Photo courtesy of Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland

AUGUSTA — Their special assistance over the last 14 months has come in the form of food drives, clothing drives, blood drives, and even pandemic comfort bags for homebound parishioners and takeout dinner events to raise funds for countless community organizations.

In a dark time in history, the Knights of Columbus provided light to thousands and thousands of Maine residents while continuing to strengthen family and parish life throughout the diocese.

On Saturday, May 22, Bishop Robert Deeley made a special stop at the Maine Knights of Columbus State Convention at the Senator Inn in Augusta to offer his personal thanks, and share the gratitude of so many Mainers, for their incredible efforts.

The convention, which featured a large number of in-person attendees as well as Knights around the state participating via livestream, was held over the course of the weekend and featured a Mass, celebrated by Bishop Deeley, on Saturday evening prior to the annual Faith in Action awards ceremony honoring excellence and achievement in Maine councils.  

“I am happy that we can be here together for this convention,” said the bishop during the Mass. “It was a much smaller group that gathered last year for convention. It is good to be together today with a larger number. It is a sign that we are moving forward. The vaccines have made the difference. They are the reason for the forward movement. We can be grateful for the difference they have made. I have already been informed that next year’s convention will return to its usual format. That is welcome news.”

During his homily, Bishop Deeley told the assembled Knights, family members, and others that he was greatly moved by the pivotal role played by the Knights of Columbus from the moment the pandemic’s impact reached Maine.

“The men who make up this fraternity with the support of their wives and their families have been in the forefront of assisting in the measures needing to be taken during this pandemic,” said the bishop. “In some cases, it was a fundraiser to help with the work of the parish or the school that was being run by the Knights. In others, it was the presence of Knights doing the extra work of setting up or cleaning the Church and making sure the protocols were being followed. Because of the reduced numbers it was, for the most part, impossible to have an honor guard at Mass through this time. Yet, I never had to wonder where the men were who would normally be doing that. They, or other Knights from the parish, were always visible in doing the work of service which is at the heart of the Knights’ dedication to charity.”

Though the challenges were great and the safety measures, at times, burdensome, the Knights answered the call to serve, collaborate and cooperate at every turn.

“We followed what was asked of us, and we can be grateful that together, with God’s grace guiding us, we kept people safe,” said the bishop. “Thank you for all for the help you have been in making that possible. The Knights, with their dedication to the parish communities of Maine, are a powerful force for good in our Church. I am so happy to know your recruitment of new members was strong this year. It is a wonderful sign of growth in this beautiful fraternity which strengthens families and the Church.”

The convention fell on Pentecost weekend, marking the occasion of God sending the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ disciples after his Resurrection. The Holy Spirit gave the disciples the strength to fulfill their commission to spread the Good News of Jesus. The Spirit is alive and well today, blowing throughout our Church. The supernatural outpouring of the Spirit upon our communities of faith and world has been most evident this past year.

“I thanked you earlier for your participation in the life of the Church. That is charity at work for the good of others,” the bishop told the Knights. “The gifts of the Spirit which are unique to each of us are not for ourselves. They are to be shared. That is what makes us a community. That is what builds us up into Church. We celebrate the coming of the Spirit into the life of the Apostles, and we give thanks that the Spirit continues to move us to carry on their mission.”