By Bill Brewer
The idea was born from a desire to better assist priests. It was then shared with a priest who helped modify and nurture it.
Now that idea has morphed into a Knights of Columbus initiative being introduced to all Knights councils across the state with the hope it will at some point be endorsed by councils across the country.
“Strengthening Our Parish Home” is the program inspired by the Holy Spirit and blessed by the Handmaids of the Precious Blood and Holy Ghost Parish pastor Father John Dowling, according to Jimmy Dee, a district deputy for the state Knights of Columbus and an adviser to the Handmaids, a cloistered religious order in New Market whose charism is to pray for priests and strengthen the priesthood vocation.
Mr. Dee, the founding Grand Knight of Holy Ghost Council 16523, said he originally discussed with Father Dowling ways that Knights could be of more assistance to parish priests. From that conversation came the idea for Knights councils to create a pastoral partnership with parish priests.
“Father Dowling communicated the importance of the sacraments to our survival,” Mr. Dee said. “The idea is a program for councils to plan their activities in a way that is more closely aligned with the parishes. The programs and agendas of each council should promote spiritual growth. This program would have all councils more closely work with pastors, and the Grand Knights would frequently meet with pastors to make sure the council goals more closely align with those of the pastors and bishops.”
Mr. Dee believes the “Strengthening Our Parish Home” program will have a ripple effect for parishes and dioceses, including a positive impact on vocations.
Mr. Dee praised Knights of Columbus State Deputy Tracy Staller, a parishioner at Holy Family Church in Seymour, who has been developing the program with Mr. Dee. Mr. Staller introduced it to all state councils at the state convention in Nashville in April.
“We’re launching it across the state. We hope it ignites a wildfire of faith across the country,” Mr. Dee said.
He explained the five steps each council can follow to strengthen the parish home and accomplish the Knights of Columbus fraternal mission:
- Serve God by partnering with your local pastor to align the council’s agenda with his plans and needs.
- Anchor your council and parish in the sacraments by implementing programs that teach and promote the sustaining gift of God’s sacraments.
- Embrace our common priesthood by implementing programs that teach and promote the common priesthood as a way to strengthen vocations and evangelize.
- Help foster a positive image of our priests in the parish, in the home, and in the community.
- Turn to God for his help through prayer. Brother Knights will be asked to commit themselves and their council to pray for their priests and for new vocations.
“This brings the love and light of Christ to each man who gives his fiat,” Mr. Dee said. “This is right in line with what Father (Michael)McGivney (Knights of Columbus founder) envisioned in 1882. We’re getting back to the basics, the things that are fundamental.”