Somebody has got to do something!”
How often, in exasperation, do we sigh or yell out that statement?
As we look at the problems, injustices, sorrows, and tragedies that daily hit us in the face, we’re frustrated, and seem reduced to demanding that somebody, somewhere, somehow, just has to take action.
This week I’m at the international gathering of an amazing group of men—accompanied by their wives and families—who, as a matter of fact, do something!
I’m at the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus, this year in my hometown of St. Louis. Meet a dedicated organization of believers in Jesus and His Church who “do something.”
One hundred thirty-six years ago, with the Catholic Church in the United States growing thanks to immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Poland, and so many other countries, sturdy husbands and fathers often died early or were killed in dangerous jobs, leaving behind helpless wives and children.
“Somebody has got to do something!” everyone yelled. Father Michael McGiveny founded the Knights of Columbus in 1881, to bring together Catholic men who needed fraternity in the faith, and to provide insurance for their wives and kids should the worst happen.
When America entered World War I, Catholics were a high percentage of our troops. They were off to a bloody war, with no provision for their spiritual health, no chaplains or devotional material to care for their souls.
“Somebody has got to do something!” and the Knights came through, coordinating with the bishops a massive effort to accompany our troops with spiritual, not just armed weapons.
That “doing something” flourishes today, as every pastor, bishop, and Catholic lay leader knows, “When you want something done, call the Knights!”
I recall visiting Haiti after the devastating earthquake almost eight years ago. The number of people, especially children, who had lost a limb was tragic. Six months later, when I went back, sure enough, the Knights had set up medical clinics with artificial limbs to assist the helpless.
A year-and-a-half ago, I visited Iraq, and was moved by how the tiny Catholic community in Erbil had welcomed effectively refugees from nearby Mosul, over 100,000 in number. Touring the camps, the clinics, the schools, the welcoming centers, I smiled as I saw the signs, “Thank you, Knights of Columbus.”
Pro-life work, tender projects to serve special needs children, promotion of vocations, rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, defense of religious freedom, support of Pope Francis, defense of married couples and families—count on the Knights to come through.
When the providential Second Vatican Council urged a recovery of the “universal call to holiness,” the Knights could cheer, as they were already into the formation of lay leadership and the fostering of a deep life of faith.
Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict, and Pope Francis call for a “new evangelization,” and the Knights raise their hands to come aboard, versed as they have been in decades of vigorous promotion of the faith, call to conversion, and defense of the Church when misunderstood.
As my predecessor Cardinal John O’Connor used to say about the Knights, “What would we ever do without them?”
Pope Francis has called for a joyful Church, welcoming all, attentive to those suffering, eager to accompany those searching.
Sound like a dream? Not if you’re here in St. Louis at the convention of the Knights of Columbus. Here, it is a reality!
Thank you, Knights of Columbus!
Keep up the good work, please!
We need you more than ever!