I am especially honored to be appointed your State Chaplain. These many years I have experienced the responsibilities of service to you all as a Council Chaplain and as a Diocesan Chaplain. I have been very much aware of all our good works. I have become an enthusiastic participant in our projects for the Domestic Church in Michigan.
It has been recently announced that a new direction has been proposed by the Supreme Council and fully endorsed by our Michigan bishops. It is their wish, and their direction to me as State Chaplain, that these Supreme initiatives are to be enacted and encouraged. You can be assured that it will be my goal to implement their wishes within our jurisdiction.
I know that Michigan Knights will continue to be what we have always been: in the forefront of the Order’s activities and as faithful supporters of our bishops and priests. The initiatives will be as follows:
1. I am asking every Council, led by its Grand Knight, to make every activity and good work proposed a part of the ministry of the parish and under the vision of the local pastor and his direction. Knights will then become fully part of the Domestic Church and not creators of other programs in addition to the pastor’s initiatives, which could alienate them from him and his ministry. Councils with halls and chambers away from the parish grounds must double their efforts to show their priest that they are not competing ministries, but fully supporting him in what they do at their facility and by many more activities in which they participate at the parish under his direction. Supreme has called for an acceleration from a home association to a parish-based Council The closer we work for parish and families, the more there will be growth.
2. I am asking each Knight of Michigan to reflect upon the Gospel call that comes to him to be a true evangelizer not only in the world, but primarily at the Parish level. Each Knight should consider a ministry at the parish into which the Lord has given him natural talent. He will then offer himself to the Pastor for his affirmation of that gift. I especially would expect to see our Knights involved in the critical areas of Religious Education of children and youth. This ministry would require not only the approval of the Pastor, but the essential training in Protection of Young People, affirming our commitment to protect our youth. Our young people need to have and need to see models of godly men of faith to which virtue they may aspire.
We are men ripe to fulfill that role. I am encouraging all Council and State events to not have gatherings or meetings on Sunday that could draw Knights and their families away from their parish Eucharist. Let such meetings follow, in as many meetings as is possible, their essential Eucharistic participation in the parishes.
Much of this energy should flow from the family, an institution under attack in our world, and to which we as Knights must dedicate ourselves. Knights need time with their families. Grand Knights, please do whatever you can to bring good order to Council meetings so that the agenda may be completed in a timely fashion. God’s attribute of fatherhood is our model and must not be taken from us for any reason or failure in the past to live up to that goal. Ideally the Domestic Church can be said to be the family, fully alive, man, woman and children. A Knight’s responsibility is to create that environment with his wife in the home and be a reflection of it in all aspects of his life.
3. In the past, our charity has been given, in the most part, to our individual regions. The Supreme Council has always been in the forefront for acts of charity in the times of disaster and crisis. This has been the hallmark of our Order and within the spirit of the Founder. This year Supreme has asked us to reflect upon, pray for and financially support in charity the suffering Christians in the Middle East, who are in serious danger of genocide. Their disappearance from the scene of the Middle East is not only immoral and depraved, but would end a direct link with Christ, they whose ancestors knew the Lord, and whose evangelistic zeal spread the faith in the early Church down to our age.
I ask my brother Knights to begin an initiative in each Council in support of The Christians of the Middle East. This could be financial, but also vigorous prayer and a serious education to all Knights about the situation. With the support of the local pastor this education could be provided to parish members as well.
4. I am asking the Diocesan Chaplains to contact all Council Chaplains in their Dioceses to announce to them these new initiatives and to assure them of our support. All priests, in their parish planning, should experience Knights not as proposers of projects, but as partners in the implementation of the pastor’s plans as he directs. I wish to see an end to the false vision of Knights as a club of men with an agenda of their own, which they bring to the pastor to add to his vision. I wish to see an end of Knights being seen as a men’s social club in the district and not being the pastor’s right arm. I wish to see an end of the experience of any Council without a fully participating Chaplain. I ask each District in Michigan to have at least one Clergy Appreciation event each year. This and other such activities, such as a strong participation in the RSVP, our seminarian support program, show our dedication to our priests and how we see them as critical to our faith lives, and critical to our Eucharistic lives.
Is it too much for me to hope and propose such an implementation of the vision of our Supreme Knight and the enthusiastic support of our Michigan bishops can be implemented in our Michigan jurisdiction in the very near future? We may scratch our heads and either ask why our numbers have lost over 3000 Knights in recent years, or why more men are not coming to join us. Brother Knights, we must be seen to be believed. The ideal place to be seen is in the parish, as we dedicate ourselves and our families to the Domestic Church! May the ongoing Year of Mercy be a blessing to you, and as a Priest of Mercy, I ask you to dedicate your works and the implementation of the aforementioned initiatives as signs of the mercy of God, a mercy that will return to you many times over as men of the family!