Pope Francis met with Patrick E. Kelly, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, on Monday.
The pope received the chief executive officer of the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization on Oct. 25, along with supreme chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, and former supreme knight Carl A. Anderson.
Photographs released by the Vatican showed Kelly, who took office on March 1, with a relic of Fr. Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, who was beatified on Oct. 31, 2020.
Pope Francis held the golden reliquary and venerated it.
The photos also showed the pope touching an icon of St. Joseph, the subject of a 60-minute documentary released by the Knights to mark the Year of St. Joseph.
Kelly is the 14th Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, succeeding Anderson, who served in the role from 2000 to 2021.
Married with three daughters, Kelly served in the United States Navy for 24 years. He was also a senior adviser to the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom at the U.S. State Department.
Kelly was the first executive director of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., overseeing the facility’s renewal after the Knights purchased it in 2011.
As vice president for public policy for 11 years, he oversaw the Knights’ connections with the White House, U.S. Congress, and federal agencies.
He served as Deputy Supreme Knight from 2017 until Feb. 28 this year.
In September, Kelly visited the Holy See Mission to the United Nations in New York with his wife, Vanessa. He had served as a legal intern at the Holy See Mission in the summer of 2001.
Blessed Michael McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 in New Haven, Connecticut. The organization, dedicated to the principles of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism, has more than two million members in 16,000 councils worldwide.
In 2020, members performed more than 77 million reported service hours and gave over $187 million for charitable causes.
The Knights of Columbus present the pope with an annual donation to support his personal charities through the Vicarius Christi Fund. It donated more than $57 million in earnings between the fund's creation in 1981 and 2017.
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Pope Francis praised the Knights’ charitable work in a February 2020 address to the board of directors.
“Since its foundation, the Knights of Columbus has demonstrated its unswerving devotion to the Successor of Peter,” he said.
“The establishment of the Vicarius Christi Fund is a testimony to this devotion, as well as to the desire of the Knights to share in the pope’s solicitude for all the Churches and in his universal mission of charity.”
“In our world, marked by divisions and inequalities, the generous commitment of your order to serve all in need offers, especially to young people, an important inspiration to overcome a globalization of indifference and build together a more just and inclusive society.”
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Patrick E. Kelly will be the next Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, the largest Catholic men’s fraternity in the world. He succeeds outgoing Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, who stressed Kelly’s diplomatic and military background and his long service with the Knights, including leading their response to the coronavirus epidemic.