On June 11, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I had the privilege of attending a Mass at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven where Mr. Patrick Kelly was installed as the 14th Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus. The Knights of Columbus are the largest Catholic fraternal organization in the world, with over 2 million members, so the installation of a new Supreme Knight was a very important event in the life of the Church. But it was also a very important moment for us as a parish, since Patrick and Vanessa Kelly and their children are members of our parish.
Addressing the leadership of the Knights following the Mass of Installation, Kelly spoke about the significance of becoming Supreme Knight during a year that Pope Francis has dedicated to St. Joseph. He told those gathered: “There are few things that our world needs more than men in the mold of St. Joseph.” He then called upon his brother Knights around the world to imitate St. Joseph in his two-fold role as guardian of the family, and guardian of the truth.
“God entrusted St. Joseph with the duty to protect the Holy Family. He listened to the Lord in humility and obedience, and then made his life one of service and sacrifice to his wife and child. As Knights, we are also called to lead such a life.” Kelly noted that St. Joseph’s life was filled with uncertainties and many situations which must have been frightening. But he trusted God, and courageously persevered in fidelity as guardian of the Holy Family. St. Joseph is an important model for Catholic men who are trying to raise their families to be faithful in the midst of a culture that actively seeks to undermine those efforts. Kelly said that the Knights of Columbus must encourage and support Catholic fathers “in their vocation to heroic generosity and self-sacrifice for the good of their wives and the good of their children.”
Kelly also described St. Joseph as guardian of the Truth. “This Truth has a name – Jesus Christ, who is the Truth Incarnate.” Kelly observed that serving truth was challenging in the days of Blessed Michael McGiveny, who founded the Knights of Columbus in New Haven in 1882. But he then described our age as one that poses new and increasingly fierce challenges to the truth about marriage, life in the womb, the family, and authentic freedom. By standing boldly for truth, Kelly hopes that the Knights will encourage all Catholic men to be a sign of unity rooted in a whole-hearted commitment to Christ, especially in the Eucharist. In an age of widespread division, Catholic men must live in solidarity that is grounded in the Eucharist. Thus, they will be “a source of light and courage to the men in families living in these challenging times.” Kelly described this mission of Catholic men as a “high calling” and declared that it was time to respond to that calling out of love for Christ and His Church. He concluded his address by referring to the words of St. Paul, who wrote: “let us live a life worthy of the call we have received.”
Patrick Kelly is surely correct in his description of the challenges we face and the need for Catholic men to support and encourage each other to greater virtue and fidelity for the sake of being husbands and fathers in the image of St. Joseph. As he begins his tenure as Supreme Knight, let us pray for Patrick Kelly and his family, and assure him of our support in his important work of service to the Knights of Columbus and to the Church. And may our parish be a place where Catholic husbands and fathers strive together to live a life worthy of their high calling as guardians of the family and guardians of truth.