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K N I G H T S O F C O LU M BU S  ♌   ♌  



A Spiritual Battlefield An interview with Supreme Knight Carl Anderson about the Into the Breach program and video series. BY COLUMBIA STAFF

10 Virgil Dechant Remembered Past Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant’s vision and leadership left an indelible mark on the Knights of Columbus. BY SUPREME KNIGHT CARL ANDERSON, RUSSELL SHAW, CECILIA HADLEY AND ANDY FOWLER

16 Law & The Order A Chicago council of police officers puts faith into action through community outreach and fraternal service. BY MARYANGELA ROMĂ N

20 In Unity With Peter Knights of Columbus Board of Directors pilgrimage celebrates a century of collaboration with the Bishop of Rome.

The K of C flag flies at half-staff outside the Knights of Columbus Headquarters in New Haven, Conn., in honor of Past Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant, who died Feb. 16.


Building a better world The Knights of Columbus marks 100 years of service in Rome. BY SUPREME KNIGHT CARL A. ANDERSON


Learning the faith, living the faith Jesus lifts the weight of our sadness by his Word and sacramental presence. BY SUPREME CHAPLAIN

25 Spiritual Reflection God desires to heal our hearts with his infinite love. BY SISTER GAUDIA SKASS, OLM

26 Knights in Action



PLUS: Catholic Man of the Month

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‘Thy Will Be Done’ Jesuit Father Walter Ciszek (19041984) felt a sense of complete helplessness in solitary confinement at Moscow’s infamous Lubianka prison. The Polish American priest had traveled to the Soviet Union with the intention of being a missionary, but he was arrested as a “Vatican spy� at the start of World War II. Serving an interminable sentence amid excruciating circumstances, he eventually succumbed to despair. Then, in a profound moment of grace, he renounced all vestiges of self-reliance and abandoned himself to God’s mercy. Though still imprisoned, he suddenly possessed an interior freedom and peace beyond all understanding (cf. Phil 4:7). “It is in choosing to serve God, to do his will, that man achieves his highest and fullest freedom,� Father Ciszek later wrote in his spiritual memoir, He Leadeth Me (1973). “I could testify from my own experiences, especially from my darkest hours in Lubianka, that the greatest sense of freedom, along with peace of soul and an abiding sense of security, comes when a man totally abandons his own will in order to follow the will of God.� Where does one find the will of God? The key for Father Ciszek was recognizing the hand of divine providence in “these things alone, here and now.� He found particular strength and consolation in Christ’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you

willâ€? (Mt 26:39, Lk 22:42). The Lord, in his human nature, takes upon himself the fear and anguish of us all, yet he perfectly submits to the plan of his Father — and he thereby brings salvation to the world. Father Ciszek observed, “For each of us, salvation means no more and no less than taking up daily the same cross of Christ.â€? Pope Francis echoed these truths in his message for Lent 2020. “Christian joy flows from listening to, and accepting, the Good News of the death and resurrection of Jesus. ‌ Whoever believes this message rejects the lie that our life is ours to do with as we will.â€? The purpose of prayer, Pope Francis added, is to “convert us ever more fully to God and to his will.â€? While the spiritual challenges that beset the Church and society have prompted the Order’s Into the Breach program and other initiatives (see page 6), we are all now facing a global crisis of a different kind — and all of the fears, suffering and uncertainties that come with it (see prayer on page 33). How is a person of faith to respond to such crises and any number of personal challenges? The answer lies not in our own power, but instead must begin with our abandonment to Divine Mercy (see page 25). For Jesus Christ, who has won the victory over sin and death, has also taught us how to pray: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.â€?♌ ALTON J. PELOWSKI EDITOR

Catholic Information Service Resource: “Into the Breachâ€? Into the Breach: An Apostolic Exhortation to Catholic Men (#340) by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix calls men to embrace their essential roles as protectors and defenders of the faith. Adopted by the Knights of Columbus into a spiritual formation program, the document has also inspired a new K of C-produced video series (see page 6). The booklet includes a study guide and discussion questions. To download or order copies, visit 2 ♌ COLUMBIA ♌

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Venerable Michael McGivney (1852-90) Apostle to the Young, Protector of Christian Family Life and Founder of the Knights of Columbus, Intercede for Us.


HOW TO REACH US MAIL COLUMBIA 1 Columbus Plaza New Haven, CT 06510-3326 ADDRESS CHANGES 203-752-4210, option #3 COLUMBIA INQUIRIES 203-752-4398 K OF C CUSTOMER SERVICE 1-800-380-9995 EMAIL INTERNET ________ Membership in the Knights of Columbus is open to men 18 years of age or older who are practical (that is, practicing) Catholics in union with the Holy See. This means that an applicant or member accepts the teaching authority of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals, aspires to live in accord with the precepts of the Catholic Church, and is in good standing in the Catholic Church.


Copyright Š 2020 All rights reserved ________ ON THE COVER St. Michael the Archangel is depicted in a mosaic in the chapel at Campo Sportivo Pio XI, one of the Order’s sports centers in Rome.



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Charity in the Eternal City The Knights of Columbus marks 100 years of service in Rome by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson IN FEBRUARY, Pope Francis received in helping every Bishop of Rome since the Knights of Columbus Supreme Of- 1920 to preach the Gospel message ficers and Directors in a private audi- around the world, both in person, and ence at the Vatican. We had traveled on through the modern means of commua pilgrimage to commemorate the nications including television, radio 100th anniversary of the Order’s serv- and the internet. intellectually disabled and poor, as well ice in Rome (see page 20). “During your pontificate, we have as immigrant and Native American Here I would like to share some of also been honored to support many of communities needing humanitarian aswhat I said in my formal remarks to the Holy See’s international confer- sistance. Likewise, we have continued Pope Francis on that occasion. ences on aspects of faith and charity. our work of evangelization, helping to “It was a century ago that we began We have worked closely with the Pon- revitalize our parishes, and witnessing our work in this city at the request of tifical Commission for Latin America to the truth and beauty of the Gospel Pope Benedict XV. He asked the on such events here in Rome and within our communities. Knights’ leadership — then on pil- around the world, including in Mexico “Just last month, the Knights of grimage in Europe — to start Columbus grew to more than centers in the Eternal City that 2 million members, and our offered sports and catechesis Supreme Directors gathered One hundred years ago, for the youth of the Rome. here today represent our Pope Benedict XV said: ‘Knights of “Venerable Pope Pius XII’s members in the United States, food program for the citizens Canada, Mexico, the PhilipColumbus, you have done great things of Rome during World War II pines, Cuba, Poland, Ukraine, was run from one of our cenLithuania, South Korea and — you are destined to do still greater.’ ters, and after the war, Rome’s France. In all these nations, children were fed by the Knights take seriously our United Nations Relief and Rehabilita- City and Bogotá. It has also been our support of the Church — locally in our tion Agency at one of our playgrounds great privilege to continue our work on parishes, and universally through our in the city. Today, charitable work con- preserving the universal patrimony of assistance to the Holy See and to every tinues at our facilities in Rome. Our the Church through our collaboration pope during the last 100 years. Pius XI Sports Center overlooking St. with the Fabbrica di San Pietro. And I “One hundred years ago, Pope Peter’s Basilica is a spiritual home for am pleased that we will soon be under- Benedict XV said: ‘Knights of ColumRome’s Filipino immigrant community. taking a new project with the Fabbrica bus, you have done great things — The same facility also hosts Special in the Scavi adjacent to the tomb of St. you are destined to do still greater. Olympics games for disabled athletes Peter — the latest manifestation of our Knights, be welcome to Rome.’ Inand the Clericus Cup for seminarians. support for the Rock on which Christ deed, we have felt at home here in the Eternal City this past century, and “Far beyond Rome, we have also built his Church. “We have been grateful for Your Ho- today I promise to Your Holiness that been pleased to assist financially Your Holiness’ apostolic journeys to the liness’ greetings to our annual conven- in the century to come, the Knights of United States and Lithuania and to tions, and we have continued to answer Columbus will work tirelessly to fulfill sponsor major catechetical sites at our founding call to assist those on the that destiny, offering even greater servWorld Youth Days in Poland and margins — making a special priority ice to Holy Mother Church and the Panama. We see these actions as part of our support for persecuted Christians successor of St. Peter.” the support we have long undertaken in the Middle East, the unborn, the Vivat Jesus!

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‘In the Breaking of Bread’ Jesus lifts the weight of our sadness by his Word and sacramental presence by Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori SOMETIMES IT SEEMS as if a bitterness against God, the Church and cloud is hanging over our heads — those who carry forward its mission. not a specific problem or threat to our We might imagine that Knights of well-being, but rather a general feeling Columbus, other practicing Catholics of sadness and anxiety that overshad- and those who minister in the ows our culture. Especially as people Church’s name are somehow imbecome more divided and isolated, mune to our culture and to acedia’s do so, he will open the saving messuch melancholy makes it harder to temptations. It would be foolish to sage of Scripture, a message that face problems, whether in our per- think so. Even the first disciples leads us to the Eucharist, where we sonal lives, the Church or society. needed the grace of the crucified and too can recognize Jesus “in the breakThis kind of despondency, com- risen Lord to help them out of their ing of bread.” Indeed, Word and sacrament are the two great antidotes mon in many developed countries, spiritual despondency. often accompanies a decline in reliDemoralized by Jesus’ death, two to spiritual sadness, and as we see in gious practice. While I can’t cite a disciples were making their way to- the Emmaus episode, they are deeply study to prove it, it seems more than ward the village of Emmaus when the bound together. When we listen humbly, coincidental that where belief prayerfully and persistently to in God and religious practice the Word of God, the causes of have waned, there is a correWe should not hesitate to share our sadness are unearthed and sponding rise in unhappiness revealed. Room — indeed, and insecurity. our burden of sadness hunger — is created in our We live in an age in which with the risen Lord and hearts for the presence of Jesus. many people reject a “given” How blessed we are that the nature to things, think that sciinvite him to walk with us. Word of God which illumience has disproven the validity nates our heart “sacramentally of religious faith and assert a radical right to self-determination. risen Lord joined them — though the takes flesh in the event of the EuThis worldview, however, is itself a disciples did not recognize him. As charist” (Pope Benedict XVI, Verbum source of anxiety. When faced with they walked along, Jesus not only in- Domini, 55). At the Last Supper, Jesus promised the idea of a godless universe and a vited them to share their sadness with finite horizon, we human beings in- him, but also helped them overcome his disciples, “I will not leave you stinctively feel as though we are it. For along the way, he opened the desolate; I will come to you” (Jn trapped inside a box. We are made meaning of sacred Scripture, showing 14:18). On Easter Sunday, he stood for more. them how it pointed to his own death in their midst and said, “Peace be Even those who profess and prac- and resurrection. As a result, the dis- with you” (Jn 20:19). If ever we are tempted to despair, tice the faith can be affected by this ciples’ hearts burned with joy, a joy relativistic culture and succumb to a that overflowed when they sat at table let us ask for the grace of the Holy spiritual malady called “acedia” — a with Jesus and recognized him “in the Spirit to open our hearts anew to the deep-seated state of interior sadness breaking of bread” — that is, in the crucified and risen Lord. And as the Church solemnly celebrates the resurthat results in spiritual and moral Eucharist (cf. Lk 24:13-35). We should not hesitate to share our rection of Christ, his triumph over sin paralysis. It can turn the soul against all the means of healing and growth burden of sadness with the risen Lord and death, may we recognize his savin virtue, and it can even lead to and invite him to walk with us. If we ing, eucharistic presence and rejoice.♦ 4 ♦ COLUMBIA ♦

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A monthly reflection and practical challenge from Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori:


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And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?� which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?� ... But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit. And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. (Gospel for April 5, Mt 27:46, 50-51) We can sometimes can get the idea that Jesus was a “nice guy� and that our purpose as Christians is to be nice people who do nice things and don’t bother with anything unpleasant. Jesus’ heartrending words from the cross should


demolish this misconception. Here the Son of God cries out, quoting Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?â€? He gives us permission to make these words our own — in whatever moments of pain, anguish and suffering we experience. You and I are invited to pour out our hearts openly to God in trust and confidence. Challenge by Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori: This month, as we enter Holy Week and celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord, I challenge you to pray the Stations of the Cross and to meditate on Christ’s anguish in his passion.♌


Blessed JosĂŠ Trinidad Rangel (1887-1927)

We pray that those suffering from addiction may be helped and accompanied.

L I T U RG I C A L C A L E N DA R April 5 April 9

Palm Sunday of the Passion

of the Lord

Holy Thursday

April 10 Friday of the Passion

of the Lord (Good Friday)

April 11 Holy Saturday

April 12 Easter Sunday of the

Resurrection of the Lord

April 19 Sunday of Divine Mercy

April 25 St. Mark, Evangelist

April 29 St. Catherine of Siena,

Virgin and Doctor of the Church

In April 1927, Father JosÊ Trinidad Rangel Montaùo was asked to visit the town of San Francisco del Rincón to celebrate Holy Week. It was a risky assignment; religious persecution was fierce in Mexico in the 1920s, especially in this central region, the heart of the Cristero War. But Father Rangel, a priest of the Diocese of León, saw the invitation as a sign of God’s will. He had been raised in a devoutly Catholic farming family in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato. His dream of entering the seminary had to wait until he received a scholarship at age 20. With the closing of many seminaries during the Mexican Revolution (1910-20), JosÊ completed his studies in Texas before he was ordained in León in 1919. Father Rangel served in various parishes and was known for his humility, love of the Eucharist and zeal in hearing confessions. As clerical persecution intensified, he was urged to flee to the U.S., but he stayed and carried out a clandestine ministry from a safe house in León. There he met Claretian Father AndrÊs Solå y

Molist and Leonardo PÊrez Larios — both, like Father Rangel, members of the Knights of Columbus. Father Rangel was discovered and arrested April 22 during his mission to San Francisco del Rincón. The León safe house was raided soon after. All three Knights were charged with sedition and falsely accused of involvement in a recent train derailment. Taken to the site of the derailment near El Rancho de San Joaquín, the men spread their arms in the sign of a cross before they were shot and killed April 25. A member of Council 2484 in San Felipe, Guanajuato, Father Rangel was beatified with his two brother Knights and 10 other Mexican martyrs in 2005.♌

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OUR CALL TO SPIRITUAL BATTLE An interview with Supreme Knight Carl Anderson about the Into the Breach program and video series

RIGHT: Photo by Tamino Petelinšek


t began with “a clarion call” to men in the Diocese of Phoenix: “Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you.” Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s apostolic exhortation, titled “Into the Breach,” urged Catholic men to embrace their essential roles as protectors and as defenders of the faith. In 2017, the Knights of Columbus adopted the document into a spiritual formation program, providing the text to members around the world with a study guide to encourage prayer, discussion and action. Now, the document’s powerful insights are reaching even more people through a complementary new video series produced by the Knights. Twelve episodes of Into the Breach, averaging about 12 minutes in length, were released on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26. Each episode features interviews with various Catholic leaders and authors, men as well as women, who explore themes of Bishop Olmsted’s letter, such as masculinity, fatherhood, suffering and leadership. Knights are encouraged to share the videos with friends and family, and councils are encouraged to show the videos in small group settings, before parish gatherings of men and their families, or as part of a day of reflection, retreat or similar event. The series, which has received very positive reviews, can be viewed at Columbia recently spoke with Supreme Knight Carl Anderson about the new series and what he hopes it will accomplish.

C OLUMBIA : What inspired Bishop Olmsted’s apostolic exhortation to Catholic men and its title “Into the Breach”? Why is its message so urgent today? SUPREME KNIGHT: Bishop Olmsted begins the document by taking stock of the Church and family life today, and he sees what we all see — a large drop-off in attendance at Mass, people leaving the Church, especially youth, and a society that is confused about some of the most basic questions of identity and the nature of the family. As I have said elsewhere, it is really a crisis of evangelization, a failure to evangelize, especially within the family. And in the face of this crisis, the Church needs Catholic men to take responsibility and to act. This is what Bishop Olmsted means by stepping into the breach. According to some projections, fewer than 1 in 10 Catholics under the age of 21 will continue to practice the faith as adults. What are we going to do about that? Sociologists tell us that the single most important factor in determining whether children who are raised Catholic will practice the faith as adults is the faith life of their father. To call men to step into the breach means to call them to live their faith deeply and to be heroic as husbands and fathers. This is also central to the mission and identity of the Knights of Columbus. Practicing our principles of charity, unity and fraternity is fundamentally about growing in holiness.

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COLUMBIA: How did the Knights of Columbus come to adopt “Into the Breach” as a Faith in Action program and develop a study guide? What has been the response? S UPREME KNIGHT: Less than two months after Bishop Olmsted promulgated “Into the Breach” in September 2015, I announced an Orderwide initiative — Building the Domestic Church While Strengthening Our Parish. And this initiative led to the new Faith in Action program model in 2018. Both relate to the key role that the Knights of Columbus can play in the renewal of parish and family life. When “Into the Breach” was first published, I saw it as providential. It was as if it were directed at the Knights, who strive to respond to the very same challenges addressed in the document. Working with the Diocese of Phoenix, we decided to reprint it as a Catholic Information Service booklet, and because of the nature of the content, we felt a study guide was necessary as well. Many of the issues raised in the document require some formation and explanation. What is true masculinity as the Catholic tradition understands it? What does it mean for a man to really lead in his home and in his community? Or, as Bishop Olmsted put it, “How does a man love?” These questions require deep reflection, and our hope is that the study guide encourages that reflection. I say “hope,” but in fact, we have already seen it. Where study guides are being used as part of the Into the Breach Faith in Action program, we are getting great feedback. This and related Faith in Action programs are changing the lives of brother Knights and their families — and they are also attracting men to the Order. I see the hand of God in the timing of this. There is a great need, and this program is helping us provide an answer. COLUMBIA: What was the vision for the new Into the Breach video series? How does it complement the document?




SUPREME KNIGHT: The series closely follows the themes of the document, and Bishop Olmsted’s own voice comes through in interviews. That said, the videos also enhance the message of the document in a few ways. First, as videos, they can do things that a document cannot, with visuals and sound and additional voices, elaborating on different insights. Second, we wanted to make the document come alive by sharing inspirational stories of individual Catholic men — men who are pursuing Christ with all their heart. The men who are featured in the videos are not perfect men; like all of us, they have weaknesses. At the same time, they admit failures and testify to God’s goodness and the power of forgiveness and redemption. In other words, they are men we can relate to. The net result is powerful teaching and a vision of true manhood that can touch every man. C OLUMBIA: What is distinctive about men’s spirituality? How does the Into the Breach series address or appeal to those qualities? SUPREME KNIGHT: One key point is fatherhood. Whether it is spiritual or biological fatherhood, it means taking responsibility for the lives of those around us, as well as the environment we create in our homes and communities. Protecting others first requires self-mastery, which is something many men are struggling with right now. It is easy to be passive and lazy in the modern world — to focus on making things as comfortable as possible, avoiding responsibility and the hardships that come with it. In this climate, it was essential that we emphasized in the videos not only the need for leadership but also for selfcontrol and a mature understanding of the role of suffering in our lives — not for its own sake, but for the sake of others. I hope the series serves as a wake-up call for men to remember that they were born into a battle — a spiritual battle, yes,


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but nonetheless very real warfare. It is a battle for their souls and those of their wives and children and the whole world. Once a man sees this, his whole perspective on life changes. In my experience, this realization makes many men take their own formation more seriously. It gives them a clear vision for their God-given mission in life. This mental shift is fundamental and has to occur if Christian men are going to take their place in the great battle and step into the breach where the Lord is calling them. The teaching presented in the videos is a challenge, because the Gospel is a challenge. I think many men will walk away with a deep sense of commitment to make changes in their lives. C OLUMBIA: Can you say more about the decision-making behind the production? For instance, what went into choosing the particular topics and interview subjects? SUPREME KNIGHT: Well, a project like this takes many minds to be done well, so we consulted widely. The themes themselves are driven by the text, but other decisions were the product of many conversations and a fair bit of trial and error. I spent more hours than I can count reviewing versions of the videos and discussing them with others. I am happy with the final product, especially with the way various elements came together. They have many dimensions and, more importantly, they tell a story. One of the most personally gratifying elements of this whole process was identifying the men to feature. These include unknown heroes who have been through incredible suffering and yet model hope and strength for the rest of us. They point to the fact that evangelization is not an abstract idea. It is a personal reality of individuals, families and communities being transformed by Jesus Christ. There are so many men out there who are carrying their crosses daily, living lives of virtue and being a light for the world. This gives me great hope for our Church.


LIFE COLUMBIA: Who is the target audience of the video series, and what role will it play in the Faith in Action program? S UPREME K NIGHT : Originally, our target audience was members of the Knights of Columbus. But we designed the videos to be watched by anyone, in any number of settings — individually or in groups, for presentations or retreats. Some of the most positive comments we have received have come from priests. And the series is not only for men. Many women have shared with us how helpful they found the videos, especially as something they can watch with their husbands or other loved ones. In the upcoming fraternal year, the Into the Breach videos, with new study guides, will be part of an official Faith in Action program that councils may choose as part of their yearly plan. C OLUMBIA: Are there any current plans to further develop Into the Breach and related spirituality initiatives of the Knights of Columbus? SUPREME KNIGHT: Yes. We are in a conversation about a project that will make these videos even more widely known and further develop the themes. We are also in the process of developing another video series based on a second document by Bishop Olmsted, titled “Complete My Joy.” Written to husbands and wives, it is a kind of sequel to “Into the Breach” and is also available as a CIS booklet. Marriage and the family are in crisis — there is major breach there, and we want to offer very practical guidance and inspiration for Catholic men and women to live out the mission of the domestic church in their homes. The Knights of Columbus has a special obligation in this moment of crisis. As the largest Catholic fraternal organization in the world, founded with a mission to protect Catholic families, we can and must make a difference. We will continue to do more. This is simply who we are.♦




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VIRGIL DECHANT REMEMBERED The longest-serving supreme knight in K of C history, Virgil C. Dechant, died Feb. 16 at age 89. He is survived by his wife, Ann, their four children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. During Dechant’s 23-year administration, from 1977 until 2000, the Order grew in membership and played an increasingly important role in the life of the Church.

‘A Man Who Was True’ by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson EDITOR’S NOTE: Supreme Knight Anderson delivered the following eulogy at the Church of the Nativity in Leawood, Kan., Feb. 22.


he best tribute to Virgil Dechant can be found in the 25th chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel: “Well done, good and faithful servant.â€? That is how I will always remember Virgil. A good and faithful Catholic man, husband and father — a man who touched the lives of millions, a man who by hard work and example helped show millions more the light of faith. Many of us have known great men over the years. But Virgil stands out: He brought together the ability and vision to lead with a concern for those utterly forgotten. For Virgil, loving God and neighbor were not abstractions. They were a rule of life that he lived concretely every day. It is hard to encapsulate nine decades of life in just a few minutes. It’s even harder when those nine decades were lived by Virgil Dechant. What he accomplished was a testament to a life lived faithfully — to a great return on the talents God gave him, and to what we mean when we say “faith in action.â€? I would like to focus on just a few aspects of his legacy. Virgil did many things for the Order — growing its membership and business, and making it a key partner in major Vatican restoration projects. But for the Order, I think his most enduring — and endearing — legacy was his success, not as a businessman, but as a Catholic man who intuitively understood what was necessary 10 ♌ C O L U M B I A ♌

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to sustain this great brotherhood of Catholic men that is the Knights of Columbus. The first part of this legacy was his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary — prayerfully bringing her image to millions through our pilgrim icon program, introducing her rosary into the ceremonials of the Order, and giving every new member a Knights of Columbus rosary. “Mary with her Knights ‌ what challenge can we not face?â€? These words inspired a generation of Knights — especially those committed to defending the sanctity of human life before birth. A second part of this legacy was that Virgil always remembered his studies at the Pontifical College Josephinum, and his time there marked him with a special reverence and respect for the priesthood. There was no more heartfelt expression of his leadership as a layman in our Church and devotion to its sacraments than the phrase, “In solidarity with our priests.â€? And third was a change which today is taken for granted but at the time was quite revolutionary: his work to shift the Knights of Columbus from a too inward-looking men’s organization to one focused increasingly on strengthening Catholic marriages and family life. He was very proud of the changes he made to include our wives in so many Knights of Columbus activities. Virgil understood a profound truth: No knight, whether in medieval times or in our own, can be all that he can be without his fair lady by his side. So often when I have been asked about women joining the Knights of Columbus, I wanted to say, “Would you please just look at Virgil and Ann — how they are together? Do you not see that asking Ann to become a member would actually be a step back?â€? That was the example that Virgil and Ann set, and together they changed the course of the Knights of Columbus. For Virgil, like Father McGivney before him, it was all about family. He cared deeply for his own family, for the family of the Knights of Columbus, for the Catholic family, and for the human family. There are so many corporate accomplishments of which Virgil was rightly proud: professionalizing our agency force, putting our insurance products on a sound actuarial basis,


Past Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant’s vision and leadership left an indelible mark on the Knights of Columbus

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Past Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant posed for this portrait wearing the emblems and jewels of the various pontifical and equestrian orders to which he belonged.

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Supreme Knight Carl Anderson delivers the eulogy for his predecessor at the Church of the Nativity in Leawood, Kan., on Feb. 22. Ann Dechant (right) is seated beside her husband’s coffin.

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Farewell, Faithful Knight by Russell Shaw EDITOR’S NOTE: The following tribute was published in the Feb. 24 edition of Our Sunday Visitor. It is reprinted with permission.


bituaries of Past Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant, who died at age 89 on Feb. 16 at his home in Leawood, Kan., were factually correct but superficial. Dechant was a much larger man, with far more influence on the Church than merely listing dates, offices held and honors bestowed can suggest. Joining creativity to love of tradition and business acumen, he shaped a profoundly Catholic organization suited to changing times. The question for the Knights of Columbus now is whether it can rise to the contemporary challenge of relevance put to it by a secular culture radically opposed to what it stands for. In a way, of course, the Knights have been here before. At the urging of a young parish priest, Father Michael McGivney, whose cause for canonization is currently under consideration in Rome, a small group of Irish-American men met in February 1882 in the basement of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn. Three years earlier, a newspaper had headlined a story about the same church: “How an Aristocratic Avenue


modernizing our investments and securing a superior level of financial strength for the Knights of Columbus. But on this day, at this hour, in this place we apply a different measure: one not bound by time or space. We apply the measure of St. Paul. Did he fight the good fight? Did he run the race to the end? Did he keep the faith? In Virgil we saw a man with courage to defend those with no protector; a man with compassion for the poor and suffering — and a man who was true to those to whom he had pledged faithfulness or who were entrusted to his care. In these ways and in many others, Virgil raised a standard to which every Catholic man could aspire — a standard that today shines brightly — and one that will continue to shine for many years to come. Today, we pray that Virgil will be one of those of which the prophet Daniel spoke. We pray that he will shine “like the stars for ever and everâ€? (Dan 12:3). Virgil is now at rest in the Kansas he loved so well. But may we be forgiven if for a moment we think of Virgil as already enjoying a homecoming — being welcomed by friends who have gone before him such as Count Enrico Galeazzi, Cardinal John O’Connor, Mother Teresa, John Paul II and by millions of others whom he never knew in his lifetime, but whose lives were changed for the better because of him. O Lord, grant Virgil — who did so much for so many — eternal rest in you.♌

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Was Blemished by a Roman Catholic Edifice.â€? The men had come together to launch a new organization as a bulwark against anti-Irish, anti-Catholic bigotry like that. The name chosen for the new group was Knights of Columbus. Selecting Columbus as patron sent a message: “We [Catholics] got here before you [Protestants] did.â€? Many fraternal organizations of those times have withered and died, but the Knights survived and flourished. Combining religion and patriotism was a brilliant move that made the group, in the words of a historian, “a classic instance of a minority’s drive to assimilate.â€? Years later, out in Kansas, a young man named Virgil Dechant joined the group. Laid up after an accident, he noticed that, family aside, most of those who dropped by to cheer him up were his brother Knights. Motivated, he began his rise through the organization’s ranks, eventually becoming Kansas state deputy. In 1967, by then a successful businessman and wheat farmer, he went to New Haven as supreme secretary. Ten years later, the directors elected him supreme knight, the position he held until retiring in 2000. Membership and insurance soared in those years, while business and investment success made the Knights an important source of financial support for popes, bishops and innumerable Catholic groups. Locally, many pastors became increasingly aware of the Knights as a can-do group whose members were always ready to lend a hand to parish projects. Even more important, the Knights imparted much-needed stability to the Church during the troubled years after the Second Vatican Council. While others fretted about what it meant to be Catholic, these men knew the answer and, at their best, sought to exemplify it. At the same time, the group showed it could move with the times. Hence its strong commitment to the pro-life movement and the defense of family life. That openness to adjustments has continued under Dechant’s successor, Carl Anderson, as illustrated by recent changes in the Order’s ceremonial garb and ritual, for many years considered virtually untouchable. Today, challenges to things dear to the Knights of Columbus are on the rise again. Fidelity to Catholic values, the glue holding the group together from the start, has situated this historically assimilationist and American group in opposition to powerful secular forces on life issues, marriage and religious liberty. Columbus sometimes sailed on rough seas. As the secular environment becomes increasingly hostile, the Knights may be doing the same.♌ RUSSELL SHAW is the author or co-author of more than 20 books, a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and a contributing editor of Our Sunday Visitor. A member of Our Lady of Victory Council 11487 in Washington, D.C., he previously served as communications director for the U.S. bishops and as director of information for the Knights of Columbus, and was a longtime columnist for Columbia.

A Lasting Legacy by Cecilia Hadley and Andrew Fowler As supreme knight for nearly a quarter century, Virgil Dechant helped to shape the Order’s future in ways large and small. Here are some of his most significant accomplishments. GROWING THE ORDER K of C insurance and membership boomed under Dechant’s leadership. Drawing on his business and sales experience, Dechant inaugurated a new era in Knights of Columbus Insurance even before he became supreme knight, modernizing business practices and creating a professional field force. Insurance in force reached $3 billion in 1975 and stood at nearly $40 billion when he retired in 2000. Meanwhile, membership increased from 1.23 million to 1.62 million, and the number of councils nearly doubled, from about 6,000 to 11,644. STRENGTHENING FAMILIES AND PARISHES At every stage of his K of C career, Dechant found ways to involve his wife in council events and encouraged other Knights to do the same. Integrating families into the Order’s activities was a shift, but one he believed was consistent with the founder’s vision. “Everything was designed for the benefit of the family,� Dechant said in his first annual report as supreme knight. “Is there any doubt about Father McGivney’s intent? It seems to me that the time is ripe to bring about the full realization of his dream.� This mindset continues today with family-oriented Faith in Action programs and other initiatives to strengthen the domestic church. Dechant also encouraged Knights to develop closer ties to their parishes, promoting the formation of parish-based councils.

Virgil and Ann Dechant stand smiling with their children, Dan, Tom, Karen and Bobby, circa 1964.

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Clockwise, from above: Pope John Paul II meets with Supreme Knight Dechant and a K of C delegation, including Count Enrico Galeazzi, director the Knights of Columbus Rome Office, and Supreme Chaplain Bishop Charles Greco of Alexandria, La., at the Apostolic Delegation in Washington, D.C., Oct. 7, 1979. • President Ronald Reagan speaks to pro-life leaders, including Supreme Knight Dechant (left) at the Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., July 30, 1987. Carl Anderson (second from left) was then acting director of the White House’s Office of Public Liaison. • Supreme Knight Dechant (left) and Knights of Columbus board members carry the remains of Father Michael McGivney to a new resting place in St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., March 29, 1982.

FRIEND OF SAINTS Dechant’s tenure as supreme knight corresponded closely to the years of St. John Paul II’s papacy. Over 23 years, he and the pope met more than 70 times, developing a close rapport. Visiting Rome for the World Congress of Vocations in 1981, Dechant was in St. Peter’s Square on May 13 when John Paul II was shot. Dechant and his wife, Ann, visited the Holy Father a few months later at Castel Gandolfo and presented him with the first proceeds of the Vicarius Christi Fund for his personal charities. 14 ♌ C O L U M B I A ♌

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Dechant also became close with St. Teresa of Calcutta. The Knights of Columbus began to sponsor much of the Missionaries of Charity’s printing in the U.S., and once offered her a monthly stipend to support her work with the poorest of the poor. She declined, asking instead, “Send me your members and families instead to work in my soup kitchens.� She did accept the Order’s inaugural Gaudium et Spes Award in 1992. PROMOTION OF VOCATIONS Dechant had a special love for the priesthood, formed by his family and his years in minor seminary at the Pontifical College Josephinum. In his first speech after being elected, he encouraged all Knights to pray for and foster vocations in their families. “If new vocations are to come from our young,� he said, “they must be stimulated and nourished in the atmosphere of our homes.� Under his leadership, the Order launched several scholarship funds for seminarians and priests, including the Refund Support Vocations Program (RSVP) in 1981, through which councils assist seminarians and others in religious formation. When Dechant received the Gaudium et Spes Award in 2012, he announced that he would donate the award’s honorarium to K of C seminarian scholarship funds.


LOVE FOR OUR LADY Dechant began his administration as supreme knight with a visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, placing his work under the Virgin Mary’s protection. He also fostered Marian devotion by initiating two K of C traditions. In 1978, at the urging of his father, he made sure that all new Knights received a rosary blessed by the supreme chaplain. The next year, he started the Marian Hour of Prayer (now called the Marian Prayer Program), in which blessed images of Our Lady circulate among councils around the world. “Loving devotion to Mary,� he wrote, “is truly one of the marks of the Knights of Columbus.�

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FATHER MCGIVNEY’S CHAMPION In his farewell address, Supreme Knight Dechant told delegates to the Supreme Convention, “There is one thing particularly that is close to my heart, and that is the cause of our founder.” Research to support the cause for Father Michael McGivney’s canonization began in the early years of his tenure, and he oversaw the re-internment of Father McGivney’s remains at St. Mary’s Church during the Order’s centenary celebrations in 1982. The research process continued, and the Archdiocese of Hartford officially opened the cause for canonization in 1997. VATICAN SUPPORT Dechant fortified the Order’s strong ties with the Vatican, which led to many collaborative projects and opportunities to serve the Church. In 1975, the Knights of Columbus began supporting Vatican satellite broadcasts, making it possible for Catholics around the world to watch papal Masses and other Vatican events. In the following decades, the Order funded historic restoration work, including repairing and cleaning the 65,000square-foot façade of St. Peter’s Basilica in 1985, and restoring the basilica’s Moderno Atrium and Holy Door in time for pilgrims to walk through during the Jubilee Year in 2000. The Vatican’s relationship with the Order also facilitated closer ties with the United States. When President Ronald Reagan attended the 100th Supreme Convention in 1982, he

met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Agostino Casaroli. Among the issues they discussed was diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Holy See, which were established less than two years later. A NEW CULTURE OF LIFE Under Dechant’s leadership, the Knights of Columbus responded to widespread challenges to the sanctity of human life by increasing support for numerous pro-life initiatives — including pregnancy resource centers, the March for Life Education and Defense Fund and the pro-life offices of the U.S. and Canadian bishops. “Without the Knights of Columbus, there might not be a pro-life movement today,” Cardinal John O’Connor, thenarchbishop of New York, told Knights at the Supreme Convention in 1990. The Order likewise promoted the Church’s vision for marriage and family in various ways, such as by sponsoring natural family planning education and by establishing a North American campus of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C., in 1988.♦ CECILIA HADLEY is senior editor of Columbia. ANDREW FOWLER is a content producer for the Knights of Columbus Communications Department and a member of Christ the Redeemer Council 15870 in Milford, Conn.

Above: Supreme Knight Dechant presents the first Gaudium et Spes Award to Mother Teresa of Calcutta at the 110th Supreme Convention in New York City, Aug. 4, 1992. Right: Virgil Dechant marches with athletes at the opening ceremony of the 1987 Special Olympics World Games, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind. APRIL 2020

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LAW & THE ORDER A Chicago council of police officers puts faith into action through community outreach and fraternal service by Maryangela Román

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Members of St. Michael the Archangel Police Council 12173 pray for fellow law enforcement officers and their families at the Gold Star Families Memorial in Chicago March 1. Standing in front (left to right), police chaplain Deacon Bob Montelongo, Grand Knight Dennis Fitzgerald and police chaplain Rabbi Moshe Wolf lead the prayer.




n a recent Sunday, two dozen men wearing badges gathered in front of Chicago’s Gold Star Families Memorial and said a prayer. At a distance the gold stars on their chests look like any police or sheriff badge, but a closer look reveals a Knights of Columbus emblem and the words “St. Michael the Archangel, Patron of Police Council 12173.” This intersection of faith and law enforcement defines Council 12173, the first police council in the world. Founded 22 years ago, it now has nearly 430 members, bound together by their shared Catholic faith, law enforcement experience and desire to help others. Grand Knight Dennis Fitzgerald explained, “You only have to watch us for a little while and if we spark your interest, we’re going to be asking you to be part of something exceptional.”

BROTHERS IN BLUE It was Father Tom Nangle, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and chaplain of the police department, who had the idea for St. Michael the Archangel Council, named in honor of the patron of police officers and military personnel. Police officer Michael Schumacher was assisting with the chaplain ministry in the late 1990s when Father Nangle made the suggestion. “Our parishes had councils, but we never had anything like a police council,” recalled Schumacher, an officer for 40 years until his retirement in 2004. “Rather than be involved in a parish council, there’s a lot of good we could do as police officers with police-related issues.” A charter member of Council 12173 when it was established in 1998, Schumacher became grand knight the following year; APRIL 2020

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Father Nangle was the first council chaplain. Schumacher passed the baton to Fitzgerald, also a retired police officer, in 2016. Now serving his third year as grand knight, Fitzgerald is one of the top recruiters in the country, bringing in more than 170 new members. He attributes much of his success to his “billboard jacket,” which features Knights of Columbus patches on each arm, on his chest and on his back, as well as a Chicago police star and gold star. But spend a few minutes with him and it’s clear his passion for the Knights is the key selling point. “The police family, the law enforcement family, they know what these symbols mean, and the billboard grabs attention,” Fitzgerald said. “But then it’s my responsibility to hold that attention and give them something to think about.” He had the jacket customized with numerous interior pockets, allowing him to quickly produce decals, stars, challenge coins and even Form 100 membership documents. During the recent visit to Chicago’s Gold Star Families Memorial and Park with members of Council 12173 and several other officers, he signed up a new member on the spot. Fitzgerald is not deterred by rejection. “If they say no, I respect that, but I am persistent,” he chuckled. “Nobody bats a thousand, not even this guy with the fancy jacket.” Over the years, Lt. John Garrido said no to Fitzgerald more than once, each time citing his busy schedule. Describing the grand knight as “tenacious,” Garrido recalled that Fitzgerald would give him his card and say, “We’re waiting for you.” In addition to being a Chicago police officer, Garrido is a practicing attorney and a board member of his local chamber of commerce. With his wife, he oversees a nonprofit that finds homes for stray animals. But earlier this year, he made time to become a member of Council 12173. “The last time I was asked to join, something clicked,” he explained. “I reflected on not the number of times I was asked, but by whom I was asked. These were all good men — honorable men. I guess I just thought great people make a great organization. It was time I made time to be part of something special.” BUILDING A STRONG COMMUNITY The council members, who meet monthly at the Fraternal Order of Police Hall, are involved in a host of fundraising activities benefiting more than 14 charities. This past year, for example, the council donated money to the Missionary Sisters 18 ♦ C O L U M B I A ♦

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of St. Charles Borromeo and Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, both in the Chicago area. Another key outreach for the council is the annual Christmas party for Blair School, a Chicago public school that serves children with disabilities ages 3 to 6. For years, the Knights have donated a truckload of gifts for the children, food for families and money for the school to purchase necessities such as diapers and washing machines to care for the students’ many needs. The Knights also staff the party, with one dressed as Santa Claus and others as his helpers. “In the world today, people have so many negative things to say about organized law enforcement. It’s nice to have the other side of that, where police are out there within the community, interacting with people,” Schumacher explained. Under the leadership of Schumacher and his wife, Marcia, the council offers seminars with NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, to educate department members on mental illness and appropriate ways to handle mental health. He said the council also supports marriage counseling programs for officers and spouses strained by the long hours and high stresses of the work. Policework is demanding, said Fitzgerald, reflecting on a career in which three of his partners were shot and three fellow officers were killed. “The profession I chose isn’t for everybody — you have to want to help people because when they absolutely, positively need help, you are the one they call,” he said. “I always worked busy areas, and it was challenging,” he added. “No ifs, ands or buts — my faith was definitely a benefit.” Members know they will find both camaraderie and support for their faith through their council, and many regularly attend the bimonthly Blue Mass at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls celebrated by police — and council — chaplain Father Dan Brandt. “We encounter a whole lot of bad as police officers, and it takes its toll when you have a front-row seat,” explained Garrido. “Having a strong Catholic infrastructure helps me deal with the things I have seen. I can’t imagine what it would be like to go through 29 years on the job without it.” Garrido joined Council 12173 in January, participating in a combined exemplification ceremony with more than 40 other Knights. “It was pretty powerful to be part of such a large group of candidates,” said Garrido. “I can see how this will strengthen my faith.”♦ MARYANGELA ROMÁN is a veteran journalist based in Milwaukee.

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From top: Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, Cardinal Francis George, then-archbishop of Chicago, and then-Supreme Secretary Charles Foos (right) present council charters to the grand knights of St. Michael the Archangel Police Council 12173 and St. Florian Council 12911 in Chicago in 2003. • Chicago police and fire personnel, including members of Councils 12173 and 12911, present the colors at the Supreme Convention in 2005. • Members of Council 12173 visit at the Gold Star Families Memorial, with Soldier Field visible in the background. Left to right: Judge Jesse Reyes, Grand Knight Dennis Fitzgerald, Deacon Bob Montelongo, Past Grand Knight Michael Schumacher. • Schumacher, pictured with the Chicago skyline in the distance, served as grand knight of Council 12173 until 2016. Like his successor, Schumacher is a retired Chicago police officer. • Grand Knight Fitzgerald (right) stands with recent recruit Lt. John Garrido after the Chicago Police Chaplain Ministry’s bimonthly Blue Mass. APRIL 2020

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IN UNITY WITH PETER Knights of Columbus Board of Directors pilgrimage celebrates a century of collaboration with the Bishop of Rome

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Pope Francis greets Supreme Knight Carl Anderson during a papal audience with the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors Feb. 10 in the Vatican’s Sala Clementina.

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ope Francis greeted members of the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors and their families Feb. 10 in the Vatican, and commended the Order’s “generous commitment ‌ to serve all in need.â€? The audience took place during the board’s pilgrimage to Rome Feb. 7-13 in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Order’s service there. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, in his formal greeting to the Holy Father, explained, “It was a century ago that we began our work in this city at the request of Pope Benedict XV. He asked the Knights’ leadership to help poor children in Rome by starting centers in the Eternal City to offer sports and catechesis.â€? The supreme knight and Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore also met with Pope Francis before the audience to discuss the Order’s current charitable initiatives. In the course of their conversation, the supreme knight presented two silver roses to the Holy Father, asking him to keep one and to bless the other for the 60th annual Knights 22 ♌ C O L U M B I A ♌

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of Columbus Silver Rose pilgrimage later this year. During the weeklong pilgrimage, board members visited the five sports centers that the Order built in the 1920s and continues to sponsor today. Other pilgrimage events included a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican museums and the historic restorations funded by the Order; Mass in the Vatican Gardens; and visits to the catacombs of St. Sebastian and the basilicas of St. John Lateran and of St. Mary Major. One of the last events of the pilgrimage was a Mass Feb. 12 in the Vatican’s Pauline Chapel, where the college of cardinals celebrates Mass during a papal conclave. Pope Francis surprised the Knights of Columbus group by stopping at the chapel after his weekly Wednesday audience. Before praying an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be with them, he spoke briefly in Italian: “I wanted to come to say hello to you and thank you for everything you do ‌.â€? He then added in English: “Don’t forget to pray for me. This job is not easy.â€?♌


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Pope Francis Welcomes the Knights of Columbus


The Holy Father greeted members of the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors and their families at an audience in the Vatican Feb. 10. “DEAR FRIENDS, I offer you a warm welcome on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Rome in this year that marks the centennial of the charitable activity of the Knights of Columbus in this city. “In fact, it was 100 years ago that my predecessor Pope Benedict XV invited the Knights of Columbus to provide humanitarian aid to young people and others in Rome following the terrible conflict of the First World War. The Knights responded generously, establishing sports centers for youth that quickly became places for education, catechesis and the distribution of food and other essentials so needed at that time. In this way, your Order proved faithful to the vision of your founder, Venerable Michael McGivney, who was inspired by the principles of Christian charity and fraternity to assist those most in need. “Today the Knights of Columbus continue their work of evangelical charity and fraternity in a variety of fields. I think in particular of your faithful witness to the sacredness and dignity of human life, evident at both the local and national levels. This conviction has also led the Knights of Columbus to aid, both materially and spiritually, those Christian communities in the Middle East that are suffering the effects of violence, war and poverty. I thank all the members of your Order for seeing in our persecuted and displaced brothers and sisters of that region neighbors for whom you are a sign of God’s infinite love.

Opposite page: The Knights of Columbus Board of Directors and senior staff stand before the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica, which was renovated in the 1980s with the Order’s support. • Top right: Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori present the pope with an Italian translation of Parish Priest, the biography of Father Michael McGivney by Douglas Brinkley and Julie Fenster. • Lower right: Pope Francis returns to meet again with the Knights of Columbus delegation in the Vatican’s Pauline Chapel Feb. 12. APRIL 2020

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“Since its foundation, the Knights of Columbus has demonstrated its unswerving devotion to the successor of Peter. The establishment of the Vicarius Christi Fund is a testimony to this devotion, as well as to the desire of the Knights to share in the Pope’s solicitude for all the Churches and in his universal mission of charity. In our world, marked by divisions and inequalities, the generous commitment of your Order to serve all in need offers, especially to young people, an important inspiration to overcome a globalization of indifference and build together a more just and inclusive society. “Dear brothers and sisters, with these thoughts and sentiments, I entrust you to the loving intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I offer my prayers for the members of the Knights of Columbus and their families, and for the good works accomplished by the local councils worldwide. To all of you present here and to your loved ones, I impart my heartfelt blessing, and I ask you, please, to pray for me.â€?♌

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Top left: Pope Francis shares a smile with the infant son of Kelly and Stephen Feiler, senior assistant to the supreme knight. Above: Archbishop Lori blesses a new mosaic of St. Michael the Archangel Feb. 9 in the chapel at Campo Sportivo Pio XI, one of the Order’s sports centers in Rome.


“WE ARE BLESSED to celebrate Mass here in the Pauline Chapel — it is a sign of the Order’s closeness to our Holy Father, Pope Francis. ‌ It is also in this chapel that the cardinals gather before proceeding to the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope. “Let’s briefly focus our attention on Michelangelo’s fresco, ‘The Conversion of Saul.’ ‌ I am struck by the extended arm of the risen and exalted Christ reaching down out of heaven to touch and transform the life of Saul. Saul is on the ground, his eyes blinded, his companions stunned, with Damascus lying off in the distance. The mission which Saul planned to accomplish did not come about. Rather, God gave him a new mission, to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. ‌ “It is clear how the lessons of this fresco apply to us, the Knights of Columbus. As we seek to be a global force for the new evangelization, a force that is constituted by members who are missionary disciples, members who are courageous in professing their faith and virtuous in living it, you and I must tend always, first and foremost, to our own ongoing conversion. “We who seek to evangelize must ourselves be evangelized. We who seek to be the Lord’s instruments in bringing about the conversion of those who are lukewarm in the practice of their faith — we ourselves must constantly allow the strong right arm of Christ’s grace and mercy to reach down out of heaven to open our eyes to the wonder of his truth and love, to transform our hearts, to set them aflame, to put us on course for the missionary journeys that each of us has been called to undertake.â€? — Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Pauline Chapel, Vatican, Homily, Feb. 12


Called to Ongoing Conversion

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Divine Mercy Rediscovered God desires to heal our hearts with his infinite love by Sister Gaudia Skass, OLM



here is nothing more that man needs than Divine complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day, Mercy — that love which is benevolent, which is all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are open. compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to Let no soul fear to draw near to me, even though its sins be the infinite heights of the holiness of God.” as scarlet” (Diary, 699). These striking words of St. John Paul II — and even Jesus’ words recorded in St. Faustina’s Diary are filled more his life — show us his deep understanding of the with passionate love for us. The phrase “I desire” appears mystery of the heart of God, as well as the mystery of the approximately 70 times in her journal! The message is human heart. From the depths of our being, we cry out that God gives himself to us fully; he offers us his own for someone who will look heart, first and foremost in the upon us with empathy, seeing sacraments. In the Divine our imperfections and struggles Mercy image, we see rays and also seeing beyond them. pouring forth from Jesus’ Whether we are aware of it or heart. They symbolize the punot, our hearts are crying out rifying and life-giving sacrafor the merciful God, and his ments — most of all his heart is filled with compassion merciful presence in the sacrafor us. He is not scandalized by ments of baptism, confession our misery and brokenness, and and the Eucharist. He pahe never tires of forgiving. He is tiently waits for us, his hands overflowing with gifts. always ready to generously beFor some of us, it may be a stow graces upon us, even more temptation to undervalue our than we dare to ask for. own personal need for Divine We meditate upon God’s inMercy. If this is the case, may finite, merciful love — most this feast day be an occasion to powerfully revealed in Jesus’ ask for the grace to see what passion, death and resurrection Sister Gaudia gives a presentation at the Saint John God has done for us and is — in a special way during the Paul II National Shrine on Divine Mercy Sunday doing for us; the grace to see seasons of Lent and Easter. And 2019. The annual celebration has become one of the that our very lives are the work to crown these most holy days, most popular events at the shrine each year. of his mercy. we’ve been given the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday It is also an occasion to exon the last day of the Easter Octave (this year April 19). amine our conscience and to ask: How am I using my St. John Paul II instituted this solemn feast for the uni- time and encounters with others to share the good news versal Church 20 years ago; he died on its vigil five years of God’s great mercy? St. John Paul II encouraged all of later, in 2005; he was beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday us: “Be apostles of Divine Mercy!” Let us humbly turn to in 2011; and he was canonized on the same feast in 2014. our merciful Father in prayer, asking him to open our eyes By establishing this feast, on the same day he canonized and hearts to gratefully receive and enthusiastically share Sister Faustina Kowalska, St. John Paul II fulfilled the de- his mercy — so that, through us, he may heal all sire that Jesus expressed in a vision to St. Faustina nearly wounded hearts.♦ 70 years earlier. As recounted in her Diary, Jesus said: “My daughter, tell the whole world about my inconceivable Mercy. SISTER GAUDIA SKASS is a member of the CongregaI desire that the feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all tion of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, founded in souls, and especially for poor sinners. … The soul that will Poland. She gives talks and works with pilgrims at the go to confession and receive holy Communion shall obtain Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C. FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE SAINT JOHN PAUL II NATIONAL SHRINE AND ITS SCHEDULE OF EVENTS, VISIT JP2SHRINE . ORG

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Members of Our Lady of Incarnation Assembly 3309 in Rio Rancho, N.M., in conjunction with volunteers from Daniels Family WreathsFROM AcrossCOUNCILS America. Volunteers laid REPORTS & ASSEMBLIES INFuneral Services, participated in wreaths on the graves of veterans in Vista Verde Memorial Park.




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Members of Father Rene Menard Council 1133 in Merrill, Wis., and their wives prepared and served a hot dinner for some 150 people as part of Breaking Bread, a community project 26 â&#x2122;Ś C O L U M B I A â&#x2122;Ś

APRIL 2020

to feed the hungry. Council 1133 also sponsored a parish mission, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dying with Jesus, Rising with Jesus,â&#x20AC;? at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church to prepare parishioners for Lent. More than 170 people attended the event, which began with spiritual talks and concluded with Mass, eucharistic adoration and Benediction. WEATHER SHELTER

Members of San Nicholas de Tolentino Council 16133 in Gubat, Luzon South, constructed a car shed for their parish priest and attached it to his residence to shelter his vehicle from inclement weather.


For 20 years, Father Michael Kaluzny Council 7822 in Devon, Alberta, has purchased Bibles for all grade 4 students at Holy Spirit Catholic School. The students use the Bibles in their religious education classes and take them home to keep at the end of the school year. ROSARY, RAIN OR SHINE

Verde Council 2493 in Cottonwood, Ariz., sponsors a monthly outdoor rosary. The rosary, prayed in front of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in all weather, is offered for the protection of life and family in the United States.

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Our Lady of the Lake Council 10463 in Lago Vista, Texas, built a covered pavilion for an outdoor columbarium on the grounds of St. Mary, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church. The protective pavilion enhances the columbarium, which holds urns containing cremated remains, as a gathering site for memorial ceremonies and a place for private prayer.

Bishop Edward A. Fitzgerald Assembly 548 in Rochester, Minn., established a chalice program in 2014 that provides seminarians of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester with two gifts. First, each seminarian receives $500 at the end of his Theology II year of study. The second gift, chosen by the seminarian, is presented upon ordination: an engraved chalice, paten and carrying case; a traveling Mass kit; or an additional $500.

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Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce (QuĂŠbec) Council 2822 organized a brunch at the Saint-Joseph Community Center to benefit the family of a young boy with a complex brain disorder requiring acute intensive care. All proceeds went toward the childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s medical needs.


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Utah Chapter Knights collected stuffed animals from parishes in the Salt Lake Valley region to comfort children in crisis. After gathering more than 3,000 stuffed toys over several months, the Knights delivered them to emergency personnel and victim advocates for distribution.

Port Clinton (Ohio) Council 1750 celebrated the communityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Polish heritage by sponsoring its annual Perch, Peach, Pierogi and Polka Festival. Over three days, guests enjoyed homemade food, live music, free dance lessons and family fellowship.


Mary Queen of Heaven and Earth-Lancaster Council 16575 in Imus City, Luzon South, sponsored its third annual Knights of Columbus Free Throw Championship. Council members judged the rounds, awarded medals and provided free shirts and food to participants.


Mary Queen of Peace Council 8134 in Cotabato, Mindanao, donated food packages and personal hygiene items to families in Kidapawan City affected by a recent earthquake. YOUTH BARBECUE

Members of St. Patrickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Markham (Ontario) Council 7689 volunteered two

evenings at St. Patrickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Catholic Church to prepare barbecue dinners for the parish youth groups. ROOFS OVER THEIR HEADS

Members of St. Patrickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Council 7898 in Clear Lake, Iowa, participated in the councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s second Habitat for Humanity home build, working alongside the future homeowners. FOR VISITING FAMILIES

North Creek Council 9434 in Mill Creek, Wash., donated $500 to Matthew House, a Christian nonprofit that provides temporary housing, food and other services to families of people incarcerated in nearby prisons.

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For more than a decade, Holy Family Council 14712 in Nutley, N.J., has hosted three blood drives every year. At a recent drive, which collected more than 30 units of blood, members and their wives cooked pasta and meatballs for all attendees. SAVE THE CHAIRS


More than 30 members of Father Abbot Raphael DeSalvo Council 14619 in Scranton, Ark., cleaned roads and properties damaged by a tornado. Knights completed restoration projects for several neighbors, including cleaning up the property of a couple whose home had been destroyed and removing debris from the fields of a retired farmer. SPRING CLEANING

Members of St. Joan of Arc Council 14357 in Phoenix held a workday to clean and reorganize the storeroom at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church. 28 â&#x2122;Ś C O L U M B I A â&#x2122;Ś

APRIL 2020



Blessed Trinity Council 12274 in Greer, S.C., presented a check for $3,000 to the Greer High School Transition Class, a life skills program for high school students with special needs. The Knights raised the funds by selling concessions at an events venue in Greenville.

Incarnation Council 6364 in Mantua, N.J., hosted Emmet Cahill, a popular Irish tenor, in concert at the Church of the Incarnation. More than 300 people attended the performance, and proceeds from ticket sales supported the councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s charities and the churchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s financial needs.



For the second year in a row, members of Kalayaan Assembly 2749 in Muntinlupa City, Luzon South, planted hundreds of trees at New Bilibid Prison in cooperation with minimumsecurity inmates.

Father Nicholas Point Council 4375 in Tecumseh, Ontario, donated $1,000 to H.J. Lassaline Catholic Elementary School in Windsor to help fund healthy breakfasts for students in need.

Members of St. Catherine of Siena Council 5806 in Trumbull, Conn., enjoy a little friendly competition in a bean bag toss at the annual council family picnic.



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Members of St. Casimir Council 9711 in Lansing, Mich., and St. Casimir Catholic Church parishioners gathered to repair more than 200 of the churchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s broken metal folding chairs. Led by project manager Ken Watterson and funded by a parish collection, the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Save the Chairsâ&#x20AC;? team worked every Saturday for two months to ensure the chairs were sturdy, safe and ready to be put back into service.

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St. Michaelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Council 12786 in Kelso, Wash., organized its fourth annual shopping charity event for elementary and middle school students. Teachers, principals and counselors identified 18 children in need, and the council used funds raised from dinners and other donations to give each child $200 to spend on coats and other clothes. Members accompanied the students as they picked out items at a local department store. OUR DAILY TOAST


Father Broderick Council 1219 in Miramichi, New Brunswick, donated two new toasters to Mgr. HenriComier Lodge, a facility providing free accommodations for cancer patients who have traveled to receive treatment at an oncology center in Moncton.

John Wohleber, a member of Christ Our Redeemer Council 13527 in Niceville, Fla., paints a hallway during a council workday at Twin Cities Pavilion, a nonprofit assisted living and retirement home. The facility serves low- to middle-income senior citizens and relies on donations from local businesses and churches. For several years, Council 13527 has supported the Pavilion with monthly donations, supplies and handson renovation work.

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For three years, St. Christopherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Council 12372 in Mississauga, Ontario, has conducted a refundable bottle drive, collecting empty bottles from St. Christopherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Catholic Church parishioners. Last year, the council distributed â&#x20AC;&#x153;bottle banksâ&#x20AC;? to parishioners wishing to donate spare change. Since the program began, the council has raised more than $10,000 for local charities.

St. Katharine Drexel Council 11177 in Cape Coral, Fla., and its associated womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s group helped the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, a religious order founded by the councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s namesake, convert part of a former post office in Belle Glade into a food bank and diabetes-friendly food pantry to serve the community.

St. Mary of the Hills Council 13950 in Rochester Hills, Mich., raised more than $500 for parish youth programs at its annual chili cook-off, held in honor of late Past Grand Knight Bill Sabanos.


Holy Redeemer Council 1621 in Marshall, Minn., donated $1,500 to the Holy Redeemer Cemetery Committee for repairing and improving the roads of Calvary Cemetery in Holy Redeemer Parish.


Bishop Dingman Council 10805 and Father John F. Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Neill Council 10722, both in Council Bluffs, Iowa, donated $35,000 raised at their annual Wild Game Dinner to more than 20 local organizations. In 19 years sponsoring the event, the councils have raised a total of $470,000.


Christ the King Council 9257 in Milwaukie, Ore., began a weekend of service on Saturday by collecting and donating 20 bags of blankets and large coats to the homeless ministry at St. AndrĂŠ Bessette Church in Portland. That evening, members served a free soup dinner to donors and parishioners. On Sunday morning, the council held its annual Cub Scout breakfast, raising some $400 for a local Cub Scout pack.

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Scott A. MacDonald Council 8512 in North Richland Hills, Texas, held its fifth annual memorial run to benefit St. Jude Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Research Hospital. More than 100 runners, including members and their families, participated in the 15K and 5K races and the 1-mile fun run along the Trinity River in Fort Worth. Over the past five years, Council 8512 donated more than $16,000 to St. Judeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. --(&.*!. *$ .+(+).*'#+$..+'.-(+"+,'.",%*.#,(( .,.,''-(.+'.)%-.*+&-.,(#% !*(. +!-.%-$".,'',$$ .+'.*&-(,'#-.*!.)%-.,''+-(&,( .*!.  .,(#%-(&.-,'.,) $+,.,+&.,(.+'.*+&-.,'".(*#--"-".)*.,.(,$$ .,).)%-.&)-&.*!.)%-.",%*.),)-.,+)*$.


St. Catherine of Siena Council 9923 in Kennesaw, Ga., and St. Joseph Council 4599 in Marietta assisted with St. Catherine and St. Joseph Catholic Churchesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; third annual â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dancing Under the Stars,â&#x20AC;? a formal evening event for approximately 250 attendees, including some 100 children and adults with disabilities. The evening featured red carpet introductions, dinner, dancing and entertainment. The Knights prepared and served the dinner and also provided a professional DJ. WHEELCHAIR AID

St. Benedict Council 15225 in Crystal River, Fla., helped raise nearly $40,000 to purchase a wheelchairaccessible van for a St. 30 â&#x2122;Ś C O L U M B I A â&#x2122;Ś

APRIL 2020

Benedict Catholic Church parishioner whose grandson has severe physical disabilities. The clinic where he receives therapy approached Father Ryszard Stradomski, pastor of St. Benedict Church and council chaplain, to request assistance, which led the Knights to come to the familyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s aid. BUILDING A NETWORK

St. Lucy of Racine Council 15659 in Racine/Sturtevant, Wis., donated $12,000 to Care Net, the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest network of pregnancy resource centers. The gift combined the proceeds of baby bottle campaigns at St. Lucy and St. Sebastian Catholic Churches with a substantial contribution by an anonymous donor.


Rev. Father Vincent Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Brien Council 10103 in Zambales, Luzon South, hosted a free dental clinic at the hall where the council meets, arranging for local dentists to provide checkups and tooth extractions for approximately 50 people who were unable to pay for dental care. RESOURCE CENTER HITS THE ROAD

Morgan Hill (Calif.) Council 8265, in conjunction with Gilroy Council 2469 and many local Christian churches, raised funds and received a matching donation from the Supreme Council to renovate the mobile medical unit of Informed Choices, a pregnancy resource center.

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St. Judeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Council 12092 in Bellmawr, N.J., hosted an appreciation breakfast for the boroughâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first responders, including police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. Parishioners of St. Joachim Roman Catholic Church also attended. WREATHS ACROSS NEW MEXICO


Members of Our Lady of Incarnation Assembly 3309 in Rio Rancho, N.M., in conjunction with volunteers from Daniels Family Funeral Services, participated in Wreaths Across America. Volunteers laid wreaths on the graves of veterans in Vista Verde Memorial Park.

Virginia State Deputy Bob Szerszynski (right) greets a Vietnam veteran at an Honor Flight Dinner organized by Edward Douglass White Council 2473 in Arlington. More than 400 veterans enjoyed a meal served by members. Council 2473 regularly hosts dinners for Honor Flight veterans, who travel to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials and Arlington National Cemetery.

Members of Msgr. John F. Scully Assembly 3418 in Riverview, Fla., teach students about the U.S. flag at Progress Village Middle School of the Arts in Tampa. Gerald Coffey, Color Corps Commander Rick Gnatowsky and Past Grand Knight Mark Lovejoy (left to right) held lessons for 150 students, explaining the flagâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s history and how to handle it properly.



When a local veteran needed a wheelchair, members of St. Christopher the Martyr Council 13653 in Howard City, Mich., and Father Solanus Casey Assembly 2773 in Big Rapids came to his aid. The Knights built a ramp for his home, helping the veteran leave the house and get to doctorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s appointments more easily.

Bishop Salpointe Council 4584 in Sierra Vista, Ariz., and parishioners of St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church together raised more than $13,000 towards construnction of a Gold Star Family Memorial at the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery. The monument honors the immediate family of service members who died in active duty.



Members of Cypress (Calif.) Council 8599 collected donations from parishioners at St. Irenaeus Catholic Church to purchase wheelchairs for the Veterans Administration Hospital in Long Beach. Thanks to the generosity of the parish, the council was able to purchase 50 wheelchairs for veterans in need.

Father Seamus Kerr, chaplain of Father Modeste Demmers Assembly 2648 in Wenatchee, Wash., blessed members of Combat Veterans International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to veterans. The assembly hosted the veterans group for the blessing and provided coffee and doughnuts.


West (Texas) Council 2305 held a parish party to celebrate its former chaplain, Father Anthony Odiong, after he became a U.S. citizen. Father Odiong emigrated from Nigeria 14 years ago. Council members cooked and served lunch, organized a polka dance and presented Father Odiong with gifts, including a flag that had been flown over the U. S. Capitol. exclusive See more â&#x20AC;&#x153;Knights in Actionâ&#x20AC;? reports and photos at knightsinaction

APRIL 2020

â&#x2122;Ś C O L U M B I A â&#x2122;Ś 31

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Building Firm Foundations


Colorado Knights restore historic Catholic churches IN THE UNITED STATES THE ENGLISH COMPANY INC.

1-800-444-5632 KNIGHTS GEAR CANADA

Official council and Fourth Degree equipment 1-888-266-1211



Please enroll me in the Father McGivney Guild: NAME ADDRESS CITY STATE/PROVINCE ZIP/POSTAL CODE Complete this coupon and mail to: The Father McGivney Guild, 1 Columbus Plaza, New Haven, CT 06510-3326 or enroll online at:

OFFICIAL APRIL 1, 2020: To owners of Knights of Columbus insurance policies and persons responsible for payment of premiums on such policies: Notice is hereby given that in accordance with the provisions of Section 84 of the Laws of the Order, payment of insurance premiums due on a monthly basis to the Knights of Columbus by check made payable to Knights of Columbus and mailed to same at PO Box 1492, NEW HAVEN, CT 06506-1492, before the expiration of the grace period set forth in the policy. In Canada: Knights of Columbus, Place dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Armes Station, P.O. Box 220, Montreal, QC H2Y 3G7 ALL MANUSCRIPTS, PHOTOS, ARTWORK, EDITORIAL MATTER, AND ADVERTISING INQUIRIES SHOULD BE MAILED TO: COLUMBIA, PO BOX 1670, NEW HAVEN, CT 06507-9982. REJECTED MATERIAL WILL BE RETURNED IF ACCOMPANIED BY A SELF-ADDRESSED ENVELOPE AND RETURN POSTAGE. PURCHASED MATERIAL WILL NOT BE RETURNED. OPINIONS BY WRITERS ARE THEIR OWN AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF THE KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS. SUBSCRIPTION RATES â&#x20AC;&#x201D; IN THE U.S.: 1 YEAR, $6; 2 YEARS, $11; 3 YEARS, $15. FOR OTHER COUNTRIES ADD $2 PER YEAR. EXCEPT FOR CANADIAN SUBSCRIPTIONS, PAYMENT IN U.S. CURRENCY ONLY. SEND ORDERS AND CHECKS TO: ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT, PO BOX 1670, NEW HAVEN, CT 06507-9982.


32 â&#x2122;Ś C O L U M B I A â&#x2122;Ś

APRIL 2020

ometimes, building up the Church requires rolling up your sleeves. When members of St. Mark Highlands Ranch Council 1498 began to renovate the Church of San Francisco de Assisi in San Francisco, Colo., they discovered 30 yearsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; worth of pigeon droppings in the bell tower. The pileup was The Church of San Francisco de Assisi in San Francisco, so bad that it prevented Colo., is pictured after extensive renovations by members the bell from ringing. of St. Mark Highlands Ranch Council 1498. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve done some dirty jobs, but that pigeon scooping thing, that ranks up pretty high,â&#x20AC;? said project leader Keith Lowry. The unpleasant job served a noble mission: restoring sacramental life to another historic Colorado church. Since 2016, Council 1498 has organized such restoration projects every summer at churches around the state. Last year, more than 30 Knights traveled over 200 miles to work on two mission churches of Sangre de Cristo Parish in southern Colorado. In addition to cleaning and repairing the bell tower of the Church of San Francisco, they applied more than 50 gallons of blue and white paint to the church exterior, hired electricians to upgrade the wiring, and installed a gas line and new furnaces for the Colorado winter. The Knights also completed major renovations last summer at San Acacio Mission Church in nearby San Acacio. Built in the mid-1800s, it is the oldest active church in Colorado, and it needed a lot of work. The floor was â&#x20AC;&#x153;unusable,â&#x20AC;? said Lowry. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And they just flat out didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have the moneyâ&#x20AC;? for repairs. Council member Dan Scribner, a general contractor, volunteered to oversee the project, which required tearing out the wood floor and installing new boards. Mass was celebrated in the church Sept. 21, 2019, for the first time in several years. Dan Scribner, a member of Thanks to the renovations, Mass can now be Council 1498, cuts new celebrated in both churches in the winter as well floorboards to install at San as the summer months. They are also more availAcacio Mission Church, the able for weddings, funerals and baptisms. oldest active church in Colorado. Council 1498 funds its restoration projects with the proceeds from an annual gala in its home diocese of Colorado Springs. In 2019, the Knights raised $25,000, which the Diocese of Pueblo matched. The bell at the Church of San Francisco now rings out loud and clear in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I can attest that it is a beautiful sound,â&#x20AC;? said Lowry. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; reported by Andrew Butler and Margaret Kelly



Official council and Fourth Degree equipment

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A PRAYER FOR PROTECTION IN TIME OF PANDEMIC O Mary, you always brighten our path as a sign of salvation and of hope. We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who, at the Cross, took part in Jesus’ pain while remaining steadfast in faith. O loving Mother, you know what we need, and we are confident you will provide for us as at Cana in Galilee. Intercede for us with your Son Jesus, the Divine Physician, for those who have fallen ill, for those who are vulnerable, and for those who have died. Intercede also for those charged with protecting the health and safety of others and for those who are tending to the sick and seeking a cure. Help us, O Mother of Divine Love, to conform to the will of the Father and to do as we are told by Jesus, who took upon himself our sufferings and carried our sorrows, so as to lead us, through the Cross, to the glory of the Resurrection. Amen. Under thy protection we seek refuge, O Holy Mother of God. In our needs, despise not our petitions, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen. Adapted from the prayer of Pope Francis

The ancient fresco of the Madonna del Soccorso (Our Lady of Help) in St. Peter’s Basilica was restored with the support of the Knights of Columbus to mark the Year of Faith (2012-2013). Photo courtesy of Fabbrica di San Pietro/M. Falcioni.


APRIL 2020


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There was never a dull moment growing up with seven siblings. Little did I know that this experience would prepare me well for Benedictine life, a life of stability in community lived in the enclosure of the monastery. God led me to my vocation through many people and events. Would I have become a monk if my grandmother had not prayed that one of her grandsons would become a priest; if my dad had not told me, â&#x20AC;&#x153;It doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hurt to give God the first optionâ&#x20AC;?; if my severely disabled sister had not been born, teaching us that we can find joy in being vulnerable and dependent? Nothing is more beautiful than encountering Christ. We can find him â&#x20AC;&#x201D; or, better, allow him to find us â&#x20AC;&#x201D; if we stand firm in our commitment to Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s family, which is the Church. I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t lose my family when I entered the monastery; I joined a family much larger than 10. I belong to Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s family â&#x20AC;&#x201D; this is the realization we can each come to if we open wide the door of our heart to Christ. FATHER CAESARIUS MARPLE, OSB Westminster Abbey Mission, British Columbia


â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I BELONG TO GODâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S FAMILY.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;

Profile for Columbia Magazine

Columbia April 2020  

Columbia April 2020  

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