9/30-10/2: The 2011 College Council Conference

Harvard Knights of Columbus Council Delegation: (From L. to R.) 
Br. Chris Oppermann, Grand Knight; Br. Juan Carmona, Financial Secretary
Br. Nate Sanders, Liaison to Boston College; Br. James Holt, Deputy Grand Knight; 
Br. James Card, Past Recorder; Br. Matthew Menendez, Inside Guard
Br. Michael Brewer, Founding Grand Knight and Director of Young-adult 
Membership Growth; Rev. Michael Drea, Pastor of St. Paul Parish and 
Harvard Council Chaplain; and Br. James Hamilton, Recorder.

The Harvard Knights of Columbus, Bl. Pope John Paul II Council 14188, sent a delegation to this year's annual College Council Conference, held at the Omni Hotel and at the Supreme Council in downtown New Haven, CT. Impressively, our delegation was the largest in Harvard's history and also the largest group present from any campus. For an exclusive video highlight of the conference, please click here.

The theme of this year’s College Council Conference – “So that the world may know new hope” – guided the weekend’s collective conversation through addresses, small group sessions and Masses, as Knights gathered skills and approaches for their respective councils, from across the globe.
Over the weekend, the conference looked at membership and recruitment strategies, leadership development, peer mentoring and what it is to be a Catholic gentleman. Holy Mass was celebrated each day. The conference brought together more than 140 Knights from 69 schools throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and the Dominican Republic. Joining the College Knights were 11 chaplains who serve the spiritual needs of these College Councils and journey with them to the conference each year.

The keynote speaker for Friday’s awards banquet was Sir Knight Captain Alfredo Fuentes of the FDNY (Ret.). He held everyone in rapt attention with his story of saving lives as the towers of the World Trade Center collapsed on 9/11. Crushed underneath thousands of tons of rubble, he miraculously survived. He told us of the bravery of the dozens of other Knights who died that day in the line of duty, imploring us as Catholic men to put our holy faith in action for others, no matter what the cost. Indeed, Fuentes encouraged brother Knights to walk in charity: “Embrace teamwork, and leave words like ‘I’ behind. Use words like ‘we’ and ‘us’ and you will accomplish great things.” With this advice, Fuentes told the Knights that they will find the courage and strength to “become the type of leaders that our world desperately needs."

Following Capt. Fuentes was Worthy Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. Transitioning from Fuentes’ story, Anderson noted how the events of Sept. 11 made us face a series of questions: “Who we are, and who do we want to be? What have we done, and what do we want to do in the future?” He tasked the Knights to evangelize using their actions, exhibiting spiritual and moral strength. “Walk the walk,” he said. “That’s what the Knights of Columbus is about: Offering a place for men to make that stand.” He challenged the group to give the charity of the gift of themselves. “The Church is not looking for your contribution 10, 20 or 30 years from now,” he said. “The Church is looking for your contribution today. The Church needs you now, and your community needs you now.”

On Saturday, brothers sat in on strategy sessions and gathered in regional caucuses to share their respective experiences and discuss ways to strengthen College Councils and evangelize on university campuses. In the evening, brothers gathered at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, the birthplace of the Knights of Columbus, to conduct a thrilling exemplification of the 3rd Degree in the church's basement, where it all began in 1882. Afterwards, the brothers moved upstairs to venerate the sacred remains of our founder, the Venerable Fr. Michael McGivney, and to worship Our Lord Jesus Christ in solemn Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction.

After the closing Mass and departure on Sunday morning, brothers were full of hope that the graces abounding from this weekend’s blessed events in New Haven would follow us back to our respective Councils and renew our zeal to build that Civilization of Love for which the world so desperately hungers.

(The photographs and video above are courtesy of the Supreme Office, New Haven, CT.)