If the church has a go-to group that it can consistently rely upon, it is no stretch to include the Knights of Columbus in that role.
This group of Catholic men is most often at the center of corporal acts of mercy locally and in so many other places around the world.
“I think that’s exactly right,” said Chris Powers, a Leonardtown, Md., resident who is the current state deputy for the Knights of Columbus in Maryland.
“It is our goal,” Powers said. “That’s what (founding chaplain) Father McGivney intended. That the Knights would be there in every parish to share in Catholicism and its good works.”
The Knights in Delaware and the nine counties of the Eastern Shore of Maryland will be recognized for their good works in the Diocese of Wilmington on April 27 when councils from both states receive the 2023 Msgr. Thomas J. Reese Award at Catholic Charities Annual Tribute Dinner in Wilmington.
The award was created in 1989 in memory of Msgr. Reese, community activist and longtime director of Catholic Social Services, the forerunner of Catholic Charities, and recognizes exemplary individuals who have demonstrated a deep commitment to promoting and restoring the well-being of people — Catholic Charities’ mission.
The mission of the Knights of Columbus is “Empowering Catholic men to live their faith at home, in their parish, at work and in their community.”
Rick Johnson, a parishioner of Holy Rosary parish in Wilmington, is the state deputy in Delaware. He said his councils are happy to help the diocese, specifically Catholic Charities, and so many councils cherish their roles in parishes and are grateful to work with pastors.
He and his brother Knights want to be indispensable for the priests and parishes to help people in need.
“Our pastors ask us for anything, and we do it,” Johnson said.
Johnson said Msgr. Reese, the namesake of the honor, was a charter member of St. Helena Council No. 3182 (renamed Christopher Council in 1954) when he joined the Knights of Columbus on Sept. 1, 1948, in the first year of his priesthood.
“Charity is at the heart of the Knights of Columbus and from its beginnings we have strived to give of our time, talents, treasure, and support to serve our parishes, families, and communities,” Johnson said. “Our fraternal bond of Knights and their families with the Eucharist as our strength and the corporal works of mercy as our guidance continues to be the driving force of what we do.
“Since the pandemic, I have observed the councils of Knights in Delaware uniting in a more faith-filled approach, while living out our principles of charity, unity and fraternity.”
Powers says it’s the same for the Knights from two states who share the same diocese.
“It’s a joy to see people from every walk of life that have the same core values,” he said. “It gives men and their families the support structure so that they will live their faith in the public square. We want to share the message of Christ by the way we act.”
Powers and Johnson both said they’re proud to be associated both with the Knights and the works of Catholic Charities.
Catholic Charities, the social services arm of the Diocese of Wilmington, has been serving those in need for more than 190 years, offering a wide range of services to strengthen families, care for children, assist the disadvantaged and build human relationships throughout Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. For tickets to the tribute dinner, visit ccwilm.org/events/cc-dinner
“We are grateful for this honor and recognition from Catholic Charities and hope to strengthen our partnership with them into the future,” Johnson said.
Delaware has 33 Knights of Columbus councils statewide. Maryland has eight councils on the Eastern Shore.