Dear Brother Knight:
This week, more than 2,000 Knights and their families gathered in St. Louis for the 135th Supreme Convention, which was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the last fraternal year, and to chart the course for an even brighter future for the Knights of Columbus.
A Papal Message to the convention conveyed the prayers and good wishes of Pope Francis who praised the Order’s efforts to strengthen family life and provide relief to persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Just days before the convention, the Board of Directors authorized a $2 million effort to save Karamdes, a predominantly Christian town in the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq, which was liberated from ISIS late last year.
During my annual report, I announced the “Knights of Columbus Campaign to Save 1 Million Children.” Through our Ultrasound Initiative, we have already provided 829 ultrasound machines and this new campaign aims to reach the goal of 1,000 machines as quickly as possible, so that by 2019 — the 10th anniversary of the initiative — we will have saved an estimated total of 1 million lives.
The Order reached new heights in its charitable works, donating more than $177 million and 75 million hours to charitable causes. Our industry-leading program of insurance “by brother Knights, for brother Knights” continues to provide the finest protection to our families, issuing a new record of more than $8.54 billion of new life insurance last year. We also celebrated the achievements of our fraternal leaders and insurance field force, and presented the Order’s highest honor, the Gaudium et Spes Award, to a courageous Maryknoll priest, Father Gerard Hammond Gerard Hammond, who has travelled to North Korea more than 50 times to provide humanitarian aid.
The convention was also the occasion for a historic announcement: the introduction of the new uniform of the Fourth Degree. After careful consideration, the Board of Directors took this action motivated by the best interests of the Order as whole and of the Fourth Degree in particular. The new uniform is part of a comprehensive and necessary effort to keep our Order relevant and attractive to men, particularly younger men.
In light of this significant change, I thought it would be helpful to address some of the questions that have been asked about the new uniform.
We have been testing the new uniform over the past year with key groups of Knights, including those brother Knights who participate in our annual Warriors to Lourdes Pilgrimage. The feedback we received from these groups has been very positive.
During the convention, the Good of the Order Committee spoke in words I wish to make my own:
“We commend all of the faithful Sir Knights who have proudly worn the Fourth Degree regalia, bringing much respect to the Order. With the new Fourth Degree uniform, recently approved by the Board of Directors, this honor and respect associated with Sir Knights will remain, and it will open the door more widely for a new generation to join their ranks. In a spirit of unity, let us assist with a smooth transition to this new uniform and encourage it to be worn with great dignity and pride.”
Carl A. Anderson
Archbishop Michael J. Curley Assembly No. 383 of the Knights of Columbus Patriotic Degree has raised $10,083.49 for the Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA’s (AMS), Military Chaplain’s Scholarship Fund. The Assembly, comprised of Knights from nine Councils in Eastern Montgomery and Northern Prince George’s counties, raised the money through its “Pass the Helmet” Campaign, which started on October 9, 2016, and concluded on June 4, 2017.
Faced with a critical shortage of priests serving the Catholic men and women of the United States military, AMS and the Knights of Columbus established the Military Chaplain’s Scholarship Fund in an effort to increase the number of Catholic military chaplains. The Knights of Columbus committed to raising $1.4 million for the Fund by June 30, 2017. The funds will be used to provide scholarships through AMS’ “Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program,” which funds 50 percent of the cost of a seminarian’s five-year education, or about $12,500 per year, for seminarians who commit to serving as military chaplains following their ordinations and three years of service at a parish.
“This was just a truly amazing effort, from the Sir Knights and Ladies who gave more than 125 hours of their time to make this campaign possible to the incredible generosity of those who donated,” said Sir Knight Jimmy Williams, Faithful Navigator of Curley Assembly. “When we started out, we had no idea this campaign would be so successful. We just wanted to support our seminarians and Catholic men and women in uniform and knew whatever amount of money we raised would make a difference. The end result blew us all away.”
Throughout the campaign, the Assembly coordinated collections after Masses at five of the parishes it supports. To promote the collections, the Assembly ran bulletin announcements and made announcements about the collection during Mass. A feeder Council contributed to the effort through a collection during one of its meetings and the seniors club at another feeder Council also contributed.
“The Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus, known as the Patriotic Degree, strives to perform activities that exemplify the virtue of Patriotism. Curley Assembly has done just that through their ‘Pass the Helmet’ Campaign,” said Sir Knight Micheal Thumm, Master of the Archdiocese of Washington District of the Patriotic Degree. “It is my opinion that through their actions in this campaign, they have also demonstrated the other virtues of a complete Knight of Columbus: Charity, United and Fraternity. It is a fantastic deed that the Sir Knights of this Assembly have accomplished!”
According to information received from Sir Knight Dennis Stoddard, Supreme Master of the Patriotic Degree, as of February 2017, AMS had just 210 active duty priests serving. It is estimated 800 are needed to fully serve all Catholics in the United States armed forces. As of June 2017, seven priests have been ordained through the AMS program, with another 35 seminarians enrolled. While there is still a long way to go to adequately serve all Catholics in the military, the funds raised for the Military Chaplain’s Scholarship Fund are making a difference.
Due to a rush of late registrations (and procrastination), the deadline for Candidates and Sir Knights registering for the Exemplification of the 4th Degree has been extended to Monday, March 6th. Registration will close at 11:30pm
For more information about the Exemplification, please visit our Exemplification Information page. Sir Knights and Candidates can quickly, safely, and securely register and pay through our Exemplification Online Registration page.
It has been announced by the Master of the Archdiocese of Washington 4th Degree District, SK Col. Micheal Thumm (USMC-Ret), that the Honorees for the 2017 District Exemplifications of the Patriotic Degree of the Knights of Columbus have been named.
The Honoree for the Priest and Special Needs Exemplification on February 25, 2017 is SK Rev. Scott Woods, Pastor of St. Cecilia Church.
Rev. Scott Woods serves as Pastor of St. Cecilia Church in St. Mary’s City, MD and St. Peter Claver Church in St. Inigoes, MD. Fr. Woods dedication to the youth of Maryland is showcased in his work as a religious and faith counselor at St. Mary’s Ryken High School, by serving as a chaplain for the Boy Scouts, ministering to several youth groups in Southern Maryland, as an assistant Vocation Director for the Saint John Paul II Seminary, and has been responsible for numerous young men choosing to go to the Seminary.
The Honoree for the 47th Annual Principal Exemplification of the Patriotic Degree on March 25th is Most Rev. Barry C. Knestout, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington and Moderator of the Curia.
Bishop Knestout is a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus, a member of the Order of Malta and a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Bishop Knestout serves on the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council, the Archdiocesan Finance Council and the College of Consultors. In addition, he has been a member of the Archdiocesan Building Commission since 1991 and the Archdiocesan Sacred Arts Commission since 1994. He is a member of the Administrative Board of the Maryland Catholic Conference and the Episcopal Moderator of the American Catholic Correctional Chaplains Association. He also serves as the Region IV representative on the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, as well as the Episcopal Liaison to the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference. He was co-chair of the Papal Visit Planning Committees in 2008 and 2015, managing many of the preparations for the historic April 2008 and September 2015 visits to Washington, DC by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
Full biographies may be found below