Fr. Michael McGivney – a model for the New Evangelization

COLORIZED IMAGE OF FATHER MICHAEL J. MCGIVNEY

Today marks the 124th anniversary of the death of Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. This young priest from New Haven, Connecticut remains a compelling model for all as we’re called upon to participate in the New Evangelization. Inspired by the Beatitudes, he was a man ahead of his time. He  worked to restore the dignity of the marginalized, especially widows and orphans. He inspired the men of his parish to see themselves as capable of changing the world for the better. He made parish life  – not just an obligatory pit-stop at the end of the week – but the centre of community life. Under his leadership his flock grew in faith and eventually made an invaluable contribution not only to their neighborhood, but far beyond it.

There’s so much that we can learn from this humble, imaginative priest. When I was working on the The Church Alive series, I found many parallels between today’s vibrant parishes and the approach that Fr. McGivney adopted in his day. In fact, many of the great ideas that we see with regard to the work of the laity and the importance and relevance of Catholic social teaching are exemplified in Fr. McGivney’s parish ministry (long before Vatican II was on the horizon!) What’s particularly noteworthy is that he was born into difficult, turbulent times and yet through God’s grace shone with heroic virtue. And the same can be said of the Knights of Columbus, the lay organization which he founded; these men in as much as they remain faithful to the original charism of Fr. Michael McGivney are a tremendous force for good in the world.

To learn more about Fr. Michael McGivney  check out the Fr. Michael McGivney documentary trailer. Interested in finding out more about the Knights? Watch the 132nd Supreme Convention which took place recently in Orlando, Florida. We’ll rebroadcast our live coverage on August 23, 2014. Here’s the line-up.

And if you’re still trying to wrap your head around what exactly the New Evangelization is, then check out the Church Alive Series. We’ve got a comprehensive study guide to accompany the series for those who’d like to tackle these big issues  in your prayer group or classroom. After all, the Synod on the Family is around the corner, and you’ll want to be up to speed as the Church examines some of the most pressing questions of our times.

CNS photo – Father Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, is depicted in an image from the Knights. Father McGivney’s cause for sainthood took a step forward with a decree in 2005 approved by Pope Benedict XVI, when Father McGivney was given the title “venerable.” Father McGivney founded the fraternal order for Catholic men in 1882 in New Haven, Conn. It has since become the largest lay Catholic organization in the world with more than 1.7 millions members.

KofC 132nd Supreme Convention: Msgr. Oder Homily

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Homily of Msgr. Slawomir Oder

Postulator of the Cause for Canonization of St. John Paul II

St. John Paul II Relic Veneration

132nd Supreme Convention

We can find it difficult to talk about God. He is so transcendent! Only because Jesus, His Son revealed to us His love, the Father’s love, can we talk about God, using human categories, without fear. I think that Saints are the most beautiful thing the Lord wants to tell us about Himself. Saints are, in fact, the revelation of the grace of God and of His love.

During the canonization process of St. John Paul II, I was in North Canada. In the middle of the village I was visiting, there was a particular construction, made with stones. It was similar to a human person. I asked about the meaning of this monument and was told that it is called “Inuk shuk”, which means in the local language: “man was here”. It indicates, in the white desert of the Arctic, the place where man has passed, finding something to eat and refuge against the wind, snow and cold.

Saints are the sure sign of the presence of God in history! Saints are the most beautiful thing The Lord wants to say to us about Himself!

We can find in the book of the life of St. John Paul II the sure road which leads, through faith, humility, prayer, and love of neighbor, to full communion with God.

Meeting with a saint, any saint, confronts us with an alternative end to the well-known episode in the Gospel of Mark, in which a young man asked Jesus “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus, looking at him with love, told him: “Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor. Then come, follow me.” The young man went away sad. He was scared of this radical guidance from Christ. A saint is the one who believed the Master, because before he heard the demands of Jesus, he felt his love, His eyes full of love. He met the love and entrusted himself to the Master!

In his homily at the canonization of John Paul II, Pope Francis recalled that on one occasion, Saint Pope Wojty?a had said, “If the world will remember me, I would like to be remembered as the Pope of the Family and of Life.” He himself was able to enjoy his own family very briefly: when he was nine years old his mother died; as a 14 year old boy he lost his brother, and at the age of 21 years he lost his beloved father. But how rich and deep must have been his experience of love in his family! Years later John Paul II talked about his family home as his first seminary, and about his father as the one who first formed his priestly identity.

From his father, Karol learned to pray. From his father, he took a deep devotion to the Holy Spirit, to which he remained faithful to the end of his life. It is this deep love and entrustment to the power of the Holy Spirit that made John Paul II a witness to hope in the contemporary world.

It was his father who instilled in young Karol an ardent love for the Mother of God, when in his strong soldier’s hand he held Karol’s childlike hand, prayed the Rosary and took Karol on pilgrimages to Marian Shrines in Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Czestochowa, sites close to the heart of every Pole. It was during these pilgrimages, that his father entrusted small Karol to the Blessed Mother. This entrustment bore fruit years later when, in a mature and personal way, it became the theme of the priestly, episcopal and later the papal ministry of Wojty?a, who completely entrusted himself to Mary, “Totus Tuus”.

In his family, John Paul II learned to respect life and its heroic defense. Three years before the birth of Karol, his little sister died, but the memory of the gift of her life was preserved in the family and passed onto Karol. When he was 13 years old, he witnessed the heroic attitude of his older brother, who as a doctor, during an epidemic of scarlet fever, while caring for the sick, became infected and died. For Karol Wojty?a, the family is the place where he experienced the true love of God and neighbor. When Jesus looked at him and told him, “Follow me”, Karol knew His love and entrusted himself to this love… and followed the Master.

At the beginning of his pontificate, he looked at the path that led him to the Chair of Peter. Seeing the enormity of the love he had experienced in his life, Pope John Paul II wrote “Debitor factus sum”, “I am a debtor”. He lived his life and papal ministry to repay this debt of love, making his life a gift for others, the gift of love.

Among the many titles by which the faithful from all over the world addressed Saint John Paul II in letters that I received during the canonization process the dominant title related to a family member: they addressed him as “Father”. For many, he was and remains the embodiment of fatherhood. Not only because he was the pope, who should be addressed as “Holy Father,” but because he was simply “father” who loved, admonished and corrected, challenged and taught love of God and of all people. His life invites us to make the everyday reality lived in the community of family and the experience of brotherhood, a way for everyday growth in holiness.

I recall the witness of a Burmese nun who during a meeting with John Paul II asked him what she should do to become a saint? The Pope did not say a word, but looking at her with love, he embraced her in his arms and hugged her to his heart. That was the answer: embrace your neighbor in your arms, look at him with love and hug him to your heart, where the love of Christ is present!

Saint John Paul II reminds us that without love man cannot live, cannot fully experience the encounter with Christ. The first school of this love is the family. It is the place where God allows us to experience his fatherly embrace of love and teaches us to embrace others with the same love.

In this experience of love, which man generates within his family, the meaning of gift and gratitude is born. The roots of the perception of being a debtor lay here, and from here, the human heart grows in its desire to repay its debts in love. From this experience, man takes his first step along the path of sainthood — not only the sainthood that involves elevation to the glory of the altars, but the sainthood of every day life, extraordinary in its simplicity and ordinariness, a sainthood to which every man is called.

***

In concluding this reflection, I would like to recall the words of Saint John Paul II as he addressed the Knights of Columbus in 1979, at the beginning of his pontificate. They are still relevant today: “May the Lord reward you and through your efforts bring forth abundant fruits of evangelization in the Church. May your dedicated activity… help you realize [within] yourselves those…attitudes without which no one can truly evangelize: trust in the power of the Holy Spirit, true holiness of life, deep concern for truth, and an ever-increasing love for God’s children”.

“Trust in the power of the Holy Spirit, true holiness of life, deep concern for truth, and an ever increasing love for God’s children” have been the substance of Saint John Paul’s everyday existence and have led Him to the glory of the altar.

May the grace of the presence of the relic of Saint John Paul II among us be a vivid reminder of these words! May we be attracted by his example and encouraged by his words. May trust in the power of God, true holiness of life, deep concern for Truth, and generosity in charity be the “high standard” of our ordinary lives.

May the example of St. John Paul’s life help us to be able to hear the voice of God in our lives and become ourselves the most beautiful word that the Lord wants to say about Himself to the people of today.

Through the intercession of Saint John Paul II, may the Lord’s blessing be upon you, upon your families and upon all the Knights of Columbus! Amen.

Perspectives Daily: KofC and Gary Sinese helping wounded veterans

Today on Perspectives: The Knights of Columbus annual convention continues. At the states dinner the KofC announced their latest joint project with the Gary Sinese Foundation, Cardinal Gerald Lacroix reflects on the power of fraternity, and Pope Francis’ resumes his General Audiences. Also, the Ebola virus touches the religious men and women working on the front lines in Western Africa.

Cardinal Lacroix of Quebec Addresses KofC Supreme Convention

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Below is His Eminence Gerald Cyprien Cardinal Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec’s, address at the 132nd Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention, delivered on Orlando, Florida on August 5, 2014:

Bonsoir chers frères Chevaliers de Colomb,

Salutations chaleureuses de Québec et du Canada,

It is a blessing to be with you here in Orlando, Florida, to share in this 132nd Supreme Convention.

When I told my friends and family that I was coming to Orlando, many thought I had a rendezvous with Mickey Mouse at the Magic Kingdom! I told them that although it would have been great to spend some time in the theme parks and visit the Magic Kingdom, I had other plans for this week. An important theme was on my mind: building God’s Kingdom in brotherly love just as Jesus taught us in the Gospel. And that is more than magical; it is a holy endeavor and a wonderful mission.

Do you remember this song? It was very popular in the Church a few decades ago:

We are one in the Spirit,

we are one in the Lord,

We are one in the Spirit

we are one in the Lord,

And we pray that all unity

may one day be restored:

And they’ll know we are Christians

By our love, by our love,

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians

By our love.

We will walk with each other

we will walk hand in hand

we will walk with each other

we will walk hand in hand

and together we’ll spread the news

that God is in our land:

And they’ll know we are Christians

By our love, by our love,

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians

By our love.

We will work with each other

we will work side by side

We will work with each other

We will work side by side

And we’ll guard each man’s dignity

and save each man’s pride:

And they’ll know we are Christians

By our love, by our love

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians

By our love.

You will all be brothers: our vocation to fraternity. That is the theme that not only brings us together as brother Knights of Columbus this year, it is that same theme that sends us out to a world that needs to see this love in action through our daily lives, in every family, neighborhood, parish, council and assembly.

Pope Francis reminded us in his message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace this past January that:

The question naturally arises: Can the men and women of this world ever fully respond to the longing for fraternity placed within them by God the Father? Will they ever manage by their power alone to overcome indifference, egoism and hatred, and to accept the legitimate differences typical of brothers and sisters?

By paraphrasing his words, we can summarize the answer given by the Lord Jesus: “For you have only one Father, who is God, and you are all brothers and sisters”. [1]

In a particular way, human fraternity is regenerated in and by Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection. The Cross is the definitive foundational locus of that fraternity which human beings are not capable of generating themselves.[2]

From Day 1, our Order, with our Venerable Founder, Father Michael J. McGivney, has held up Fraternity as a fundamental value to live out our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ and as members of the Knights of Columbus. Charity, Unity and Fraternity.  And as we celebrate this 132nd Supreme Convention, these three guiding principles continue to inspire us.

But how can we truly promote fraternity in today’s world? How can we bring these life-giving principles to our everyday lives and help change the world we live in?

Have you heard of the conversation that took place one day in a Canadian forest? It took place in a maple forest. A leaf from a maple tree had a conversation with a root from the same tree. The beautiful green leaf is high up in the tree. It overlooks the forest, balancing in the wind and has a great view of the scenery. The root, as you can imagine, is pretty discrete, way down, mostly underground. The proud leaf engages in a conversation with the root and says: “Oh, hi there! What are you doing way down there?” “I am a root. I feed the whole tree. I send the sap and minerals up to the trunk, to the branches and to the leaves so that you will have life and grow.” “Oh”, responded the leaf, “that must be so boring. You down there and me way up here…” And the root responds: “Well, what do you say we continue this conversation when autumn comes around?”

You and I are filled with good intentions, beautiful desires to do a lot of good. But the only way to accomplish all of this is by being rooted in faith, in Christ. He is the One who sends us the Spirit, who continuously renews us and gives us the perseverance, the generosity, the love to build the Kingdom of God in today’s world through charity, unity and fraternity. We can’t do this by ourselves, counting only on our human strength.

Without God’s constant help and support, without our lives being rooted in the Word of God and fed by the Holy Eucharist, we could easily become self-centered and forget our call to share and give of ourselves. Pope Francis rightly recalls that:

Fraternity needs to be discovered, loved, experienced, proclaimed and witnessed to. But only love, bestowed as a gift from God, enables us to accept and fully experience fraternity.[3]

As every year we experience the somber days of autumn when the trees loose their leaves, we also experience our own autumns; storms, trials and tribulations, weaknesses, sin. Sometimes we feel like we’ve lost a lot of leaves. But if we are deeply rooted in Christ, our faith will allow us to experience a new spring, where life once again triumphs after a long winter. That is the experience of the Paschal Mystery, where the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ show us that life triumphs over death, love over hatred, peace over war, and solidarity and fraternity over selfishness and indifference.

Brother Knights: Do not underestimate the power of fraternity. Know that every act of fraternity can produce a lot of good fruits. Do not wait just to do great things, spectacular events that are noteworthy. Love as Jesus did, every moment of every day. Love every person that you encounter on your path. That is Jesus’ teaching: “And a new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”[4]

That is how the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. That is how we will become missionary disciples. And let us never forget that with Jesus Christ, spring is always around the corner. A new chapter in our lives, in our Order is always possible. A renewed world where fraternity reigns, where we live as brothers and sisters is possible, with God’s help and mercy. That is our vocation and we will continue to work to live it out fully.

And they’ll know we are Christians

By our love, by our love,

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians

By our love.

[1]cf. Mt 23: 8-9

[2]Pope Francis, Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2014.

[3]Ibid.

[4]John 13: 35

Carl Anderson Addresses Knights at KofC Supreme Convention

 

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Supreme Knight Carl Anderson’s address to Knights at the 132rd Supreme KofC Convention can be found here. Annual Report of the Supreme Knight 2014

KofC Navy Captain Frank Castellano Led Captain Phillips Rescue From Somali Pirates

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As the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization, the Knights of Columbus boasts 1.8 million members who strive to perform all good works as led by their four core principles- charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. As loyal servants to the core principles, many Knights are called to the service of their country through the branches of the military, such as Captain Francis X. Castellano of the U.S. Navy. Here, learn about Captain Frank, the real-life Knight who saved Captain Philips from the Somali Pirates, as portrayed in the movie Captain Philips.

Join us for the broadcast of this year’s gathering of the 132nd Supreme Convention live from Orlando, Florida, August 5-7, 2014. Throughout our broadcast, we’ll highlight initiatives of the Knights in the last year and offer documentaries that explore not only The Knights, but our faith. Find out more here.

 

Papal Greeting conveyed at 132nd Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus

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Here is Pope Francis’ greeting conveyed to the 132nd Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in Orlando, Florida on August 5, 2014:

His Holiness Pope Francis was pleased to learn that from 5 to 7 August 2014 the 132nd Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus will be held in Orlando, Florida. He has asked me to convey his warm greetings to all those in attendance, together with the assurance of his closeness in prayer.

The theme of this year’s Supreme Convention — You Will All Be Brothers: Our Vocation to Fraternity — is one particularly close to the Holy Father’s heart. Faith teaches us that, created in the image and likeness of the triune God and redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice of atonement, the Church is called to be a community of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another and serve as a leaven of reconciliation and unity for the whole human family. In the complex social and ecclesial situation of late nineteenth century America, this vocation found particular expression in principles of faith, fraternity and service which guided the establishment of the Knights of Columbus. The fidelity of the Knights to these high ideals has not only ensured the continued vitality of your Order, but has also contributed, and continues to contribute, to the mission of the Church at every level and, in particular, to the universal ministry of the Apostolic See. For this, His Holiness is profoundly grateful.

Just as faith is shaped by charity and bears fruit in good works, so the fraternal spirit inculcated by Father Michael McGivney and the first Knights of Columbus continues to be fruitful in the numerous charitable activities of the local Councils which, while meeting the needs of individuals, also build up communities in solidarity and concern for the common good. Conscious of the sacrifice which this great outpouring of charity entails, His Holiness is confident that the Knights will continue to draw inspiration from the teaching and example of Christ in order to reach out to others, especially the poor and disadvantaged, with heartfelt empathy. If service is the soul of that fraternity which builds up peace (Message for the 2014 World Day of Peace, 10), then every charitable work carried out by your Order should be a reflection of the love of Christ, alive and at work in the communion of his body, the Church. By dwelling in that love, we come to see those whom we serve as brothers and sisters; we respect their innate dignity, and we venerate Jesus present in them (cf. Mt 25:40). Jesus assures us that in giving we also receive (cf. Lk 6:38); our works of charity thus become a source of spiritual enrichment, for they open our hearts to a transforming encounter with the Lord.

As the distinguished history of your Order clearly shows, the call to fraternity also finds fruitful expression in the virtue of patriotism and in an active commitment to the growth of an ever more harmonious and just society. His Holiness is grateful for the active role played by the Knights to resist efforts to restrict religion to the purely personal sphere, to defend its proper place in the public square and to encourage the lay faithful in their mission of shaping a society which reflects the truth of Christ and the values of his Kingdom. As he made clear in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, “the earth is our common home, and all of us are brothers and sisters”; consequently, “no one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal or national life, without concern for the soundness of civil institutions, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society” (No. 183).

Of particular concern in this regard are the well-known and growing threats to the integrity of marriage and the family. These call not only for vigilance and a consistent public witness, but also for convincing presentations of Christian moral teaching in the light of a sound anthropological vision centered on human dignity and the correct use of our God-given freedom. The Holy Father is grateful for the efforts of your Order to provide its members with ongoing instruction in the faith and to instill a strong sense of civic responsibility. He is likewise appreciative of the support which the Knights have given to such important ecclesial initiatives as the forthcoming Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops, which will treat pastoral challenges facing the family, and the World Meeting of Families to be held next year in Philadelphia. For the family is the ultimate teacher of that fraternity which unites and builds society on the firm foundations of mutual respect, justice, mercy and truth.

With these sentiments His Holiness commends the deliberations of the 132nd Supreme Convention to the loving prayers of Mary, Mother of the Church. Assuring the members of the Supreme Council, and all the Knights and their families, of a grateful remembrance in his prayers, he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Please accept my own prayerful good wishes for the occasion.

Yours sincerely,

+ Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State

 

 

KofC 132nd Supreme Convention Opening Mass Homily

 

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Below is Most Reverend John G. Noonan, Bishop of Orlando’s , opening mass homily delivered August 5, 2014 at the Knights of Columbus 132nd Supreme Convention:

Today the 5th of August marks the dedication of Rome’s first Marian Basilica; it is said that Mary signaled her choice of the churches site with an August snowfall. Today we come together to open the 132nd Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus. We open in prayer and thanksgiving to God and our Blessed Mother, Mary. I welcome my brother bishops and priests; Supreme Officers and Supreme Directors; brother knights their wives and family to Orlando.

These past few months have been difficult and I am reminded by these words, “These are the times that try men’s souls” words written by Thomas Paine during the American revolutionary war. These words may ring true today to summarize the state of our world. The first reading from the book of the prophet Jeremiah we hear a similar cry. God asks Jeremiah to list the sins of the people. Despite this long list of sins, God still offers them hope “you shall be my People and I shall be your God.” The Church, the world and society face many challenges today and in the future. The Church’s moral and spiritual teaching and its role in society is been questioned; some ask: Is there a need for God in our world? People’s behavior is no longer influenced by any standard or moral code. Politics is gridlocked in extreme liberal and conservative points of view. Greed has led to economic turmoil; people losing their homes and their financial security. Hatred, lack of respect for human life has brought wars and violence. Hunger and poverty have brought disease and famine. Marriage and family values are been questioned. Human life itself is dehumanized. These are the challenges we face today and we ask — what will the future be like?

In all this doom and gloom, Jeremiah reminds us of God’s unconditional love. The challenges we are facing are whether we are willing to recognize God in our lives and are we willing to have a relationship with Him. Along comes a man named Jorge Mario Bergoglio who becomes Pope Francis. He captures the world with his humility and simplicity. Riding on the bus with the other cardinals after his election; paying his hotel bill; riding around in a Ford Focus.

In his first message to the world, he is telling us not to view the world with fear but with the joy of the Gospel. Pope Francis challenges us to let God into our lives. He illustrates this by telling us that the moon has no lights, but we have to be like the moon, because the moon reflects the light of the sun just as we must reflect the love of Christ in our lives.

In Matthew’s Gospel we hear Jesus coming to the aid of the disciples in the boat. Jesus walking on the water tells the scared disciples, “take courage (heart), it is I, do not be afraid” Jesus encounters Peter’s faith or lack of faith. Peter asks “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water,” Jesus simply replies “Come” but Peter relies too much on his own resources so he becomes fearful and begins to sink and cries out, “Lord save me.” Jesus reminds him and you and me “O you of little faith, why did you doubt.”

Pope Francis reminds us that fear will always be interwoven with our hopes. We need to discern not only our hopes but also our fear, that our fears will not overcome our hopes and leave us in doubt. The joy of the Gospel is a gift of the Holy Spirit it is in our relationship with Christ that we overcome all fears and doubts. In Sunday’s readings we heard that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” The joy we experience in a relationship with Jesus Christ is more than a simple enthusiasm; it is forged into our lives in our surrender and ultimate trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus challenges Peter to receive Jesus’ unconditional love. Peter finally accepts Jesus’ love when asked three times “Do You Love Me.” It is then that Peter finally recognizes and surrenders to Christ’s love. We too are challenged by the trials and tribulations of life; are we too busy or too self-confident to answer Jesus question “do you love me?

KofC, Denver Broncos, Catholic Athletes and Coats for Kids Provide Coats for Kids

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1.8 million men compose the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization, the Knights of Columbus. They strive to perform all good works as led by their four core principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. In conjunction with the Denver Broncos ,Catholic Athletes for Christ and the Coats for Kids Foundation, the Knights provided warm winter coats for kids in Colorado.

Join us for the broadcast of this year’s gathering of the 132nd Supreme Convention live from Orlando, Florida, August 5-7, 2014. Throughout our broadcast, we’ll highlight initiatives of the Knights in the last year and offer documentaries that explore not only The Knights, but our faith. Find out more here.

Notre Dame Knights of Columbus Support Boston Marathon Bombing Victims

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The Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization, is currently comprised of 1.8 million members in 15,000 councils world-wide. In addition to councils based out of local churches, the Knights of Columbus also have councils based out of Catholic colleges and universities. Here the Knights of Columbus council #1477 from the University of Notre Dame supports the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings through pregame football steak sales.

Join us for the broadcast of this year’s gathering of the 132nd Supreme Convention live from Orlando, Florida, August 5-7, 2014. Throughout our broadcast, we’ll highlight initiatives of the Knights in the last year and offer documentaries that explore not only The Knights, but our faith. Find out more here