Originally Aired: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 (Program #0450)


Summary of today's show: The Knights of Columbus provide millions of man-hours of service and millions of dollars in charity to the Church and the needy every year and Massachusetts’ 41,000 Knights are a big part of that work. Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams talk with Peter Healy and Richard Guerriero of the Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus about the the mission and work of the order and their desire to provide every Catholic parish with a council of men willing to step up and serve.

Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams


Today’s guest(s): Richard Guerriero and Peter Healy


Links from today’s show: Massachusetts State Council of the Knights of Columbus


Today’s topics: Massachusetts State Council of the Knights of Columbus


Scot Landry welcomed everyone to the show. He talked with Fr. Matt Williams about the snow today and how he almost crashed while entering the parking lot at the Pastoral Center. He missed sliding into two parked cars by just an inch on either side.


Scot asked Fr. Matt about his preparations for next week’s pilgrimage to the March for Life in Washington, DC. Fr. Matt said this is a pastoral priority for Cardinal Sean, who’s been to all 40 Marches for Life. The Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults has gathered young people for the pilgrimage every year at Cardinal Seán’s request. They have over 500 people going this year in three tracks: middle school, high school, and young adults. Scot said there will be much more coverage of the March next week.


Today’s guests for the 450th episode are Knights of Columbus talking about the work of the order throughout the world. Scot said there are 41,000 Knights in Massachusetts and 1.8 million worldwide. He welcomed Dick Guerriero and Peter Healy to the show.


Scot asked Peter how he became involved and is now the State Deputy. Peter said it began when his wife’s brother was killed in a traffic accident. He was impressed how his brother-in-law’s fellow Knights cared for the family, including the insurance policy that he had. You don’t have to have insurance to be a Knight, and that’s was one of the original ministries of the Knights, providing insurance for widows and orphans.


Scot asked Dick about joining the Knights and rising to become State Deputy. Dick said he is a 40 year member. His wife was active at their parish in South Weymouth and he joined the K of C golf league and she challenged him to join as a member. He noted that wives, especially those of the board members, are an integral part of the Knights of Columbus. Dick said his council did a lot of work for the Cardinal Cushing Training Center in Braintree and Hanover. That was a very moving experience and it drew him as he became more involved. He was a district representative, then got involved in membership and program areas, and then ran for state office. Running for state office brought him throughout the entire state.


Fr. Matt asked about the roles in the Knights of Columbus. Peter said there are 270 councils in Massachusetts. Each has a slate of officers: the Grand Knight is in charge after wokring himself. Others are Inside Guard, Outside Gaurd, Warden, Deputy Knight, Financial Secretary collects dues. Members pay $25 to $40 per year to support the costs of the council. The Treasurer pays the bills.


At the state level, they have district deputies. It takes 5 to 7 years for a man to work his way up through the chairs at his local council. Then guys who want to step out further in leadership abilities, including going through some training. The district deputies are responsible for five to six councils and they also are responsible for starting new councils. He suggested priests who want new councils to reach out to the state deputies. The district deputies help the councils with their programs, the two primary ones being the Tootsie Roll drive, that raises up to $450,000 per year, that results in grants for needy kids. They provide wheelchair lifts and ramps; hoists in the kids’ houses; special muscle-tone bicycles; and some other things like specialized software.


The deputies become committeemen, then chairs, then directors. From that point, they can look toward statewide office, each level requiring more and more commitment.


Scot asked Dick about organization at the highest level, nationally. What is the mission of the organization now? Dick said the four princuiples are charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. In 1882, Fr. Michael McGivney, a parish priest in Hartford, Connecticut, formed the Knights of Columbus to provide aid to the widows and orphans of the parish. Massachusetts is the third-oldest jurisdiction in the Knights after Connecticut and Rhode Island. Among other things, they provide a military chaplaincy scholarship for seminarians to ensure that there are enough chaplains for our servicemembers. They do a food for families program for Catholic Charities for needy families. They get involved in Special Olympics. Coats for Kids collects coats for needy kids, even buying new ones as well. They also try to provide wheelchairs for veterans. They also go to the VA hospitals to help bring the men and women down to the chapel on Sunday for Mass. Wreaths Across America is the first Saturday of November, providing wreaths for the graves of deceased for veterans across the country.


Scot said the Knights of Columbus headquarters reports on the number of service hours provided by year and last year it was more than 70 million hours. Peter said the Mass. Knights also conduct the Basketball Free Throw program. Kids ages 10 to 14 compete at the local, regional, and state levels. They can aspire to international competition.


Peter often hears people saying they don’t have time to volunteer, but he points out that families often do many of the programs together and it can be a way for families to be doing something together. And there is such diversity of opportunities to get involved that you can find something that interests you.


Fr. Matt asked about the free throw contest’s purpose. Peter said it’s not a fundraiser. It’s a youth program. Dick said they also have a soccer program as well.


Scot guessed that many men are giving more than an hour per week and where would the Church be without men making such a commitment. He said his brother, Fr. Roger Landry, have talked often about how important the Knights of Columbus have been to his parish. Dick said the vision is that one parish with one council and the ultimate goal is for every parish to have one. They are there to help the pastor and the parish. Dick pointed out that Fr. Roger has started two councils in his parishes. He said that they also go into the seminaries to talk to the seminarians about how the Knights of Columbus are there to help them once they are in parishes.


Dick said on the physician-assisted suicide campaign last year the Knights of Columbus got their members out there to work the polls and spreading the word locally across the state. Scot noted that the margin of the vote was 34,000 votes and the 41,000 Knights made the difference. He said the Knights are always ready to serve when called upon.


Fr. Matt asked if there is a junior Knights program. Peter said they have a Squires program in Methuen and Sutton. There used to be dozens of Squires circles. There are also college councils. They also recently started new councils recently at Harvard, Tufts, and Boston University. Holy Cross in Worcester is also very active. Dick said they also have on at Stonehill and they are trying to get more college councils. He said they often have difficulty with colleges refusing single-sex organizations, but they have begun partnering Knights with the Daughters of Isabella group. On the Squires, Dick said 14 to 18-year-old boys are often very busy today. Fr. Matt said a mission-oriented goal would be attractive to young men who are often looking for ways to give of themselves. Peter said men join for all kinds of reason, like softball or golf, but then they get involved in ways they didn’t expect like service or even getting more involved in their faith. It often becomes the stepping stone to become more involved.