Installation of New Members
Knights of Columbus
October 9, 2021
Keepers of the Flame
This evening, after I bless the insignia of office and those destined to wear them, our Supreme Knight will proceed to install the new members of the Board. With our Supreme Knight, I wish to congratulate you, our new Board Members. Thank you for your long and generous service to the Order founded by Blessed Michael McGivney, the holy parish priest, and the premier exemplar of the principles of our Order.
To begin this installation, I prayed the Collect, the Opening Prayer for votive Masses in honor of Blessed Michael McGivney and I chose a reading from Ephesians that is appropriately read on his feast day. I did so because, as officers and board members, we are keepers of the flame that Blessed Michael McGivney lit some 140 years ago. And more than that, we are to be ardent promoters of the vision and spirit of Father McGivney throughout the Order. We are to do so both by the wisdom of our deliberations and decisions, by our careful oversight of the diverse operations of the Knights, but also and especially by being ourselves premier exemplars of what it means to be faithful, active members of the Knight of Columbus, imbued with the principles of charity, unity, and fraternity.
The Vessels of Mercy
The Opening Prayer, or Collect, spoke of Father McGivney’s priestly service in comforting the suffering, the weary, the lonely, and the oppressed. We echo that sentiment in our prayer for Bl. Michael’s canonization when we speak of his charity “to the widow, the orphan, and the outcast,” and refer to him as “an apostle of family life.” But the charity and mercy of Blessed Michael McGivney is not a mere matter of history. In the Collect prayed moments ago, I asked Blessed Michael’s intercession that we ourselves might be “vessels of mercy in our day”.
This is what every Knight of Columbus should be, and this is what we want every jurisdiction in the Order to be – from the newest Council, all the way up to the Supreme Council: a gigantic vessel of mercy, the Good Samaritan writ large, an engine of mercy that carries into the 21st century the charity that Blessed Michael exemplified so profoundly in the 19th century. For this to happen, we must strive in God’s grace to be those vessels of mercy, those men whose lives exemplify faith-filled charity, including some form of hands-on charity to the needy and the outcast. Thus do we keep the flame Blessed Michael McGivney lit, and not only do we keep it, but we also spread it far and wide.
Unity and Fraternity Travel with Charity
Unity and fraternity, as we know, are the travelling companions of charity. Thus, in his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul urges us to exercise “humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” We cannot measure – entirely – the charity Blessed Michael calls us to embrace in terms of donations, projects, and volunteer hours, important as these are. Rather, the quality of our charity is measured by our ability “to bear with one another”, to maintain bonds of unity and fraternity even amid the rough and tumble. This is something the world around us has forgotten how to do. That is why it is even more important that we exemplify for both Church and society what it means to profess the truth in love and to practice a charity that issues forth in bonds of unity and fraternity.
We must also exemplify unity and fraternity for our brother knights and their families. In our dealings with one another and with state and council officers, we must, by word and example, engender that unity which Blessed Michael understood to be at the heart of the Order he founded. Unity and fraternity remain essential for the survival and growth of the Order, and we must be their prime practitioners!
The Full Stature of Christ
Let me draw a final observation from the reading from Ephesians. At the end of it, St. Paul urges us to attain “to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature to manhood, to the full extent of the full stature of Christ…” An overarching goal of the Order is to be the premier men’s organization, helping men to embrace their God-given manhood as husbands, fathers, and priests – helping them to grow in maturity as Catholics, as active members of the Church. For this to happen, we need to stick together, not just as friends but as believers, and we need to walk with one another and support one another along the path of maturity, defined by the humanity of Jesus Christ.
This is the challenge and the opportunity that lies open before us. No one of us can do it alone, but united under the leadership of our Worthy Supreme Knight, and blessed by the intercession of Blessed Michael McGivney, we can continue to successfully build this ministry to men, so critical to the Church’s mission of evangelization and the future of our society. Vivat Jesus!