Patrick E. Kelly becomes leader of worldwide Catholic fraternity.
At a time when the truth about marriage, the nature of the family, life in the womb, and the meaning of freedom are often denied, the world needs the witness of Knights of Columbus more than ever, said the new Supreme Knight, Patrick E. Kelly.
Kelly and members of his leadership team were formally installed at a meeting of Knights leaders from around the world in New Haven, Connecticut, Friday. Later that day, at St. Mary’s church, the birthplace of the Catholic fraternal organization, he urged members of the 2 million-strong Knights of Columbus to emulate St. Joseph in two key roles: guardian of the family and guardian of the truth.
“I consider it a special honor to accept the office of Supreme Knight during this Year of St. Joseph,” Kelly said in a speech after Mass. “This year is providential for the Knights of Columbus, because there are few things the world needs more right now than men in the mold of St. Joseph. This is a time for men, for leaders who are faithful and virtuous witnesses to Christ and his Church.”
He said that the two roles of St. Joseph both align with the vision of the founder of the Knights, Blessed Michel Joseph McGivney, and “provide a model for how we as Knights must witness to the world.”
As St. Joseph accepted his role in humility from God of Guardian of the Holy Family, knights are also called to lead a life of service and sacrifice for their families, Kelly said.
That is especially true today, when the family faces a “precarious and uncertain future,” he said. “Catholic families are struggling to live out their faith and raise their children amid a culture that is increasingly hostile to our beliefs. Catholic husbands and fathers, especially the fathers of young children, need the encouragement and support of the Knights of Columbus. We can inspire them with the creative courage needed to keep their families strong in the faith. They need our witness and example to guide them in embracing their vocation to heroic generosity and self-sacrifice, for the good of their wives and the good of their children.”
St. Joseph was also a guardian of the truth, he continued. “The truth that Joseph protected had a name: Jesus Christ, who is the truth incarnate,” Kelly explained. “As Knights, we too must serve this truth. This is not easy in our day. As was the case for Blessed Michael McGivney, we live in a time of bigotry and intolerance. Key truths — truths about marriage, about life in the womb, about the nature of the family, and the meaning of freedom — are often denied, and even vilified. Yet, this makes our commitment to the truth all the more important.”
Kelly also led the congregation, largely consisting of the Knights’ supreme officers and state deputies, in the Litany of St. Joseph, consecrating himself and newly installed officers to the protection of St. Joseph. The ritual called to mind Carl A. Anderson’s consecration of the Knights to Our Lady of Guadalupe, when he was installed as Supreme Knight in 2001 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. Past Supreme Knight Anderson, who retired in February, was present for Kelly’s installation.
Kelly, who served as Deputy Supreme Knight under Anderson, took office March 1.
The Mass on June 11 was celebrated by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights. Earlier in the day, at the Organizational Meeting of Knights of Columbus State Deputies, Lori called on the Knights to “be in the forefront” of a national Eucharistic Revival project the bishops of the United States are considering this week at their annual meeting.
In addition to Kelly’s installation, a new Deputy Supreme Knight, Paul G. O’Sullivan, was installed Friday. And, in a historic first for the Knights, Patrick T. Mason, a member of the Osage Nation, was installed as the first Native American supreme secretary.
Kelly also emphasized the importance of Knights assisting their parishes with getting parishioners back to Church following months of pandemic shutdowns.
“Our goal is to get our councils and our parishes back to normal as quickly as possible,” he said. “Nothing is more important right now to fulfilling our mission of strengthening Catholic families, providing for their financial needs and helping the vulnerable. Equally important is serving the Church in this difficult time. Our pastors can count on us to help get their parishioners back in the pews. … The more we dedicate ourselves to Christ in the Eucharist, the more we will be a sign of unity in an age of division and disbelief.”