Dear Brother Knight,
As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you the actions and responses taken by the Knights of Columbus.
The coronavirus disease is not the first pandemic the Knights of Columbus has faced. In the late nineteenth century, and again in 1918, the Knights remained strong and active despite such situations. And together, we will do so again this time.
We know that this period will be difficult in various ways for everyone, and we want to assure you that the Knights of Columbus is fully committed to you and your family, and has taken the steps necessary to continue our important work on your behalf – from protecting the faith and financial stability of members’ families, to helping members put their faith into action by providing important charitable service within their communities.
Although to our knowledge, no staff at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council or Museum in New Haven or at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., have tested positive for COVID-19, we have implemented remote operations for most staff, allowing our business processes, customer service and fraternal support to continue their important work uninterrupted, while simultaneously protecting the health of our employees and reducing the risk of community spread of this illness, which is often facilitated by having large groups of people in close proximity to one another.
Furthermore, our sustainable investment strategy means that our exposure to current stock market volatility is limited, and we remain extremely strong financially. With that strength, and the strength that comes from committed employees, we remain positioned and ready to serve our brother Knights. Of course, our agents and our customer service team also remain available to help you with any insurance or related financial needs that you may have. As we implement new systems to serve you and respond to a higher volume of inquiries than usual during this period, it is possible that wait and turnaround times may increase.
In addition to what we are doing at the Supreme Council headquarters, many brother Knights have asked how they can help in their own communities. We suggest the following:
As we move through this pandemic together, you can rest assured that the Knights of Columbus will be there for you. We will provide regular updates in the days ahead, and we will remain joined with you in prayer and in service to our neighbors in need.
May God bless you, and keep you and your loved ones healthy and safe.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We have experienced massive, rapid change & turmoil in our Order just since just 2016:
In 2016, we had the cancelling of the Columbian Squires Program; probably one of the best recruiting tools we could have had. We also had the ending of the chartering of Scout units by the order.
In 2017, it was the announcement of the Regalia / Uniform change, a seemingly “middle of the night” decision. We also had the presentation of the first degree on video.
With 2018 came E-membership, and something many aren’t aware of – the renaming of the 1st-3rddegrees the Admission, Formation, and Knighthood degrees.
In 2019, the Regalia was officially retired. Then we had the membership scandal and UKnight lawsuit, and with it, the revelation of our Supreme Knight’s salary, topping out in 2014 at a whopping $2.2M.
Now in 2020, we have a change that affected me profoundly: the elimination of traditional degrees, and the introduction of what is being referred to in some circles as the “McDegree.” We managed to boil about 3.5 hours of content down into 25 minutes. And with it came the elimination of 140 years of secrecy; secrecy that we took a vow to maintain!
All this change, so quickly, makes it easy to be discouraged. It’s the loss of so many of our traditions. It can make us feel like we belong to an insurance company that happens to do charity work, rather than a charitable organization with great insurance benefits. It leaves many of us feeling like “I’m not leaving the Order…but the Order is leaving me.” Certainly, I have felt this way.
But then I reflected on our recently retired First degree ceremony, and on lines from my address in that ceremony:
“We draw all our principles from God’s holy law, and by their practice, seek to attain the ideals that they teach.” Also, “Charity is the motive that gave rise to chivalry and in its exercise is ever found the essence of true knighthood.” And those words brought me to this realization: YOUR BOND OF KNIGHTHOOD IS BETWEEN YOU AND GOD. It’s a pledge you make in the silence of your heart, an agreement between you and the Lord. It’s not defined by what happens at Supreme. It’s not defined by a ceremony, or a uniform, or any other earthly trappings of the order.
That’s why it can and does stay with you wherever you go, whatever you do. It can be made manifest to the world in your actions every day, if you focus on it. At the end of the day, it’s a fire within you and it’s up to you to keep it alive, or let it dim and extinguish.
So how do you keep it alive? Former Speaker of The House Tip O’Neil famously said “all politics is local.” Last month, our District Deputy stood here and admonished us “BROTHERS, AT THE COUNCIL LEVEL IT IS CHARITY, UNITY, AND FRATERNITY. THAT IS IT!” I thank him, because he is absolutely correct. That is all it is.
You keep it alive by practicing Charity, in all its forms, as often as you can…starting with the people around you. In your homes, in our parish…starting right here with the brothers in this chamber. “With loving hearts and hands bent on one another’s welfare…”
When you do that, you rekindle the flame of your knighthood, putting Christ’s legacy into action today, in this world. The fire will show in your eyes. Then, look around you, into the eyes of your brothers. Find the ones that show the same fire, and band together. Find the ones for whom the fire may be dim, and lift them up. Then go forward together in unity, as knights of this council.
Because remember this, brothers: When we stand alone, we are weak, and can be broken.
But when we stand together in unity, support our brothers in the spirit of fraternity, and go forward together in pursuit of this ideal of charity: Then we are strong, and cannot be broken!
Lecturer, Council #11666