Supreme Knight Outlines Recruitment Priorities
Membership growth, especially by recruiting younger men who are committed to service, is a top priority for the Knights of Columbus, said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.
Addressing hundreds of convention delegates at the Membership Seminar on Monday morning, July 31, the supreme knight called recruitment “Job Number One.” He outlined four principles for recruiting Catholic men: seek out those who are looking to serve others; appeal to younger men; find roles within councils to draw out the skills of younger men; and develop programs that will attract these men and keep them interested and active.
Men have many demands on their time these days, at home and at work, so councils must find ways to call them to charitable service while respecting their other obligations, he explained.
As Knights follow these recruitment principles they will build the Order “to be who we are called to be,” Supreme Knight Anderson continued, “that is, the vanguard of Catholic men who will strengthen and serve our Catholic Church.”
He said that the Order’s Building the Domestic Church While Strengthening Our Parish initiative is designed to help men make connections among their faith, family obligations and parish life, so that each supports the other. The initiative is in keeping with Pope Francis’ teaching about building “fraternal communities” that are joyful and directed toward mission and service to those on the peripheries, the supreme knight added.
“We can be engines for renewal in our parish, as the pope asks,” he said.
Deputy Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly spoke at the seminar about methods for reaching Catholic men today. He said recent surveys show that young Catholic men look to the Knights of Columbus to help them grow in their faith, become better husbands and fathers, and engage in family-centered programs. Council programs and activities must respond to these needs rather than draw men away from home and family, he pointed out.
Just as Father Michael McGivney, the founder of the Order, developed innovative ways to reach the Catholic men of his day, so Knights today must be creative to address the needs of men today, he added.
The seminar’s moderator was Thomas Wegener, supreme director from Michigan, who serves as chairman of the membership committee for the Order’s Board of Directors.
Also speaking were Dominican Father Jonathan Kalisch, director of chaplains and spiritual development, on developing good relationships with pastors; Supreme Treasurer Ronald Schwarz, on building partnership between insurance agents and fraternal leaders; Gary Nolan, vice president of ceremonials and training, on the resources offered by the Supreme Council to develop fraternal leadership; and Jose Jimenez, vice president of the Fraternal Mission department, and Alain Cayer, past state deputy of Ontario, both spoke about reaching out to Catholic men of all ethnic and language groups.
Sustaining Our Jurisdictions
In his address to the annual Canadian Association meeting at the 135th Supreme Convention in St. Louis, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson asked the assembled Knights to focus their attention in the coming year on membership recruitment.
“Canadian Knights have a great history of leadership in charity and fraternity. We now need to concentrate on the sustainability of our jurisdictions by recruiting new members,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. He added that in a society that is growing ever more secular, many people feel that Christianity has little to offer or is even dangerous.
“There is no organization in Canada better than the Knights of Columbus to show value and compassion that Christianity brings to society,” he said. The supreme knight added that the Knights need to live and focus on who they say they are as Catholics and Knights – a joyful community with the mission to care for, help, and accompany each other. That is an organization, he said, that men will want to join.
Earlier in the meeting Bishop Noël Simard of Valleyfield, Québec, thanked the Knights for their work in building the kingdom of God in Canada. He mentioned that Pope Francis has regularly called for the Church to become a missionary Church.
“We need to reach out to the peripheries, to troubled families, to immigrants, to persecuted Christians. We need to be close to these areas,” he said.
Other areas that he pointed out to the Knights were the threats to life, especially in legalized euthanasia, and the need to promote a culture of life; the need to guarantee freedom of conscience and religion; the call to strengthen parishes through building the Domestic Church; and the need to attract young people, not only to consider a vocation, but to become faithful Catholics.
Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, chief executive officer of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, thanked the Knights for their involvement, both at the Supreme Council level and the local level with making Salt and Light a success. He added that Salt and Light recently completed a studio named for Father Michael McGivney in the network’s new Toronto headquarters.
During the meeting, the Jean Migneault Award, that recognizes the Canadian jurisdiction with the highest percent gain in membership, was presented. British Columbia received the award for achieving a 123.45 percent increase in membership.