Arizona State Council Knights of Columbus - Fraternal Year 2020-2021
Of all the messages I have written to you for this newsletter, this one is by far the hardest for me. While I am sad that this is my last month as your State Deputy, I am also happy and pleased with all that we have accomplished these past two years, and excited to see what great things will be accomplished by your newly elected State Officers. To Worthy State Chaplain Father Gary Regula and my brother State Officers, I offer you my heartfelt thanks for your support, advice, and leadership on behalf of the some 18,000 brother Knights in the jurisdiction of Arizona. To our worthy State Deputy-elect Luigi Baratta and the newly elected State Officers for the upcoming fraternal year, I offer you my unwavering support and guidance. I also welcome the newest State Officer, Worthy State Warden-elect Bobby Nielsen. Congratulations brother Bobby!
These past two years have been some of the most challenging years the Arizona State Council has faced in its 114-year history. However, with the grace of God and the guidance of the founder of our Order, Blessed Michael McGivney, a safe and satisfactory conclusion is in sight. It was through the Charity, Unity, and Fraternity of every Knight in Arizona that we persevered. To you my brothers, I say thank you!
This has been one of the best times to be a Knight of Columbus. As we have said numerous times, “Where there is a need, there is a Knight.” This have never been truer than in these past 15 months.
I write this message having recently returned from the State Convention. I was amazed at the exceptional turnout for this event. I believe it was one of the most well-attended Conventions in recent years. I was so happy to see such a great turnout of the Fourth Degree to provide an honor guard for our Masses on Friday and Saturday. They added such a sense of reverence for the services. I am thankful to our bishops for joining us to preside and the priests and deacons who concelebrated or attended the convention, especially Bishop Emeritus Kicanas and Bishop Weisenburger from Tucson,
Bishop Pazak from the Eparchy of Phoenix, and our Worthy Associate State Chaplain Father Crino from Tucson. It was truly a blessing to have them join us during the Convention.
In February 2020, we hosted the Phoenix Catholic Men’s Conference with a theme of “Catholic Men Linked as Brothers.” This was a perfect theme for an event where Former Supreme Knight Carl Anderson was a guest speaker. During a lunch he had with us State Officers and a few State Directors and District Deputies, the Supreme Knight reminded us that the church lives or dies with the parish and that the Knights are the strong right arm of the Catholic Church and will only be the strong right arm of the Catholic Church if the local council is the strong right arm of their pastor. These words inspired me and have been a guide for our work as we engaged in charitable efforts and recruitment to increase our members.
The number of notable charitable works accomplished these past two years are too numerous to list in this message, but one in particular, exemplifies what Charity, Unity, and Fraternity can accomplish. The Knights of Our Lady of the Desert Council 15704 in Tucson learned that the due to the pandemic, the Redemptorist Renewal and Retreat Center was suffering severe monetary losses after complying with orders that cancelled public gatherings. With no retreats, there was no income for the center, the parish, Our Lady of the Desert, and staff. Seeing this great need, the Knights responded by raising funds to offset the retreat center’s losses. Through their efforts and the generosity of one brother who matched the council’s donations, and the donations of other council members, they raised in total, over $46,000 to keep the retreat center and parish in business. This was such an exemplary achievement.
Our acts of Charity extended to our Culture of Life programs over the past two years. During this time, we joined together to raise funds for five ultrasound machines that were donated to these centers around the state: Hope Crisis Pregnancy Center, CareNet Pregnancy Center, Choices Pregnancy Centers, Reachout Pregnancy Center, and Vineyard Pregnancy Center. These were purchased by funds raised by Councils, Assemblies, the State Council, and matched by the Supreme Council.
The Order in Arizona has continued to grow these past two years. We started on July 1 2019 with a total net-net membership of 16955 and as of the end of May 2021 we are at 17479, an increase of 524 members. We established 5 new councils, numbers 17370, 17491, 17493, 17502 and 17715. This number includes three Hispanic councils and two Byzantine Catholic Councils. We also successfully reactivated two councils, numbers 5313 and 13568. Through your efforts, Arizona made it into the Supreme Circle of Honor for membership last year and we are very close to attaining that honor again this year. As of the end of May we are 80 new members short of our goal. Brothers, the goal is very achievable but requires the efforts of each and every council. I have one last special favor to ask of you. I would like each of our 137 active councils to promise to recruit at least one online member from n ow till June 30. If that happens we will not only achieve Circle of Honor but we will be very close to achieving the Pinnacle Award, the highest award offered by the Supreme Council. I don’t think I am asking much from you. I know we can do this if we all pull together. Let us pray for the intercession of Blessed Michael McGivney to help us achieve our goal.
The Arizona Rosary Celebration will be held this year on October 16-17, 2021, at St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson and the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix. Both events are planned to be in-person as they have been in pre-Covid years. Of course, contingency plans are being made in case we must change direction, but for now, we want to invite everyone to attend in-person. We need your help to spread the word. In 2021 we will honor Mary under Her title Our Lady of Sorrows. Additionally, I want every Council and Assembly to purchase advertising in the program book to help finance the celebration. This is the only source of funding for a major program of such magnitude with costs of nearly $80,000. Councils should also send representatives to the planning committee meetings to take back important information to the parishes. With your help this annual event will continue to provide great spiritual solace to our brothers and sisters. For more, check the website www.azrosary.net.
These are the times when we run to the breach to tackle whatever adversary awaits, even if it is a microscopic virus. We do this by being of service to our priests, parishioners and neighbors and we do this when we perform acts of charity for those members in our community who are in need. I would like to close my final message to you with an excerpt from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans. In the fifth chapter he spoke about faith, hope and love. This seemed to be a most apt message to share with you. Saint Paul writes,
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.
Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:1-11).”
Looking back over the past 15 months under the duress of the Covid pandemic, we can boast of its affliction on us that produced greater endurance and imbued us with much character. This resulted from our faith in Jesus Christ and comes from our hope and through the love God poured into our hearts. Best of all, we are rewarded when we pour out that love in charity and mercy toward our fellow men. So, I will say it again, “Where there is a need, there is a Knight.”
Mary Ann and I have been blessed by the great outpouring of love, support, and generosity shown to us by so many these past two years. We thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. We ask Blessed Michael McGivney to pray for you and your families.