Every summer the Knights of Columbus have an Annual Supreme Convention in some part of the country. It is a major event for the Knights to which all bishops are invited. This year, from Aug. 1-3, the Diocese of Orlando hosted this convention, and we were privileged to have this 141st convention in the state of Florida. We welcome the Knights and thank them for who they are and what they do.
The Knights of Columbus are an important fraternity within the life of the Church and of our diocese. The Knights of Columbus were founded in 1882 by Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut, and the order has grown into the largest organization of Catholic laymen in the world. Father Michael McGivney was beatified on Oct. 31, 2020, and we continue to pray for and support the process of his canonization as a saint. The Knights of Columbus are organized under a Supreme Knight, with an executive board and Supreme Council, located in New Haven, and a number of state and local councils as we have here in Florida and the Diocese of Palm Beach.
The Knights of Columbus were founded to respond to the social and religious needs of its day and have continued to flourish in this vein. They have devoted themselves to numerous programs of public service, including charities, social welfare, educational scholarships and the providing of aid in times of war, tragedy and disaster. Their efforts have been dedicated to the cause of the sanctity of life and the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. They also do extensive work in the service of the Holy Father and are involved in the support of Catholic telecommunications. These are but some of the extraordinary works of the Knights of Columbus for Church and society.
The hallmarks of the Knights of Columbus are charity, unity, fraternity, and in 1900, the Fourth Degree was established to include the hallmark of patriotism. The Fourth Degree members are those who are the color corps of the order, most visible at liturgical ceremonies. They represent the highest rank of the order and all for which the Knights stand.
I have been privileged to know the fine work of the Knights of Columbus here in the Diocese of Palm Beach. They are most gracious in offering gratitude to our clergy and religious in the diocese, and are always at hand when their help is needed. I have had several opportunities to meet with local councils and their Grand Knights, who have made me feel secure in what the meaning of the Knights of Columbus is all about. The local Fourth Degree members have been supportive in being present at confirmations, adding a great presence to the celebrations and affirming the loyalty and hallmarks of the order. A young man to be confirmed wrote to me, saying, “I think it is going to be very cool to have you and the Knights of Columbus coming.” Such a sentiment expresses well the appreciation we all have for their presence and dedication.
I was also privileged to be associated with the Knights of Columbus in the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Ogdensburg. They have always demonstrated their commitment to charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism no matter what the setting or the place, from the north to the south.
Family is another important emphasis of the Knights of Columbus. While not one of their four official hallmarks, it certainly could be unofficially claimed as their fifth. The members of the order are committed to their own families and to all the values of family life. Bringing their families together is an important part of their activity and a witness that is sorely needed in our society.
I am happy to take this opportunity on the occasion this month of their Annual Supreme Convention here in Florida to thank profoundly all the members of the Knights of Columbus for their commitment to charity, unity, fraternity, patriotism, and also to family. The Knights’ loyalty and commitment to the Church are a tremendous source of encouragement to every member of the Church. The Diocese of Palm Beach has a fine group of Knights of Columbus to whom we are very much indebted for their support and dedication. I thank all of our Knights, who are at the service of the Church, in their fine tradition established by Blessed Michael McGivney, and especially encourage young men to become part of this outstanding group.
As we were privileged to welcome the Knights of Columbus to Florida, we pray that their Annual Supreme Convention was a fruitful one for them, their families and their dedicated mission to the Church.
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
August 25, 2023