Columbia May 2024

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In the Big Inning

Cherry blossoms hang over rows of grave markers at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Among the servicemembers buried there is Medal of Honor recipient Father Charles J. Watters, a Knight from New Jersey (see page 20).

MLB chaplains bring God’s grace and their love of baseball to the big leagues.

In Honor of Fallen Brothers

A Marine Corps veteran and Knight carves battlefield crosses for families whose sons made the ultimate sacrifice.

Hero of Hill 875

Medal of Honor recipient Father Charles J. Watters constantly risked his life to save others in Vietnam.

‘A Special Time of Brotherhood’

A K of C chaplain recalls the months he spent under Russian occupation in the city of Melitopol, Ukraine.

Praying for the Living and the Dead

Knights fund Mass stipends to benefit priests in Ukraine and the faithful they serve

Świder and Solomiia

3 For the greater glory of God

As sons of Mary and of the Church, Catholic fathers have a responsibility to lead their children to an encounter with God.

4 Learning the faith, living the faith

The practice of praying the rosary gives us the perspective and strength to face challenges and trust in the Lord.

6 Knights of Columbus News Order Assists Families A ected by Key Bridge Collapse • Board of Directors Honors Cardinal Seán O’Malley • Polish K of C Chaplains Make Father McGivney Pilgrimage

• Supreme Knight Addresses John Carroll Society

8 Building the Domestic Church

A new series on family life, leadership and financial stewardship

28 Knights in Action Reports from councils and assemblies, representing Faith in Action


A statue of Mary and the Christ Child stands in St. Rafael the Archangel Church in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico.

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 © 2024

MAY 2024 ✢ COLUMBIA 1 CONTENTS Photo by Majicphotos/iStock via Getty Images — ON THE COVER: CNS photo/Bob Roller
All rights reserved
MAY 2024 ✢ VOLUME 104 ✢ NUMBER 4
20 10 16 24 26

Our Lady and Our Priests

IN EARLY APRIL, San Salvador Council 1 hosted a fraternal dinner for 21 Knights of Columbus chaplains from Poland at the Order’s birthplace, St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut. Later that evening, en route to the retreat center where they were staying, the chaplains visited the home of a K of C family with Polish roots. As they were welcomed inside, the merry band of chaplains sang in unison, “Życzymy, życzymy” — wishing “health and happiness and blessings … through the hands of Mary.” It was a spontaneous gesture of gratitude and expression of piety, but more than that, the song provided a glimpse into the heart of their ministerial priesthood.

e Knights of Columbus is a lay organization, but ever since our founding by Blessed Michael McGivney, the Order has had a deep appreciation for the indispensable role priests play in the Church’s apostolic mission. Sacramentally conformed to the Good Shepherd, priests share in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ and serve the “common priesthood” of the faithful. By giving their lives to the Church and making present Christ’s one eternal sacri ce on the altar, they say with the Lord, “Behold, I come to do your will, O God” (Heb 10:7). is service also bears fruit through their spiritual fatherhood as pastors and chaplains, whether of K of C councils, military units or even professional sports teams (see pages 10, 20 and 24).

When it comes to a priest’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as well as Our Lady’s role in the Church, it’s important to see that a priest’s response to his vocation is already an echo of Mary’s “yes” to God. e Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that the “Marian” dimension of the Church precedes the apostolic

or “Petrine”: “Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as ‘the bride without spot or wrinkle’” (773, Eph 5:27). Moreover, when Christ presented his mother at the foot of the Cross, the beloved disciple received her on behalf of the entire Church — and in a special way, on behalf of all priests (Jn 19:26-27).

In this light, the Second Vatican Council urged priests to “love and venerate with lial devotion and veneration [the] mother of the eternal High Priest, Queen of Apostles and protectress of their own ministry” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 18). St. John Paul II similarly concluded his 1992 apostolic exhortation on priestly formation, Pastores Dabo Vobis, by invoking the intercession of “Mary, Mother and Teacher of our priesthood.” He went on to a rm, “Every aspect of priestly formation can be referred to Mary, the human being who has responded better than any other to God’s call. Mary became both the servant and the disciple of the Word to the point of conceiving, in her heart and in her esh, the Word made man, so as to give him to mankind” (82).

us, the Polish chaplains’ simple song of greeting, before they continued their pilgrimage in the footsteps of Father McGivney (see page 7), expressed more than mere sentiment. Rather, it succinctly expressed their very heart and identity as priests — sons of the Church, sons of Our Lady, joyfully announcing and making present the good news of redemption in Christ. Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Apostles, pray for us and for our priests. ✢

Faith Resource: Mary, The Mother of God

The booklet Mary, The Mother of God (#324) discusses the Church’s teaching about Mary’s pivotal role in salvation history as mother of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. Part of the Building the Domestic Church Series published by the Order’s Catholic Information Service, it explains how Mary’s Immaculate Conception, perpetual virginity and Assumption flow from her unique place in God’s plan of redemption. To download or purchase this and other Catholic resources, visit


Knights of Columbus


Patrick E. Kelly

Supreme Knight

Most Rev. William E. Lori, S.T.D. Supreme Chaplain

Arthur L. Peters

Deputy Supreme Knight

Patrick T. Mason

Supreme Secretary

Ronald F. Schwarz

Supreme Treasurer

John A. Marrella

Supreme Advocate


Alton J. Pelowski


Cecilia Hadley Editorial Director

Andrew J. Matt

Managing Editor

Elisha Valladares-Cormier

Associate Editor

Paul Haring

Manager of Photography

Cecilia Engbert Content Producer

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


COLUMBIA 1 Columbus Plaza New Haven, CT 06510-3326

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2 COLUMBIA ✢ MAY 2024 Columbia

‘United in Prayer’

As sons of Mary and of the Church, Catholic fathers have a responsibility to lead their children to an encounter with God

THE CHURCH HONORS the Blessed Virgin Mary in a special way during the month of May, reflecting on her role in God’s plan. We know that Mary was a woman of deep and faithful prayer who recognized the voice of God and said “yes” to his will for the salvation of the entire world. More than any other disciple, she also knows the voice of her son and leads us to closer union with him.

Following the ascension of Jesus, Our Lady gathered with the Apostles in Jerusalem as they “devoted themselves with one accord to prayer” (Acts 1:14). We later read that the early community of believers, united in prayer and filled with the Holy Spirit, were “of one heart and mind” (Acts 4:32).

This unity of heart and mind is precisely the unity that we, as fathers, should want for our families. And this means that the single most important task we have before us is to teach our children and grandchildren to pray — in union with the Church and Mary. This is the essence of our mission as fathers. More than just attending to our children’s physical needs, our role is to be the provider of spiritual food and shelter.

So, how can we do this? First, recall the maxim, “You cannot give what you do not have.” To be authentic teachers of prayer and to reflect the love of God the Father, we need to spend time in personal prayer every day.

For many of us, this is best done in the early morning when we are fresh and the house is quiet. God is found in that “still small voice” (1 Kgs 19:12), and he waits for silence to reveal himself to us. In our prayer we should ask the Lord to make us good examples for our children. We should pray for our wife, asking the Lord to bless her and to bring about greater unity in our marriage. And we should pray for our children by name, talking to God about each of them

and asking for concrete assistance for their specific needs.

We should also pray with our families, leading them in prayer. This means, most importantly, bringing them to Mass every Sunday, as well as teaching them the ancient and beautiful prayers of the Church.

Praying together before meals and celebrating feast days and liturgical seasons can foster awareness of God’s presence. A family rosary — or even just a decade, depending on the circumstances — can bring Mary’s peaceful intercession to your family, and it will equip your children from a young age with this powerful tool of prayer.

Still more, going to confession and participating in Eucharistic adoration with your children sets an important example and begins to foster habits in them for life.

Prayer is more than an exercise; it’s a living relationship with our Lord. Leading your family in spontaneous prayers from the heart — prayers of petition and thanksgiving — can be especially powerful. If your children hear you pray in this way, it becomes natural for them to do so as well — and prayer becomes a personal encounter with the living God.

In a message to families in 2021, Pope Francis reminded us, “The family is alive if it is united in prayer. The family is strong if it rediscovers the Word of God and the providential value of all its promise.”

The greater the demands that are upon us, and the more our wives and children depend on us, the greater need we have for prayer. It is indispensable if we are to fulfill our mission as fathers.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, who pondered all these things in her heart (Lk 2:19), intercede for us as we strive to keep our families ever more united with her son.

Vivat Jesus!

This is the essence of our mission as fathers. More than just attending to our children’s physical needs, our role is to be the provider of spiritual food and shelter.
Photo by Michael Collopy

Seeing Christ Through Mary’s Eyes

The practice of praying the rosary gives us the perspective and strength to face challenges and trust in the Lord

IN THE LATE AFTERNOON, if the weather is nice and there is still daylight, I will often take my dog, Bayley, on a long walk — about 3.5 miles. It is certainly one of my dog’s favorite activities, and it’s something I enjoy too. A long walk is not only good exercise; I find that it clears my head of the anxieties of the day.

But not always. Years ago, when I first started taking long walks, I would use the time to mull over problems and challenges. Before long, though, I found that doing so defeated one of the prime benefits of walking; as I strode along, rolling over in my mind whatever it was that was worrying me, my mind and heart grew more cluttered, not less. In fact, I returned home more worried than ever.

I happened to mention this to my spiritual director, and he asked me why I would waste such a valuable opportunity to really clear my mind and heart. “Why don’t you pray the rosary while you walk?” he asked, adding, “I mean the whole rosary, all four sets of mysteries — the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious.”

St. John Paul II described the rosary as a prayer in which we see Christ and the saving events of his life “through the eyes of Mary.” As I pray the rosary on my walks, repeating the Hail Mary over and over again, Christ himself comes more clearly into focus. Instead of stewing about problems and worries, my mind and heart are elevated to contemplate all that the Lord said and did for the world’s salvation — and for mine too! With Mary’s help, I am reminded how deeply the Lord loves me, what an undeserved grace it is to be an adopted son of the heavenly Father, and indeed what a grace and joy it is to serve the Church. Along the way, I also remember those who have asked me to pray for them. As for my problems and worries? I commend them to

the Lord together with the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This doesn’t mean that I’m entirely free of distraction as I walk along the city streets. There is plenty to divert my attention — a flashy new car, a helicopter overhead, maybe the unpleasant scent of marijuana. But the rosary always pulls me back to Christ and his mother.

And strangely enough, something else often happens. As I make my way through the mysteries of the rosary, I am amazed to find that I have been given a new perspective on my challenges and opportunities. Surrounded by Mary’s prayers, problems don’t loom so large. And more often than not, at the end of my rosary walk, I see a way forward, if not a solution to whatever I am facing.

For me, the mantra “Keep Calm and Carry On” doesn’t work. “Keep Calm and Pray the Rosary” is better.

As supreme chaplain, one of my duties is to bless rosaries — a lot of rosaries — for, as you know, a rosary is given to every Knight of Columbus to help him grow in devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. But owning a rosary is not enough. Pope Francis once asked those attending his weekly audience if they carried a rosary. Many held them up for him to see. But he challenged them further: “Do you pray the rosary?” It is a challenge we should make our own. A deep love for Our Lady is an essential part of our spiritual lives as Knights.

Over the years, I have acquired many rosaries. Some I purchased, others were given to me, including those the pope often gives to visitors. I sometimes give rosaries to others, especially when I visit them in the hospital. But there is one rosary that is particularly special — the one that my father received when he became an active Knight of Columbus many years ago. For it was from him that I first learned to pray the rosary. ✢

As I make my way through the mysteries of the rosary, I am amazed to find that I have been given a new perspective on my challenges and opportunities. Surrounded by Mary’s prayers, problems don’t loom so large.

Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge

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

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.”

(Gospel for May 12, Jn 17:11b)

Jesus desires that his disciples be united in his name: one body, one faith, one Church. It is vital for our own families to remain united in faith. It is not easy to raise and form children in the Catholic faith in today’s confused culture. But as Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton, the “rosary priest,” said, “The family that prays together stays together.” Let us keep our family united by staying united to Christ in prayer.

Challenge: This month — the month of Mary — I challenge you to pray the rosary daily with your entire household, offering at least one decade for the unity of your family and the Church.

Find accompanying reflection questions at

Catholic Man of the Month

Blessed Isidore Ngei Ko Lat (1918-1950)

POOR HEALTH prevented Isidore Ngei Ko Lat from becoming a priest but could not stop him sharing the faith. His ministry as a catechist, which ended in martyrdom, contributed to what has been called a “flowering of Catholicism” in Burma (present-day Myanmar).

Ko Lat was born in 1918 in central Burma, then a British colony. His parents, farmers who were evangelized by priests from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, died when Ko Lat was a teen, leaving him and a younger brother to live with an aunt.

He frequently assisted missionary priests and eventually entered a local seminary, where he excelled in theology, Latin and English. However, bronchial asthma forced him to return home to the village of Dorokhò. There, he opened a free school to teach children Burmese, English and religion — often using music to convey catechetical lessons.

In 1948, Ko Lat met Father Mario Vergara, a missionary with the pontifical institute. Father Vergara had only recently returned to Burma after being held, with other missionaries from Italy,

Liturgical Calendar

May 1 St. Joseph the Worker

2 St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

3 Sts. Philip and James, Apostles

9 (12) The Ascension of the Lord


Our Lady of Fatima

14 St. Matthias, Apostle

Pentecost Sunday

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church


St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest, and Companions (Mexican Martyrs) May 26


in a British internment camp in India throughout World War II.

Ko Lat accepted the priest’s invitation to serve as a catechist and translator. Their efforts were successful but resented by Burmese Protestants who supported the rebel fighters in the country’s civil war.

On May 24, 1950, the two missionaries traveled to meet a local leader and request the release of an imprisoned catechist. Upon arrival, they were interrogated, dragged through the woods for six hours, and finally shot to death. Their bodies were thrown in the Salween River.

Beatified in 2014 together with Father Mario Vergara, Isidore Ngei Ko Lat is Myanmar’s first blessed. ✢

Holy Father’s Monthly Prayer Intention

The Most Holy Trinity

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

We pray that religious women and men, and seminarians, grow in their own vocations through their human, pastoral, spiritual and community formation, leading them to be credible witnesses to the Gospel.

FROM TOP: Painting by Gianni Strino/Photo courtesy of Diocese of Averna — Barry Mason /Alamy Stock Photo — CNS photo/Pablo Esparza

Order Assists Families A ected by Key Bridge Collapse

DURING THE BOARD of directors’ quarterly meeting in early April, the Knights of Columbus pledged to donate $100,000 to support families who lost loved ones and livelihoods in the collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Sco Key Bridge.

Six road workers were killed when a cargo ship struck the Key Bridge in the early hours of March 26, destroying the span over the Patapsco River within seconds. All were immigrants to the United States from Latin America. Many others have been a ected by the economic fallout of the accident.

“ e Knights of Columbus was of course shocked by the collapse of Baltimore’s Key Bridge and especially saddened by the tragic loss of life,” said Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly. “Blessed Michael McGivney founded the Knights over 140 years ago to support widows and orphans. So it was only natural that, upon learning of the death of six road workers — including husbands and fathers from the Catholic Hispanic community — we were moved to join with the Church in Baltimore in providing aid to their widows and orphans.”

e Order’s donation supported the Francis Sco Key Bridge Relief Fund established by the Archdiocese of Baltimore, led by Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori.

On April 8, Archbishop Lori led a prayer service for the six men who died at Sacred Heart of Jesus-Sagrado Corazón de Jesús Church in Baltimore and then joined a candlelight procession around the neighborhood. Hundreds of people followed as volunteers carried six crosses hung with construction vests through the streets. State Deputy Christopher

Board of Directors Honors Cardinal Seán O’Malley

THE KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS Board of Directors recognized Cardinal Seán O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, during their recent meeting in Boston, honoring him with a formal resolution for his years of leadership and service to the Church.

e cardinal, a longtime Fourth Degree Knight, celebrated Mass for the board members at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross on April 5, with Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori and several priests concelebrating. A er Mass, the board hosted a dinner in his honor, at which Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly presented him with the resolution.

Archbishop William Lori (left) joins hundreds outside Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Baltimore for a prayer service and candlelight procession April 8 for the six men killed in the Key Bridge collapse. Local Fourth Degree Knights also participated.

Powers participated, and Fourth Degree Knights from ve local assemblies provided an honor guard for the procession.

“It was eye-opening to see the turnout,” District Master James Duryee said. “I don’t think a lot of people there knew the men [personally]. But we all wanted to be there because of the loss to the community and the gravity of the situation.” ✢

“[Cardinal O’Malley] is an example of what it means to surrender to the will of Jesus,” the supreme knight said during his congratulatory remarks. “ at surrendering led him to serve as bishop in four dioceses, on numerous commi ees of the U.S. bishops conference, and to several appointments in Rome, serving Pope Francis and the universal Church. And all the while, he has been a tremendous friend to the Knights of Columbus.”

In addition to noting examples of friendship with the Order, the resolution acknowledged some of the cardinal’s many accomplishments, his heart for the poor and marginalized, his dedication to the cause of life, and his sensitive leadership amid the clerical abuse scandals.

Cardinal O’Malley, who will turn 80 in June, thanked the Knights warmly

Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly presents Cardinal Seán O’Malley with a resolution in his honor April 5.

for the honor, saying, “You all know what a ection I have for the Knights of Columbus and their families, and all that you mean to our Church and country.” ✢

FROM TOP: Photo by Kevin J. Parks/ The Catholic Review — Photo by Paul Haring

Polish K of C Chaplains Make Father McGivney Pilgrimage

TWENTY-ONE Knights of Columbus chaplains from Poland made a pilgrimage to the northeast United States, April 8-16, walking in the footsteps of Blessed Michael McGivney and visiting holy sites, churches and places of national interest from Connecticut to Washington, D.C.

Father Wiesław Lenartowicz, chaplain of Our Lady of Częstochowa Council 14004 in Radom and associate state chaplain of Poland, was inspired to help organize the international pilgrimage, the first of its kind, after personally visiting sites associated with Father McGivney two years ago.

“These places have their own spirit that should be shown and promoted, because it helps us to understand Father McGivney’s actions and motivation,” he explained.

The chaplains first toured New Haven, Connecticut, where they visited the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center, celebrated Mass at St. Mary’s Church, and prayed at Father McGivney’s tomb. They also visited Waterbury, where McGivney was born in 1852, and Thomaston, where he died in 1890.

The pilgrimage then took the chaplains to Baltimore. There, they concelebrated Mass with Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, where McGivney was ordained in 1877.

“Priests like Blessed Michael give us an example of the way in which apostolic zeal can transform all things,” Archbishop Lori told the chaplains in his homily. “In each parish where he served, in the face of a culture hostile to the Church, aware of the many needs of those around him, Blessed Michael announced the victory of Christ.”

e Polish chaplains went on to visit the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., and other national

Supreme Knight

Addresses John Carroll Society


addressed the John Carroll Society in Washington, D.C., April 13, emphasizing a message that Pope Francis personally asked him to share: the importance of the co-responsibility between laypeople and the clergy.

“As lay people, we’ve been given an essential role, not in Church governance, but in advancing her mission,” the supreme knight said. “The Gospel makes that crystal clear. And the Sec-

K of C chaplains from throughout Poland stand with Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori following Mass at the Baltimore Basilica on April 11. Blessed Michael McGivney was ordained in the basilica, the nation’s first cathedral, on Dec. 22, 1877.

shrines in D.C., Maryland and Pennsylvania, as well as St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Along the way, they had opportunities to tour several U.S. landmarks, from Gettysburg Ba le eld in Pennsylvania to the Statue of Liberty.

“I see in the priests how they have changed their understanding of the activities of the Knights of Columbus,” said Father Lenartowicz, reflecting on the pilgrimage.

Father Krystian Wilczyński, chaplain of St. Faustina Council 17906 in Gdańsk, explained, “You could say that Blessed Michael McGivney, as our father, led us. I feel that he allowed us to experience unity, fraternity and charity.” ✢

ond Vatican Council’s decree on the laity provides a framework for living out our calling.”

Supreme Knight Kelly spoke at the society’s 38th annual awards dinner, during which he and four others received the John Carroll Society Medal, the organization’s highest honor. e John Carroll Society is an organization of Catholic professionals that promotes spiritual, intellectual and social fellowship among its members, in service to the archbishop of Washington.

The lay calling has different duties, the supreme knight noted, but the duty to evangelize is particularly crucial today. “All of us are called to be missionaries in a society that often views

religion, at best, as a matter of private opinion — or at worst, as an enemy of the public good,” he said. “This requires that we live out our mission constantly … at all times, in all places, and to all the people we meet.” ✢

Photo by Christopher Newkumet/Courtesy of the John Carroll Society


Grace and Virtue, the Foundation of Leadership

In the Gospels, Jesus tells us that whoever wants to be a leader must be the servant, even the slave, of all (Mt 20:26-27; Mk 10:43-44; Lk 22:26).

Servant leadership requires the highest standard of behavior because it strikes at the foundation of sin, which is the human tendency to serve ourselves first rather than others. To overcome this dynamic, we must receive the grace God offers us — through prayer and the sacraments — to overcome our sin.

Second, we must cooperate with God’s grace to develop the morally excellent habits necessary to conquer sin. Overcoming the temptation to first serve ourselves involves building up key virtues. Faith, hope, love, courage, integrity, humility and more are needed to live a life of self-sacrificial leadership.

Jesus teaches us that service reaches its height when we are able to lay down our life for our friends (Jn 15:13). If we develop and practice virtue, and we truly lay down our lives for others in service, there’s no telling how many followers we will attract to the Lord and his Church. ✢

— Joseph McInerney is vice president of leadership and ethics education for the Knights of Columbus.


Holy Families Are Set Apart

A family’s call to holiness requires not perfection but simply making time for God and one another

MY WIFE, SHARA, AND I have been married 21 years and have six beautiful children. As Catholics, we’re called to be a holy family, and people might think that means being a perfect family. But “holy” comes from the Greek word hagios , meaning to be set apart — especially from a culture that’s increasingly at odds with our Catholic values.

As young people are leaving the Church at an alarming rate, it is important for parents to realize that it’s not the responsibility of our priests or Catholic school teachers to educate our children in the faith. Rather, I am called to be the spiritual leader of my home, and my wife, by the grace of God, is called to be the heart of our home. To put it another way, God has appointed me and my wife to imitate St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother and to help lead our family to heaven. Together, we’re called to place Jesus rst in our lives and in the lives of our children.

For example, when evening comes and the table’s a mess and the kids are a wreck, we’re still going to sit down as a family and pray the rosary. If we’re traveling for sports over a weekend, we’re going to make Mass the priority, even if it means missing part of the game. Father Patrick Peyton said it best: “ e family that prays together stays together.”

This also involves just trying to be present with one another — throwing our phones on the kitchen counter at 9 p.m. and actually

sitting on the couch together, spending time with our children. It isn’t anything heroic; it’s just doing the little things. In my baseball career, my coaches always said that if you do the little things right, the big things take care of themselves. And in our marriage and family, we try to take care of the little things so that the big things take care of themselves.

I tell my kids all the time, I’d rather they become saints in heaven than Hall of Famers enshrined in Cooperstown who walked away from their faith because baseball — or something else — became their god. ere’s no pressure on them to be great in the eyes of the world. My only desire as a father is that they be great in the eyes of our Lord. ✢

MIKE SWEENEY played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball and has been a member of the Knights of Columbus since 2014. He and his family live in southern California.

FROM LEFT: Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet , 1852-56, by Ford Madox Brown — Spirit Juice Studios


What is the difference between permanent life and term life insurance?

A simple answer to this question that I have often given my clients is to look at permanent life insurance as a solution to permanent needs and term life insurance as a response to temporary needs.

Examples of permanent needs include end-of-life expenses, emergency funds, income replacement and legacy and special-needs planning. Temporary needs may include paying off debts, such as home and auto loans, school loans and credit cards.


Term life products, which provide coverage for a fixed time, can be set for a period of years and reduced as your debts are reduced or paid off; they can also be converted to a permanent option for an increased premium. Permanent life premiums can be paid up in a short time or to age 100. A permanent policy builds cash value over time that can be accessed while it is in force through a policy loan or full or partial withdrawal/ surrender (taking cash value out of a policy will reduce the future death benefit).

So how should you decide between permanent life and term? That depends — as your life changes, so do your needs. A young family on a tight budget with a mortgage and student loans has different priorities than an older, more established couple planning for college tuition and retirement. It is best to discuss your

To Live With Joy

Fostering an emotional connection with your spouse and children is an essential task of marriage

IN WORKING WITH college students over the years, we have noticed that a significant number of young people — including Catholics committed to living out their faith — are skeptical about marriage, especially the idea that a joyful marriage is possible.

Many have watched their families fall apart, and they’ve taken notes. Even if their parents stayed together, they o en have a sense that Catholic marriage is inevitably marked by con ict, tension and a lack of warmth. While our society tends to reduce love to a simple emotion or mere feeling, it seems that some people have overcorrected: ey think of love solely as an act of the will, neglecting the importance of emotion within marriage and family life.

Love and sacramental marriage do require an act of the will. As St. John Paul II wrote, true love “wills the good without limits” for the other. Marriage is very sacri cial. But spouses must also cultivate an a ective, or emotional, connection

specific goals with an agent. This is a benefit of membership for every Knight of Columbus. Whether you opt for term, permanent or a blended solution, unique needs deserve personalized attention.

Visit for additional educational resources. ✢

— David B. Cary is currently a field performance specialist with the Knights of Columbus; he previously worked as a K of C field agent and general agent for more than a decade.

with the other. is is key to a warm and joyful marriage. And studies have shown it is central to raising children, especially if we wish to pass our faith on to the next generation.

As parents, we give an unspoken witness. If we commit to doing the little things to build emotional unity, our children will notice — and will remember that joy as they discern their own vocations. In short, we must make an act of the will to connect emotionally with our spouse and children. We choose to love Christ — and love Christ in others — even during tough times, to pray for and with each other. Being intentional can make all the difference. ✢

ANDREW and SARAH SWAFFORD speak frequently around the world on dating, marriage and the moral and spiritual life. Andrew is a member of St. Benedict’s College Council 4708 at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., where he is a professor of theology.

FROM TOP: fizkes/iStock via Getty Images — Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images


MLB chaplains bring God’s grace and their love of baseball to the big leagues

Father Burke Masters, chaplain of the Chicago Cubs, rounds third base during a workout with the team at their spring training complex in Mesa, Ariz., in March 2016.

10 COLUMBIA ✢ MAY 2024

“Baseball is like church. Many a end, few understand.” is saying, o en a ributed to Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher, speaks to both the popularity of America’s beloved pastime and the subtle pleasures it o ers to its most devoted a cionados. But it might hit home in a di erent way for the Catholic priests whose job it is to bring “church” to the players, coaches and employees of a Major League Baseball club.

‘We Know God Is Here’

Born in Queens, New York, Msgr. Thomas Machalski grew up cheering for the 1969 Miracle Mets and getting autographs from the likes of Willie Mays, Tom Seaver and Tug McGraw. His love for baseball never faded, but it was surpassed by a desire to serve the Church as a priest, and he was ordained for the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1985. In 2001, he was one of the first priests ministering at ground zero in the aftermath of 9/11. Now pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Bayside, Msgr. Machalski served as chaplain to the New York Mets from 2007 to 2011 and resumed that post in 2023. He is a member of Ridgewood Council 1814.

My dad was a mailman, a letter carrier. This man had to get up at 4 a.m. for work, but he’d take me to Mets games and wait with me at the clubhouse door until 11:30 p.m., midnight, as I asked for autographs after the games. So I was a big Mets fan, just like my dad and grandparents. My brother and the rest of my family are all die-hard Yankees fans, so it was very contentious at times. The Yankees were constantly winning, and the Mets were always losing, but I always stuck with the Mets. And then in 1969, it all kind of jelled together. It wasn’t a stretch of the imagination to call them the Miracle Mets.

Until I made my rst Communion, I told everybody I wanted to be a farmer. For a kid who grew up with a cement backyard and a cement front yard, it was a funny thing to say. But from the time I made my rst Communion, I said, “I want to be a priest.” And that really didn’t waver very much.

I’ve been a priest now for almost 39 years, and I’ve had a whole series of di erent experiences. I’ve been a parochial vicar and a pastor. I’ve worked in a seminary and on the marriage tribunal of the diocese. And I was one of the rst clergy who ministered to the rst responders of 9/11.

With support from Catholic Athletes for Christ, Sunday Mass is celebrated at 27 MLB ballparks by chaplains who seek not only to keep players close to the sacraments during the peaks and valleys of a 162-game season, but also to accompany them and help them grow in faith and understanding of God. ree of these priests, all members of the Knights of Columbus, spoke with Columbia about how they strive to bring God’s grace into the clubhouse.

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OPPOSITE PAGE: Photo by Edward Maillard — RIGHT: Photo by Matt Greenslade

Shortly after the attacks, a call went out from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn; they wanted to make sure there were two Catholic priests at ground zero at all times. So there was never a moment, from the very beginning until the last day of cleanup, that there were not two Catholic priests on duty, 24/7. About 400 of us priests volunteered, and we took six-hour shifts. During the first of four shifts I took — I always had the 12-6 a.m. shift — I was standing right on that smoldering pile that you see in photos and videos, as they were literally pulling buckets filled with pieces of people from that rubble. They would take them into a makeshift morgue, where we would have a small prayer service and bless the body parts, and then go back onto the pile again.

We were there, really, to provide emotional and spiritual support to the police o cers, the re ghters and those who volunteered. ey would say things like, “We know that you don’t have an answer to this, Father. Nobody does. But we just know God is here when we see you.” ey saw the collar, and that was a sign that God was there with them.

I think our presence also gave a great deal of solace to people who lost family members — to know that if their loved ones’ remains were found, there was a priest who prayed over and blessed them.

When I went home and thought about it later, it would bother me that such evil could exist in the world and be perpetrated by one human being against another. But Christ’s example of redemptive su ering allowed me to make sense of what had happened and minister be er, I think, to those who were le behind.

On Sept. 21, the Mets played their rst game since the a acks, and I had a ticket to the game. It was against Atlanta, our biggest rival, and we were losing in the eighth inning. But then [Hall of Fame catcher and lifelong Catholic] Mike Piazza got up, and he whacked a home run like you wouldn’t believe. Once he hit that ball, I knew it was gone. at place just — I’m ge ing emotional just thinking about it — it just exploded. And we won that game. I still look at that moment and think that was God saying, “You guys need this” — not the Mets, but the people of New York.

Several years later, Bishop Ignatius Catanello, an auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn who was serving as the Mets’ chaplain, asked me to ll in for him when there was a con ict with his episcopal schedule. Eventually, he had to step away, and I began serving as the Mets chaplain full-time. I did that for several years before taking on a new assignment as rector of a seminary. I returned to Brooklyn in 2017, but another priest was serving as chaplain at the time, so I just resumed as chaplain last year.

Every time I walk into the stadium, I say, “What did I do to deserve this?” God is so good to have put this in my path.

As chaplain, my primary responsibility is to celebrate Mass before Sunday home games for players, coaches and stadium employees. [MLB pitcher and Knight of Columbus] Trevor Williams, who was with the Mets for a couple

years — his oldest son used to be my altar server. It’s a great service to the players and the men and women who work in that stadium, who otherwise might not be able to ful ll their obligation. I’ve also had people in the organization come to my parish for confession or spiritual direction; I’ve celebrated baptisms for them, and even celebrated a wedding Mass for one of the players.

rough my involvement with Catholic Athletes for Christ, I’ve participated in Bible studies with players, and I organized a group of current and former players, front o ce personnel and umpires to consecrate ourselves to St. Joseph.

There’s a lot of similarity between sports and faith. Both are trying to build character, to focus someone on a particular goal, whether it’s being the best athlete or the best Christian you can be. I’m so filled with respect for players like Deacon Darrell Miller, Mike Piazza, Mike Sweeney, Jeff Suppan, Trevor Williams and others. They’ve made it to the top. And yet, they have not forgotten their faith, that what they have is from God. And they’re not afraid to talk about it and live it.

‘Padre for the Padres’

Father Pedro Rivera, a member of Resurrection Council 9897 in Escondido, California, moved to Los Angeles in 1976, when he was 4 years old. Over the next five years, the Los Angeles Dodgers advanced to the World Series three times, winning it all in 1981, and young Pedro became a Dodgers fan for life. While Father Rivera still bleeds Dodger blue, he now serves a different ball club, the San Diego Padres, as their chaplain. He also directs the Newman Center at San Diego State University, and he sees a striking similarity between the college students and big leaguers with whom he works: They’re all searching for truth, and many are finding it in the Catholic Church.

I’m the third of ve children and was born in Guatemala. My parents moved us to the United States, se ling in Los Angeles. We would go to church on Sundays, but that was the extent of our family’s faith life.

We did attend Catholic school growing up, however, and I remember when I was about 9 or 10, I was serving Mass; there was a moment during the consecration when I was watching the priest, and I had this desire to do what he was doing.

When I was in middle school, my parents told me they couldn’t a ord to pay for me to continue in Catholic school. I went to the principal’s o ce, crying, and asked her if there was some way I could stay at the school. It turned out that the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation funded a scholarship

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for my school that paid for me to continue there through eighth grade. As part of the deal, I had to help clean classrooms and restrooms a er school, and along with other students who received scholarships from the team, would have to help hand out promotional items whenever the Dodgers had a giveaway day.

My post was always by the clubhouse, right by the owner’s o ce, because I was a quiet kid and the people in charge didn’t think I’d get starstruck or bother any of the important people who stopped by. And because of that, I got to meet a lot of the players and Hollywood stars. I also got a baseball autographed by most of the 1987 Dodgers, including Orel Hershiser, Steve Sax, Pedro Guerrero — many of the same players who were on the 1988 team that won the World Series. e scholarship students got to stay for the games, and it was just so awesome being at the eld, hearing the roar of the crowd, watching the reworks a erward. is all made me a big baseball fan, which I still am today.

Besides Dodger Stadium, however, my parents didn’t really let me go anywhere, so I jumped at the chance to go on a weekend visit to a local seminary. I ended up entering high school seminary at 15 to discern a vocation to the priesthood with the Vincentians but left the community after 10 years. I moved to San Diego and became a teacher, but I still felt God calling me to be a priest, although I thought he was calling me to join a religious community with a teaching charism. My spiritual director challenged me: “Have you asked what God wants?” And the more I prayed about it, the more I felt a call to serve the people of the Diocese of San Diego; there was a huge need for Spanish-speaking priests at the time.

I was ordained a priest in 2006, and I moved six times in my rst 10 years, including serving as a pastor and vocations director, before coming to SDSU in 2016. In 2013, Father Edward Brockhaus, who was the Padres’ chaplain, was nearing retirement, and he asked me to help take on some of the Masses at Petco Park before Sunday home games. A couple of years a er that, I took it over full-time.

At rst, it was a li le disappointing because hardly any players would come to the Mass. But Father Edward would tell me, “ ink of this as mission territory. e players might not be coming right now, but they need someone who’s going to be faithful.”

One of the things I see both at SDSU and in my ministry with the Padres is a lot of questions about God and the faith. Young people are searching, longing for the truth, and longing for the beauty of the Church.
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Photo by Matt Furman

My responsibilities as chaplain include celebrating Mass on Sundays when the team is in San Diego or finding another priest to cover for me. And afterward, the players all know I’m available for confession or spiritual direction. I’m also there for the players when they’re going through a hard time emotionally. In 2016, a pitcher for the Miami Marlins, José Fernandez, was killed in a tragic boating accident on a Sunday morning. Several Padres were friends and former teammates of his, and someone let me know about the accident as I was heading to Petco Park to celebrate Mass. That day, I was able to just talk with the players who needed to talk and be there with them.

When Craig Stammen, a relief pitcher, joined the team in 2017, that was a real turning point. He was turning 33 that year, and I joked with him, “You know, that’s the year Jesus died. I think you’re being called this year to do a lot more for Christ.” And he said, “Don’t worry, I will.” And because of his witness, more people — players, coaches and stadium sta — started coming to Mass.

One of the things I see both at SDSU and in my ministry with the Padres is a lot of questions about God and the faith. Young people are searching, longing for the truth, and longing for the beauty of the Church. I always tell them not to let others call them “the future of the Church.”

ey’re not the future; they’re the present.

ere have certainly been some personal highlights being the team’s chaplain, or the “Padre for the Padres,” as a lot of people call me. Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, God rest his soul, would come to the ballpark Mass when he was still traveling with the team. He’d always show up 30 minutes early, and of course, I had to ask him to be a lector. For me, who grew up a Dodgers fan, hearing his voice proclaim Scripture was just amazing.

Craig arranged for me to throw out the pitch before a game a couple of years ago. Some of the students talked to me beforehand and said, “Father, don’t embarrass us. You have to pitch from the top of the mound, not the base.” It was a baseball fan’s dream come true. It’s so true when the Lord says that if we give up everything for him, we can have a great abundance of gi s we could have never imagined for ourselves.

Mass at Baseball’s ‘Cathedral’

Father Burke Masters, a member of Father Gaffney Council 1555 in West Chicago, had his eyes set on making the big leagues since he was a kid. But after a legendary college career at Mississippi State, his stint in professional baseball was short-lived. A few years later, still trying to break into baseball as a front office executive, he came to realize that God was calling him to the priesthood. Ordained for the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, in 2002, Father Masters finally got the call to the big leagues in 2013, when he was asked to become the Catholic chaplain for the Chicago Cubs. He has also served as pastor of St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Hinsdale since 2022.

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Photo by Spirit Juice Studios

My parents came from different Protestant traditions, but as our family grew, they just kind of fell out of practice. We were still raised as Christians, though, and my parents sent me to a Catholic high school because it had the best baseball program around.

It was there that I was exposed to the Catholic Church. I was intrigued by it all, to the point where I became Catholic a week before my high school graduation. A big part of that was a junior year retreat I attended. I had never been in a Communion line before, so I didn’t know to put my arms across my chest and ask for a blessing. When the visiting priest, who didn’t know me, said, “The body of Christ,” I opened my mouth to say, “I’m not Catholic,” but before the words came out, in went my first Communion. At that moment, I felt the power of God in such a way that I went home and told my parents I had to become Catholic.

I went on to Mississippi State University, where I studied math and played infield for the Bulldogs. In 1990, I got really hot as we entered the regional tournament. We needed to beat Florida State to advance to the College World Series, and we were losing 8-7 when I came up with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning. I worked the count to 3-1 and got a pitch right down the middle. As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone. I just remember floating around the bases, with my teammates and probably 15,000 people in the stands going crazy.

That moment, I believe, was something God gave me to say, “Enjoy this. This is your major leagues. I’ve got other plans for you.” No MLB team drafted me after that year, but I signed with the Chicago White Sox as a free agent. My time with the White Sox didn’t go as planned, and at the end of that season, I finally had to realize that my baseball dream was over.

Looking back, there were inklings that I might be called to the priesthood. But it wasn’t until my girlfriend at the time invited me to go to Eucharistic adoration that it really crossed my mind. That’s when I heard this inner voice tell me, “I want you to be a priest.” I entered seminary in 1997, when I was 30 years old, and was ordained a priest five years later.

In 2013, I got a call from Catholic Athletes for Christ asking if I’d be willing to become chaplain to the Cubs. God has a real sense of humor; I grew up a Phillies fan, my parents rooted for the Cardinals, and I played in the White Sox system. I like to tell people that I’ve had two major conversions in life: one was becoming Catholic and the second was becoming a Cubs fan, and the second one was harder.

But by the time the Cubs made their World Series run in 2016, I had started to bleed “Cubbie blue.” In Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, Miguel Montero, the catcher, hit a grand slam to help win the game. That was a Saturday, so when I celebrated Mass the next morning, a lot of media were there to get a photo of Miguel receiving the Eucharist. When the Cubs made it to the World Series, ESPN wanted to interview me before the final two games and asked me to give the team a blessing. I just prayed that

I like to tell people that I’ve had two major conversions in life: one was becoming Catholic and the second was becoming a Cubs fan, and the second one was harder.

the Cubs would play to the best of their abilities, stay free of injuries and that the best team would win. I was so excited for the guys when, after 108 years, we finally won.

e ballpark Mass begins at 9:30 a.m. and is celebrated every Sunday home game, which occurs about twice a month. For the rst year, we had Mass in the Cubs’ family lounge. But then they did some big stadium renovations, and we had to move. So we have Mass in Section 209 of Wrigley Field, along the le - eld line. Some people call it Mass at the “Cathedral” — I don’t want to be disrespectful of cathedrals, so I always use air quotes, but it is a beautiful place.

It’s a 30-minute liturgy because there will be players, management and stadium staff attending who need to get to work. It’s so powerful to see a big-time ballplayer sitting next to a popcorn vendor. I think it’s really important for the players and everyone else to see that in God’s eyes, the playing field — pun intended — is even.

Afterward, I go to the clubhouse and make myself available to anyone who wants to go to confession or talk. I walk around talking to the guys, getting prayer intentions. When they hear that I played a little bit of minor league baseball, they are more open to talking with me. In fact, I got to work out with the team during spring training in 2016. I was worried I’d make a fool of myself, that I’d lose any credibility as a former ballplayer if it backfired. But I managed to hold my own, and guys were able to see me in a different light.

I’ve been a member of the Knights since seminary. When I was vocations director for the diocese, I couldn’t go to many local council meetings, but I worked closely with Knights to promote and support vocations. As a pastor, I see the Knights as such an integral part of a parish and diocese. They’re willing to do anything to help the pastor and the spiritual needs of the parish, which is what Father McGivney envisioned they’d be — critical support for our priests and bishops.

Look at what Jesus did — strengthening, teaching and then sending forth — and that’s what the Knights of Columbus does with its men for fraternity, faith and charitable works. ✢

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A Marine Corps veteran and Knight carves battlefield crosses for families whose sons made the ultimate sacrifice

Dust dances in the air every time Anthony Marquez carves his latest wooden statue. With dozens under his belt, he’s honed his cra , but transforming a dead tree into a piece of art is anything but easy.

First, he nds a log that’s not too green and transports all 700 pounds of it to a shed on his family’s land in Sperry, Oklahoma. He then cuts it down to 60 inches before sawing, torching and painting for hours. He works in di erent conditions, but the design is always the same: a pair of combat boots and an infantry ri e topped by a helmet — an arrangement known as a ba le eld cross.

e hardest part, however, isn’t the work; it’s what each cross represents. Marquez’s carvings are beautiful, but he wishes that he never had to make them.

“I hate doing them,” admi ed Marquez, a former Marine sergeant and a member of Holy Family Council 10388 in Tulsa. “ ere’s a reason they’re being done, and the reason is somebody was killed.”

Sometimes, it’s only through the fog of tragedy that purpose emerges. Marquez, now 36, discovered a personal mission nearly a decade ago, when he experienced the anguish of families who’d lost a loved one in service to their country. Since 2016, he has delivered more than 80 hand-carved battlefield crosses throughout the United States. He has said he plans to keep carving until he completes 100.

“I’m compelled to do it,” said Marquez. “I want the families to know their sons are not forgo en.”

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Photo by Manny Marquez

Opposite page: A battlefield cross carved by Anthony Marquez stands by the grave of Marine Lance Cpl. Joe Jackson in Tahoma National Cemetery in Yakima, Wash. Jackson was killed by an improvised bomb while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on April 24, 2011. • Right: Marquez works on a battlefield cross in a warehouse in Tulsa, Okla.


Anthony Marquez was born and raised in Tulsa, one of five siblings in a Catholic family of Mexican and Native American (Choctaw) descent. Growing up, Anthony was either drawing cartoons or tinkering in his father’s shop, eventually building custom motorbikes and go-carts from spare parts. But ever since age 6, Marquez dreamed of following in his beloved Uncle Robert’s footsteps and joining the U.S. Marine Corps.

“We knew Anthony was going into the Marines, and there was nothing we could do to stop him,” said his older brother, Manny. “His path was chosen.”

Marquez enlisted during high school in 2006. A er graduation and boot camp in 2007, he deployed to Cuba, Spain and Israel before being sent to school in 2010 to learn to handle bomb-sni ng dogs. He deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan, in March 2011 as part of the 1st Ba alion, 5th Marines.

“He was quiet, but I could tell he was an artist,” said Marquez’s squad leader, retired Marine Sgt. James “Ma ” Amos of Wichita, Kansas. “He’d always come back from a weekend with a new drawing or ta oo.”

eir interaction was brief, partly because Marquez was busy on “dog duty” and partly because Amos lost both legs to an improvised explosive device three months into deployment. He saw Marquez’s true character a er the war.

“I was an injured leader and people o en don’t know how to handle that,” said Amos. Back home a er the deployment, Anthony got o the bus and immediately greeted his former superior. “Anthony was the rst one to greet me a er the formation was over.”

Marquez’s own guardian angel was working hard during his time in Afghanistan.

“I was once standing on 15 pounds of [homemade explosives] and the IED didn’t go o ,” he said. “How can you not feel protected at that point?”

Another time, he did experience an IED blast, but thankfully su ered only minor injuries. His brother remembers the chilling call.

“On the day my wife went into labor, my phone rang,” Manny recalled. “When I saw it was Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, my heart sank. I answered, and on the other line — silence. Suddenly, I hear Anthony’s voice: ‘Hey. Just wanted to tell you I got blown up today, but I’m OK.’ On the day my son was entering the world, my brother almost le it. at puts the nerves on edge and makes life at home collide with the ba le eld.”

Marquez survived the deployment, but 17 of his brother

Marines did not. One KIA was his close friend, Lance Cpl. Robert Greniger.

Marquez’s spirit was shaken, but his faith held rm. He used his God-given gi s to create a li le piece of heaven in the hell of war by building a chapel and altar out of scrap wood and rocks.

“My mother sent rosaries and prayer cards, and I’d put them in an ammo can next to the altar,” recounted Marquez, who named it the Chapel of Robert Greniger.

“When the priest would come, he’d say Mass there.”


Anthony Marquez was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in March 2012 and threw himself into weight lifting, building custom cars and skydiving — anything to distract from the pain.

ough grateful to be home, Marquez was haunted by the memory of his 17 brother Marines and riddled with survivor’s guilt. He also su ered from PTSD and dri ed from his faith. Without the camaraderie and purpose his military service had given him, Marquez felt his life was becoming unbearable.

Twice he put a gun in his mouth, thinking he had nothing le to live for.

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Photo by Tom Harris

He was not alone in his grief. Five years after Robert Greniger’s death, Greniger’s mother tried to take her life. This desperate act opened Marquez’s eyes, and his heart. He decided he could change his own life by serving the Gold Star families whose sons had lost theirs.

Marquez launched the XVII Carvings Project in 2016. Over the next three years, armed with his chainsaw, his truck and his passion, he hand-carved and then personally delivered battlefield crosses to each of the 17 families who’d lost a son during his deployment.

Battlefield crosses, usually formed with a rifle, helmet and boots, have been erected since at least World War I, at first to mark the location of fallen fighters on a battlefield and later simply to honor troops killed in combat.

“I had no carving experience outside of cutting firewood,” Marquez said. “But I was like, ‘I’ve got to do something.’”

Money was o en tight, and he spent many nights at seedy motels or sleeping in his truck as he drove coast to coast, eventually logging a total of 46,000 miles. Tracking down the families was also a challenge, but he wasn’t going to let anything stop him.

Lance Cpl. Joe Jackson was the first Marine killed during Marquez’s deployment — on Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011 — and one of the six he knew personally.

“When I learned that Jackson was killed, that’s kind of when the war started for me,” Marquez recalled.

Marquez delivered a battlefield cross to Jackson’s adoptive parents, Shawn and Faye Marceau, at their home in Yakima, Washington, on April 24, 2017.

Shawn, who also served in the Marines, remembered being overcome with emotion when Marquez arrived with the cross.

“It was overwhelming knowing somebody cared as much as we did,” Shawn said. “I knew he could feel the pain that I was feeling. … It brought us some peace in that abyss of blackness, knowing there’s an angel out there for us, even if he’s got one wing in the fire.”

Another Marine killed during Marquez’s deployment was Sgt. Adan Gonzales Jr., who died Aug. 7, 2011, leaving behind a wife and three young children. Marquez presented a battlefield cross to his family in his hometown of Bakersfield, California.

“We appreciated that Anthony, who never knew our son personally, would go so far out of his way to honor him,” said Gonzales’s father, Adan Sr., a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Council 13925 in Bakersfield. “It gives us solace that Adan’s sacrifice is never forgotten.”


A project that started with 17 Gold Star families has grown to serve more than 80 families and veterans organizations. Across the nation, Marquez has cultivated the community

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FROM LEFT: Photo by Scott Miller — Photo courtesy of Anthony Marquez

Opposite page, from left: Anthony Marquez, a member of Holy Family Council 10388 in Tulsa, is pictured with one of his completed carvings.• A kneeling Marine pays his last respects to Marine Lance Cpl. Robert Greniger, killed in combat July 12, 2011, during a memorial service at Patrol Base Wishtan in Afghanistan on July 18. Cpl. Anthony Marquez, a close friend of Greniger, stands at attention with the U.S. flag.

Right: Adan and Yolanda Gonzales hold a portrait of their only son, Marine Sgt. Adan Gonzales Jr., who was killed during combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on Aug. 7, 2011.

he didn’t know he needed, and that Gold Star families needed too.

“I’m extremely proud of him for coming up with something like this,” said Amos, Marquez’s former squad leader. “It honors the fallen, and honors the families, because it’s our job to tell their stories.”

While Marquez undertook this mission to honor his fallen Marine brothers, in the process, he also became closer to his actual brother. Manny, a lmmaker, joined him on a journey to revisit the rst 17 Gold Star families in 2021, the 10th anniversary of the death of their sons, a story the brothers tell in the documentary Make Peace or Die

“This gave him a purpose to fulfill, a mission to accomplish, and it was the first step on his own road to healing,” said Manny.

While Marquez knows the scars of war will never completely heal, he’s discovered renewed purpose in the XVII Carvings Project — and the brotherhood he’s found since coming home, including within the Order.

“Fraternity is important because it helps you grow as an individual, but also as a man. e Marine Corps was that for me,” said Marquez. “ at’s what you miss when you get out, and what you can nd in the Knights.”

e values of the Marines are honor, courage and commitment. “ ose are similar to the Knights,” noted Manny. “It’s a way of life that certain men embody. My brother is one of

those men. He always believed that passage from John 15: ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’”

e Knights of Columbus was a great support to the Gonzales family as well. Adan Sr.’s Fourth Degree assembly provided an honor guard at the funeral of his son — who planned to join the Knights a er his deployment — and brother Knights have provided a listening ear. More than anything, the Gonzaleses have found strength in God, as their son did in Afghanistan.

“I do believe God is with me on these long patrols through the poppy elds, and on the long cold nights we wait in ambush,” Adan Jr. wrote in a le er home. “He helps me through the unknown and uncertainty, the fear and misfortune, and every risk we encounter daily. My life is in his hands, and I trust in him.”

Like this le er, the ba le eld cross Marquez carved in memory of Adan Jr. is a tangible sign of hope and healing.

And with so many Gold Star families still out there, does Marquez really expect to retire after his 100th battlefield cross?

“No,” he said. “As long as people still want them, I’ll carve them.” ✢

HUNTER CATES is a freelance journalist based in Tulsa, Okla., where he is also a member of Holy Family Council 10388.

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Photo by M. Scott Brauer

Hero of HILL 875 Hero of HILL 875

Medal of Honor recipient Father Charles J. Watters constantly risked his life to save others in Vietnam

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Father Charles J. Wa ers celebrated his last Mass on Nov. 19, 1967, on a bright Sunday morning deep in the central highlands of South Vietnam. Vested in a camou age poncho liner, the U.S. Army chaplain stood at an altar constructed of C-ration boxes at the base of Hill 875 near the village of Dak To. A larger than usual number of paratroopers from the 2nd Ba alion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade — known as Sky Soldiers — were in a endance.

“It was an exceptionally good turnout,” recalled Robert Fleming, Delta Company’s radio operator. “Because everyone knew what we were ge ing into that day.”

John Berry, also of D Company, later described Father Wa ers’ demeanor: “He usually was in his typical East Coast fast-talk mode. [At] the services he performed the morning we went up on 875, he was unusually slow and deliberate. In retrospect it was almost like he had knowledge of what was going to happen.”

A er Mass, approximately 300 paratroopers from Alpha, Charlie and Delta companies received orders to a ack and seize Hill 875 from a regiment of 2,000 North Vietnamese Army soldiers. e ght for Hill 875 was the culminating encounter of the Ba le of Dak To, a nearly monthlong series of engagements with the NVA for control of the region.

On Nov. 19, one of the bloodiest days for American troops in the Vietnam War, Father Wa ers repeatedly ran unarmed and exposed through front-line gun re to care for and evacuate numerous wounded men. At dusk, a Marine ghter-bomber mistakenly dropped a bomb directly upon Company C’s command post and aid station halfway up Hill 875. More than 40 men were killed, including Father Wa ers.

For his actions that day, Chaplain Wa ers, who was a member of Regina Council 1688 in Rutherford, New Jersey, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor — becoming one of only ve chaplains to receive the accolade since the Civil War.


Charles Joseph Wa ers was born into a devout Catholic family in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Jan. 17, 1927. e

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Army Chaplain (Maj.) Charles Watters elevates the host during a Holy Week liturgy for paratroopers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam in March 1967. Right: Father Watters, a member of Regina Council 1688 in Rutherford, N.J., is pictured in uniform circa 1967. LEFT: AP Photo/Horst Faas — ABOVE: Photo courtesy of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society

youngest of three boys (a younger sister died of polio at age 6), he loved to play baseball with his brothers, Kenneth and Edward, and the other kids on the block. He was also drawn to the priesthood at a young age.

A er two years of study at Seton Hall University, Wa ers entered Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, New Jersey, and was ordained in 1953 for the Archdiocese of Newark. His rst assignment as a priest was at St. Mary’s Church in Rutherford, where he joined the Knights of Columbus. He later served, among other assignments, at St. Michael Church in Cranford.

Ed Nestor, a member of Cranford Council 6226 who served Father Wa ers’ Masses as a boy, remembers him as quiet, humble priest who was “always active with the CYO kids in the gym.”

Father Wa ers’ love of ying led him to become private pilot. He joined the New Jersey Air National Guard in 1962 and soon became their chaplain.

When the Vietnam War ramped up in 1965, 38-yearold Father Wa ers volunteered as a chaplain with the U.S. Army. A er completing the rigorous Airborne training, he was assigned to the Support Ba alion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade and in June 1966 began a 12-month tour of duty to Vietnam.

His family recalls that the priest, who enjoyed photography, brought a camera on his deployment and joked that if he were ever in a ba le, he would hold it up and yell, “Tourist!”

In reality, Father Wa ers regularly served the brigade on the front lines, where he believed he was most needed, and his reputation for staying with units in combat became something of a legend. On Feb. 22, 1967, he took part in the only mass combat jump of the war, parachuting to earth with the 2nd Ba alion, 503rd Infantry, as part of Operation Junction City. Five months later, he received a Bronze Star with a “V” for valor for administering last rites to a fatally wounded man under heavy re.

“When he came home from his rst tour of duty, he couldn’t wait to get back to ‘his boys,’” his late brother Ken, a longtime Knight, once recalled.

Soon enough, Father Wa ers volunteered for a six-month extension and was back with the 173rd.

According to Wambi Cook, Alpha Company’s radio operator and currently president of the 173rd Airborne Association, Father Wa ers didn’t resign himself to staying in the base camps.

“He felt more comfortable out there with the troops,” Cook said. “I’m not Catholic, but I can assure you that half the attendees at any of his Masses were non-Catholics. I can hear his voice now, calling out. He walked through the lines beckoning all the guys to Mass — and he always had a good turnout.”

Twenty to 30 soldiers usually came to daily Mass, but on the morning of Nov. 19, nearly 100 men answered Father Wa ers’ call to worship.


As they fought their way up Hill 875 later that day, the ba alion was soon immersed in a barrage of machine gun, mortar and rocket re from the entrenched North Vietnamese Army. Disregarding danger, 40-year-old Father Wa ers constantly moved through the lines, on the lookout for those in need of help.

“He was omnipresent, always mobile,” Cook said. “How the Padre managed to embed himself in every conceivable location within our ranks is beyond my comprehension.”

e citation for his Medal of Honor gives a sense of just how mobile Father Wa ers was that day. It describes him moving among, as well as in front of, the advancing troops — giving aid to the wounded, assisting in their evacuation and administering last rites to the dying. It also describes the chaplain risking his life repeatedly to rescue fellow soldiers:

“When a wounded paratrooper was standing in shock in ont of the assaulting forces, Chaplain Wa ers ran forward, picked the man up on his shoulders, and carried him to safety. As the troopers ba led to the rst enemy entrenchment, Chaplain Wa ers ran through the intense enemy re to the ont of the entrenchment to aid a fallen comrade. …

“As he passed by, we asked him where his helmet was. His reply was, ‘I carry my protection a little higher.’ With that he was off to attend the wounded.”

“Later, when the ba alion was forced to pull back into a perimeter, Chaplain Wa ers noticed that several wounded soldiers were lying outside the newly formed perimeter. Without hesitation and ignoring a empts to restrain him, Chaplain Wa ers le the perimeter three times in the face of small-arms, automatic-weapons, and mortar re to carry and to assist the injured troopers to safety.”

As the sun began to set that day, Cook saw Father Wa ers ministering to soldiers within the tight perimeter: “I can recall him calling out, probably talking to guys personally. He was attending to the wounded. I know that was his modus operandi.”

John Berry of D Company ran into Father Wa ers as he returned from the front lines.

“As he passed by, we asked him where his helmet was. His reply was ‘I carry my protection a li le higher.’ With that he was o to a end the wounded. at was the last time I saw him.”

Among the last people to speak with Father Wa ers was radio operator Robert Fleming. He was digging a foxhole at the command post when Wa ers arrived just before 7 p.m.

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“Father came in and said, ‘Hey, Bob, throw me my rucksack.’ It was right next to me, so I pitched it to him,” Fleming recalled. “Then he sat down and started eating his C-rations, because he hadn’t eaten all day, and I went back to my digging.”

“ e next thing I heard was a loud bang, and I saw a ame front come at me that enveloped my whole body, and then I was unconscious.”

Fleming somehow survived the blast, caused by a 250-pound bomb mistakenly dropped on the command post by an American pilot. It was among the worst “friendly re” incidents of the war, killing 42 military personnel and wounding 45.

Once word got out that Chaplain Wa ers was among the KIAs, paratroopers immediately started saying that he deserved the Medal of Honor.

“Probably 90% of those of us who survived and knew Father Wa ers submi ed his name for the award,” Cook a rmed.


Army Maj. Charles Joseph Wa ers was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. Kenneth and

Bill (left) and Johnny Doolan, members of Cranford (N.J) Council 6226, portray Father Charles Watters with a kneeling paratrooper during the town’s annual Memorial Day parade in 2015. Since 2013, Council 6226 has sponsored a float commemorating Father Watters, who served in Cranford before joining the Army.

Edward Wa ers received the Medal of Honor on their brother’s behalf from Vice President Spiro Agnew in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 4, 1969.

Other honors followed. The U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, renamed its building Watters Hall. Fort Bragg in North Carolina — now Fort Liberty — named a building the Watters Family Life Center in honor of the chaplain. In the chaplain’s hometown of Jersey City, a public school was renamed Chaplain Charles J. Watters School. About a dozen K of C councils and assemblies are named in his honor as well.

With support from Cranford Council 6226, St. Michael’s Parish placed a granite memorial monument in front of the church honoring their former priest.

Eleven years ago, a parishioner suggested honoring Father Wa ers with a oat in the local Memorial Day parade. e council borrowed a chasuble and a uniform and created a tableau on the back of a pickup truck that depicts Father Wa ers celebrating Mass before a kneeling soldier. e oat has been a council tradition in every parade since 2013.

“Father Wa ers needs to be remembered for what he did, and in our small way here in Cranford we try to keep his memory alive every year with our commemorative oat,” explained Past Grand Knight John Doolan. His sons, Johnny and Bill, now members of the council, portrayed the priest and the soldier several times.

A few days before the 50th anniversary of Father Wa ers’ death, a Sky Soldier from A Company, 2nd Ba alion, named William Heath le a note for the chaplain on the Wall of Faces, a website sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

“I was at your nal service on that eerie, quiet morning before going up Hill 875,” Heath wrote. “Your smile, positive a itude, and dedication to us has been a permanent inspiration for me. It will be 50 years this Nov. 19th since I received Communion on that deadly day. Father, for 50 years I have remembered you when I receive Communion. I thank God for you being with us when you did not have to be there.”

ere is no doubt that the chaplain’s sel ess actions that fateful day saved lives and saved souls. e news of his death was devastating for those who survived, according to those who personally testi ed to Father Wa ers’ bravery.

“Father Wa ers was a symbol of God and of good to the 2nd Ba alion,” wrote a platoon leader in the 173rd Airborne Brigade. “We lost many good men on Hill 875, but we lost more than a man in losing Father Wa ers.” ✢

JOSEPH PRONECHEN is a staff writer with the National Catholic Register and author of Fruits of Fatima (2019).

MAY 2024 ✢ COLUMBIA 23
Photo by John Doolan


A K of C chaplain recalls the months he spent under Russian occupation in the city of Melitopol, Ukraine

Father Oleksandr “Sashko” Bohomaz didn’t flee when Russian troops invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, 2022, nor when they captured his home city of Melitopol on Feb. 26. For nine months, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest and K of C chaplain worked with his pastor, Father Petro Krenitskyi, to bring the sacraments to Ukrainians living under the Russian occupation. At the same time, he worked with his brother Knights to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and care for the sick.

This work brought Father Bohomaz to the attention of authorities, who interrogated him repeatedly before arresting and deporting him to Ukrainian-controlled territory Dec. 1, a few days after Father Krenitskyi was similarly deported.

One of the topics of Father Bohomaz’s interrogations was the Knights of Columbus. Like the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church itself, the Knights of Columbus was banned by the Russian occupational government in late December 2022.

Interrogators accused Father Bohomaz of recruiting men into the Knights — which was true: He has been encouraging men to join the Order since becoming one of the very first Ukrainian Knights as a seminarian in 2013. Two years later, he helped found St. Peter Council 16252 in Melitopol, which was active and growing at the time of the invasion.

Father Bohomaz, who now lives at the parish of St. Volodymyr the Great in Zaporizhzhia, spoke with K of C staff about his work as a chaplain in times of war, his arrest and deportation by occupation authorities, and the importance of faith in life-threatening circumstances. The following first-person account is adapted from that interview.


When the war started, I had to make the decision to stand with the people, and it came very naturally to me. I believe it was by grace, not my merit. e Lord gave grace, and I accepted it.

I asked myself: Who am I and what is my role here? And I remember the answer: “I am a priest. What can a priest do?

A priest is here to administer the sacraments: Divine Liturgy, confession, Communion. All seven holy sacraments.”

I wanted to be present in the lives of our parishioners. I thought: “Jesus, I am your instrument. Wherever you want to go — I want to be your donkey. Show me where you want me to go, and I will go there and do what you want.” As long as he needed me to be somewhere, I was ready to go there.

Even during the occupation, the Knights played an important role. No one walked around with sashes, but they were dependable people whom you could count on. Essentially, it was humanitarian aid, typical challenges for such times: transporting someone, providing money for someone’s treatment, buying coal or rewood for heating because people didn’t have gas for heating. In the beginning, my pastor, Father Petro Krenitskyi, traveled to the villages every day — he brought bread with the Knights, which they bought in Melitopol because there was no bread in the villages.

ere was a time when there was hardly anything to eat. We traveled to farms with our Knights, and packaged, distributed and delivered tons of grains, potatoes and vegetables.

When people le , we took care of the elderly people. One of our Knights took responsibility for an elderly woman who had dementia. Her children ed, and every day he brought her food and took care of her needs.

We communicated daily, participating in the Liturgy. at was an extraordinary source of joy and solace. I frequently had visits from the Knights. ere were days when from morning till night, I was engaged in spiritual conversations — one person le , another arrived. e men just needed to share, to express themselves. You were always looking for someone to con de in. at is what we did — we listened a lot. It was a period of camaraderie and encouragement — a special time of brotherhood.


Russian authorities signed a document Dec. 26, 2022, banning the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church from occupied territories. Accordingly, all organizations born from our Church, including the Knights of Columbus, were also banned.

Occupation authorities came to me in the parish, to my house. There were interrogations, there were conversations. Sometimes they came in masks, with automatic weapons and questioned me directly, with threats and cursing, telling me to prepare for execution. Other times, they came without masks, as if they just wished to talk, saying, “Don’t be afraid, we’re your friends.” I told them, “Friends don’t come into my house with weapons.” They wanted me to cooperate with them, to tell them what people were confessing — that

24 COLUMBIA ✢ MAY 2024

is, to break the seal of confession. Obviously, I refused. During interrogations, and when the nal search was conducted, they raised the issue of the Knights of Columbus. I didn’t know who these people truly were — they didn’t introduce themselves — but I understood them to be FSB [Federal Security Service of Russia] operatives. ey accused the Knights of Columbus of being an American spy organization and said it was banned. ey accused me of being the one who recruits men for it! Well, this was essentially true, because I did encourage our men to become Knights.

Two of our priests have been in captivity for almost a year and a half. [Editor’s note: Father Ivan Levitsky and Father Bohdan Geleta were abducted in November 2022 from the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos in Berdiansk, about 75 miles east of Melitopol. Their whereabouts remain unknown.] I don’t know why Father Petro and I are not in captivity, not in prison, or why we are alive. It’s a God-given miracle. I understand that I must strive to live fruitfully in life, responding to this gift from God.

There was a period when I didn’t dream or plan for the future at all. I lived day by day. When the Berdiansk priests and then Father Petro were taken away, I just waited for my turn. There was no hope for the next day. There was only today, and I wanted to live it to the fullest.


Russian forces arrested and deported me from occupied territory Dec. 1, 2022, reading me the sentence and taking me to the last checkpoint outside Melitopol.

When I was passing through the Grey Zone [between Russian- and Ukrainian-controlled areas], walking toward Zaporizhzhia, I did not know if I would make it out alive. There was a strong sense of uncertainty. However, there was also a profound sense of God’s presence there. I promised the Virgin Mary that if I were to make it out alive, I would encourage people to pray the rosary.

So it happened that local people showed me paths so I wouldn’t step on mines. The first Ukrainian soldier I met there was one of our parishioners. He recognized me and started shouting and running toward me. That’s when I realized that God was guiding me.

Ten months later, the bishop gave me the task of taking the statue of Our Lady of Fatima and traveling through the parishes of our exarchate, to awaken this devotion to the Virgin Mary and teach people how to pray the rosary. As I was heading to the first parish, I remembered that promise, and I am very grateful to Our Lady for helping me fulfill it.

There is a lot of evil around me that I cannot overcome. I hear so many stories of injustice. I see so much misery.

MAY 2024 ✢ COLUMBIA 25
Photo by Andrey Gorb Father Oleksandr Bohomaz is pictured during the Ukraine State Convention in Bryukhovychi, Ukraine, in May 2023.

Knights from St. Volodymyr Council 18319 in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, carry a statue of Our Lady of Fatima during a prayer vigil at St. Volodymyr Parish on Oct. 31, 2023. Father Bohomaz brought the statue to about 30 parishes in eastern Ukraine as part of an evangelization mission in which he emphasized Marian devotion and the rosary.

Some parishioners from Zaporizhzhia, who are now my friends, have no place to live because their homes are destroyed. Their children have no home. There is a hole where their house used to be. What can I do? I can listen to them, just take a rosary in my hand and pray. As a priest, I can also make God present through the sacraments.

We can’t be afraid to be present, even if it’s dangerous. I’m not a military chaplain, but I often visit our soldiers in the Melitopol Battalion of the Zaporizhzhia Territorial Defense. Once I came to a unit that was very close to the front line. I didn’t know what to do, but I began to prepare for the Divine Liturgy. I said maybe two sentences during the sermon because I didn’t know what else to say to them. But I saw how the Lord, present in the holy mysteries, changed those men. The chaplain, the priest, is an instrument of God. ✢

Praying for the Living and the Dead

Knights fund Mass stipends to benefit priests in Ukraine and the faithful they serve

MORE THAN TWO YEARS since Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine, residents of Odesa still cannot escape the constant shelling and the fear it generates; they can only get used to its regular rhythm and deafening noise.

No wonder, then, that the population of the southern port city fluctuates constantly. Waves of refugees leaving Odesa to find a safer place are replaced by waves of refugees coming from occupied territories to find temporary shelter.

Yet some people remain. Father Konrad Szymański is one of them. The young Polish priest, ordained for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Odesa-Simferopol in May 2023, faithfully serves his parishioners at the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“Nowadays people need not only material help, but also spiritual support and attention, someone who will spend time with them,” explained Father Szymański, who has lived in Ukraine for seven years. “We try to assist them by providing humanitarian aid and through priestly ministry such as Masses, confession and spiritual guidance.”

Supporting priests in their ministry is a priority for Ukrainian Knights, who launched a program in 2020 to give Mass stipends — small donations for celebrating Mass for particular intentions — to priests in need. The program has become all the more important since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine: With many Ukrainian parishes depleted of their residents, priests face great financial difficulties. Some depend on Mass stipends to purchase food and other necessities.

“We felt a strong need to support our priests, and we all know that they live mainly thanks to Mass intentions,” said Ukraine State Deputy Youriy Maletskiy. “Before the war, Knights collected funds and, through the Ukraine State Council, gave Mass stipends to military chaplains, Knights of Columbus

26 COLUMBIA ✢ MAY 2024
Photo courtesy of Father Oleksandr Bohomaz

chaplains and priests in difficult situations. Due to the war, our resources were depleted, and we received support from the Supreme Council.”

Since 2020, almost $100,000 has been given in Mass stipends, supporting more than 10,000 Masses celebrated for the living and the dead.

Priests typically receive stipends for 10 Masses or, if they are willing, for Gregorian Masses — offered for a deceased person on 30 consecutive days.

Priests in need of help can apply for the program through local K of C councils or through their state chaplain: Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki of Lviv or Bishop Mykhaylo Bubniy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archiepiscopal Exarchate of Odesa.

Archbishop Mokrzycki praised the program for its demonstration of “mutual solidarity” between priests and Knights around the world.

“Many people in other countries request the celebration of the Mass, and their priests cannot fulfill it because they have many other duties,” he said. At the same time, “this is a great help for our priests and K of C chaplains.”

Most of the funds allocated by the Supreme Council in 2023 were donated to newly ordained priests such as Father Szymański in the first week after their ordination, asking

them to “celebrate 10 Holy Liturgies for the souls of those killed in the war.”

Now, priority is given to Knights of Columbus chaplains in eastern territories, where parishioners are few and priests struggle to make ends meet.

“Intentions are always needed because they are a source of income for the priest himself. We have no other salary, no pension,” explained Father Maksym Krolevskiy, who serves Holy Trinity Parish in Poltava, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the Russian border.

In addition to the material assistance, Father Krolevskiy draws spiritual strength from his brother Knights in Ivan Mazepa Council 16649. “My council is like a backbone for me as a chaplain,” he said.

While the stipends benefit the priests, they are also a gift for the people being prayed for, living or dead.

“The intentions I received from the Knights of Columbus for the souls of the deceased are important,” Father Szymański said. “Many people passed away without knowing God or receiving the sacraments and reconciliation with God, so it’s very important to pray for them.” ✢

KAROLINA ŚWIDER writes from Krakow, Poland.

SOLOMIIA KARPIV writes from Lviv, Ukraine.

MAY 2024 ✢ COLUMBIA 27
Photo courtesy of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine Bishop Stanislav Shyrokoradiuk celebrates the ordination Mass of Andrey Buchkovskyi (kneeling, left) and Konrad Szymański (kneeling, right) on May 27, 2023, in the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Odesa, Ukraine.

Dominican Father Gabriel Mosher carries the Eucharist in procession through the grounds of the University of Utah behind Gabriel de Almeida Maia, a member of Father Thomas D. Kraft, O.P. Council 14764. Father Mosher, assistant state chaplain and pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church and Newman Center, leads the processions every first Friday with support from the Utah State Council and college Knights. Members of Father Francisco Atanasio Dominguez Assembly 1144 in Salt Lake City, carrying the canopy, and Msgr. Robert C. Pollock Assembly 3586 in Bountiful regularly provide an honor guard for the processions.


Bishop James C. Burke Council 11285 in Millsboro, Del., hosted a social for members of Mary, Mother of Peace Church to foster friendship within the parish. e event was a ended by about 50 people, many of whom brought homemade dishes to share.


Knights from St. Michael’s Council 10102 in Brights Grove, Ontario, traveled to St. Peter’s Seminary in London to visit Aaron Murphy, a seminarian for the Diocese of London supported by the council through the Refund Support Vocations Program. e council also donated CA$1,000 to the seminary for its capital renewal project.


San Guillermo Council 13668 in Pasig City, Luzon South, hosted a Pilgrim Icon prayer service with the Order’s icon of St. Joseph at San Guillermo Parish to promote devotion to the foster father of Jesus. Fourth Degree

Knights from Dr. Sixto Antonio Assembly 1779 provided an honor guard for a votive Mass of St. Joseph that preceded the service.


At the request of the Archdiocese of Paris, a group of Knights led by France Territorial Deputy Arnaud Boutheon accompanied and provided support for a retreat with 700 seminarians from throughout the country.


Father John H. Stapleton Council 2287 in New Canaan, Conn., has commi ed $350,000 from its endowment and fundraising activities to support the construction and renovation needs of St. Aloysius Parish and School. e funds, which will be disbursed in annual increments of $70,000 over the next ve years, will help the parish renovate several of its facilities and allow the school to expand its preschool o erings, among other projects.



Members of St. Dominic Council 3729 in New Orleans were asked by Father Wayne Paysse, their pastor and council chaplain, and the pastoral commi ee at St. Dominic Parish to help renovate a parish building that had fallen into disrepair. e Knights installed a new ramp and cleaned and painted the exterior of the building, which hosts meetings for people dealing with alcohol and substance abuse.

Claude Saucier (left),

member of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts (Québec) Council 3719 and former district deputy, stands with Father José Ramiro Jaramillo, council chaplain and pastor of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts Parish, after presenting him with gifts to mark the 20th anniversary of his priestly ordination. The council purchased a chasuble, two stoles and a mobile Mass kit for Father Jamarillo.

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TOP: Photo by Andy Airriess


Deputy Grand Knight Ted Osenga of St. Bronislava Council 13880 in Plover, Wis., helps a boy launch a model rocket at Royal Family Kids Camp, a weeklong program for foster children. Council members helped supervise several activities for the children, including archery and canoeing.


In response to a request for help, all ve councils in New York District #8 collaborated to hold a fundraiser for the Mercy Soup Kitchen in Wyandanch, bringing in more than $14,000 for the local charity. Vito Colle i, community director of St. Joseph the Carpenter Council 14771 in Babylon, N.Y., is president of Mercy Soup Kitchen, which serves hot lunches to anyone in need.


Bishop Savaryn Council 9559 in Red Deer, Alberta, helped publish Men of Worship, a new publication for Ukrainian Catholic men that was conceived and edited by council member Ben Windsor. English and Ukrainian editions of the rst issue were published on the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton’s website in October, and print copies were freely distributed at several parishes in the area.


Li le Rock (Ark.) Council 812 collected 300 books with a drive at several local Catholic churches. e books were donated to families served by Helping Hand of Greater Li le Rock, an organization that provides food and nancial assistance to families in central Arkansas. Council 812 has conducted the drive each of the past three years, collecting more than 1,200 books.


With support from Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Parish, Deacon Edward L. Christianson Council 3572 in Winchester, Va., operates a weekly soup

kitchen, regularly providing between 80 to 120 hot meals to people in need.

e council also manages a mobile food pantry that delivers nonperishable food and frozen prepared meals to homebound persons and families throughout Frederick County.


Over the past three years, Our Lady of the Valley Council 9676 in Birmingham, Ala., has provided food boxes to more than 340 families in need at Easter, anksgiving and Christmas. e council works with Oak Mountain Ministries to identify the families, who receive all the groceries needed to make a holiday meal, including a turkey or ham.

MILITARY FAMILIES CARED FOR Msgr. Ed ompson Assembly 1667 in Sanford, Fla., held a fundraiser that raised more than $850 for the monthly dinners the council donates to the Orlando Fisher House. Fisher Houses provide the families of service members and veterans receiving care at a military or Veterans A airs medical center with a free place to stay.

MAY 2024 ✢ COLUMBIA 29
Mike Gonzales, a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Council 8306 in Helotes, Texas, places donated food in a trailer outside Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church during the council’s annual 40 Cans for Lent food drive. Dennis Chaput, former financial secretary of Council 8306, conceived of the food drive in 2011, and it has since become a widespread program. BELOW: Photo by Ethan E. Rocke

Members of St. Francis of Assisi Assembly 3602 in Dasmariñas City, Luzon South, provide an honor guard as Knights carry memorial wreaths during a ceremony honoring the 127th anniversary of the death of Jose Rizal, a hero of the fight for Philippine independence in the late 19th century. Columbian Squires were also involved in the ceremony at Dr. Jose P. Rizal Elementary School.


Msgr. James R. Jones Council 3303 and Father Kenneth I. Parker Assembly 1820 in New Bern, N.C., together donated $2,000 to help renovate a community basketball court. e renovation was led by George Casciello, a young parishioner of St. Paul Catholic Church, as his capstone project toward becoming an Eagle Scout.


Approximately 30 children participated in the annual Knights of Columbus Soccer Challenge sponsored by Holy Spirit Council 10502 in Palmyra, Pa., at Campbelltown Community Park. Eight competitors advanced to the district-level championship.


Sacred Heart Chaldean Council 2695 and Denis Mahoney Council 8215 in Ponteix, Saskatchewan, joined forces to purchase 10 new wheelchairs for Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon. e hospital requested help obtaining wheelchairs that patients with mobility limitations could use as desk chairs.


Meadville (Pa.) Council 388 raised $1,500 for its charitable works during a banquet celebrating the council’s 125th anniversary.


Peter A. Conte Sr. Council 5419 in Worcester, N.Y., held a chicken barbecue fundraiser that garnered more than $1,500 for the council’s charitable donations, including Bibles for college and prison ministries, and contributions to the Order’s Disaster Relief Fund.


Sacred Heart Assembly 179 in Warner Robins, Ga., presented Pat McCloskey, a new member of the assembly, and his wife, Kathy, with a plaque honoring their son Army Sgt. 1st Class Shawn McCloskey, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan in September 2009. e plaque was donated by the Til Valhalla Project, which funds therapy for veterans with mental health issues in addition to creating military memorials. is is the third time Assembly 179 has honored a fallen service member connected with Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Members of Exeter (N.H.) Council 2179, including their chaplain and pastor, Father Matt Mason, join sta from the city’s public works department under a new electronic radar speed sign near St. Michael Church. The parish sponsored the sign, with funds raised by Council 2179, to improve the safety of the busy intersection for pedestrians.


Tri-Cities Council 1098 and Tri-Cities Assembly 224 in Granite City, Ill., each donated $10,000 to the Ukraine Solidarity Fund in honor of Father Robert Piorkowski. A priest for the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Chicago, Father Piorkowski was a Knight for 18 years and previously served as the assembly’s faithful friar; he died in 2020.

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Father Mathias Zerfas Council 664 in Fond du Lac, Wis., donated more than $15,000 from its annual fund drive for people with disabilities to bene t the Miracle League of Fond du Lac. e donation will go toward building a baseball eld and playground for children and adults with disabilities.

Knights from Precious Blood of Christ Council 11028 in Pawleys Island, S.C., assemble with diapers and baby wipes collected during a Stu the Bus drive that the council sponsored with the pro-life ministry at Precious Blood of Christ Parish. Baby supplies and cash donations valued at more than $2,600 were delivered to Birthright of Georgetown. Through the ASAP (Aid and Support After Pregnancy) program, the Supreme Council later donated an additional $400, which the center used for its monthly rent.

Knights and family members from Holy Spirit Council 9533 in Springfield, Mo., and St. Mary’s Council 9892 in West Plains present a new ultrasound machine to representatives of the Pregnancy Resource Center of West Plains. The two councils raised $13,300 — matched by the Supreme Council’s through the Ultrasound Initiative — to purchase the machine.


Over two days, Knights from St. John the Evangelist Council 1622 in Frederick, Md., joined volunteers from several local churches and organizations to transport, unpack and organize more than 320 boxes of diapers donated to the Care Net Pregnancy Center by the Ausherman Family Foundation. A frequent supporter of Care Net, the council donated more than $8,600 to the center in the past year, and Care Net received an additional $400 from the Supreme Council through the ASAP program.




Iron River (Mich.) Council 2300 conducted its 48th annual fund drive for people with disabilities, collecting more than $4,000 for the special education program at West Iron Public Schools.


St. Joseph of the ree Rivers Council 11550 in North Bend, Ohio, raised $11,000 during its recent fund drive for people with disabilities. e council made matching donations of $4,400 to the ree Rivers School District and the Margaret B. Rost

School for people with disabilities in Cincinnati; the remaining $2,200 was given to the Ohio State Council for its charitable donations.


e California State Council and St. Augustine Council 9714 in South San Francisco worked with St. Augustine Catholic Church to organize a pro-life novena and rosary at the church leading up to the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco earlier this year. State Deputy Greg Marracq and Father Ray Reyes, pastor of St. Augustine and state chaplain, were among those who led the novena prayers.


For more than 20 years, Kennewick (Wash.) Council 8179 has sponsored bimonthly blood drives with the American Red Cross. Each drive collects an average of 30 units of blood, enough to save as many as 90 lives.

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Please submit your council activities to

MAY 2024 ✢ COLUMBIA 31

True Metal

From modest beginnings, a Maryland council’s charity scrap drive becomes a community staple

A GROUP OF Maryland Knights established a scrap metal drive in 2006 hoping to provide small nancial grants to Knights in need. e program has since grown in popularity and in the past year alone raised more than $28,000 for dozens of local charities.

“ e beauty of it is anyone can donate,” said Grand Knight Bill Traube of Our Lady of the Valley Council 11703 in Middletown. “We’re not asking for people to take money out of their pocket, just what they’re throwing away.”

Traube and a few other volunteers began the drive to bene t an assistance fund for members of Holy Family Catholic Community and Council 11703. It started small but began growing exponentially when Traube — inspired in part by Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’ — brought the idea to a group of representatives from di erent Middletown churches.

At rst, “they thought I meant just aluminum cans,” Traube said. He encouraged the group, called the Middletown Ministerium, to think bigger: “I told them this is about creating something the entire community can support.”

e Ministerium got behind the project in 2018, and now Knights and volunteers from various churches

collect scrap metal in the parking lot of Holy Family Church almost every Sunday. e donations — ranging from small electronics to large appliances — are brought to a barn to be meticulously disassembled and organized over several days.

Most of the sorted metals are sold at a local facility about once a week; a large dumpster with steel is picked up every six weeks or so. Donated items that are still usable, like tools, are sold at a garage sale three times a year.

Since 2019, the scrap metal drive has raised about $105,000 to support 30 local charities and community organizations. Its reach has also grown — donors come from several local counties, even Pennsylvania and Virginia. e drive’s proceeds always go to groups that directly support the communities that contribute.

“A lot of churches talk about the three T’s: time, talent and treasure,” Traube said. “Well, they never talk about the fourth T — trash. What gets thrown out in the trash can help somebody else, in addition to the environment. e concept is so simple, and I hope more councils can enact programs like this.” ✢

— Elisha Valladares-Cormier is associate editor of Columbia.


In compliance with the requirements of the laws of

not included in Admitted Assets, and not in excess of required reserves on the corresponding individual certificates: None

6. Balance — Item 4 less item 5 above: $18,381,643,574

7. Liabilities of the General Account Fund, except reserve (items 3 to 25 incl. page 3 of Annual Statement):$ 9,105,721,451

8. Liabilities — Actual and Contingent — sum of items 6 and 7 above: $27,487,365,025

9. Ratio percent of Dec. 31, 2023 — 110.33% Assets — Actual and

Contingent (Item 1)

to liabilities — Actual

and Contingent (Item 8) Dec.


The above valuation indicates that, on a basis of the A.M. (5), 1941 C.S.O., 1958 C.S.O., 1980 C.S.O., 2001 C.S.O., 2017 G.I., 2017 C.S.O., VM-20, 1937 S.A., 1971 Individual Annuity Table, Annuity 2000 Table, 2012 IAR – S G2 table and 1983

“a” Tables of Mortality with interest at 9%, 8.75%, 8%, 7%, 6%, 5%, 4.75%, 4.5%, 4.25%, 4%, 3.75%, 3.5%, 3.25%, 3%, 2.75%, 2.5%, 2.25%, 2%, 1.75%, 1.5%, 1%, the future assessments of the society, at the net rate now being collected, together with the now invested assets of the General Account Fund are su cient to meet all certificates as they mature by their terms, with a margin of safety of $2,838,252,281 (or 10.33%) over the above statutory standards.

STATE OF: Connecticut

COUNTY OF: New Haven

The o cers of this reporting entity, being duly sworn, each depose and say that they are the described o cers of the said reporting entity, and that on the reporting period stated above, all of the herein described assets were the absolute property of the said reporting entity, free and clear from any liens or claims thereon, except as herein stated, and that this statement, together with related exhibits, schedules and explanations therein contained, annexed or referred to, is a full and true statement of all the assets and liabilities and of the condition and a airs of the said reporting entity as of the reporting period stated above, and of its income and deductions therefrom for the period ended, and have been completed in accordance with the NAIC annual statement instructions and accounting practices and procedure manual except to the extent that: (1) state law may di er; or, (2) that state rules or regulations require di erences in reporting not related to accounting practices and procedures, according to the best of their information, knowledge and belief, respectively. Furthermore, the scope of this attestation by the described o cers also includes the related corresponding electronic filing with the NAIC, when required, that is an exact copy (except for formatting di erences due to electronic filing) of the enclosed statement. The electronic filing may be requested by various regulators in lieu of or in addition to the enclosed statement. Subscribed and sworn to before me this 21st day of February 2024.

Julie A. White, Notary Public





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 d’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 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 COLUMBIA ✢ MAY 2024
Grand Knights Bill Traube (second from right) and other Knights sort items containing metal donated during a collection at Holy Family Parish in Middletown, Md.
NY 10523.
the various states, we publish below a Valuation Exhibit of the Knights of Columbus as of Dec. 31, 2023. The law requires that this publication shall be made of the results of the valuation with explanation as filed with the insurance departments. ASSETS — Actual and Contingent 1. Admitted Assets of the General Account Fund, item 26, page 2 of Annual Statement: $30,325,617,306 LIABILITIES — Actual and Contingent 2. Reserve for Life Certificates — including D.I. and Dis. W. (net of reins): $17,384,110,572 3. Reserve for accident and health certificates: $997,533,002 4. Total per Annual Statement, page 3 items 1 and 2:$18,381,643,574 5. Deduct liens and interest thereon,
Dec. 31, 2022 — 110.29%
Dec. 31, 2021 — 110.12%
Dec. 31, 2020 — 109.12%
31, 2019
LEFT: Photo by Matthew Barrick

Knights of Charity

Every day, Knights all over the world are given opportunities to make a di erence — whether through community service, raising money or prayer. We celebrate each and every Knight for his strength, his compassion and his dedication to building a be er world.

Members of St. John Vianney Council 17868 in Sedona, Ariz., hold a wooden cross as their chaplain, Father Ignatius Mazanowski, leads the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. The annual service at the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which is built into the red rock buttes of the Coconino National Forest, draws people from throughout the region. Council 17868 has helped organize the devotion since 2022.

To be featured here, send your council’s “Knights in Action” photo as well as its description to: Columbia, 1 Columbus Plaza, New Haven, CT 06510-3326 or e-mail: KNIGHTS OF CHARITY
Photo by David Jolkovski
‘God spoke to my unbelieving heart.’

I had many kinds of exotic pets as a kid and was always fascinated by the mysteries of nature. I was equally drawn to the ungraspable mystery of God.

ough I grew up Catholic, I didn’t know much about my faith or have a deep prayer life. In college, I studied biological anthropology and encountered ideas that I thought were inconsistent with belief in God. Faith became doubt; I tried praying and going to Mass, but the mystery of God I was once drawn to seemed an illusion.

By God’s providence, I found myself at Holy ursday Mass a few months later. e moment I saw the priest washing the people’s feet, I became overwhelmed with God’s love for me. He spoke to my unbelieving heart, placing in it a call that enveloped my being with a new purpose: to join that priest in leading others to an encounter with God.

I was ordained in 2019 and now use my pets — even my boa constrictor! — to bring others, especially children, to a greater appreciation of God’s creation and the mystery of his love.

Photo by M. Scott Brauer Carlos Orozco Archdiocese of Sea le Msgr. Ailbe M. McGrath Council 8437, Sea le

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