State Deputies and State Chaplains Urged to Lead with the ‘Heart of a Father’
Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly introduces new faith formation initiatives at annual leadership meeting
By Cecilia Hadley
Knights of Columbus jurisdiction leaders from throughout North America and around the world assembled in New Haven, Connecticut, last week for the annual Organizational Meeting of State Deputies. This year’s gathering coincided with a meeting of state chaplains, allowing deputies and chaplains to work and pray together as they looked ahead to the 2023-2024 fraternal year.
Nearly 70 state deputies attended the Organizational Meeting of State Deputies June 8-11, and more than 40 state chaplains participated in their own meeting June 7-9. Throughout the week, the deputies and chaplains participated in fraternal events, workshops and planning sessions. State chaplains also took part in a pilgrimage to several Connecticut sites related to the life and ministry of Knights of Columbus founder Blessed Michael McGivney.
The two groups came together June 9 for a Mass at St. Mary’s Church celebrated by Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, after which Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly officially installed the newly elected deputies. The Mass was followed by a eucharistic procession down Hillhouse Avenue, concluding with benediction on the steps of the church.
Later the same morning, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly and Archbishop Lori delivered keynote remarks to the assembled state deputies and chaplains.
In his address, Supreme Knight Kelly reflected on the Order’s longstanding witness of co-responsibility represented by the clergy and laymen present.
“[Co-responsibility] means much more than just working with our pastors around the parish. It means recognizing and taking shared responsibility for the mission of the Church,” he said. “This is what the Order has done throughout our history. … It’s ‘how’ the Knights of Columbus approaches all that we do.”
The “why,” the supreme knight continued, is rooted in Blessed Michael McGivney’s example of fatherhood. Noting that Father McGivney died at just 38 years old, he said, “The immediate cause was pneumonia, but by all accounts, he really died of exhaustion. He literally spent his life in service to his spiritual sons and daughters. … Father McGivney truly lived and loved with the heart of a father — a heart completely dedicated to the service, protection and formation of those in his care.”
Knights, especially K of C leaders, Supreme Knight Kelly said, are called to the same self-giving love: “I am convinced that if we become more and more formed and fashioned by the heart of God, we will continue to grow, in both good men and good works. More than ever before, our future depends on getting the ‘why’ right. We have to inspire a new generation of men to have the heart of a father.”
Supreme Knight Kelly then outlined a new initiative and supporting programs to strengthen faith formation and evangelization among Catholic men.
The Cor initiative, introduced in 21 jurisdictions in a pilot phase in early 2023, includes regular gatherings, centered on prayer, formation and fraternity, outside the traditional Knights of Columbus council business meeting.
“The word ‘cor’ is Latin for heart … and the purpose of the Cor meeting is to get to the heart of the matter, and to form men to have the heart of a father. That is something every Catholic man needs,” said Supreme Knight Kelly.
The initiative will be supported by a new Bible study for Catholic men, titled “Men of the Word,” which will provide discussion content for the Cor meeting. “It’s a spiritual resource that also offers practical advice — including showing our men how to pray with Scripture,” the supreme knight explained. “When it comes to understanding what it really means to be an authentic Catholic man, God’s word — praying with Scripture — is one of the most powerful tools that we have.”
Another new K of C program is a soon-to-be-released video series about marriage and fatherhood.
“It follows the template set by the original Into the Breach series, which now has over 1.4 million views,” the supreme knight said. “Our new series builds on that success, while giving practical advice for living out our faith in our marriages and in our homes.”
Both the Bible study and new video series will be officially launched at the Supreme Convention in August.
The supreme knight also updated the deputies and chaplains on the Order’s charitable giving and hours of service, particularly the ASAP (Aid and Support After Pregnancy) initiative to support pregnancy resource centers and maternity, which he announced at last year’s state deputy meeting.
“I am so grateful for the way you and your councils embraced the call to help vulnerable mothers and their babies,” he said. “Thanks to our combined efforts, I am very pleased to announce that we have exceeded our first-year goal and have raised more than $5 million.”
In his keynote remarks, Archbishop Lori also emphasized the importance of the Cor initiative to the Knights’ mission.
“Unless we open our hearts to Christ and to one another, none of the other goals we hope to achieve — whether in growth in membership or attracting a younger demographic or expanding the scope of our charity — will come to fruition,” he said. “In essence, the Cor initiative is about seeking the one necessary thing: a living, breathing, vibrant relationship with the person Jesus Christ.”
He continued, “Catholic men and their families are looking for more than what the ambient culture offers. They want something beyond the isolation, polarization, and disregard for the truth that is around us. … They are looking for a hope with which they can anchor their lives. They are looking for prayer, formation, and fraternity that will bring them closer to the destiny to which they have been called in baptism. I don’t think there is any organization in the world better poised to help them do this than the Knights of Columbus.”
CECILIA HADLEY is senior editor of Columbia.