Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly has a plan to deepen the faith lives of Catholic men

Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly. | Credit: Photo courtesy of the Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal service organization, is setting its sights on the souls of men.

In an exclusive interview with CNA on Aug. 2, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly talked about new Knights of Columbus programs he said will deepen the faith lives and spirituality of Catholic men across the country.

Kelly, speaking from the Knights’ 141st Supreme Convention at Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida, said that in today’s society, Catholic laymen are facing challenges previous generations didn’t face. The new initiatives, he said, can help them deepen their spiritual lives and find authentic Catholic brotherhood.

“We no longer live in a culture of Christendom,” Kelly said. “So, as Christians, we’re often swimming against the tide.”

In this post-Christian society, Kelly said it’s important for men to be regularly strengthened by their brothers in Christ.

“What we’re trying to do,” Kelly continued, “is give men a grounding in their faith so they can be better husbands and better fathers and better Catholics.”

‘Cor’: at the heart of the faith

As supreme Knight, Kelly, who was elected head of the 2-million-member Knights of Columbus in 2021, has begun several initiatives he believes will help the Knights continue forming men and families in the faith for years to come.

Chief among these is “Cor,” which Kelly believes “is the future for the Knights of Columbus.”

Cor, which is Latin for “heart,” is a program open to all Catholic men, including non-Knights. The program invites men to delve even more deeply and intensely into their faith lives and relationships with Christ.

“What we’re trying to do with this Cor initiative is to really give men a grounding in their faith so they can be better husbands and better fathers and better Catholics,” Kelly explained.

A central piece of the Cor initiative, Kelly said, is the men’s Bible study, “Men of the Word.”

“We surveyed to try to find a men’s Bible study,” Kelly said. “It was really interesting; we had a very hard time finding one. There’s a lot of Bible studies for women, but there aren’t very many for men. So, what we decided to do was to produce our own.”

According to the Knights’ website, the Men of the Word study will invite Cor participants “to take up the ‘sword of the Spirit’ and rediscover the power of Scripture.”

“In many ways, it’s a challenging time, but it’s also a great time to be a Catholic and to be a Catholic man,” Kelly said. “Men have an innate desire for a life of mission, a life of meaning and mission. And I think to the extent that the Knights can work with the Church and provide that mission, we really give men a sense of who they are and a sense of fulfillment.”

Young Knights

The past year has been a great year for recruiting new Knights of Columbus, according to Kelly.

More in US

Kelly, who joined the Knights at age 19 while he was in college, said that reaching more young men remains a “huge priority” for the order.

“It’s hard to be Catholic on a college campus these days,” Kelly added. “It’s very, very important because a lot of our young people get talked out of the faith while they’re in college.”

“We, the Knights,” Kelly said, “want to do something to keep them in the faith, for they understand that being Catholic is something really important and you’re giving your life to something very meaningful, you’re embracing a life that has tremendous meaning to it.”

When it comes to young Knights, Kelly said that “many young people are attracted to the Knights because of the charity that we do.”

“I think a lot of millennials and younger people are very attracted to serving others, and that’s something that the Knights of Columbus provide,” he said. “So, we are seeing very good signs of growth among younger men.”

Defending life

Among all the Knights’ charity work, Kelly said that pro-life work is central to the work of the Knights of Columbus.

(Story continues below)

Since the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the Knights have redoubled their efforts to protect life from abortion. The Knights have donated more than 1,700 ultrasound machines to pregnancy centers across the country and raised $6 million for local pregnancy resource centers in the last year through their Aid and Support After Pregnancy (ASAP) initiative.

Kelly said that pregnancy centers are “where the real rubber meets the road on the pro-life issue.”

“The young, vulnerable mother who’s pregnant, she needs help,” Kelly said. “She can get that help from these fabulous pregnancy centers around the country that can provide her with counseling, assistance, and material aid. So, the Knights, we try to be right there with the pregnancy centers and maternity homes.”

Though they have not officially set a new fundraising goal for ASAP, Kelly said that they “would like to do $5 million every year to pregnancy centers.”

As legislative battles over abortion rage in states across the country, Kelly said that the Knights are just as committed as ever to defending the unborn through “get out the vote” campaigns as well as state and national marches.

Special efforts to raise awareness about the sanctity of life are being made in Ohio, where a state constitutional amendment to enshrine abortion into law will be on the ballot this November.

‘Men have a duty to protect’

Addressing more than 2,000 Knights of Columbus on Aug. 1 at the order’s 141st Supreme Convention, Kelly urged the assembled to stand strong as men of faith amid new challenges facing the Catholic Church today.

In his speech to Knights, along with several cardinals, bishops, priests, and religious at the Supreme Convention, Kelly emphasized the need for Catholic men to be firmly rooted in their faith.

In the face of what he called “new anti-Catholic bigotry,” Kelly said that Catholic men “have a duty to protect families,” most especially the widowed and orphaned.

As he said in his address, Kelly said that the Knights’ mission to strengthen men in Christian brotherhood is especially important given renewed and recent attacks on the faith.

“Where we are as a culture, it’s so important that men understand their faith and that they’re able to pass it on to their children,” Kelly said. “It’s important for the Church, it’s important for Catholic families that men know their faith.”

Our mission is the truth. Join us!

Your monthly donation will help our team continue reporting the truth, with fairness, integrity, and fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Church.