What a grand summer so far . . . sure, some time-off with family and priest-friends, but also the 150th Anniversary Mass at Gettysburg, and World Youth Day in Brazil.
Last week added to a banner summer as I joined 3,000 other members at the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in San Antonio, Texas.
All of us are gratefully aware of the “K of C,” as we call them, observing them with admiration at parish, community, and archdiocesan events. We especially appreciate their unflagging devotion to pro-life work, Catholic schools, vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, physically and mentally handicapped, and youth work. As most bishops and parish priests will tell you, “If you want something done, go to the Knights of Columbus.”
In addition to all of this work — they are the largest volunteer organization in the world! — they run the best insurance program around, loyal to the goal of their founder, Father Michael Mc Givney, to care for the widow and orphan of poor, immigrant Catholic workmen.
They have also carried the light of faith to the public square, especially in efforts to protect the fragile life of the preborn baby, the definition of marriage, and religious freedom.
All in all, as I commented in the remarks I was honored to give at the festive States’ Dinner, they are a radiant exhibit of what the Second Vatican Council called for in the vocation of the lay faithful.
The Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, is an astute churchman, and in his splendid “state of the order address,” always a highpoint of the convention, he showed his attentiveness to the invitation now coming from Pope Francis, and encouraged us brother knights in our call to charity and service.
Mr. Anderson referred to the Holy Father’s warning about a “globalization of indifference.” As I observed to the convention, “indifference is not a word you will find in the dictionary of the Knights of Columbus.”
I was particularly proud of my two brother bishops, Gustavo Garcia-Siller, the host Archbishop of San Antonio, who preached and celebrated the inspiring opening Mass; and Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, who gave the Keynote, as they both gave priority to our care for the immigrant.
To promote the dignity of the immigrant was especially appropriate with the K of C. Why? Well, they were founded precisely to offer fraternity and care for Catholic immigrant workers of 130 years ago, who were then, as now, the victims of prejudice, and whose families were so vulnerable if the breadwinner died or was injured; and two, the Knights themselves are of all nations and ethnic backgrounds, so are naturally free of the nasty nativism that sadly characterizes anti-immigrant sentiment today.
Brother Knights, to be with you was like a retreat — yet fun! . . . as I was with you in prayer and recommitment!
Keep up the good work!