knights of Columbus and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will sponsor a day of prayer for persecuted Christians followed by a Week of Awareness and Education. Secondly, a new effort was announced to help save Christianity in Iraq by raising $2 million to save the Christian town of Karamedes in Iraq. Until recently Karamedes was controlled by ISIS. The terrorists desecrated churches and graves and looted and destroyed homes.
The Knights of Columbus are urging local councils, parishes, or other church groups, and individuals to help by donating $2,000 — the approximate cost of resettling one family. The rebuilding work will begin immediately. For more information about this initiative or to donate to it, please visit www.christiansatrisk.org.
These are just a few examples of the great charitable work of the Knights of Columbus, continuing its efforts to build a culture of life and a civilization of love.
I am deeply grateful for the great work the Knights of Columbus have done in parishes throughout our diocese, for their support of me and our priests, and for their witness and dedication through the ways in which they serve as the Lord’s hands.
I would encourage all Catholic men to become members of the Knights of Columbus. It is a wonderful way for men to support one another in their faith, to deepen their faith through prayer and action, and to answer the Lord’s call to intentional discipleship. When Catholic men come off the sidelines and get into the work of Christian charity, unity and fraternity the mission of Jesus Christ comes alive and many lives are deeply affected.
To my brother Knights in the Diocese of Rapid City, I conclude with the encouragement that our Supreme Knight shared at the annual convention. “This year let us be in even greater ways who we are called to be as brother Knights. Let us strive to be that radiant and attractive witness of fraternal communion that our church and our world so desperately need. Let us strive to be authentic witnesses of how to care for one another, and how to encourage and accompany one another. We can and we will do these things as the spiritual sons of Father Michael McGivney. We can and we will do these things because we are convinced of God’s love and power.” Vivat Jesus!