John Burger, a member of our parish with his wife Angeles, is also a member of the parish Knights of Columbus Council. He submitted this presentation for our consideration:
I was invited to represent St. Michael’s and the Knights of Columbus at the Post-Sobor meeting regarding the Vibrant Parish, at St. Basil’s Seminary in Stamford, Oct. 8, 2016. Unfortunately, because of a family commitment, I could stay only for an hour at the beginning of the daylong program, which gathered pastors and parishioners from various parts of the Eparchy of Stamford. I was not able to deliver my presentation, so here it is, for your information:
I’d like to briefly introduce you to an initiative that we believe is making St. Michael’s more of a vibrant parish, and that is the new Knights of Columbus council there.
The Knights of Columbus is an international fraternity of Catholic men, committed to serving the Church on the local level and growing in holiness and becoming better Catholic men, husbands and fathers. Founded in New Haven in 1882, the Knights are now approaching 2 million members and have in recent years become active in several countries, including Ukraine.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav has said of this new development, of Knights councils becoming active in Ukraine: “The cherished and practiced ideals of the Knights of Columbus resonate deeply in the soul of a Church and a people experiencing a vivid resurrection in its spiritual and moral life.”
It wasn’t long after the establishment of the first new councils of Knights in Ukraine that they experienced a “baptism by fire,” so to speak: Members of a council that met just five blocks away from Maidan during the protests of 2013 set to work tending those wounded in clashes, providing food and warm clothes, interceding for those who were arrested, and assisting families of people who died. Knights also set up a prayer tent at Maidan to offer spiritual support.
In our own country, in recent years, the Knights have developed new councils in Eastern Catholic parishes, particularly Ukrainian parishes. In 2015, at the instigation of our pastor, Father Iura Godenciuc, St. Michael’s became the first Ukrainian parish in the state of Connecticut to initiate a K of C council. It didn’t take us long to decide what to call our group: Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Council.
Since our founding we have quickly grown into a band of brothers that truly has a family spirit. Meeting together on a Monday night once a month and working shoulder to shoulder on various projects for the parish, we have gotten to know one another in ways that we might never have, merely by seeing each other at Liturgy or chatting over coffee on a Sunday morning. We have been able to offer the gifts and talents that we all have as individuals to respond to various needs in the parish and community.
The first opportunity came last May, when we sponsored the Mother’s Day brunch. This summer, we ran the parish picnic, in conjunction with Ukrainian Independence Day, and next month, we will be assisting at the parish’s St. Michael’s Day Dinner. We are also helping a Ukrainian soldier who was wounded in the conflict in the East of Ukraine and is staying in New Haven for medical treatment.
The possibilities for service are endless, and there is a slate of activities in the coming year. Let me simply offer a few ideas on how the K of C can help fulfill Patriarch Sviatoslav’s vision for a vibrant parish, as outlined in his 2011 pastoral letter “The Vibrant Parish – a place to encounter the living Christ.”