NEW HAVEN — Knights of Columbus jurisdiction leaders from throughout North America and around the world assembled in New Haven — the birthplace of the Knights — from June 8-11 for the annual Organizational Meeting of State Deputies, which this year coincided with a meeting of state chaplains.
More than 70 state deputies from throughout the United States and Canada, as well as the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, France, South Korea and Guam participated in the Organizational Meeting of State Deputies. More than 40 state chaplains also gathered in New Haven for a state chaplains meeting from June 7 to June 9.
Throughout the week, the state deputies and other Knights of Columbus leaders participated in daily Mass, fraternal events and workshops focused on evangelization and faith formation, leadership development and membership growth. In addition, the state chaplains embarked on a pilgrimage to sites in Connecticut related to the life and ministry of Blessed Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. These sites included St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, the Thomaston Opera House, Immaculate Conception Church in Terryville, and Calvary Cemetery in Waterbury.
Newly elected state deputies were officially installed June 9 at the conclusion of Mass celebrated by Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, where the Order was founded in 1882. Following Mass, Archbishop Lori led state chaplains, Knights of Columbus Supreme Officers, board members and state deputies in the first eucharistic procession to be held at an Organizational Meeting of State Deputies.
The state deputies and state chaplains also heard special keynote remarks from Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly and Archbishop Lori.
Supreme Knight Kelly began by congratulating the state deputies for helping to make the ASAP (Aid and Support after Pregnancy) initiative a huge success. Supreme Knight Kelly first announced the launch of ASAP — a program to expand the Knights’ already robust support for pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes — at the 2022 Organizational Meeting of State Deputies. One year later, Knights across the U.S. and Canada have exceeded their first-year goal by raising more than $5 million to support mothers and their babies, both born and unborn.
Supreme Knight Kelly then encouraged the state deputies to recognize and take a shared responsibility for the mission of the Church.
“This is what the Order has done throughout our history,” he said. “Working side by side with our priests and bishops, we’ve cared for widows and orphans; we’ve strengthened the faith; and time and again, we’ve stood up to defend our faith against bigotry and intolerance. This is the power of co-responsibility. It’s the ‘how’ of the Knights of Columbus. … It’s how, in each generation, we’ve been the ‘strong right arm of the Church.’”
Supreme Knight Kelly also asked the state deputies to consider why the Order embraces this call to co-responsibility.
“Why do we stand up and step forward, into the breach? The answer, I think, can be found in the life of Blessed Michael McGivney,” he said. “Father McGivney truly lived and loved with the heart of a father — a heart completely dedicated to the service, protection and formation of those in his care.”
He continued, “This is the ‘why’ of the Knights of Columbus. It’s having the heart of a father. Father McGivney invited each of those first Knights in the basement of St. Mary’s to follow Christ and to love as he did. And he continues to invite each one of us to do the same — in our own families, our parishes and our communities. This is why our witness as Knights of Columbus is more important than ever. We have been called to be witnesses to our families and to the world around us. We must be witnesses to the love of God and witnesses to the heart of the Father in heaven.”
New initiatives to strengthen Catholic men in their faith
Supreme Knight Kelly further reminded the state deputies that he has made faith formation and evangelization his top priority — and that the Knights is “uniquely suited to strengthen the faith of men and families.”
To strengthen faith formation and evangelization among the Order’s more than 2 million members worldwide, the Knights of Columbus is launching a new initiative and supporting programs at the state and local council level. The Cor initiative, introduced in 21 jurisdictions in a pilot phase in early 2023, includes regular faith-centered gatherings outside the traditional Knights of Columbus council business meeting.
The focus of Cor is prayer, formation and fraternity. “The word ‘cor’ is Latin for heart, and the purpose of the Cor meeting is to get to the heart of the matter, and to form men to have the heart of a father. That is something every Catholic man needs,” said Supreme Knight Kelly.
The initiative will be supported by a new Bible study for Catholic men, titled “Men of the Word,” which will provide discussion content for the Cor meeting. “It’s a spiritual resource that also offers practical advice — including showing our men how to pray with Scripture,” explained Supreme Knight Kelly. “When it comes to understanding what it really means to be an authentic Catholic man, God’s Word — praying with Scripture — is one of the most powerful tools that we have.”
Another new Knights program to strengthen faith formation and evangelization is a soon-to-be-released video series on marriage and fatherhood.
“It follows the template set by the original Into the Breach series, which now has over 1.4 million views,” said Supreme Knight Kelly. “Our new series builds on that success, while giving practical advice for living out our faith in our marriages and in our homes.”
Both the bible study and new “Into the Breach” series will be officially launched at the Knights’ Supreme Convention in August.
Archbishop Lori’s keynote remarks to the state deputies and state chaplains highlighted the blessings of friendships, which strengthen the bonds between Knights, and will make the Cor initiative a success.
“From the very beginning, friendship has been key in the Knights of Columbus,” said Archbishop Lori. “The Order has brought together men and their families from around the world in faith, friendship, and in service. It has created bonds of love and friendship among families that are part of the Order.”
He added, “One of the attractive features of the Knights of Columbus is and should be that it is a meeting place of friends who enjoy mutual trust, rooted in the one who is supremely trustworthy, namely Jesus Christ, the Father’s beloved Son.”
In closing, Archbishop Lori stated that the Cor initiative is “absolutely providential.” He said, “Sharing as we do in a friendship that transcends the narrow confines that hem us in, let us go forth, striving to see the Cor initiative as the one thing that will unify and animate every worthy goal that each of you, our state deputies, have set for your jurisdictions in the coming year.”
View the full text remarks by Supreme Knight Kelly
View the full text of remarks by Archbishop Lori.