Baltimore history, culture have a place at Knights of Columbus convention

IMAGE: CNS photo/Kevin J. Parks, Catholic Review

By Paul McMullen

chalice on the center of the altar was given by the pope to the third archbishop
of Baltimore nearly two centuries ago.

The local welcome crew
wore vests that included the outline of a Chesapeake blue crab.

Visitors to the 136th
annual Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus got both boisterous and
subtle reminders of their location the morning of Aug. 7, when Archbishop
William E. Lori, their supreme chaplain, was the principal celebrant for the
gathering’s opening Mass.

Held in a ballroom at the
Baltimore Convention Center more accustomed to boat shows, the liturgy was
offered against a backdrop that incorporated an image of the dome of the
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It was a familiar sight
to those Knights and their families, primarily from across North America but from
far away as the Philippines, who might have already visited America’s first
cathedral, a little more than a half-mile to the north.

In his homily, Archbishop
Lori mentioned those who came to Southern Maryland from England in 1634 seeking
freedom from religious persecution, and the Knights’ founder, Father Michael J.
McGivney, who was ordained at the Baltimore Basilica in 1877.

According to the Mass
program, during that ordination Cardinal James Gibbons “likely” used the
aforementioned chalice, a gift from Pope Pius VII to Archbishop Ambrose Marechal
in 1822, a year after the Baltimore basilica was dedicated.

“Just as the Holy Spirit
guided those who went before us in faith,” Archbishop Lori said, “so now the
same spirit of truth and love accompanies us who seek to follow Christ as
members of an order that is built on charity.”

Supreme Knight Carl
Anderson, in remarks given later that day, reported that the order’s charitable
contributions in fraternal year 2017-18 totaled a record $185 million.

That figure does not
include a $1 million gift presented to the Archdiocese of Baltimore Aug. 4 to go
toward a project that will give Baltimore City its first new Catholic school in
nearly six decades.

“Knights of Charity” is
the theme of the first supreme convention in Baltimore since 1989, when the
Archdiocese of Baltimore, the first diocese in the U.S., celebrated its

The opening Mass included
100 bishops and 200 priests. Concelebrants included Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of
Galveston-Houston, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,
and Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, who is president of the Pontifical
Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Archbishop Lori alluded
to the recent demotion of Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick from the College of
Cardinals and a soon-to-be-released Pennsylvania grand jury report on a
months-long investigation into abuse claims in six of the state’s Catholic
dioceses covering a 70-year span.

“In the difficult and
challenging days that are before us,” he said, “may I urge you to continue
working to build up and strengthen the church, especially by putting into
practice the principles of charity, unity and fraternity.”

Prelates with ties to
Baltimore included Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, who was Baltimore’s archbishop
2007 to 2011, who is grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre;
Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware; Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski
of Springfield, Massachusetts; and Baltimore Auxiliary Bishops Adam J. Parker
and Mark E. Brennan.

Priests of the Baltimore Archdiocese
were among the concelebrants, including Conventual Franciscan Father Donald
Grzymski, president of Archbishop Curley High School and past chaplain of the Knights’
Maryland State Council.

Some of that council’s
members were visible for their custom red nylon vests, which included the
outline of a crab on the back. In lieu of blue, its color scheme was the
Maryland flag.

Stephen J. Bayliff,
recognitions programs chairman for the Maryland State Council, did not need a
conversation-starter. As Knights took an escalator down to Mass, Bayliff greeted
each and every one by name and with a hearty handshake.

Bayliff is a member of
Jesus the Divine Word Council 14775 in Huntingtown. In 2000 he moved from
Midland, Texas, to Southern Maryland, and soon thereafter became a Knight.

“I was recruited by Larry
Donnelly,” Bayliff said, of a fellow Knight involved in a signature outreach for
persons with developmental disabilities. “He was selling Tootsie Rolls outside
the Walmart in Prince Frederick. We hit it off.”

The approximately 2,200
Knights and their wives in attendance included first-time conventioneers Bret
and Courtney Ladenburger of Casper, Wyoming. A Knight since 1994, when he
turned 18, Ladenburger is the state secretary for Wyoming, where the March for
Life is held in Cheyenne and the Winter Special Olympics in Jackson.

“I’m enjoying the
fraternity,” Ladenburger told the Catholic Review, Baltimore’s archdiocesan
news outlet. “I’m humbled when I talk to the guys.”

Larry Lewandowski, past
state deputy for North Dakota, is a convention regular. His first thought when
he heard the 2018 convention would be in Baltimore was Johnny Unitas, the late
Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback– and Catholic, to boot.

Having spent 25 years in
the U.S. Air Force, Lewandowski likens the Knights to a military outfit.

“There’s a lot of
brotherhood, and lot of discipline,” said Lewandowski, a member of St. Mary’s
Parish in Grand Forks. “That allows us to do a great deal of the Lord’s work.”

Lewandowski described the
fellowship he found at breakfast that morning.

“Cardinal Dolan was sitting at a
table near mine,” Lewandowski said, of New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan. “All
I saw was his collar, and asked, ‘Father, how are you doing?’ Finally, I
recognized him, and he just laughed. We had a great visit.”

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McMullen is managing editor of
the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the Archdiocese of

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