Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Installation of the Supreme Knight and Officers and State Deputies
St. Mary Parish, New Haven, Connecticut
June 11, 2021
It is a joy and privilege for me to preside at this Holy Mass at the end of which the Worthy Supreme Knight will be installed together with the new Supreme Officers, Directors, and State Deputies. These historic installations take place on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the parish church where Blessed Michael McGivney labored so faithfully, and where, in 1882, he founded the Knights of Columbus. Moreover, these installations also take place during the Year of St. Joseph to whom our recently elected Supreme Knight has dedicated his new administration.
While all these elements seem like a lot for one homily, they actually come together very nicely, thanks to Pope Francis’ beautiful letter announcing the Year of St. Joseph, a letter entitled Patris Corde, “With a Father’s Heart.” In that letter our Holy Father portrays for us the wonderful role of good St. Joseph in forming the human heart of Jesus. It begins thus: “With a father’s heart: that is how Joseph loved Jesus.”
Pope Francis goes on to describe how Joseph saw Jesus “grow daily in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favor” (Lk 2:52). Together with Mary, Joseph held Jesus in his arms and taught him to walk. Quoting the prophet Hosea, Pope Francis says of Joseph: ‘“He was for [Jesus] like a father who raises an infant to his cheeks, bending down to him and feeding him’ (Hos. 11:3-4). In Joseph [says Pope Francis] Jesus saw the tender love of God…” (PC, 2). Think of Joseph taking Jesus by the hand and bringing him to the synagogue and teaching our Savior to pray in the silence of the home at Nazareth. As Jesus grew towards manhood, Joseph continued to form his human heart, by teaching him both a trade and the value and dignity of work. Imagine the great conversations between Jesus and Joseph at the workbench … Yes, in loving Jesus with a father’s heart, Joseph helped to form the Sacred Heart, the Sacred Heart, the heart pierced for our salvation, that wellspring of divine charity upon which the Church today directs her adoring gaze.
A Line of Continuity
Among the many things we have come to know of our Blessed Founder is his warm and loving devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In his boyhood home in Waterbury, there was a porcelain image of the Sacred Heart, and throughout his seminary formation, devotion to the Sacred Heart was encouraged. In the Mass he offered for Chip Smith just prior to his execution, the choir sang a tender hymn of devotion to the Sacred Heart. Blessed Michael also concluded a letter of his friend, Fr. McGuinness, with the words, “Yours truly in the Sacred Heart…”
Thus, we can say that the Sacred Heart of Jesus formed Fr. McGivney’s priestly heart. In quiet prayer, the Sacred Heart of Jesus spoke to the heart of that young priest and formed it in the compassion and love of the Heavenly Father, such, that Blessed Michael McGivney was truly a father for his parish family. So too, he founded the Knights of Columbus with genuine fatherly love for the sake of the faith-life of his brother Knights and for the security and well-being of their families. So, it is not hard to trace a continuous line from St. Joseph, to the Sacred Heart, and thence to Blessed Michael McGivney who continues loves us with the heart of a father.
Rejoicing in the holiness of our founder, we discern ever more clearly our fraternal mission. Times have changed since Blessed Michael McGivney ministered within these walls, yet one thing has not changed, namely, our mission to strengthen family life. Reading the signs of the times through the eyes of our holy Founder, we see clearly the need to help our members be good husbands, fathers, and providers, to form with their wives homes that are havens of security, peace, faith, and prayer; homes that are domestic churches where the faith is transmitted to children, homes where children and young people can grow, as Jesus did, ‘in age, wisdom, and favor’. And just as St. Joseph helped to form the heart of Jesus, so too the Order must assist today’s fathers in forming the hearts of their children, hearts that will be truthful, virtuous, compassionate, and loving. Thus, we must be able to trace a line of continuity that runs from St. Joseph, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, thence to our Blessed Founder, and finally to ourselves, the current-day leaders of the Knights of Columbus, in its world-wide mission of charity, unity, and fraternity.
The Installation of the Worthy Supreme Knight, Officers, and State Deputies
How providential, then, that the installation of our Worthy Supreme Knight occurs in Blessed Michael’s parish church, on the feast of the Sacred Heart, and in this year dedicated to St. Joseph! For some twenty years, the Lord has truly blessed the Knights of Columbus with the stellar leadership of our Past Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, and in Patrick Kelly, the Lord has given us a worthy successor who will lead the Order into “a future full of hope” (Jer. 29:11). After his installation, our Supreme Knight will lead us in praying the Litany of St. Joseph, and will consecrate himself and his administration to the loving intercession and guidance of St. Joseph. Worthy Supreme Knight, we are indeed blessed to have you as our leader and we pledge you our heartfelt prayers and wholehearted support and loyalty. In that same spirit, the Supreme Knight will install new Supreme Officers, Supreme Directors, and State Deputies. In the long history of this Order, this is a truly pivotal moment in which to recommit ourselves to the principles of charity, unity, and fraternity, and to rededicate ourselves to the growth and mission of the Knights of Columbus.
Drawing grace and strength from the infinite love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, finding inspiration from the fatherly love of good St. Joseph, surrounded by the intercessory prayers of Blessed Father Michael McGivney, may the Knights of Columbus grow daily in wisdom, in love, and in numbers now and for many, many years to come. Vivat Jesus!