Thursday, August 8, 2013

Knights of Columbus expands to Ukraine and Lithuania

Knights of Columbus expands to Ukraine and Lithuania;
His Beatitude Sviatoslav via Video Addresses K.C. Convention

San Antonio—During the 131st Annual Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus, held here August 6-8, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson announced that the Order has established two councils in Ukraine and a round table in Lithuania. This is the Knights’ first international expansion since the Order established councils in Poland in 2006.

“Our presence in Lithuania and Ukraine, along with our growing numbers in Poland, gives us even deeper roots in Europe,” said Supreme Knight Anderson.

The origins of the Order’s expansion to Ukraine go back to 2005, when Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, now the major archbishop emeritus of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, attended the 123rd Supreme Convention in Chicago. Cardinal Husar was invited to give the homily during a concelebrated Mass at the convention. A video excerpt was screened during the Wednesday business session at this year’s convention.

“I wish to thank you very much for the good example you are giving,” Cardinal Husar said. “I am happy to hear that our closest neighbor, Poland, is already one step ahead of us and has invited the Knights of Columbus to be instituted in their land. I hope that this will happen also for us.”

Nearly 100 men in Ukraine joined the Knights at a series of exemplification ceremonies in 2012 and 2013. Among those who took their First and Second Degrees were Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who succeeded Cardinal Husar in 2011, and Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki of Lviv, who was a longtime under-secretary to Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan Soroka, of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, was introduced at the States’ Dinner Tuesday evening, as the representative of His Beatitude, Sviatoslav Shevchuk.

During the business session Wednesday, after the video excerpt from the homily of Cardinal Husar during the 2005 Chicago Convention was shown, the convention viewed the following video message from His Beatitude Sviatoslav:

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

This marvelous medium allows me to personally express my gratitude on behalf of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, to the Supreme Knight, Sir Knight Carl Anderson, his Supreme Officers, and all of the Knights of Columbus of this valued and esteemed international order gathered for its annual Supreme Convention in San Antonio, Texas.   We happily rejoice with the establishment of the Knights of Columbus in Ukraine, a process begun with the personal invitation extended by my predecessor, His Beatitude, Lubomyr Cardinal Husar at the 123rd Supreme Convention in Chicago.  Much has been dutifully accomplished since then by many dedicated Supreme Officers and delegates, and Knights of Columbus from the USA and Canada.  We are grateful for the special efforts extended by the Assistant Supreme Advocate and Supreme Director Sir Knight Michael O’Connor, a Special Assistant to the Supreme Knight and Past State Deputy Sir Knight Lawrence Sosnowich, and for the efforts of the specially formed Ukrainian speaking degree teams from Manitoba, Canada.  The combined and steadfast efforts of many have led to the successful establishment of the Knights of Columbus in Ukraine.

Ukraine, has around 46 million inhabitants.  Many identify themselves as members of the Orthodox faith.  Some five million are Ukrainian Greek Catholics in addition to a smaller number who are the Roman Catholics.

Our Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has suffered severe persecution during the oppressive communist past. Churches were destroyed.  Bishops, clergy, religious and tens of thousands of faithful suffered martyrdom for the faith.  Their gift of great sacrifice calls forth our re-energized zeal in the celebration of our faith.   We are rebuilding our basic structures and renewing our faith with God’s abundant grace.  Our people thirst to know God and to grow in their faith.  The challenges for evangelization are immense amidst our own faithful and for all residents of Ukraine

We are strengthened and encouraged by the support offered to us by such esteemed Catholic institutions such as the international order of the Knights of Columbus. The cherished and practiced ideals of the Knights of Columbus, namely that of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism, resonate deeply with the soul of a Church and a people experiencing a vivid resurrection in its spiritual and moral life.  We are confident that the bond between the Knights of Columbus and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church will enrich the journey of growth in our faith and serve to evangelize the faithful.

Please be assured of my fervent prayers offered for the Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, for his Supreme Officers and to all Knights of Columbus and their family members participating in this 131st annual Supreme Convention.  May the famous Texan hospitality and the intercession of St. Anthony, for whom your host city is named, warm your hearts and your spirits.  We rejoice that now becoming part of this international Catholic family of the Knights of Columbus, rejoicing in our fraternity as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Slava Isusu Khrystu! Glory be to Jesus Christ! 

Archbishop Mokrzycki and Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of Vilnius, Lithuania, also delivered remarks during the Aug. 7 business session.

(This story includes material from Knightline August 8, 2013.)

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