Knights aim to practice faith, charity

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.

COMING UP: A man for strengthening others

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When the choirs of angels led Father Paul Mankowski, SJ, into the Father’s House on September 3, I hope the seraphic choirmaster chose music appropriate to the occasion.  Had I been asked, I would have suggested the Latin antiphon Ecce sacerdos magnus as arranged by Anton Bruckner. The all-stops-pulled moments in Bruckner’s composition, deploying organ, brass, and full choir, would have been a perfect match for Paul Mankowski’s rock-solid Catholic faith, his heroic ministry, and his robust literary and oratorical style; the a capella sections, softly sung, mirror the gentleness with which he healed souls. Above all, I would have suggested Bruckner’s motet because Father Mankowski truly was what the antiphon celebrates: “a great priest who in his days pleased  God.”

We were friends for some 30 years and I can say without reservation that I have never met anyone like Paul Mankowski. He was off-the-charts brilliant, an extraordinary linguist and scholar; but he wore his learning lightly and was a tremendous wit. He rarely expressed doubts about anything; but he displayed a great sensitivity to the doubts and confusions of those who had the humility to confess that they were at sea. He could be as fierce as Jeremiah in denouncing injustice and dishonesty; but the compassion he displayed to spiritually wounded fellow-priests and laity, who sought healing through the work of grace at his hands, was just as notable a feature of his personality.

His curriculum vitae was singular. The son of working-class parents, he put himself through the University of Chicago working summers in a steel mill. He did advanced degrees at Oxford and Harvard, becoming the sparring partner of a future Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, at the former, and delving deeply into the mysteries of Semitic philology – unfathomable, to most of his friends – at the latter. He taught at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and was pastor of an English-speaking parish in Amman, Jordan. Wherever he was, he lived like a true ascetic; he was also the best company imaginable at a meal or a party.

He was a writer of genius, although his published bibliography is considerably slimmer than it might have been, thanks to the years when he was silenced or censored by his religious superiors. A good example of his ability to combine keen insight and droll humor is his 1992 dissection of the goings-on at the annual convention of the American Academy of Religion (available here). More recently, Father Mankowski drew on his extensive experience as a confessor and spiritual director to pen, with his superiors’ permission, a respectful but sharp critique of his fellow Jesuit James Martin’s book, Building a Bridge (available here). In the decades between those two pieces, and when permitted to do so, he published essays and reviews on a wide range of topics, including literature, politics, Church affairs, biblical translations and the priesthood, while sharing his private musings with friends in a seemingly endless series of pungent parodies, revised song lyrics, and imagined news stories.

Years ago, his friend Father Richard John Neuhaus dubbed Father Mankowski one of the “Papal Bulls:” Jesuits of a certain generation notable for their intellectually sophisticated and unwavering Catholic orthodoxy, which often got them into hot water of various temperatures (including boiling) with their Ignatian brothers and superiors. Paul Mankowski was no bull, papal or otherwise, in a china shop, though. He relished debate and was courteous in it; what he found off-putting was the unwillingness of Catholic progressives to fight their corner with a frank delineation of their position. This struck him as a form of hypocrisy. And while Father Mankowski, the good shepherd, often brought strays back to the Lord’s flock, he was unsparingly candid about what he perceived as intellectual dishonesty, or what he recently deplored as “ignoble timidity” in facing clerical corruption. Paul Mankowski was not a man of the subjunctive, and he paid the price for it.

He is beyond all that now, and I like to imagine St. Ignatius of Loyola welcoming him to the Father’s House with a hearty “Well done, my son.” In this valley of tears, freshly moistened by those who mourn his untimely death at age 66, Father Paul V. Mankowski, SJ, will be remembered by those of us who loved him as a man and a priest who, remaining faithful to his Jesuit and sacerdotal vocations, became a tower of strength for others. This was a man of God. This was a man, whose courageous manliness reflected his godliness.