The Superbowl has come and gone. Hundreds of thousands attended the Phoenix Open. Another Valentine’s Day and Arizona Statehood day are in the books. We have honored our founding presidents for the year. Arizona has experienced a winter snowstorm that left visible snow on the Superstitions, most of the mountains surrounding Phoenix and Tucson, and nearly all Northern Arizona. Now, we turn our attention to the Month of March and the four remaining months of this fraternal year.
Our first consideration, and priority, is our Lenten journey that begins Ash Wednesday, March 6th. This is a time for us to put behind all our earthly concerns, deny ourselves, fast, repent, and practice alms giving. Liturgically and biblically, this is the time that Jesus goes into the desert for 40 days to face and overcome temptation by the devil. Afterward, Jesus begins his public ministry, chooses his first disciples, and journeys to Jerusalem where he will ultimately be crucified, die for our sins, and is resurrected.
In the coming weeks, Councils will be asked to select delegates to the State Convention in May. Resolutions will need to be written and ratified by Council members. Do not wait until the last day to submit your delegate information or any resolutions to the State Council. This include resolutions supporting brother Knights desiring to run for State Office. The website for the State Convention on May 17-19, 2019 is active and can be found at https://www.azkofcstateconvention.org . Register early and make your hotel reservations early.
Our membership numbers for the year are not where they should be at this point in the year. At last check, we had nearly reached the mid-point of our goal. With just a few short months remaining, we must kick our membership efforts into overdrive. Conduct your Spring membership drives this month, include recruitment as part of every Council program, and encourage every Knight to recruit at least one new member. Our goal is still attainable with your commitment and hard work.
I challenge you Grand Knights and District Deputies to claim your spot at the top. Grand Knights join your top five brothers: Gary Kluthe of Council 17036 at 350% of goal; Manual Chimal of Council 14804 at 325% of goal; Charles Goldsmith of Council 5221 at 250%; Javier Negrete of Council 1806 at 211%; and Lawrence Samson, Jr. at 150%. District Deputies give your brother Gonzolo Ortiz of District 28, who has posted a 122% increase over goal, some competition. Brother Knights, is there not one of you who can recruit more than the 18 members recruited by Albert Ustaszewski from Council 8305? Remember to submit the membership forms as soon as possible so that your efforts can be counted.
This past month it was again my honor to recognize one Arizona Knight who exemplifies the principles of the order and embodies the virtues of Knighthood. Sir Knight Gonzalo Ortiz joined the Knight of Columbus in June 1985 and quickly advanced through all four degrees. As a member of Pope Pius XII Council #4737, he gained the distinction of having been elected Grand Knight seven times over the past 35 years. Gonzolo has been active in assisting the State Council grow the order. As the District 28 Deputy, his councils combined membership growth surpassed 122% above goal for the year.
He serves on the Southwest District membership board with Luis Leyva, Hispanic Membership Coordinator for Arizona. The extent of his volunteer activity is not narrowly focused within the Order. He has volunteered with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul for the past 15 years. He has also served in the Diocesan Board of Directors for six years, and on the board as President of the District. The list of his volunteer activities includes many other organizations. This man truly exemplifies Knighthood and for that reason I named him as the Class Honoree for February’s Formation and Knighthood degrees in Chandler. Congratulation Gonzalo!
For the month of March, I ask you to focus on your Lenten journey, prepare for the State Convention, and conduct a successful spring membership drive. Let’s meet our membership goal. Don’t allow one Catholic man to be without knowing the benefits of membership in the Knights of Columbus.