By Tony Gutierez
PHOENIX, Ariz. (CNS) – The Knights of Columbus, long associated with swords, capes and chapeaus, will be going through a significant uniform change.
The traditional regalia worn by fourth-degree Knights will be replaced, announced Supreme Knight Carl Anderson Aug. 1, during the international fraternal organization’s 135th annual Supreme Convention in St. Louis, which was livestreamed on EWTN.
Throughout the years, the regalia of the Knights’ fourth degree, known as the patriotic degree, has gone through changes, Anderson said, noting that when this degree was first established, the uniform included white ties, top hats and tails.
In place of a tuxedo with a black bow tie, members will be wearing a blue blazer, an official Knights of Columbus tie and a beret, all with the fourth-degree emblem on them, along with a white shirt and dark gray slacks. After the convention, Anderson said swords could still me used. Mississippi’s Supreme Knight, Philip Jabour, told Mississippi Catholic that in this state, knights always defer to the preference of their parish priest when it comes to using swords during events.
“The board of directors has decided that the time is right for a modernization of the fourth-degree uniform,” Anderson said. “On a limited basis, assemblies may choose to continue using the traditional cape and chapeau for color corps at public events and honor guards in liturgical processions. However, the preferred dress for the fourth degree, including color corps and honor guards, is the new uniform of jacket and beret.”
Robert Earl, a member of the Father Novatus Assembly 23, which serves Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Daniel the Prophet parishes in Scottsdale, welcomes the new changes.
“I feel it is significant that the order changes to respond to changing times. The new uniform evokes an image of elite military corpsmen in my mind, and I believe this is the intent behind the change,” Earl told The Catholic Sun, newspaper of the Diocese of Phoenix.
“Our former regalia was reminiscent of Navy officers and consistent with the nautical theme in the patriotic degree, but it perhaps did not have currency in the minds of the general public,” he added, noting that in addition to the tuxedo, the other items collectively could cost approximately $500. “I think the new uniform creates a positive and striking image of ‘soldiers for Christ,’ which is, after all, what we are meant to be.”
Many members are not as thrilled about the pending changes, which generated some controversy among the membership. Joseph Meyer from Msgr. Bernard G. Collins Assembly 2899, which serves St. Bridget and Christ the King parishes in Mesa, said the new uniforms lose a sense of the pageantry associated with the Knights’ fourth-degree level.
“I have been a fourth-degree Knight since 1978 and we have always had this regalia,” said Meyer, who was a color corps commander in Toledo, Ohio. for 13 years before moving to Arizona. “We all looked great in the fourth-degree outfits. These (new) outfits look bad.”
Meyer also expressed concern for members who own the current uniform and have to spend money on the new one.
“If we get a new uniform like this, you will see a lot of Knights leave the degree. A lot of your Knights are retired and don’t have over $500 to spend,” he said.
Paul Lee, a member of the Iowa delegation who spoke to The Catholic Sun from St. Louis, said the reaction on the ground was “mixed.”
“The largest concern is people don’t feel that they have answers for the question of why the need for the change. They want something beyond a more modern look,” said Lee.
Lee said many members he’s interacted with are excited about the changes because it brings the uniform “more in line with other military service organizations because it connects us as patriotic organizations.” There also are members who “don’t like change, so they’re already up in arms,” he added.
“Then you have the sect of folks that feel that their voice was not consulted, (that) this sort of change should have taken place as discussion at the state council level and then brought concerns to the Supreme level,” said Lee, who countered that notion by saying conversations have been happening at all levels of the order about the need for change.
Representatives of the Arizona State Council said it was too early to comment as program details and guidelines for implementing the new uniforms were still unavailable.
(Gutierrez is editor of The Catholic Sun, newspaper of the Diocese of Phoenix.)
By R. Allen Scott
JACKSON – The Carmelite gift shop on Terry Road in Jackson is easier to get into thanks to the Knights of Columbus Council 7854 out of Clinton Holy Savior Parish. The knights built a ramp on the side of the steps and cleaned up some of the convent grounds while they were on the property.
At a planning meeting back in the fall council Chaplin and pastor Father Thomas McGing made several suggestions on community service projects. One of those suggestions was to contact the Carmelites and see if we could offer any assistance.
The Council contacted Sister Mary (Agonoy), OCD, the prioress, and discussed several projects with her.
On October 29, 2016 Knights Allen Scott, Chris Halliwell, Jim Sharp, and Steve Miller and Holy Savior parishioner Maureen Scott cleaned all the statues on the grounds and pressure washed the sidewalks.
The Sisters have a gift shop on the grounds and the shop was only accessible to the public through a set of steps. According to Sister Mary this severely limited the ability of the handicapped and some elderly persons from easily accessing the gift shop.
On January 21 and 28, the Knights constructed a handicap ramp to the gift shop. The ramp is about 53 feet long and 4 feet wide and is constructed of treated timber. The Knights solicited funds to purchase the materials and provided the labor to construct the ramp. The total material cost was approximately $2,000. Council 7854 Knights who assisted with the project were: Chris Halliwell, Allen Scott, Craig Harrell, Steve Miller, Mike Kirby, Mike Weisenberger, Mike Booth, Arnie Senger, and Charlie Collins. A total of 206 man hours was donated to complete the construction.
(R. Allen Scott is a member of Council 7854)
By Michael Swan
TORONTO (CNS) – The Little Sisters who fought the big system heard the cheers, held back tears and accepted the Gaudium et Spes Award from the Knights of Columbus at the Knights’ annual gala “States Dinner” in Toronto. A delegation of Mississippi Knights attended the convention, accepting awards and gathering information on behalf of Knights across the Magnolia State.
The Knights of Columbus in the United States provided $1 million to fund the exhaustive legal battle between the Little Sisters and the Health and Human Services mandate contained in rules for the 2011 Affordable Care Act.
“With a kind yet intrepid spirit, (the Little Sisters of the Poor) opposed government regulations that sought to force them to act against their consciences so that they may continue to carry out their longstanding service to the poor,” said the award citation.
The Little Sisters are the first religious order to receive the Gaudium et Spes Award, the highest honor bestowed only occasionally by the Knights. It was first given to Blessed Teresa of Kolkata in 1992. Other honorees include L’Arche founder Jean Vanier in 2005, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz in 2010 and Chicago Cardinal Francis George in 2015.
The award to the sisters fits into a religious freedom theme the Knights of Columbus are promoting at their 134th Supreme Convention in Toronto. The Knights have also brought bishops from Iraq and Syria to participate. The Knights of Columbus played a significant lobbying role in persuading the U.S. Congress to declare massacres of Christians by the Islamic State group “genocide.”
Mother Loraine Marie Maguire, superior of the Little Sisters’ Baltimore province said the order did not go looking for a high-profile fight against Washington regulators.
“We would never have chosen to become the public face of resistance to the HHS mandate,” she said.
In 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies providing insurance for prescription drugs to their employees but excluding birth control were violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act. After the contraceptive mandate was included in the Affordable Care Act, the Little Sisters of the Poor argued in multiple courts that it violated their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion by forcing them to indirectly pay for forms of contraception that violate Catholic teaching. Most courts ruled the burden on the Little Sisters’ religious freedom rights was not substantial.
The Supreme Court found that the lower courts should have sought a compromise which would allow the order of Catholic sisters a way out of paying for contraception.
This year the Knights are celebrating $175 million raised worldwide for worthwhile causes and more than 73.5 million hours of volunteering. Their 2015 global fundraising was $1.5 million higher than in 2014. Last year was the 17th year in a row that the Knights set records for both hours of service and dollars raised.
The convention has attracted Knights from the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Poland, Mexico, Mindanao, Guam, the Dominican Republic and all parts of the United States.
(Swan is associate editor of The Catholic Register, Toronto-based Canadian Catholic weekly.)
Saint Richard Knights of Columbus Council 15131 recently held a Basketball Free Throw Championship. Nine-year-old champion was Alan G. in the boy’s bracket. Ava S. was the 10-year-old girls’ champion and Charlie Z. was the winner of the 10-year-old boys’ division. In the 11-year-olds’ bracket, Samantha S. was the girls’ champion and Sully M. was the boys’ champion. Twelve-year-old winners in the girls’ and boys’ divisions were Georgia P. and Robert A.. The 13-year-old girls’ division was won by Leah C. and the boys’ by Elliot S.. Fourteen-year-old boys’ champion was William T.. Each contestant was allowed 25 free throw attempts in the contests. The winners in each division will compete by their score with the other kids in the Councils around the state to determine the state champions.
By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Four Mississippi Knights of Columbus councils participated in the National Coats for Kids program this year, donating more than 70 coats to Catholic Charities’ shelters for battered women. Members of the councils from Flowood, Gluckstadt, Madison and Pearl delivered six cases of coats to Arteria Puckett, the shelter director, at Catholic Charities’ downtown Jackson headquarters on Friday, Dec. 12.
Philip Jabor, Chris Sigler, Tunney Vandevender and Tony Kumor brought some samples up to the office and then helped Puckett load the cases into her vehicle so she could deliver the coats to children in both the Jackson and Natchez shelters, which are usually full at this time of year. “This is perfect. We had a little boy in the Jackson shelter last night ask for a coat, so this couldn’t come at a better time,” said Puckett.
The Knights of Columbus work with a manufacturer on a national level to make the coats available at discount rates. Each case of 12 fleece-lined, puffer coats in blue and pink costs $220 and contains a variety of sizes. Last year was a record-breaking year for the program nationally.
“We usually try to find out how many coats Catholic Charities needs and then ask each council who is willing to sponsor as many cases as they can,” said Jabor, the state treasurer who has organized the drive for the past few years.
“We really appreciate these coats. Even if we don’t give them all out right now, we now have enough to last most of the winter season and that’s a good feeling,” said Puckett.
By Mary Woodward
PEARL – Thursday, June 19, was “KC Night at the Ballpark” at Trustmark Park, home of the Mississippi Braves, a Double-A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves. The annual event is sponsored by local Knights of Columbus Councils and helps promote the charitable acts of the organization. Bishop Joseph Kopacz threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches of the game. The pitch was a little outside, but did not bounce.
A Fourth Degree Honor Guard presented the nation’s colors for the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. More than 125 local knights and friends participated in the event, which gave the broader community a look at the Catholic church and its organizations.
According to PRNewswire-USNewswire, the Knights of Columbus set a new all-time record for charitable donations and service hours in 2013 while helping in communities worldwide, including by responding to a number of large-scale humanitarian crises.
The Knights’ Annual Survey of Fraternal Activity for the year ending Dec. 31, 2013, reports Knights donated record amounts of money and hours of volunteer service — more than $170 million and more than 70.5 million hours.
Contributions increased for the 14th consecutive year, growing by more than $2.3 million to $170,135,754.
“Charity has been at the heart of the Knights’ mission for the past 132 years,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “Whether with funds or service, and whether quietly helping someone overcome a personal tragedy or assisting in the aftermath of a widely known humanitarian disaster, the outpouring of charity by our members produces meaningful results, especially by helping to bring peace of mind to those who find themselves in incredibly difficult situations.”
Following the late April tornado outbreak in Central and Northeast Mississippi, Knights of Columbus Councils swung into action, processing hundreds of volunteers, bringing in 1,100 pounds of donated food and water, and putting in more than 7,000 hours of volunteers service in Lee, Rankin and Warren counties.
The response to unexpected tragedies was accomplished while the Knights continued their strong support within their communities through initiatives like the Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids and Food for Families, programs supporting those with intellectual disabilities, organizing blood drives, and providing funding and volunteer time to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics and the American Wheelchair Mission.
Cumulative figures show that during the past decade the Knights of Columbus has donated nearly $1.5 billion to charity and 683 million hours of volunteer service in support of charitable initiatives.
The Knights of Columbus was founded by Venerable Father Michael McGivney, a New Haven parish priest, in 1882. The organization was formed to provide charitable outreach and care for the financial well being of Catholic families, focusing on the protection of widows and orphans, and on strengthening the faith of its members.
The Knights of Columbus is celebrating this year the 60th anniversary of the resolution adding the phrase ‘under God’ to the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1951 the knights added the phrase to the pledge at their meetings and then decided to take the idea to the president and Congress.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower made it official on Flag Day, June 14, 1953. The president wrote a letter to the Grand Knight at that time expressing his gratitude. “We are particularly thankful to you for your part in the movement to have the words ‘under God’ added to our Pledge of Allegiance. These words will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble. They will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man, and upon which our way of life is founded,” reads the letter.