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State Chaplain 2020 - 2021

Picture of Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

Rev Kenneth St. Hilaire

June 2020

In the early Church - in the first few centuries A.D., Christians were almost constantly under persecution. They refused to offer incense to the pagan gods of Rome or to the emperor. They were looked at with suspicion because their way of life -- a life of self-sacrificial love -- was different from the rest of the population. And no one could quite figure out the Christians’ mysterious practice of communion, in which they claimed to share in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

In that era -- in the heat of persecution -- the Church grew. The Church thrived. The Church flourished. Throughout the Easter season, we heard about the rapid spread of the Catholic faith as we listen to so many passages from the Acts of the Apostles at Mass, day after day. “Three thousand were added that day…” “The number came to five thousand…” “Philip went down to a city of Samaria and preached Christ, … and there was much joy in that city.” Wherever the Gospel is proclaimed, it seems like people are clamoring to become part of the Church. 

I wouldn’t say the Church has grown and flourished in every age, at least not universally. There have been times in history when vast numbers of Catholics -- including many in leadership positions -- opened their hearts to the spirit of the age instead of the Spirit of the living God. Of course, the world will never overcome the Church -- we have the Lord’s promise about that. But I think we all want to see the Church do more than just “get by.” We want to see the Church growing and thriving. We want to see all the peoples of the world united in one faith in the Lord Jesus. We want to recapture that zeal-filled spirit of the early Christians.

As a priest, I can’t help but ask why the Church in our part of the world isn’t growing by leaps and bounds. I suppose it’s a complicated matter. But I’m convinced that at least part of the reason is that Catholics don’t realize the gift that has been given them. And therefore, they aren’t eager to share it. By and large, they don’t invite their non-Catholic friends to come to Mass with them. The majority of Catholics are not out in the world telling people about what they believe -- and why -- and how amazing it is to be Catholic!

Now. I don’t think that the key to getting Catholics to evangelize is to wag a finger at them and say, “Shame on you for not winning souls for Christ!” That’s no good. Rather, if we can help Catholics to rediscover -- or discover for the first time -- the profound beauty and truth of our faith, then they’ll fall head over heels in love with it. And once they fall in love with it, they’ll want to share it with others. That’s what happened in the early Church. The disciples couldn’t help proclaiming the gospel. They understood the greatness of the gift they had received.

Each year, when I attend the Supreme Convention and hear the Supreme Knight’s annual report, it brings tears to my eyes to witness the immeasurable good that is done by the members of our Order. And each year, when our own State Convention rolls around, I stand in awe of what the Washington State Knights have accomplished. Our charitable works are making huge impacts in the lives of countless people all throughout our state.

And maybe I’m greedy, but I start wondering how much more we could do if more of our members were actively involved, and -- ultimately -- if all the Catholic men in the State of Washington were Knights of Columbus. Which leads me to the question: why aren’t they?

Again -- a complicated matter -- but I suspect that the answer here is similar to the answer earlier: too many in our ranks have lost sight of what a great gift it is to be a Knight of Columbus. And therefore they aren’t very zealous about getting fellow Catholic men to join.

There are a good number of our Knights that are out there promoting membership and sharing the good news about our Order. But we can’t rely on the minority to do all the legwork.

Here again, it doesn’t work to chew people out for not bringing in new members. If we can instead promote a rediscovery of what’s at the heart of the Order, I think we’ll see our ranks swell. If all of us are faithful to the mission, membership will follow.

So, I encourage you to get the word out about the mission of the Knights of Columbus. In a global context that is in many ways hostile to our message and unwelcoming to the Church, our mission is more important than ever. Share with your friends the great videos that Supreme has developed in recent months. Talk with your pastor to see about starting programs in your parish. Encourage fellow parishioners to get involved. Do whatever you can to help our brothers rediscover what’s at the heart of our Order. The Knights of Columbus is a great gift -- and it plays a huge role in the growth of the Church.

Thank you for all your excellent efforts for the Church and the Order. May God prosper your efforts and through them set the whole world afire with His love.


Fr. Kenneth St. Hilaire
State Chaplain