Building ‘A Culture of Invitation’

Posted on June 20, 2024 in: General News

Building ‘A Culture of Invitation’

Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly encourages state deputies to grow the Order through personal invitation and faith formation

By Cecilia Engbert



Knights of Columbus jurisdiction leaders from around the world met in New Haven, Connecticut, for the annual Organizational Meeting of State Deputies June 5-9.  

More than 70 state deputies from the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Guam, Poland, Ukraine, France and the Republic of Korea participated in daily Masses, fraternal events and workshops looking ahead to the next fraternal year. Many deputies also met with their state chaplains, more than 40 of whom were also in New Haven for a State Chaplains Meeting June 5-8.

Newly elected state deputies were officially installed June 7, the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, in St. Mary’s Church, at the conclusion of a Mass celebrated by Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore.

In his homily, Archbishop Lori encouraged state deputies and chaplains to recall that “reality is greater than ideas,” echoing a phrase often used by Pope Francis.

“As a state deputy, be a witness to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” he said. “Be a witness to the love of God that has been made flesh, to the love of God that is not an idea but a reality.”

Later that day, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly reflected in his keynote remarks on the importance of devotion to the Sacred Heart among K of C leaders.

“Every Knight, and especially the leaders of the Order, need to have the ‘heart of a father’ — a heart shaped by the love of God our Father,” he said. “If we get this right, everything we do as leaders will bear fruit.”

The supreme knight urged Knights to develop a “culture of invitation” within their councils, a culture modeled by Blessed Michael McGivney.

“When Father McGivney called that fateful meeting in St. Mary’s basement, he asked Catholic men to join him. More than 80 responded. Why?” Supreme Knight Kelly asked. “Because Father McGivney invited them to be part of something greater than themselves. … From the very beginning, Father McGivney created a culture for the Knights — a culture of invitation, in which Catholic men ask other Catholic men to join them in a great work.”

With 2.1 million members spanning 13 countries, the Order continues to grow, Supreme Knight Kelly said, noting that more than 81,000 men became Knights this fraternal year. But the supreme knight challenged leaders to reach higher.

“Millions of Catholic men have yet to receive an invitation,” he said. “We do great work with 2 million men but think of what we would do with 3 or 4 million.”

A recent study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate shows that in the United States alone, close to 7 million Catholic men are open to joining a Catholic men’s organization such as the Knights. “But they haven’t joined, for a simple reason: They have never been invited,” the supreme knight said.

The supreme knight particularly encouraged leaders to extend invitations to Hispanic men, noting that in the U.S., about half of Catholics between 18 and 29 are Hispanic.

“Hispanic Catholics are not just important to the Church’s future. They are central to the Church today,” Supreme Knight Kelly said. “We have an opportunity and, I’d say, even an obligation to reach out to them.”

The supreme knight stressed the importance of faith formation, and particularly Cor, an Orderwide initiative that launched in 2023 to help men grow in prayer, formation and fraternity.

“Every council should be doing Cor,” Supreme Knight Kelly said. “Based on what we’ve already seen, Cor has the potential to become a major contributor to the Order’s growth. And it’s especially appealing to young men who are looking to lead lives of meaning and draw closer to Christ.”

Over the past year, more than 600 councils participated in Cor, and more than 4,000 expressed interest in the initiative. Resources for Cor include the Men of the Word Bible study; Into the Breach, a study guide and video series based on the 2015 apostolic exhortation of the same name by Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix; and a follow-up video series titled Into the Breach: Mission of the Family.

To give councils implementing Cor access to even more Catholic content, the supreme knight announced a major new partnership with the Augustine Institute and its streaming service, FORMED.

“This is all part of the culture of invitation,” he said. “We aren’t just inviting men to join a group. We’re inviting them into personal and ongoing spiritual growth. This is how — in 2024 and beyond — we are continuing the work that Father McGivney began.”

Archbishop Lori likewise invoked Father McGivney’s example in his remarks to state chaplains June 6.

“To walk in Father McGivney’s footsteps, that is our calling as chaplains,” the supreme chaplain said. “No one of us can replace the Founder but all of us can be inspired by his pastoral charity, his genius, as well as his courage and tenacity, not to mention a spirit of collaboration with the laity that was way ahead of its time.”

The chaplains had walked in Father McGivney’s footsteps literally that morning, visiting Connecticut sites related to his life and ministry, including St. Thomas Church in Thomaston and Immaculate Conception in Terryville — the parish Father McGivney was serving at the time of his death in 1890 — and the McGivney family plot in St. Joseph Cemetery in Waterbury.


CECILIA ENGBERT is a content producer for the Knights of Columbus communications department.