A day without the Knights of Columbus

Imagine a world where a young man rolls out of bed to the street on a gray winter morning. He walks by a shop in the neighborhood and catches a glimpse of a TV through an old window, showing an image of the Pope. Yet what catches his attention is the fact that the so-called beautiful St. Peter’s Basilica behind him doesn’t really look like something to be proud of; it looks more green than white. Then he sees a Middle Eastern Christian family begging for help, saying they were alone and desperate in a city still devastated.

This young man was living in what a world without the Knights of Columbus.

The image sets a tone for the state in which the Church and many neighborhoods and families could be if the Knights of Columbus didn’t carry out the work they do. They are often the unseen force that has made God’s voice audible in the poor, widows, children, nation and Church.

It was the Knights who funded the greatest restoration of the 65,000-square-foot façade of St. Peter’s Basilica in 350 years. It was the Knights who fought until the phrase “under God” was included in the pledge of allegiance in response to the Communist threat of the time. It was them who helped dozens of priests and seminarians during the Mexican Cristero War and the Ku Klux Klan attacks in the last century.

It is them who still help thousands of priests cover the cost of formation, give winter clothes to children, help persecuted Christians, respond incredibly to natural disasters, provide top-rated insurance, save unborn children by providing free ultrasounds…

These same Knights of Columbus are still in our midst, transforming our culture through education, advancing and sustaining our parishes, giving wheelchairs to families in need, consistently serving in the Special Olympics, building homes, accompanying veterans, college students and children…

The over $1.5 billion this Catholic fraternal organization has given to charity in the past 10 years and the impressive number of services it provides are the fruits of these great men from all over the world, of these great and simple men at your parish – the same ones who enjoy grilling and sell Tootsie Rolls outside a grocery store.

They make this possible. So, next time you see a Knight, make sure you tell him, “Thank you, Sir Knight.”

COMING UP: Knights aim to practice faith, charity

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

Julie Filby

Charles “Chuck” Page, state deputy

During his tenure as state deputy for the Colorado Knights of Columbus, Charles “Chuck” Page will continue to encourage the membership, as well as the extended Catholic community, to “be not afraid.” The main theme we’re using right now is ‘Be not afraid, become one in the spirit,'” Page, a member of St. Patrick Council 9993 in Colorado Springs told the Denver Catholic Register. “We shouldn’t be afraid to practice our faith; and when you look at faith, it’s all about charity.”

Charity is the main principle for the Knights of Columbus, he said, along with unity, fraternity and patriotism. Page, who began his two-year tenure as state deputy last July, hopes to build on the charitable history of the men’s organization.

“We gain our knowledge through the Holy Spirit,” he said. “You learn to use that knowledge in the community and be visible.”

More than 17,000-plus Knights in 146 councils in Colorado—including new councils in Mead and Erie—are visible in many ways including pro-life efforts such as the Ultrasound Initiative Program, by supporting “men in uniform” through the Military Chaplain Scholarship, assisting people with disabilities through fundraisers such as Tootsie Roll drives; and helping with state disaster relief efforts through Coats for Kids, food vouchers and as Second Responders (see sidebar for details). Knights are visible in parish life in countless ways such as Masses, prayer vigils, Lenten fish fries, social events, food drives and pantries, and serving youths, among many other ministries.

They exhibit the service and dedication described in a quote Page regularly shares from Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, before he was selected pope last year:

“Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask,” Bergoglio said. “Become the Word in body as well as spirit.”

“I think what it comes down to is the feeling you get at the end of each day if you can say: ‘Today I performed an act of charity toward others,” Page said. “It’s that feeling you get when you help someone, do something to help someone long-term, or plant seeds to help others practice their faith through their actions.”

The Knights in Colorado have continued to plant seeds and grow steadily—currently at 17,111 members, up from 16,821 last year. Page hopes to see membership grow.

“The more we grow,” he said, “the more we can do.”

It just takes one person, one act, he added, to grow the faith.

“When Father McGivney was trying to build the order, he was trying to build a community of support,” Page said. “He was really ahead of his time as far as involving the laity in the life of the Church.”

Father Michael J. McGivney established the fraternal organization for men in 1882 in New Haven, Conn. Today it has grown to more than 14,000 councils and 1.8 million members in the United States and around the world.

For more information on Knights of Columbus in Colorado, visit www.coloradokofc.org or call your parish.

Colorado Knights’ charity
Below are updates on some of the Knights’ priority initiatives on a state level during the last year.

Ultrasound Initiative Program – Since 2009 eight ultrasound machines have been placed at pregnancy centers in Colorado, including a portable one in the Diocese of Colorado Springs. The Knights are close to adding three more in towns in the Diocese of Pueblo (La Junta, Westcliffe and Montrose) to help serve pregnant women in more rural areas. While costs vary, machines can cost up to $40,000.

Military Chaplain Scholarship – The campaign to support priestly vocations in the military began in 2012. The Colorado program pledged to raise $200,000 a year for five years to support men seeking to become Catholic military chaplains. So far, they have collected $12,000 this year.

Partnership with Special Olympics – Knights statewide have raised $188,000 from Tootsie Roll drives and other activities to support the Special Olympics, and other programs for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. A donation was made to each Colorado diocese to support people with disabilities: Denver $10,500; Colorado Springs $9,000 and Pueblo $8,500.

Coats for Kids and disaster relief efforts – This year’s Coats for Kids efforts were combined with disaster relief efforts in Greeley and Longmont following Front Range flooding last September. The Knights donated more than 1,600 coats, as well as funds to Catholic Charities to provide food vouchers and other assistance to flood victims. Knights’ councils mobilized during floods and wildfires to assist first responders, as part of a national Second Responders’ initiative being rolled out across the country.