Dear Brother Knights of Saskatchewan,
I write this message as Pat and I drive home from the Sask. State Organizational meeting that was held in Yorkton, Sask. July 12-14, 2019.
I am fortunate that my wife Pat is the chauffeur and I can catch up on my emails, catch up on phone calls, and conduct the business of the Sask. State Council from my second office, the passenger seat of our car. It is close to 7 hours from Yorkton to Meadow Lake so it is like spending a day in the office.
It was a very good Organizational meeting which will set the tone for the year ahead, and the DDs will soon be contacting all councils to attend District meetings to bring important information to officers and members at the council level. It is important to attend these meetings to get current information and training for the year ahead. I encourage as many members and officers to attend as possible so that council officers can be accountable to their membership and to their parishes. It is at these meetings that council officers can become aware of the new initiatives in programming, membership, and how to work more effectively with our priests in our parishes.
This past weekend, during the Organizational Meeting, was also the 100th Anniversary of Yorkton Council #2031. On behalf of Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, the Supreme Officers, the Board of Directors, and the 1.9 Million Knights of our Order, I was honored to extend greetings and best wishes to the members of Yorkton Council #2031 and their families as they celebrated the 100th Anniversary of their council which was instituted in Yorkton on July 13, 1919- exactly 100 years ago. The founding members of Yorkton Council 2031 dedicated themselves to establishing in Yorkton the principles of Charity, Unity, Fraternity and Patriotism, the Foundation stones of our Order laid by our Founder, the Venerable Michael McGivney. Those dedicated men did their job well. They built a strong Foundation and they made a difference in the church and in the community.
The council they established which today is 167 members strong is still doing the job. The council members have a proud heritage and much to celebrate. Surely Father McGivney would be proud of his knights in Yorkton.
However, an even brighter future with even greater opportunities lies ahead. It is within our power to launch a Golden Age of Columbianism right here in Yorkton and in all of Saskatchewan and the time is now to do just that.
The challenge today for all of us is to rededicate and commit ourselves to strive for even greater accomplishments. No organization offers a Catholic man and his family so much for so little. Would it not be wrong to deny those same opportunities to others and to renew the Order with younger members and to strive to reach every eligible Catholic man in our ethnically rich and diverse church?
For that reason today, I challenge all councils in Saskatchewan to build on the foundation stones laid down by our forefathers in so many communities in Saskatchewan.
I also challenge each council to work on the following initiatives in the next month:
- Encourage as many of your council members as possible to attend a training session if it is held in your area. The information has been sent to you about times and places.
- Don’t shut down for the summer- hold some fun, family parish activities during the summer. God is with us during the summer and we should be with Him, in our churches doing His will and working with our pastor to hold some family faith activities each and every month.
- Hold a church drive during July or August- membership activities should also be held year-round including July and August.
- Meet with your pastor asap to ask him how the knights can assist in the parish.
- Many priests will be moving to new locations and the knights should be there to assist their priest to move to his new parish as well as to be the first group of parishioners to be there to meet the new priest when he arrives.
- The executive and the four main activity chairmen (Faith, Family, Community, and Life) as well the membership team should meet asap to develop a yearly plan in both programming and membership. The parish priest should be involved in the meeting and have input into what he would like the knights to do in the parish. This year, we will also implement the Faith in Action Programs
- Complete all necessary paperwork—Forms 185, 365, and the semi-annual audit for the period ending June 30th, 2019.
- Appoint committees: Admissions Committee, Retention Committee.-Also a Vocations Committee to conduct the February Vocations Endowment Campaign as well as one additional project in support of Vocations.
- Check the new roster to be sure that the council information is correct and notify executive secretary Gerry Gieni if updates are necessary.
Last year was a very good year for Sask. Two excellent major programs in which over 90% of our councils participated were the Vocations Endowment Campaign and the Conscience Protection Campaign. Thank you to all those who participated and assisted.
Saskatchewan is #1 in Canada and will be awarded the Membership Canada Cup to keep for 1 year to travel the province for celebrations and photo opportunities. We will begin to bring the Canada Cup to Sask. councils after August 10th.
With the help of many dedicated and committed knights who worked hard on membership and programming, we will be awarded Circle of Honor and ended up 4th in the Order.
We will also receive around $6,500.00 US for our recruiting efforts; these funds will go directly back to the members and councils in incentives for recruiting.
However, there is still much work to do in Saskatchewan. We have not completed our task.
Many of our councils are struggling to survive and we have work to do to assist our brothers in those councils. We have some work to do in offering all of our members value in belonging and to want to belong and pay their dues. Councils need to do a little extra to be extraordinary organizations within their parishes- a council that all Knights want to be part of.
Our membership is made up of mostly older members, although the bright side is that our average age last year dropped from 63.5 to 60.1. We need to continue to recruit younger members.
Another crisis we are facing is that 33% of Catholics, mostly young adults, are questioning their faith in the Catholic Church.
The question we need to think about is, “How do we rectify some of these issues?”
First and foremost, we need to have all hands on deck to make the sacrifice to defend our church and our values. We cannot allow Christian values to be destroyed and not expect some consequences. If we don’t stand up, who will?
Can the bishops and priests count on the knights of Columbus to defend our church and help evangelize our parishes?
Secondly, each district and each council needs to set goals to have something to aim for and to have its members rally behind something.
One thing we can all rally behind is our faith. We need to tap into the spiritual heritage that our Founder Father McGivney left us, our principles, the gospel values, and our ethical benefit programs to protect our families.
The knights need to become an evangelizing engine in the midst of our parishes. The Faith in Action programs allow us to partner with our Bishops and Parish Priests to transform our councils and parishes to become fully alive and full of enthusiasm.
Are we going to take up the challenge to be the leaders who will motivate and empower the council members to have an outstanding year?
In conclusion, I want to thank all of you- the Councils, the DDs, the SPDs and chairmen, the State Officers, the Agency, the Charitable Foundation Members, Supreme, Our State Chaplain Bishop Bryan, Associate State Chaplain Father Ed. All of our bishops and priests, the 4th Degree, our ladies and especially the council officers and members at the grassroots level for your support, your dedication and your contribution to the Order.
Let us continue our mission of Charity and of Evangelization.
Let us place our Jurisdiction in the hands and protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
And let us work together as a team to have another great Columbian year.