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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams
Today’s guest(s): Richard Guerriero and Peter Healy
Links from today’s show:
Today’s topics: Massachusetts State Council of the Knights of Columbus
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed everyone to the show. He talked with Fr. Matt Williams about the snow today and how he almost crashed while entering the parking lot at the Pastoral Center. He missed sliding into two parked cars by just an inch on either side.
Scot asked Fr. Matt about his preparations for next week’s pilgrimage to the March for Life in Washington, DC. Fr. Matt said this is a pastoral priority for Cardinal Sean, who’s been to all 40 Marches for Life. The Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults has gathered young people for the pilgrimage every year at Cardinal Seán’s request. They have over 500 people going this year in three tracks: middle school, high school, and young adults. Scot said there will be much more coverage of the March next week.
Today’s guests for the 450th episode are Knights of Columbus talking about the work of the order throughout the world. Scot said there are 41,000 Knights in Massachusetts and 1.8 million worldwide. He welcomed Dick Guerriero and Peter Healy to the show.
Scot asked Peter how he became involved and is now the State Deputy. Peter said it began when his wife’s brother was killed in a traffic accident. He was impressed how his brother-in-law’s fellow Knights cared for the family, including the insurance policy that he had. You don’t have to have insurance to be a Knight, and that’s was one of the original ministries of the Knights, providing insurance for widows and orphans.
Scot asked Dick about joining the Knights and rising to become State Deputy. Dick said he is a 40 year member. His wife was active at their parish in South Weymouth and he joined the K of C golf league and she challenged him to join as a member. He noted that wives, especially those of the board members, are an integral part of the Knights of Columbus. Dick said his council did a lot of work for the Cardinal Cushing Training Center in Braintree and Hanover. That was a very moving experience and it drew him as he became more involved. He was a district representative, then got involved in membership and program areas, and then ran for state office. Running for state office brought him throughout the entire state.
Fr. Matt asked about the roles in the Knights of Columbus. Peter said there are 270 councils in Massachusetts. Each has a slate of officers: the Grand Knight is in charge after wokring himself. Others are Inside Guard, Outside Gaurd, Warden, Deputy Knight, Financial Secretary collects dues. Members pay $25 to $40 per year to support the costs of the council. The Treasurer pays the bills.
At the state level, they have district deputies. It takes 5 to 7 years for a man to work his way up through the chairs at his local council. Then guys who want to step out further in leadership abilities, including going through some training. The district deputies are responsible for five to six councils and they also are responsible for starting new councils. He suggested priests who want new councils to reach out to the state deputies. The district deputies help the councils with their programs, the two primary ones being the Tootsie Roll drive, that raises up to $450,000 per year, that results in grants for needy kids. They provide wheelchair lifts and ramps; hoists in the kids’ houses; special muscle-tone bicycles; and some other things like specialized software.
The deputies become committeemen, then chairs, then directors. From that point, they can look toward statewide office, each level requiring more and more commitment.
Scot asked Dick about organization at the highest level, nationally. What is the mission of the organization now? Dick said the four princuiples are charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. In 1882, Fr. Michael McGivney, a parish priest in Hartford, Connecticut, formed the Knights of Columbus to provide aid to the widows and orphans of the parish. Massachusetts is the third-oldest jurisdiction in the Knights after Connecticut and Rhode Island. Among other things, they provide a military chaplaincy scholarship for seminarians to ensure that there are enough chaplains for our servicemembers. They do a food for families program for Catholic Charities for needy families. They get involved in Special Olympics. Coats for Kids collects coats for needy kids, even buying new ones as well. They also try to provide wheelchairs for veterans. They also go to the VA hospitals to help bring the men and women down to the chapel on Sunday for Mass. Wreaths Across America is the first Saturday of November, providing wreaths for the graves of deceased for veterans across the country.
Scot said the Knights of Columbus headquarters reports on the number of service hours provided by year and last year it was more than 70 million hours. Peter said the Mass. Knights also conduct the Basketball Free Throw program. Kids ages 10 to 14 compete at the local, regional, and state levels. They can aspire to international competition.
Peter often hears people saying they don’t have time to volunteer, but he points out that families often do many of the programs together and it can be a way for families to be doing something together. And there is such diversity of opportunities to get involved that you can find something that interests you.
Fr. Matt asked about the free throw contest’s purpose. Peter said it’s not a fundraiser. It’s a youth program. Dick said they also have a soccer program as well.
Scot guessed that many men are giving more than an hour per week and where would the Church be without men making such a commitment. He said his brother, Fr. Roger Landry, have talked often about how important the Knights of Columbus have been to his parish. Dick said the vision is that one parish with one council and the ultimate goal is for every parish to have one. They are there to help the pastor and the parish. Dick pointed out that Fr. Roger has started two councils in his parishes. He said that they also go into the seminaries to talk to the seminarians about how the Knights of Columbus are there to help them once they are in parishes.
Dick said on the physician-assisted suicide campaign last year the Knights of Columbus got their members out there to work the polls and spreading the word locally across the state. Scot noted that the margin of the vote was 34,000 votes and the 41,000 Knights made the difference. He said the Knights are always ready to serve when called upon.
Fr. Matt asked if there is a junior Knights program. Peter said they have a Squires program in Methuen and Sutton. There used to be dozens of Squires circles. There are also college councils. They also recently started new councils recently at Harvard, Tufts, and Boston University. Holy Cross in Worcester is also very active. Dick said they also have on at Stonehill and they are trying to get more college councils. He said they often have difficulty with colleges refusing single-sex organizations, but they have begun partnering Knights with the Daughters of Isabella group. On the Squires, Dick said 14 to 18-year-old boys are often very busy today. Fr. Matt said a mission-oriented goal would be attractive to young men who are often looking for ways to give of themselves. Peter said men join for all kinds of reason, like softball or golf, but then they get involved in ways they didn’t expect like service or even getting more involved in their faith. It often becomes the stepping stone to become more involved.
2nd segment: This week’s benefactor card raffle winner is Alicia Mann from Hampton, NH
She wins the book Praying for Our Priests a Guide to Praying For the Priesthood in Union with Mary, Queen of the Clergy; an audio CD of the Rosary with meditations on the priesthood; and an audio CD of the Stations of the Cross and Divine Mercy chaplet with meditations on the priesthood.
If you would like to be eligible to win in an upcoming week, please visit WQOM.org. For a one-time $30 donation, you’ll receive the Station of the Cross benefactor card and key tag, making you eligible for WQOM’s weekly raffle of books, DVDs, CDs and religious items. We’ll be announcing the winner each Wednesday during “The Good Catholic Life” program.
3rd segment: Scot noted that Peter and Dick were at St. John’s Seminary inducting 11 seminarians in as new members to the Knights of Columbus. Peter said this introduces them to the Knights of Columbus in a positive light. The Knights also try to get each seminarian adopted by a local council which provides a small stipend and then brings them in for the council’s functions. This lets them meet the Knights and the Knights get to meet their future priests and form a bond that continues throughout their lifetimes. The priests now realize what the Knights are capable of and are doing. Some councils provides groundskeeping or buy and install Stations of the Cross or Monuments to the Unborn.
Scot asked Dick about how the Knights have embraced veterans re-entering civilian society. Dick said the Knights have been active with veterans since World War I. they have the organization to help servicemen. The USO was always funded by the Knights of Columbus. they also did education and re-training programs and blood drives for veterans. They provide awards and recognition to members of the Knights who are in the service as well as military chaplains.
Men interested in finding out more about the Knights of Columbus can go to their website or contact their office in Norwood at 781-551-0628. Priests interested in forming new councils or reactivating inactive councils in their parish can contact the state offices.
To men who wonder if they should commit to joining the Knights. Peter said every time he’s done something with the Knights, he may be tired, he also stands back and is amazed at what they have accomplished for others. It’s great to feel that you’ve given a part of yourself to someone else, someone you may never meet or may never meet again. In the same vein, they’ve helped you as well.
Peter also introduced the names of their state board, including Bishop Robert Hennessey, the state chaplain; Fr. Robert Bruso, associate state chaplain; Russell Steinbach, state secretary; Paul O’Sullivan, state treasurer; Robert Morrison, state advocate; Paul Flanagan, state warden; and Michael Baldner, immediate past state deputy.