Welcome to the 2019-2020 Fraternal Year. This past weekend, we held the State Organizational Meeting. Much was discussed. Plans were made, information exchanged, and lessons learned shared. My thanks to Father Gary Regula, Pastor of St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in Phoenix, for accepting an appointment as our State Chaplain. Father Gary will provide the State Council with spiritual guidance and support. I am grateful that Fr. Regula said yes to Our Lord and became a priest, that he said yes to the Knights of Columbus, and that he said yes to me to be our new State Chaplain.
Our world is hurting. There is a cancer that is dark, malignant, and growing within. The prognosis may seem bleak, even critical, maybe terminal. The symptoms include crimes by people against people: murders, assaults, robberies, thefts, drug and alcohol related car crashes, child and elder abuse, abortions, and restrictions to religious freedoms. Society no longer trusts and respects law enforcement, firefighters and first responders. Political parties no longer advocate for their constituents, instead they answer to party platforms and to their financial backers who make their money killing babies.
Who can stop the growth of this darkness that seems to be consuming us? Our priests and bishops are doing all they can to evangelize for life. Can they cure these ills by themselves? No. Who, then, should they turn to for help? Our bishops and priests turn to the Knights of Columbus, because they know the Knights will fight to the last man to turn the culture of death into one of life. That is who we are – this is what we do. We are the Knights of Columbus. We serve God. We serve the community.
As Knights, we take the long view in all that we do. The battle will not be won in a day, or a year, but it will be won. It will take all of us working together. We will support pro-life organizations in our Dioceses. We will gather at abortion centers to pray. We will work with our pastors to evangelize for life in our parishes. We will raise funds for ultrasound machines. We will participate in annual pro-life marches in our communities. We will erect monuments to the unborn. At the ballot box, we will vote for life. That is who we are – this is what we do.
During the Saturday night banquet, I was overwhelmed by the hard work and generosity of one Tucson Council. Grand Knight Dave Chohon of the Roy Champeau Council #8077 presented the State Council with a check for $19,000 to go toward the purchase of an ultrasound machine for a crisis pregnancy center in Arizona. Not only did the members of this council, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Tucson, conduct a highly successful fund raiser, they did it with the help of every parish organization, the complete support of their pastor, and Diocese of Tucson’s Bishop Weisenburger.
They specifically chose Mother’s Day to hold a special dinner. Mothers are life givers and a day dedicated to motherhood is quite appropriate for a fund raiser to save a baby’s life. During the dinner, they held a silent auction for various items of different minimum values. The big prize was a dinner with the Bishop. The winning bid was $1,000 for this prize. Many other donors either bid or donated to the cause at the same $1,000 level. Even after the event the donations kept coming. They also invited several mothers to speak about their near-death experience that was prevented by an ultrasound.
Brothers, people do respect life and want to help. This is a great example of what can be done when a council and an entire parish come together for the perfect cause. The money raised will ultimately be matched by the Supreme Council dollar-for-dollar so that an ultrasound can be purchased, and lives saved from abortion. I want to see more councils do the same. This is what we do – this is who we are.
What else can we as Knight do to save our world from this cancer? As Knights, we need to serve God, grow our faith, and give all that we do for the honor and glory of God, His son Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. We will build up our families and not allow our children to become victim to the empty promises of the secular culture. Armed with faith, we will take our programs out into the community to help those in need. We will use our faith and beliefs to defend the sanctity of life and protect marriage and family life.
The Knights of Columbus is the strong right arm of the Catholic Church. Each parish community and its pastor are the firm foundation upon which the Catholic Church is built. With faith as our foundation, everything else falls into place, and put our Faith in Action. As Knights, we serve God. As Knights we serve our community. As Knights this is what we do because it is who we are.
Every year, the State Deputy introduces a new logo and State Pin. This year’s design is meant to be a visual, daily reminder, of what we stand for and the depth of our commitment to serve God, our parishes, our order, the most vulnerable, and our Blessed Mother. The elements of this year’s logo and pin are encircled by the principles of the Order: Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism. Within this circle, the State of Arizona is found emblazoned with the Emblem of the Order representing the Arizona State Council. An image of Our Lady of Guadalupe represents Mary as patroness of the Order and of the Diocese of Phoenix. Through Her apparition to Juan Diego in 1531, Mary brought millions into the Church to worship her Holy Son. She embodies hope and protection from evil and persecution. The cross is included to reminded us that we are all children of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our theme, motto and pin will keep us focused in unity and fraternity to perform works of charity in service to all.
During the Organizational Meeting, Past State Deputy Larry Costanzo reported on the Arizona Rosary Celebration. This year the celebration will be held over the weekend of October 19-20, 2019 in Tucson and Phoenix. Raising funds for the event is the first and most important task. The program needs to raise $80,000 as soon as possible to ensure the event in both venues can take place. I ask every Council and Assembly to purchase advertising right away. I ask that Knights make donations or collect funds through Booster Ads. During the event itself. I want to see each council in the blessing procession waving their banner. The deadline for Advertising is September 7, 2019. Don’t delay. Public prayer is needed to help kill the cancer. Go to www.azrosary.net for more information.
What else we can do? Grow our order. The more Knights in our ranks, the greater impact we will have in bringing the light of faith to the world and combatting the culture of death. We will offer membership in the Knights of Columbus to every eligible Catholic man. We will recruit so that we can protect the Faith, the Family, our Communities, and Life. Remember, retention begins at the time a new member is recruited and continues throughout his membership in the Knights. This Is Who We Are - This is What We Do.
I wish every Knight in our Order the best fraternal year possible. Together, we can win the battle over the culture of death. We can evangelize for life, love, peace, and freedom. As State Chaplain Fr. Gary told us, tear down some walls and fences and get to know your neighbors.