Yesterday before a funeral I observed a little boy, probably no more than 4 years old interacting with the 4th degree honor guard. He saw them from a distance and waved big. When the Knights waved back, he ran to them as if they were the embodiment of his favorite cartoon characters. He stood in awe of them dressed in full regalia…all smiles. One Knight asked, “Do you want to be a Knight of Columbus one day?” Without hesitation the boy nodded vigorously.
I can’t remember feeling that way as a child. I admit to thinking that their swords were pretty cool, but I didn’t want to be a Knight. My dad was a Knight, though not very active. I knew many good men who were Knights. These men made pancakes and gave out tootsie rolls. That was the extent of my knowledge of the Knights of Columbus during childhood and adolescence.
When I was 18, my stepmother asked me if I wanted to be a Knight. I said no.
And later, as a young, single man I still had no inclination to become a Knight. Not that I was against them, I just didn’t want to be one. I had no idea what it was to be a Knight.
While in seminary, the Knights of Columbus sent financial gifts to me and I was aware of their prayers and encouragement. I was grateful, but I still had no desire to become a Knight. After I was ordained to the priesthood, Knights from our local council kept asking me to join. I reluctantly said yes, thinking that I could just blend into the group without really being active. During this time, I encountered many good men; men who wanted to help people, men who wanted to make a difference in the lives of others; men who share common goals and common beliefs…men who make pancakes and give out tootsie rolls.
It was not until I was assigned to be associate state chaplain and Father Prior for the Kansas Knights of Columbus that I really wanted to be a Knight. What changed? I think I saw and experienced a bigger picture of who the Knights of Columbus are. In a society that is often hostile to men and fearful of healthy masculinity, I found in the Knights strong, good men. In a society that often tells men that they are not needed or wanted, I found men who are needed, appreciated and have a profound effect on the lives of others. These men love their God; they love their Church; they love their wives and children. They love their country. I saw this and I became like that little boy at the funeral yesterday. I am attracted to all that the Knights of Columbus embody. It was always there for me, it just took me a while to want it. (I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box.)
The Knights of Columbus have always been and continue to be a force for building up and preserving the Church, the Body and of Christ. I want to help Knights live what they profess. I want to help the Knights listen to the Holy Spirit and respond to the direction into which God is moving us as we continue to serve Him and his Bride the Church.
It is my hope to encourage our Knights toward growth in their personal relationship with God through daily, personal prayer. I hope to encourage those with broken or weak relationships with their wives and children to forgiveness and healing. I hope to help those who struggle with aspects of the faith to embrace all that is true, good and beautiful…the fullness of our faith. I hope to be a part of men helping men to truly be good men. I want to be a Knight of Columbus. How about you?