Knights celebrate Religious Appreciation Supper at Nolan Catholic High School
FORT WORTH — Fort Worth Diocese Knights of Columbus members praised a return to togetherness Aug. 11 during their Religious Appreciation Dinner at Nolan Catholic High School, an annual event canceled last year because of COVID-19.
The Knights also presented a check for $212,815 to Bishop Michael Olson.
Numerous priests, seminarians, and other religious joined Knights in the celebration.
“So happy to see so many of you here tonight,” Knights' State Program Director Patrick Henz said. “COVID-19 has been very challenging and crazy, the shutdowns and being told to stay home were tough to get through. Maybe we thought it would last a year or month initially, but it's been a very surreal year for all of us.”
Henz spoke of the uncertainty of parish and school shutdowns and seminarians sent home.
“But we are a people of faith and last year was also a time to reflect and take the opportunity to better ourselves,” Henz said.
The Knights' Texas State Council assesses $10 per member annually, Henz said. Once collected, 70 percent of funds from a specific diocese are returned to the diocese, which prompts some councils to raise more than their goal. The rest goes toward emergency/disaster relief projects.
The Knights surpassed the $92,000 goal for the Diocese of Fort Worth, thanks in part from $147,000 raised in Wichita Falls. Henz said the Knights in the Diocese of Fort Worth consistently "stand out on a state level."
The donation goes toward seminarian education and the diocese's Deaf Ministry program.
Deaf Ministry Director Connie Martin, interpreting from member David Cassanova, relayed the challenges of COVID-19 for the deaf: masks obscure lips and facial expressions.
“It was so difficult and changed lives,” Martin said. “But we still allowed God to lead us and try to continue to serve Him and keep our faith strong.”
Martin praised Bishop Olson for setting up livestream Mass feeds with interpreters during the pandemic.
Bishop Olson spoke of opportunities for gratefulness despite COVID-19.
“The last 18 months we've been able to more readily pay attention to what God offers us,” Bishop Olson said. “The graces we have that we otherwise overlook, take for granted.”
Bishop Olson praised priests in the diocese for their role in the return of in-person Mass in May 2020.
“They went to great lengths to celebrate the Eucharist, anoint the sick in adverse conditions, in hospitals that would not be readily willing to allow them in. Who don't, or are unwilling to, understand the importance to Catholics of anointing the sick at a time like this.
“Our priests, our religious, and leadership have stood up, and in no small measure so have members of the Knights.”
Bishop Olson praised too those who reached out to people otherwise isolated during the pandemic and called upon parishioners to practice physical, but not social, distancing now that in-person Masses have resumed.
Olson discussed the importance of authentic Catholic patriotism and also commended Nolan's leadership for instilling “servant leadership” beyond the four years of high school.
Nolan Principal Leah Rios spoke of Nolan's “amazing” facilities and academics.
“The education is good and important,” Rios said. “But our goal is to encourage and provide students with the support to know, love, and serve God. Using the Gospel as their core and our core in teaching so they can know, love, and serve God and give back and contribute in ways we never thought possible.”
Henz and others highlighted the blessing of the diocese's six newly ordained priests and 24 current seminarians.
Knights' Texas State Deputy Alfredo Vela warned against inertia.
“Because of COVID-19, many people got very comfortable watching Mass from the recliner, their sofa, or kitchen table,” Vela said. “But watching Mass from the comfort of your home, you will never be able to receive the Body of Christ. So it's going to take everybody here to bring our Catholic communities back to Mass.”
Vela urged priests without a Knights' council in their parish to visit him or fellow Knights.
“Look at the world today,” Vela said. “If we had more men who believed in the Knights' values and Catholic teaching, do you really believe we would be having the problems we're having?”
“We need to be in the Church,” Henz said. “And the Church needs to be in us.”