Carl Anderson, the head of the Knights of Columbus, will focus his participation at the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the role of families and the laity in the New Evangelization.

"I would hope to make a contribution in both those aspects, the importance of family and the importance of the laity," Anderson told CNA in a Sept. 27 interview.

Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have said "the role of the laity can be decisive in the new evangelization," he recalled.

As for the family, Anderson explained, it is both an "evangelizing subject and object": families can both proclaim the good news, and the gospel is proclaimed to and within the family.

The gathering of 200 bishops, experts and observers from around the globe will take place at the Vatican Oct. 7-28 under the title of "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith."

Anderson was invited to participate in the synod as an auditor by Pope Benedict, which means his primary task is to offer counsel and contribute to the discussions of the synod.

He said the forthcoming gathering is "tremendously important" in the Church's life because "the new evangelization is the way for the Church to move forward …  in Europe and in the Western Hemisphere especially."

Anderson, who has already participated in three synods, described the day to day structure of a Vatican synod as "pretty filled with work." He said the day begins usually with a general session, "in which there are interventions by various members of the hierarchy and experts," with "discussion of various drafts and papers that are presented."

There are then working groups, to which individuals are assigned based on their language abilities. These groups, he explained, offer the opportunity for discussion and "really in-depth analysis of various questions that are presented to the synod."

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After the synod wraps-up, the recommendations and ideas that come out of it are sent to a committee that drafts a working document which is presented to the Pope.

He then writes a post-synodal apostolic exhortation based on his reflection, which "takes into account much of the deliberation of the synod and the work of the bishops who are there."

The Supreme Knight also took time to discuss the role of his fraternal organization in the New Evangelization.

Anderson recalled that Pope Benedict described the Knights as "pioneers in the lay apostolate" in his message to their international convention in August.

"The lay apostolate in our lifetime, I believe, is the New Evangelization; and the New Evangelization is about Christian witness and an authentic Catholic identity," Anderson stated.

"It is about being able to articulate the faith in a convincing way, but equally and perhaps more importantly, living the faith in an authentic and convincing way."

He noted that the Knights have had 130 years' experience doing just that, confidently living out the Christian life and reaching out to the community and parishes to make them "more vibrant."

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Anderson said that "the most important role of the Knights of Columbus will be in the daily activity of our councils, and the work of our 1.8 million members and their families."