A rising tide lifts all boats and there has been a rising tide since the Second Vatican Council. It opened the floodgates of involvement in our Church by the laity. Knights of Columbus have been there in service at every level of the church. As an order, we have nearly doubled our size since the middle of the 20th century, and in recent years, we exponentially increased our charity.
But there is also a tide that is no longer rising. We can all see what is happening; it is impossible to ignore. Over the last 50 years, more than 26 million Americans have left the Catholic faith. Approximately four out of every ten “born and raised” Catholics no longer identify as Catholics. Although the recent scandals have contributed to this trend, the involvement of Catholics in our Church, usually measured by attendance at Mass, has been declining for many decades. This is a crisis for our Church. This is a crisis for our Catholic families. We are not talking about abstractions. We are talking about our parishes, our communities, our councils, our families, and our friends.
We cannot expect someone else to come in and make everything right. The challenges are too great. All of us have a responsibility. We must step up and we must act now. This crisis calls for Knights and we invite all practicing Catholic men at least eighteen years old to join us.
This crisis in our Church is really a crisis of evangelization, or rather a failure to evangelize within the Catholic family. Such a crisis cannot be adequately responded to without the action of Catholic husbands, fathers and grandfathers. The Knights of Columbus will meet this challenge. We must evangelize our children and families. We can and must do this by our witness and charity.
We are forging a new generation of Knights, men who see in our principles of charity, unity and fraternity a path to leading a Catholic way of life that can strengthen their families, their parishes and their communities. We are acting to make our Order more inviting and more accessible. We now offer a new combined exemplification of our principles of charity, unity and fraternity.
A New Ceremony For A New Era
Our past ceremonies were products of the late 19th century. The three steps worked well in their time. But the men of today are not the men of the 1880s, or even the 1980s. Men of the 2020s don’t have the time for three ceremonies or see the need for them. The secrecy is often seen as juvenile, and sometimes, it is even an impediment to joining. The previous process was too often a stumbling block, not a gateway to membership. Today we have an exemplification of our principles that presents, in a clear and convincing way, how charity, unity and fraternity can come together to form a Catholic way of life for today’s man and his family. Our course may be new but our destination has not changed.