By Megan Marley
Catholic Key Social Media Coordinator
What do the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the Archdioceses of Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston have in common?
They are among the few United States dioceses that have the Knights of Columbus, Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta all within their boundaries.
What do these four orders do differently in the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese than anywhere else?
Collaborate in getting to know each other and potentially work together on joint projects.
The leaders and councils of the four orders in the Kansas City area have met in the past few months to get to know each other and discuss how each order serves in the diocese.
“We generally meet whenever the Bishop asks us to, and we act as honor guards,” said J. Victor Ammons I, a Knight of Peter Claver who has helped organize the meetings.
“Eventually people begin to ask: ‘Who are you? I didn’t see you last time!’ Over time, we felt we needed to meet and to get to know each other. It was in that quest we wanted to get together and possibly do something together,” Ammons continued.
The orders are already looking at ways they can work together, without acting contrary to their individual missions.
“Our charisms are all different,” said James Lynch, Immediate Past Hospitaller of the Knights of Malta and one of the local Kansas City leaders of the order. “The ultimate would be for all four knighthoods to get together on one project, if that were possible without losing your own identity when you go in there.”
The Knights of Malta defend the faith and serve the poor and sick in over 120 countries, mainly through humanitarian, medical and social fundraising activities, states the Knights of Malta federal website. The lay religious order dates back to 1050, when members would provide shelter and medical care for pilgrims to the Holy Land; there are over 12,500 Knights and Dames worldwide and approximately 45 members in the diocese, stated a pamphlet distributed at a Mass held for the four orders.
The Knights of the Holy Sepulchre have a different mission: to aid Christians and other peoples in the Holy Land, preserve and propagate the Faith in those lands and support the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, according to the order’s regional website. Founded in 1099 during the First Crusade, the order has about 28,000 members worldwide and approximately 150 Knights and Ladies in the diocese, stated the earlier-mentioned pamphlet.
The Knights of Peter Claver also serve God and the Church through aiding the sick and disabled, but also promote social and intellectual discourse among members. This historically African-American Catholic lay organization founded in 1909 has 18,000 members nationally in the Knights, Ladies Auxiliary, Junior Knights, Junior Daughters, Fourth Degree Knights and Ladies of Grace, states the national website.
Since 1882, the Knights of Columbus serve a wide variety of needs in providing financial aid and insurance, and by working on local, national and international charitable projects, according to the national website. Some projects are in collaboration with international groups, such as Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity; others are developed internally, as in the case of the K of C projects Food for Families and Coats for Kids.
“But we all have the same common goal: service,” added Thomas Caffrey, Knight of Columbus and member of the team coordinating meetings among orders.
Lynch said one way the orders could collaborate is on arranging pilgrimages to Lourdes and other holy sites. Other issues listed by the coordinating team include responses to poverty, education and race relations.
With Bishop Johnston being new to the diocese, the orders arranged a Mass and meeting with him in October to brief him on what the orders are about and what they can do. They plan to hold a Mass annually, for all councils’ members to attend.
“We wanted to make sure he’s aware that we are around, and that he has four tools to work with, and that we’re ready to work as one order or together with the others,” said Edward Blasco, Knight of the Holy Sepulchre and member of the coordinating team.
We’re really here to serve in any way we can, added Lady Kathy Blasco, Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.
For more information on the knights orders visit their websites.
Knights of Columbus: www.KofC.org; Knights of Peter Claver: www.KofPC.org; Knights of the Holy Sepulchre: www.eohsjnorthern.com; and Knights of Malta: www.orderofmalta-federal.org.