From the Pastor
October 7, 2018
Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost
The Knights of Columbus
Tomorrow our nation will observe 'Columbus Day', commemorating that day in 1492 when (supported by King Fernando of Aragon and Queen Isabel of Castile) the Genoese sailor Cristoforo Colombo "sailed the ocean blue". On this famous historical expedition Columbus not only planted in the soil of the New World the flag of the Houses of Aragon and Castile but most especially, the Standard of the Cross. While the primary goal of this daring excursion to find a shorter trade route to India seemed an apparent failure, it was in fact a much greater discovery in the long run.
On January 2, 1492, the great green flag with its crescent moon, the flag of Islam, was lowered over the beautiful city of Granada, and the standard of the Holy Cross was raised. Granada had been the last stronghold of the Muslims on the Iberian Peninsula and with its fall, finally all of Spain and Portugal were Christian again. Queen Isabel of Castile had sold her jewels to support this great enterprise of liberating Spain from the Muslims. (Historians who claim that the jewels were sold for the great voyage of Columbus to the Indies are mistaken). On that day of the final expulsion of the Moors, Queen Isabel made a vow to God who had finally delivered Spain from the Muslims, that she would finance the great enterprise of Columbus to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. It is in Granada that Fernando and Isabel (Ferdinand and Isabella) are entombed. I celebrated Mass at their tombs on November 20, 1987. To me it seems like yesterday but it was 30 years ago. My close friend Fr. Kevin Fitzpatrick was with me and concelebrated. He himself died July 20, 2008, at the young age of 52. At the time of his death he had been the pastor of the Church of the Holy Cross in Fairfield, Connecticut, and was teaching at the University of the Sacred Heart in Bridgeport.
Without a doubt, there were many profiteers among the Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Dutch, and English explorers who followed after Columbus, venturing forth in search of gold and other treasures. Yet this material goal still did not totally eclipse the vision of those who saw that the harvest was also ripe for the winning of souls to Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven. Many missionary priests and religious brothers also came on these voyages, for both the spiritual needs of the explorers and to bring the Catholic Faith to the native peoples of this vast land. Over the next few centuries, immigrants from numerous European countries came to the colonies in search of religious freedom and the opportunity for a new way of life in a land whose (eventual) Constitution would make no provision for an established state religion and supposed equality for all people to worship God as they saw fit. However, that did not mean that religious persecution – particularly that of Catholics – would be completely unheard of.
Fast-forward 375+ years. Late-19th century Connecticut was marked by the growing prevalence of fraternal benefit societies, hostility toward Catholic immigrants and dangerous working conditions in factories that left many families fatherless. Recognizing a vital, practical need in his community, Father Michael J. McGivney, the 29-year-old parochial vicar of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., gathered a group of men at his parish on Oct. 2, 1881. He proposed establishing a lay organization, the goal of which would be to prevent Catholic men from entering secret societies whose membership was antithetical to Church teaching, to unite men of Catholic faith and to provide for the families of deceased members.
As a symbol that allegiance to their country did not conflict with allegiance to their faith, the organization’s members took as their patron Christopher Columbus — recognized as a Catholic and celebrated as the discoverer of America. Thanks to Father McGivney’s persistence, the Knights of Columbus elected officers in February 1882 and officially assumed corporate status on March 29.
In addition to the Order’s stated benefits, Catholic men were drawn to the Knights because of its emphasis on serving one’s Church, community and family with virtue. Writing in The Columbian in 1898, a year before he was elected supreme knight, Edward L. Hearn wrote that a Knight should live according to the virtues of loyalty, charity, courtesy and modesty, as well as “self-denial and careful respect for the feelings of others.” Fraternity and patriotism were added to the Knights’ founding principles of charity and unity in 1885 and 1900, respectively.
Venerable Michael McGivney’s foresight of over 140 years ago is still very much in effect today, and perhaps just as necessary for the Catholic community as it was then. The K of C insurance program is one of the largest and most secure in the world. Members participating in the program have the ability to provide for their loved ones in the event of a major calamity or death. The Knights and their work are not just present here in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, but in a number of countries in South America, Asia, and Europe. The Knights are a bulwark and example of organized Catholic laity taking their gift of faith and fraternity and defending the teaching of the Church and the rights of Catholics against segments of society (and governments) that are becoming increasingly atheistic; hostile towards religion in general and the Catholic Church most specifically.
The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic, fraternal, charitable order open to Catholic men 18 years and older who are in good standing with the Church, believe in Her teachings, are faithful to Holy Mass and the sacraments, and who want to bring the charity of Christ to others, both Catholics and those outside the Church. Included within the Order are the Columbiettes – the women’s branch – and the Squires and Squirettes –open respectively to Catholic boys and girls below the age of 18.
From their very beginning the Knights have been most faithful and devoted to the priests. In fact, during the persecution of the Church in Mexico which lasted until 1992, many Knights died defending their priests. There is a very wonderful, mystical and sacred bond between the knights and the priests.
In our parish of St. Paul the Apostle, we are very blessed to have both the Knights and the Squires. I consider them among my most trusted and loyal cooperators in building the faith. I have had the blessing in my five years as your pastor to work with three Grand Knights and four Chief Squires. Mr. Peter Boyle served faithfully and with unparalleled dedication as Grand Knight until 2014. He is now a PGK (that means Past Grand Knight). Mr. James Galante served as Grand Knight from 2014 to 2017 and did as outstanding a job as Mr. Boyle. Whenever I need anything I turn to the Knights. I turn to them for support in the difficult office of pastor which has fallen upon my unworthy shoulders. Mr. Donald Cavanaugh, whose family has been an integral part of St. Paul’s for more than 50 years, is our present Grand Knight and will take the Fourth Degree (the highest order of knighthood) today.
Our present Chief Squire is Michael Bernardini who has exemplified outstanding leadership as have his predecessors, Thomas Marriott, Jacob Kozhipatt, Daniel Esposito, and Steven Northshield. The squires provide a great and holy service for us each year when they hold the Holy Cross for over 30 minutes as we each come forward, the priest barefoot, to kiss the Holy Cross on Good Friday. I am most grateful to Mr. Peter Boyle, PGK, who serves as Chief Counsellor to our Squire Circle (of which I am Father Prior). The Squire Circle is named in blessed and eternal memory of PGK Eugene J. Reilly. There have been many other Grand Knights and Chief Squires. I am just naming those who have served in that office while I have been pastor of St. Paul the Apostle. Certainly, to be singled out are Mr. Leo Benjamin who went home to God last month and Mr. James Black, Esq., who have served as Grand Knights. Two years ago, two of our former squires, Daniel and Stephen Esposito, took the fourth degree as Knights of Columbus. Congratulations to them and to all our Knights and Squires and from your priest sincere gratitude.
One blessing we have is that the Knights do not have a building as some Councils do. Councils who have buildings find that 90% of their energy goes to maintaining the property. Since our Knights do not have a Council Hall, they can devote 100% of their energy to the fraternal and spiritual ends of the order.
Vivat Jesus! Viva Cristo Rey!
PARISH GALA DINNER/DANCE AND CASINO NIGHT: Please save the date of Thursday October 25th. That will be our annual Parish Gala Dinner/Dance and Casino Night. Once again, we will have the casino night provided by the M&M Twins (my good friends, Marco and Michael Posillico). This proved to be so enjoyable for the last two years and was a great success. May I ask and invite all parishioners to attend this wonderful evening at the newly refurbished Cottage of the Milleridge Inn. Mr. Butch Yamali, the new owner of the Milleridge Inn, last year invited me to go there to bless this new endeavor. I was accompanied by the Chair of the Gala Mrs. Paula Maturo and by committee member Mrs. Anne Maione. I entered every room of the Inn to bless it and sprinkle the Holy Water in all the shops, and the cottage and carriage house. It is remarkable how this historic inn is being restored to its original splendor. Mr. Yamali is a good friend to us at St. Paul’s and I would encourage everyone to come that night and to see the refurbished Inn.
It is our major fundraiser through the course of the year. This year we observe the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Church Building (May 26, 1968). We look forward to our renovation which will begin after Christmas and to a beautiful future.
ST. AGNES AWARD: Each year the Bishop bestows the St. Agnes Award and Medal on a parishioner of each of the 133 parishes of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. This year the Bishop will bestow the award and medal upon Mrs. Toni Poolin. Toni has been a dedicated catechist, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, visitor to the Nursing Homes, Lector and member of both the St. Matthew Guild and pastoral council. She has faithfully brought Holy Communion to the Nursing Homes. She has been a most faithful and dedicated assistant to the pastors of our parish: Msgr. Costa, Msgr. Clerkin and to me. Our little ones know her as the lady who does the face painting each year at the picnic. Sincere congratulations and best wishes to Toni who will receive the distinctive honor at St. Agnes Cathedral on October 28th.
LOOK TO MARY: Look to the star of the sea, call upon Mary…in danger, in distress, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. May her name never be far from your lips, or far from your heart…If you follow her, you will not stray; if you pray to her, you will not despair; if you turn your thoughts to her, you will not err. If she holds you, you will not fall; if she protects you, you need not fear; if she is your guide, you will not tire; if she is gracious to you, you will surely reach your destination. – St. Bernard of Clairvaux
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda