July 31, 2017


       The 135th annual Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus is taking place this year in St. Louis, Missouri. It is the annual event where delegates from every state council around the world - often accompanied by their wives and sometimes their children as well if they are making a trip out of it – convene to share reports and recalibrate the direction of the Order globally and locally. There are thousands that gather. Invariably it must be in a city or location that can provide meeting space and hotel accommodations. Here is St. Louis the massive “America’s Center Convention Complex” provides the venue for the displays, tv-studios, meeting rooms, meals as well as the place where the Mass is celebrated and a smaller permanent “Adoration Chapel” where delegates can come throughout the convention to ‘be with our Lord’ and have some quiet prayer time. The guests have been accommodated at three hotels adjacent to the Complex.

       Some of the Delegates from Manitoba and their spouses were able to travel to St. Louis, Missouri for the pre-convention programs of preparation and hospitality that precede every annual Supreme Convention. There are some tours and fellowship events to develop networking, but there were also meetings, state hospitality suites to set up and rehearsals for those involved with the events. That is why the Convention officially take place from 1-3 August, but in reality it runs from July 29 to August 4 and of course longer for the convention staff.

       The convention really officially stared for delegates from Canada on Monday morning with an early Morning Mass and a quick coffee. Then at 8:30 in the “America’s Center” convention complex in the heart of downtown St. Louis, the Canadian Association of the Knights of Columbus met for a meeting as they do at every Supreme Convention. The meeting was chaired by the State Deputy of Saskatchewan Brian Schatz who is presently serving also as the chair of the KofC Canadian Association. Some bishops were present, such as Bishop Bryan Bayda of Saskatoon (who is also the Saskatchewan State Chaplain this year), Bishop Antony Krotki of Churchill and Bishop Marcel Damphousse of Saulte Ste. Marie. However, it was bishop of Valleyfield, Quebec, M. Rev. Noël Simard, that addressed the gathering at length.

       Bishop Simard stressed the importance of renewing our commitment to a true Catholic life – using the many gifts of that our Catholic Faith always offers us. He spoke of the Mystery (Sacrament) of Confession that we must frequent more often on a personal level. He praised and encouraged an increase of the efforts and issues that have always driven the Knights – pro-life, freedom of religion, building the family – the “domestic Church”, etc. He spoke of how we need to promote the message that “life is good!” and that is why it is always worth living and protecting. A need to connect people with palliative care opportunities and work toward the increase of palliative care in our societies. He spoke in both French and English, as did most of the presenters that morning. One idea that he spoke in French and then explained in English was that “our parishes are orphaned”! By this he wanted to encourage the growth of our parishes. He wanted the Knights to understand the great need for them to help their parish priests and parishes as a whole to bring back those that have drifted away for whatever the reason and to help Evangelize and bring in new persons that need Christ and His Church. He said that our parishes maybe have material means and buildings and good pastoral programs and serious volunteers, etc., but they, above all need PEOPLE!!! We need to get out there and bring in the people, encourage the people to come and see what the Church has to offer and see what the Church can offer if more people receive and understand the Spirit of the Church.

       The Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, came in for a  brief talk as he was attending a number of similar meetings the morning. He noted that Canada’s Knights of Columbus excel among all the councils worldwide in… charity; charitable activities. His talk showed that he was well informed about the social and even political climate of Canada. But among many things that he touched upon, he especially encouraged the Knights of Canada concentrate on witnessing to their Catholic Faith in the society in which they live. He echoed Bishop Simard’s words, by asking the Knights to consider putting more effort into their own parishes and working with Parish Priests to enhance parish life and grow parishes. Build parishes, but always in a spirit of KINDNESS.

       Manitoba’s past State Deputy Karl Brosch addressed the assembly as did the present State Deputy Dan Shepherd.

       After the Canadian meeting and other national gaterings, a 'members meeting' was held in a large to which all Knights were invited to attend.

       After all the sessions, the Knights and their families gathered in a large hall at the Centre for some fellowship and entertainment. A um-pa-pa band – the Hermann’s Apostle Band  - played waltzes and polkas and many filled the dance floor.

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