“Patrick has dedicated his life in service to the Church, his country, and the Knights of Columbus,” said Anderson. “He has served as Deputy Supreme Knight for four years and is a well-rounded public servant with diplomatic and military experience. He is ideally suited to carry on the work of the Knights of Columbus as we enter a new era, faithful to our principles of charity, unity and fraternity, and in close collaboration with the Holy See and the bishops throughout the world.”
“Most recently, Patrick led the Knights’ grassroots response to the COVID-19 pandemic titled ‘Leave No Neighbor Behind’,” Anderson continued. “Through this initiative, brother Knights around the world are serving those isolated and alone in quarantine, supporting food banks and blood centers in need of vital supplies, and providing other essential services. Patrick has the experience and strong faith necessary to lead the Knights into the future.”
Kelly joined the Knights of Columbus in 1983 as a university student in Wisconsin. He has a law degree from Marquette University Law School and a master’s in theological studies from the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family at The Catholic University of America. He spent over 20 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Captain from the Judge Advocate General’s Corps Reserve. He specialized in international and operational law and was Commanding Officer of the international law unit at the Naval War College.
He has served as an advisor to the Department of Justice and to Congress, including work as the legislative counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He was a senior advisor to the Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom at the U.S. State Department. In that role, he was the State Department’s principal interlocutor with the Holy See and other countries on issues of religious freedom. He also helped provide policy guidance on religious freedom in Iraq, Iran and Israel, according to his biography at The Catholic University of America’s Center for the Study of Statesmanship, where he has served on the Council of Advisors.
In 2006 Kelly was named vice president for public policy of the Knights of Columbus. He has been an executive director for the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., and he served as State Deputy of the District of Columbia from 2012-2013. In 2013 he was elected to the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors and in January 2017 he was elected Deputy Supreme Knight. In that position, he played a leading role in the Knights’ international religious freedom efforts, its pro-life ultrasound initiative, and in developing the fraternal order’s new public initiation ceremony.
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He will be the 14th Supreme Knight on March 1.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, said he has worked with Kelly for over a decade.
“Patrick Kelly is a devoted husband, father of three young daughters, and a man of deep faith with many years of experience as a public servant,” Lori said. “He possesses the knowledge, experience and commitment necessary to carry the Order forward in service to our brother Knights, their families, our parishes, and our communities.”