“We live in a time of bigotry and intolerance. Key truths — about life, marriage, the nature of the family, and the meaning of freedom — are increasingly denied and even vilified. Yet, this makes our commitment to truth all the more important. Now is the time to inspire our fellow Catholics to stand for what’s right. St. Joseph is our guide. Let us pray for his intercession. And let us make his creative courage our own, for the sake of the family, and the truth.”
Kelly said the Knights will continue to be a sign of unity by standing for the truth.
“I have long admired the Order’s impact on men. As a Navy JAG officer for many years, I saw young men who had the courage to serve their country, but who nonetheless made poor decisions and got into trouble. My job was to represent them at courts-martial. Many lacked strong families or strong father figures. And too few had a living and real faith. This made a lasting impression on me and I came to appreciate that one of the best things about the Knights is that we can help fill this void.”
Kelly said that the truth is grounded in the Eucharist, and said the Knights are called to have a special reverence for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Kelly announced that the Knights are and will continue to be major sponsors of the US bishops’ planned Eucharistic revival, set to take place over the next few years.
“As supreme knight, I will prioritize new initiatives to strengthen the faith of men, and the faith of our families. I firmly believe that, more and more, our success as an Order will be judged by this standard,” he said.
“Our growth depends on empowering men to be the husbands and fathers that God wants us to be. It is harder than ever, and for that reason, we must push forward as never before. It will require creative courage.”
In the past year, the Knights have provided more than $150 million in donations and more than 47 million hours of hands-on volunteer service, he said.
Some notable charitable projects include support for Special Olympics, scholarships for seminarians, and funds to rebuild churches in the Middle East and other aid for persecuted Christians both there and in countries like Nigeria.
In addition to financial aid, the Knights of Columbus have in the past advocated for persecuted Christians before the U.S. government, sending researchers to Iraq in 2016 to compile a 300-page report on the crimes of the Islamic State against Christians in the country.
The Knights announced a new initiative in mid-2020 to report on Christian persecution in Nigeria, where at least 60,000 Christians have been killed in the past two decades. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and the demographics overall are almost evenly split between Christians and Muslims.
The Knights are also working on a shrine to St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Gallup, New Mexico, and in July, Knights in South Dakota led a pilgrimage to the burial site of Servant of God Nicholas Black Elk, a revered Lakota medicine man and Catholic.
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In discussing the Knights’ charitable work, Kelly focused strongly on the Knights’ response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“This was not our first pandemic. Father McGivney died during a pandemic less than a decade after our founding. A century ago, the Knights of Columbus confronted the Spanish Flu and emerged even stronger,” Kelly noted.
“This pandemic will be no different. Our duty was clear from the start. When loss and suffering struck our parishes and communities, the Knights responded, with service and sacrifice.”
In sum, Knights donated nearly $7.7 million to community and parish projects, Kelly said, as well as 1.2 million pounds of food, and almost a quarter million pints of blood. Through the Knights’ life insurance programs, the organization paid more than $524 million in death benefits, of which approximately $35 million was related to COVID.
Kelly highlighted several projects undertaken by local chapters during the pandemic, including donations to the Little Sisters of the Poor, and donations of truckloads of food worth more than $335,000 to the Acoma, Navajo, and Zuni nations in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.
He also highlighted the Knights’ pro-life activities, including sponsoring numerous Marches for Life across North America. Kelly also highlighted the Knights’ Ultrasound Initiative, which since 2009 has placed more than 1,400 ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers.