.- Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington D.C., encouraged the Knights of Columbus to promote the New Evangelization âin the midst of this much secularized worldâ as he delivered the homily today for the opening Mass of the 128th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The Mass, presided over by Archbishop Wuerl, was attended by eight cardinals, including Francis George, president of the USCCB; Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, Cuba; and Gaudencio Rosales of Manila, Philippines. Seventy-eight bishops and more than 200 priests also concelebrated at the Mass.
During his homily, Archbishop Wuerl recalled that Pope John Paul II âcalled the Church to a new evangelization. At the beginning of his pontificate more than 30 years ago, he encouraged Catholics with the words âdo not be afraid.â âPope Benedict XVI used the same words as he assumed his responsibilities five years ago in April 2005 at the beginning of his Petrine ministry, 'Do not be afraid!'â
âThese words, taken from todayâs Gospel, have become the staple of the new evangelization,â Archbishop Wuerl noted, adding that âOur Holy Father challenges us to experience Jesus personally and then to become heralds to others of that personal encounter with Jesus.â
The Archbishop of Washington then said that in Our Lady of Guadalupe, âPatroness and Queen of America, we see the model of our own mission of evangelization,â since â(o)ur task begins with the understanding that all of us are called to be instruments of the manifestation of Maryâs son, Jesus.â
âAt this time it is you, it is I, who are asked to invite people to come to know Jesus â¦ we are the ones who have to be witnesses by our words and deeds â¦ and we need not to fear the mission of stepping out into this world, as secular as it may be.â
Later in his homily, explaining the theme of this yearâs Supreme Convention, âI am my Brotherâs Keeper,â Archbishop Wuerl said that it references the fact that âGodâs love manifested in Christ is supposed to be reflected in our care for one another and all human beings.â
Speaking about the charism imprinted in the Knights of Columbus by their founder, Servant of God Father Michael J. McGivney, the Archbishop Wuerl underscored that âthe very origins of our order are connected to the witness of charity.â
He then praised the Knights for their âlongstanding commitment for the good of the Church and the nation,â including their nationwide charitable activities and volunteer work, service to the community, to the Gospel of life, the family, the true definition of marriage and the promotion of vocations in the Church.
âFather McGivney did not hesitate to step out onto the water ... Look around this basilica and see the fruit of his commitment. I have long held that the real miracle of Father McGivney is the growth of his order, now embracing a growing number of nations,â said Archbishop Wuerl as he surveyed the basilica, packed with more than 2,000 Knights from the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Poland, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and other countries.
He also praised the Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, âfor continuing and consolidating the Knightsâ tradition.â âI continuously marvel at the Supreme Knightâs final report showing how the Knights are living witnesses to the call to be our brotherâs keeper,â Archbishop Wuerl remarked.
âWhat we lift up at this Supreme Convention â the works of charity and service of the Knights of Columbus throughout the world â is truly a celebration of our Catholic identity and a fruit of Our Ladyâs visit to America,â the archbishop said.
Turning back to the contemporary culture, Archbishop Wuerl said, âOur mission as Jesusâ witnesses takes place in a world profoundly in need of a New Evangelization. The threads of an encounter with the living Lord and the love that he brings into this world need to be woven once again into the fabric of our culture, of our society, our nation and our world. This, Christ and his Church entrust to us today.â
âWe are our brother's keeper! in wild contradiction to all the other lifestyles, options and opinions, we are to be champions of the New Evangelization â¦ to be a living, effective sign of the Risen Christ in this highly secular world, in which we are still called to âwalk on the waterâ,â knowing that Jesus âis there saying âdonât be afraid, donât doubtâ.â
Archbishop Wuerl finished the homily by praying to Our Lady of Guadalupe, asking her to âallow us to be ministers of the New Evangelization, our brother's keeper.â
The 128th Supreme Convention is being held in Washington, D.C., August 3-5. The nationâs capital previously hosted Supreme Conventions in 1932, 1985, 1993 and 2003.