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State Chaplain 2019 - 2020

Picture of Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

Rev Kenneth St. Hilaire
August 2019

I spoke at the Summer Leadership Meeting in Pasco about the need for good leadership in the Church. I was not really referring to the clergy, although there is, of course, need for good leadership on their part, too (and, thankfully, here in Washington we have faithful, capable bishops, priests and deacons!).

I wasn’t saying, either, that we need people to step up and try to take the Church in a new direction, independent of the leadership of our duly-appointed shepherds. Yes, there is need for new ideas and fresh perspectives; however, such ideas and perspectives are brought humbly before legitimate authorities to see if they might be helpful in furthering the Church’s mission. “Going rogue” is not a leadership strategy that fares well in this context! 

When I spoke of the need for leadership, I meant that the Church today needs the members of her family to step forward and play their part in the life of the Church. In a way, we are already doing that (e.g., I am serving as a priest, most of you are serving as married men, etc.—in other words, most of us have settled into our vocation in the Church). At the same time, though, there is great need for deeper engagement.

I’ll try to illustrate what I mean. When, as a parish priest, I ask for volunteers for some parish program or another, I am often met with the response: “Oh, Father, I’d be glad to help… but I don’t want to be in charge.” Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad to have the help. However, I’d be even more glad to have someone step up and say, “Sure, Father! Just let me know how you want this to go, and I’d be happy to take it and run with it.”

I suspect this happens at Knights of Columbus meetings more often than we’d like to admit. The Grand Knight asks those assembled if any will volunteer to take on a leadership role in one program or another, and no one says a word. There are lots of guys who are willing to help, but no one wants to be the one responsible. You know the joke—which we laugh at because it can be so true—“Don’t miss a meeting, or you’ll get elected for something!” Hopefully in your council this isn’t the way leaders are chosen!

I’m sure it varies from council to council: some have a lot of men who are willing to sacrifice in big ways to make things happen, and some have a hard time getting members to participate even on a pretty minimal basis.  Perhaps you’re someone who is not accustomed to being in positions of leadership in your council or parish. You might be surprised to learn (1) that you don’t have to be a mastermind and figure out everything on your own, (2) that it’s easier than you probably think, and (3) that your help could be extraordinarily valuable to your Grand Knight and/or your pastor.

Elections are over for the current fraternal year, but I still want to urge you to consider taking on a role of greater responsibility in your council. Don’t be afraid! Especially if you trust God to work through you—instead of relying solely on yourself—much good can be accomplished. Take a look at all the gifts God has given you, and remember: of those to whom much has been entrusted, much will be expected.
So, take the leap. Your gifts are needed!
Fr. Kenneth St. Hilaire
State Chaplain