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WEYMOUTH — Massachusetts Knights of Columbus and their families gathered Sept. 19 at St. Francis Xavier Parish for a Mass during which the fraternal organization’s new statewide officers and district deputies were installed. Bishop Emeritus of Worcester Daniel P. Reilly, the new state chaplain, was the principal celebrant.
Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley was unable to be present for the Mass but made an appearance following the Lawrence Catholic Fiesta to congratulate the Knights and thank them for their service to the Church.
In his homily, Bishop Reilly touched upon the importance of having leaders, who will look out for the common good. In our society individual rights are sometimes given more importance than group rights, he said.
“Sometimes we act like we don’t need leadership,” he said. “Community rights and the well-being of the community have to be respected and we’ve forgotten that. Good leadership helps to bring that well-being forward.”
The principles of leadership that the Knights of Columbus follow are rooted in the Catholic faith, he continued.
“Our faith prompts us to seek out the ideals of our order that come out of the heart and soul of our Church — unity, charity and patriotism,” he stated. “Our order is faith-centered, God-centered. Without faith in God the Knights of Columbus would not exist.”
“The Knights and the Catholic Church stand together and build up the kingdom of God now and in this place,” he continued.
The ceremony then proceeded to the installation of the new state officers and over 40 district deputies, who will serve three-year terms. The installation began with the blessing of the jewels, a ribbon necklace with a jeweled medallion, which is “symbolic of the offices these men hold,” Bishop Reilly explained.
Former state deputy Thomas Ledbetter then thanked members for their support during the past three years and congratulated the new state deputy, Richard F. Guerriero and his wife Patricia.
As part of the installation ceremony, Ledbetter asked the new officers to promise to obey the constitution of the Knights of Columbus, to be loyal to the Church and its leaders and to keep the welfare of the order in mind at all times.
Each new officer and deputy was then led to the altar one at a time and the jeweled necklace representing his duty and responsibility to the order was placed around his neck.
Before the close of Mass, Guerriero thanked his family members for their help in organizing the Mass and the reception that followed. He thanked the archbishop for coming and all the priests who concelebrated the Mass. He then addressed his fellow Knights saying, “People say its not a good time to be a Catholic, it’s not a good time to be a Knight of Columbus. But I disagree.”
“It’s a great time because we can do something,” he said. “It’s up to us to assist the Church and our order.”
Daniel McEleney, of Ran-dolph, takes the call to support the Church seriously. He became a Knight of Columbus over 20 years ago and was appointed a district deputy at the service. His role, he says, will be to oversea and advise the councils under him and assist the state deputy.
“Being a part of the Knights of Columbus helps me to stay close to the Church because as Bishop Reilly said everything we do as Knights is based on Church principles starting with charity,” said McEleney.
Prior to the final blessing the Knights presented Archbishop O’Malley a check covering the cost of sending 80 priests to an October retreat in Malta convened by Vatican Congregation for Clergy.
Before being presented with the check he thanked the Knights of Columbus for their strong financial and religious support over the years. The Knights loaned the Archdiocese of Boston a substantial amount of money after the clergy abuse crisis surfaced and have made additional donations over the years. The Knights were also active in upholding traditional marriage.
“The Knights of Columbus are such an important part of our Catholic family,” said Archbishop O’Malley. “We cannot say enough to thank them for their support for the bishops, priests, for family life and for the Gospel of life.”
“I thank all of you for the wonderful work you do and I assure you of my prayers and ask that you continue to remember the archdiocese in your prayers,” he said.