News & Announcements

Join our Bishops in Their Call for a Pro-Life Novena

The U.S. bishops are asking you and all people of good will to join with them each Friday in a nationwide Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life, from August 3 to September 28.
To participate in the Novena and Call to Prayer initiatives sign up at  
Kicking off this important national event, in a recent statement, Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities said:

"As soon as Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, pro-abortion groups began lobbying the U.S. Senate to reject any nominee who does not promise to endorse Roe v. Wade. While the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops does not support or oppose the confirmation of any presidential nominee, we can and should raise grave concerns about a confirmation process which is being grossly distorted by efforts to subject judicial nominees to a litmus test of support for Roe v. Wade. And we must pray.”

By any measure, the Roe decision has been a heartbreaking failure, taken millions of innocent lives and demonstrably divided the country for decades.
The Bishops urge you to join in the Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life at this critical time.
Additional Novena prayer and education materials are accessible at
The Cardinal concluded this special appeal by asking Our Lady of Guadalupe to “intercede for the healing of our nation and our people from decades of abortion on demand." Please join the U.S. bishops in this focused time of prayer, fasting, and education.

Protect Life

Today, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops acting together with the Southern Baptists Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the Catholic Medical Association sent a clear message to the US Department of Health and Human Services supporting the Agency’s proposal to stop any funds going to abortion facilities through government family planning programs. 

Implementation of the “Protect Life Rule” is an important priority for all three organizations. 

You can read the letter here.

You can personally support this important interdenominational effort by submitting comments of your own here. And please, share this alert with all your friends.

The deadline for submitting your comments is July 31, 2018.

Planned Parenthood and other abortion purveyors are flooding the Department of Health and Human Services opposing the “Protect Life Rule,” so please support our bishops and take action.
The proposed regulations can be viewed here.

Sample message:
“Most Americans recognize that abortion is not family planning or healthcare and has no place in a taxpayer-funded family planning program. I strongly support the proposed rule on the Title X program because it will help ensure that abortion-related activities are kept separate from this pre-pregnancy family planning program. For too long, Title X has been used to subsidize the abortion industry. We need these regulations in order to draw a bright line between what happens before a pregnancy begins and what happens after a child has been created, as Congress clearly intended.”
Title X of the Public Health Service Act (Title “Ten”) was created in 1970 as a pre-pregnancy federal family planning program to help poor women limit and space their family size. It was created in the heat of the population control movement, yet even though its authorization expired in 1985, Congress continues to appropriate yearly money.
Embedded in the authorizing law itself is a strict prohibition on its funds being used for abortion demonstrating the intent of Congress that Title X should be completely apart from the controversial and, at that time, still mostly illegal activity of abortion.  In fact, it was argued that Title X was needed in order to reduce the abortion rate.
In spite of this prohibition, the program guidelines governing the early years of the program soon required abortion referrals and allowed abortion providers to perform abortions in the same location, arguably allowing the program to become a direct channel for abortion providers to receive clients as well as federal money for their non-abortion offerings.
To respond to this abuse, President Reagan issued formal regulations in 1987 requiring that Title X service sites be physically and financially separated from abortion centers and not refer or counsel for abortion. These regulations were challenged and successfully defended by the Bush 41 Administration in the US Supreme Court case Rust v. Sullivan of 1991. However, they were rescinded in January of 1993 under President Clinton and replaced by regulations later that year requiring abortion referrals and allowing co-location of Title X clinic sites with abortion sites.

Modern Advice for Dads


This article was written exclusively for, the members-only digital portal from the Knights of Columbus. Looking for more? Join the Knights of Columbus today.

The father of Western monasticism and the shaper of our civilization can help form your family in the faith. This is the message of Father Dwight Longenecker in his Knights of Columbus booklet Saint Benedict for Busy Parents and the book-length treatment of the same theme in Listen My Son: St. Benedict for Fathers.

Father Longenecker, a former Anglican clergyman who converted to Catholicism with his wife and their children, was ordained a priest under the Church’s pastoral provision. With the memorial of St. Benedict coming on July 11, Father Longenecker talked to us about the continuing importance of St. Benedict today for Catholic families that seek to build a domestic church.

How can we connect a 6th-century monk to the busy life of parents today?

Father Longenecker: St. Benedict was a master of human psychology. He understood how people tick, and people are not very much different now than they were 1,500 years ago. His rule lays out the principles for living together in harmony, seeking the Lord and seeking his salvation. He understands not only the principles but also the practicalities, and although the practical details are different, the principles still apply. The booklet, and my longer book Listen My Son applies Benedict’s wisdom to the needs of families today.

How does the way an abbot runs a religious house have to do with a modern household?

Father Longenecker: The word “abbot” comes from the word “abba” which is “dad” or “papa”. The papa is the loving head of the home. One of the most important parts of Benedict’s Rule is the section on humility, which is a cornerstone for all who follow Christ in the Way of St. Benedict. This is the foundation for the way the abbot rules the monastery and the father rules the home. All is done in humility and with the spirit of service to all.

What advice would St. Benedict gives fathers today?

Father Longenecker: Look to the Father in heaven as the model for merciful leadership. That father is pictured in the story of the Prodigal Son. So he would advise fathers, first of all, to grow spiritually and as they grow closer to God to be that loving Father in the home who pictures for his children the love of the heavenly Father. The father in the home is therefore like the abbot in the monastery. They are living icons of God the Father. This is an awesome and daunting task. It takes a real man to live up to it.

The Knights of Columbus has a Building the Domestic Church program. How can parents make their home a domestic church?

Father Longenecker: My book Listen My Son lays out some very practical points drawn from the rule. I also give retreats and parish missions on this theme. Very briefly, the Benedictine Rule is built around three vows and three tools. The vows are Obedience, Stability and Conversion of Life. The tools are Work, Prayer and Study. A further exploration of these rules takes us more deeply into the profound wisdom of St. Benedict today.

To learn more, read the online version of the Catholic Information Service booklet Saint Benedict for Busy Parents. You can order Listen My Son: St. Benedict for Fathers and other books at Father Longenecker’s website.


Angel Gowns


There are 24,000 babies that are stillborn every year in the U.S., according to the March of Dimes, and it's a tragic experience for parents who deal with it.


Fortunately, there's a Baltimore County woman who is making a difference in Maryland by making the burial process a little easier.



A retired Baltimore County school professional, the latest calling in her life likely began at an early age, sewing baby doll clothes, but now, she's sewing miniature-sized gowns that mean much more.  "They just gave birth. Their baby died. They're going to baby stores, looking for baby doll dresses to bury their babies in, and they can't find them, and I can't imagine how tragic that is, and I want to keep that from happening," Schatz said.


Angel Gowns by Baba is the name of Schatz's labor of love. A group of volunteers gathers every Tuesday to help her sew. Brides donate the gowns, and she's in the process of contacting Maryland hospitals to give them the gowns, all free of charge.  "The first hospital I went to was St. Joseph, and the nurse showed me her store room, which was very traumatic. I cried all the way home. There was coffins on the shelf, and I saw the tiny little gowns," Schatz said.

It's hard to believe this all just got underway in January. A back closet in Schatz's home is already full of beautiful donated gowns. She said one dress can typically make about 30 infant gowns.  Every package will go out to the hospitals with a gown, a message and keepsake for the parents, a diaper and a blanket for the parents to swaddle their babies in.


It's not always an easy task, Schatz said. The women often cry when sewing the gowns. She constantly is in need of more material, ribbons, thread, gowns, gallon zip-lock bags and more, and she keeps a plastic baby model by her side to remind her why making angel gowns is so important.  "This is a difficult ministry. It's important," Schatz said.

Schatz has 85 gowns ready to go to Maryland hospitals. She said every gown gets blessed by a priest.


Want to donate? Visit Schatz's Facebook page: Angel Gowns by Baba.

Join the Knights Online

Want to put your faith in action? Eager to give back and serve your community? Then you are ready to join the Knights of Columbus.

Since July 1, eligible Catholic men in the United States and Canada* can now join the Knights of Columbus online, in a simple, streamlined process that takes just five minutes.

As a member of the Knights of Columbus you:

  • Get opportunities to join a local council in your area to put your faith in action.
  • Receive a membership card and our award-winning monthly magazine, Columbia.
  • Get access to our online members’ portal that includes tons of great content to help you lead with faith, protect your family, serve others and defend your values.
  • Can discover the Catholic difference of our member-exclusive financial products and services.
  • Stand in solidarity with Knights across the globe who defend life, family and religious liberty.

Joining takes just 5 minutes, and costs $30/year.

Get connected to one of the largest Catholic organizations in the world, and one of the globe’s greatest forces for good. Begin your journey as a Knight, and discover the tremendous benefits that more than 1.9 million men and their families enjoy.

Join today.

Already a member? To learn more about the Online Membership initiative, visit our for members page.

*Not yet available in Puerto Rico.



Archbishop William E. Lori

LENT IS A SEASON of repentance and renewal leading us to the apex of the Church’s liturgical life: Holy Week. During that most sacred week in this Year of Grace, we will gather to retrace the way of Jesus from his entrance into Jerusalem in triumph to the institution of the Eucharist and priesthood at the Last Supper to his saving passion, death and resurrection. In the liturgies of Holy Week — Palm Sunday, the Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil — we truly share in the great events that brought us new life in Christ. Those saving events become present and available to us in the power of the Holy Spirit.


Let us not take the Church’s liturgy for granted. In and through the liturgy, we celebrate the marvelous things God has done to save us. To “celebrate” means to give joyful thanks for these great events and to render them present in the Church. This is true of every liturgical celebration, but it is especially evident during Holy Week. The rites of Holy Week are both solemn and beautiful, with a power and majesty all their own. As one who has been privileged to celebrate Holy Week liturgies for many years, I remain humbled and awestruck as the mystery of God’s plan of salvation unfolds before the eyes of faith.



I encourage everyone to attend and participate in the liturgies of Holy Week. Nothing is more worthy of our time and attention. Some people, however, say they don’t get anything out of the liturgy. They claim that it’s boring, meaningless or baffling, and they don’t find it spiritually nourishing. They are in the presence of untold riches without realizing it. They are like people who arrive at a marvelous banquet without much of an appetite — or like those who would prefer a sugary drink to a fine vintage or fast food to gourmet fare. Just as one’s appreciation for fine food and drink requires a developed palate, we must develop our “spiritual palate” if we would partake well in the banquet of Christ’s sacrifice.


The psalmist calls us to “taste and see the goodness of the Lord” (Ps 34:8). For us as Catholics, this verse stands as an invitation to participate in the Eucharistic liturgy, wherein we partake of Jesus’ gift of self on the cross and unite ourselves to his sacrificial love. His presence and sacrifice become our spiritual nourishment as we receive the risen Lord’s body, blood, soul and divinity. Responding to the psalmist’s invitation to experience the Lord’s goodness requires that, in God’s grace, we develop our inward taste for the sublime nourishment available to us in the Eucharist. In a phrase, the psalmist is urging you and me to hunger and thirst for holiness.

How, then, do we develop our spiritual palate so that we might arrive at the liturgy ready to partake of its riches and more fully “taste and see the goodness of the Lord”? While not ruling out the sudden inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I would argue that normally we appreciate the Church’s liturgy when we have an active life of private prayer. When we pray fervently in private each day, we truly begin to internalize the beauty, majesty and power of the Church’s liturgy — whether it is Holy Week or any other time.




There are certain steps that we can all take to grow in appreciation of the liturgy.


First, spend time every day being recollected in prayer. Take time to let the Lord speak to your heart and shed his light on the events of your life, your relationships, your struggles with sin and weaknesses, and your opportunities to love others or grow in virtue. Being with the Lord, allowing his heart to speak to our hearts in love, makes us long to know and love him more deeply. It prepares us to share in the liturgy more actively and, in turn, liturgical prayer enriches our personal life of prayer.


Second, be sure to make regular use of the sacrament of reconciliation. This sacrament, in which our sins are forgiven, is like a cleansing of the spiritual palate. It rids us of the bad taste left by the “junk food” of sin and distracted living while preparing us for the good things the Lord has in store for us.


Third, engage in lectio divina (divine or spiritual reading). Think of how much more we would appreciate the liturgy if, in advance, we were to prayerfully read and reflect upon the Scripture readings and prayers to be proclaimed at Mass. If we took a little time to do this, we would arrive at Mass ready to listen and better prepared to take part in the liturgy.


Fourth, why not dedicate some time to read and study what the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the shorter Compendium teaches about the liturgy and the sacraments? The Catechism draws its teaching from the Second Vatican Council and other sources in the Tradition. Its teaching is reliable, profound and beautiful.

All of this brings us back to Lent and Holy Week. This is preeminently the time for us to raise the bar of our life of prayer. As Holy Week approaches, may we truly “taste and see the goodness of the Lord!”

Trump Administration To Cut Federal Funding To Planned Parenthood

Washington, DC – March 5, 2018


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that, under Title X rules, they would channel millions of dollars away from Planned Parenthood.


That money would, instead, be granted to groups that promote abstinence education and sexual risk avoidance programs–rather than provide abortions for teenagers as Planned Parenthood does.


“Pro-abortion activists are absolutely livid over President Trump’s strong stance for life, said Faith & Freedom Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed. “Offering America’s teenagers a better education about how to avoid unwanted pregnancies might not be popular with Planned Parenthood–but it’s the right thing to do, and I’m so proud that we have President Trump in the White House, finally standing up for the majority of Americans who oppose unrestricted abortion-on-demand.”




by Soren Johnson


Joseph Shows the Way

St. Joseph is depicted leading Mary and Jesus into Egypt in this mosaic at the Coptic Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in the Cairo suburb of Maadi. Tradition holds that the Holy Family rested at this site.

As Catholic fathers, one of our main responsibilities is to pass on the faith to our children. We do this best by living the faith in an engaging way and by attending Mass with our family. But we also need to teach our kids the basics of the faith at a young age and make sure their Catholic knowledge grows as they do.


In teaching about Jesus and Mary, a summary of Gospel stories and a review of the mysteries of the rosary provide an excellent primer. What can we say about St. Joseph, the husband of Mary and adoptive father of Jesus, who has no words recorded in the Bible? In our online age in which every stray thought can be texted or tweeted, we can present Joseph as a model for our times — a man of action who goes against the tides and trends of the world.

As we approach St. Joseph’s feast day March 19, consider these five “countercultural” qualities of Joseph that can be instructive to our children, as well as to us.


Attentive. Our kids are bombarded by distracting media, yet they long for peace of heart and mind. As Pope Francis has observed, Joseph was “constantly attentive to God” and responded with courage to heavenly messengers who told him to put aside the opinion of others. St. John Paul II also said that because of his attentiveness, Joseph had the “power of making great decisions.” Our children, too, can do great things with St. Joseph at their side.


Humble. Social media, as forums for idealized personas and perfect images, are not noted for fostering humility. With a little guidance, our children can see through the online posturing and appreciate the value of honesty, the foundation of humility. Setting aside his own plans in order to follow God’s will, Joseph “lowers himself and takes this great responsibility upon his shoulders,” explains Pope Francis. St. Joseph teaches us that humility does not mean passivity. Rather, his hidden life was defined by integrity and strength.


Protective. Our kids can feel vulnerable amid what Pope Francis calls a “throwaway culture,” which does not respect the dignity of the human person — especially the unborn, the poor, the elderly, the sick and others on the periphery. In the face of harmful influences such as cyberbullying and online pornography, we should appeal to our children’s desire for protection. St. Joseph was the guardian, or custos, of Jesus, and he is now the patron of the universal Church. As a father, show your children that you stand strong with Joseph.


Hardworking. Although life today is vastly different than in the time of St. Joseph, the demands of hard work are still essentially the same. “Work was the daily expression of love in the life of the family of Nazareth,” wrote St. John Paul II. While our virtual age seeks pleasure first and is quick to demean or outsource menial labor, Joseph the carpenter rolls up his sleeves and reveals the dignity of human work. He is an example of someone who knows that hard work can be its own reward.


Loving. Our world is filled with distorted images of love that can cause our children great harm and heartache. Joseph is an antidote. Love for him was not red hearts and arrows but self-giving for the good of others. He also expressed a “tenderness,” notes Pope Francis, a “strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love.” Through St. Joseph, your kids can learn the true nature of love that is rooted in his care for Mary and Jesus.

Presenting St. Joseph with these countercultural virtues, we fathers should seek to imitate him in our own lives. That will be a win for our children, our families and ourselves.

SOREN JOHNSON is associate director of the Saint Thomas More Institute of the Diocese of Arlington and a member of Holy Family Council 6831 in Leesburg, Va.


David Jonke was walking down the center aisle of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., when his mentor, Brett Rugo, looked up at the Great Dome — not yet adorned with mosaic tiles — and said to him, “Kid, how are we going to get up there and do that someday?”


That was about 10 years ago. Rugo’s company had been working on projects at the shrine since 1997, starting with the Universal Call to Holiness, a large bas-relief located at the back of the Great Upper Church. Rugo and Jonke also worked on the Redemption Dome, the Knights of Columbus Incarnation Dome and cultural chapels in the basilica. But each of these projects was small in comparison to the installation of the Trinity Dome mosaic on the Great Dome’s interior — one of the largest mosaic installations of its kind in the world.

After two years of work, the team at Rugo Stone completed the project in 2017, and when they removed the 20,000 pieces of scaffolding, the Trinity Dome’s majestic mosaic was revealed.


Covering more than 26,000 square feet, including the curved vaulting surrounding the dome, the mosaic is made up of nearly 15 million pieces of Venetian glass, assembled by the Travisanutto Giovanni mosaic studio in Spilimbergo, Italy. It depicts the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary as the Immaculate Conception, 17 saints, one blessed, the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, and two choir angels — encircled at the base with the text of the Nicene Creed and surrounded by the four evangelists.

The completion of the Trinity Dome mosaic, accomplished in part thanks to financial support from the Knights of Columbus, marked the fulfillment of the shrine’s original architectural and iconographic plans, developed in the 1950s. The dome was officially dedicated Dec. 8, 2017, with Mass celebrated by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington.

At the conclusion of the Mass, Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the basilica, had a special word of thanks for the many benefactors and all who made the Trinity Dome possible.

“This crowning jewel of Mary’s Shrine,” he said, “is really your work — your gift to the Blessed Mother.”




Nearly 100 years ago, on Sept. 23, 1920, Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore and other senior churchmen in the United States laid the cornerstone for what would become the largest church in North America. Since that day, the National Shrine has been a work in progress, with each of its seven domes gradually completed to display important theological scenes.

The last dome mosaic to be completed before the Trinity Dome was the Knights of Columbus Incarnation Dome, which was dedicated in November 2007. It was while working on that dome that Rugo became interested in the Knights.

“It really piqued my curiosity and I wanted to know a lot more about them,” Rugo said. “All the good charitable things they do worldwide, the good things they do with local parishes and on a national level — I wanted to be part of it.”


Rugo is now a member of Edward Douglass White Council 2473 in Arlington, Va. As a member of the Knights, he is proud that the Order was one of the major benefactors of the Trinity Dome project.


The Trinity Dome is five times larger than the domes that Rugo and Jonke had worked on previously. Rugo called it “Mount Everest compared to little small hills.”


The scaffolding that supported the workers for the installation of the mosaic weighed about 300,000 pounds and had to be constructed inside the church, without the use of a crane. When it was completed, the scaffolding reached more than 150 feet above the floor of the basilica’s nave, supporting a platform that was 16 stories high.


“There were a few people who said, ‘No, you can never do it,’” recalled Jonke, who served as the project’s general superintendent. “When you tell me, ‘You can’t do something,’ that gives me the energy and confidence to pull it off.”

Jonke and his team worked around the clock to ensure that everything was done safely, swiftly and without interruption to any of the special events held at the basilica.  “There was no room for mistakes,” said Jonke. “Everything had to be right when it came out.”

Rugo called the project an “unbelievable undertaking,” noting that the original schedule had the project taking three and a half years, yet they did it in only two — and finished six weeks early, without any injuries or lost time.

“It has really been a hall of fame performance by the workmen in the field,” said Rugo. “We are very, very proud of the accomplishment.”


The Basilica’s Crowning Jewel

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl (left), archbishop of Washington; Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life; and Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the basilica, stand with a letter from Pope Francis after the Dec. 8 Mass dedicating the Trinity Dome. Cardinal Farrell, formerly an auxiliary bishop in Washington and bishop of Dallas, served as the Holy Father’s personal representative for the event. Photo by Matthew Barrick




The National Shrine is often affectionately referred to as “America’s Catholic Church,” because it was envisioned as a gift from the nation’s Catholics to display the country’s many cultures and their devotion to Mary. Throughout the shrine’s history, the generosity of American Catholics has made the pilgrimage site possible. One of those people was Jonke’s grandfather.

Every time Jonke begins a new project at the shrine, his mom reminds him about his grandfather, Josiah Sanders, who was a member of South Akron Council 3410 in Ohio while the Order was raising funds to build the basilica’s bell tower.

Sanders became very interested in the development of the shrine, and on every visit to his son in Maryland he would bring his family to view the construction in progress. After the Knights’ Tower was dedicated in 1959, Sanders longed to see the rest of the shrine completed. Little did he know that his grandson would play a large role in making that happen.

In addition to being grateful that he got to see his grandfather’s dream come true, Jonke feels privileged to complete the work of so many others.


“There’s been stonemasons working here since the groundbreaking,” said Jonke. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to finish a 100-year-old building.”


The project proceeded “like clockwork” — a testament to the skill of the workers, Jonke said. But he knew that grace was necessary as well.  “No matter how much you plan for something, anything can go wrong,” he said.

For both Rugo and Jonke, their Catholic faith has made their projects at the shrine more meaningful. Being surrounded by so much sacred art and learning about its significance day after day has been “like a second catechism,” Rugo said.

Rugo expressed gratitude to Msgr. Rossi and to Cardinal Wuerl for trusting Rugo Stone to work on the project, and said he was grateful to God that they were able to deliver it on time.

“I am happy it’s done for the basilica, but I am sad it is over, because it was an incredible process to be a part of,” he said. “It’s special to us, knowing we have had a big hand in the last 20 years of embellishing the largest church in North America.”

KELLY SANKOWSKI is a reporter for the Catholic Standard, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.


The Knights of Columbus has had a close relationship with the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception throughout the shrine’s history. Here are some highlights.


1920   A Fourth Degree honor guard is present at the cornerstone-laying ceremony of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, presided by Cardinal James Gibbons Sept. 23. 1957   The Order’s Board of Directors agrees to finance construction of the campanile, or bell tower, of the basilica. 1959   The 329-foot bell tower is dubbed the “Knights’ Tower” at its dedication. Inside the entrance to the campanile is a bronze tablet noting the Order’s gift “as a pledge of devotion of its members to our Blessed Lady, patroness of the United States.”
1963   The Order finances the installation of a carillon of 56 bells in the Knights’ Tower. 1977   Virgil C. Dechant, the 12th supreme knight, places his administration under Mary’s intercession during a Mass at the National Shrine. 1979   The $1 million Luke E. Hart Memorial Fund, named for the 10th supreme knight (1953- 64), is established by the Knights’ board to benefit the shrine.
1989   The carillon in the Knights’ Tower is rededicated after the Order funded the bells’ restoration as well as the installation of several new bells. In keeping with medieval tradition, names are given to the largest bells — among them Michael and Virgil, patron saints of the Order’s founder and 12th supreme knight, respectively. 1991   The 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyages of discovery and evangelization is marked by the Order with a Mass at the National Shrine Oct. 14. 1998   The Our Lady of Africa Chapel, constructed with financial support from the Order, is dedicated. Later that year, a stained-glass window of Father Michael J. McGivney, located in the Crypt Church sacristy, is also dedicated.
2000   More than 12,000 Knights and family members attend the Knights of Columbus Jubilee Year Pilgrimage April 1. The event includes praying the rosary with Pope John Paul II via live satellite from Rome. 2002   The shrine hosts the first Knights of Columbus Eucharistic Congress. The Order also marks the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with a Mass and patriotic program in the basilica. 2004   The National Shrine and the Knights co-sponsor an essay contest to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
2007   The Knights of Columbus Incarnation Dome, above the south nave of the basilica’s Great Upper Church, is completed with the Order’s support. Comprised of 2.4 million glass tiles over 3,780 square feet, the mosaic dome portrays the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Wedding Feast at Cana and the Transfiguration. 2008   The basilica’s choir, led by Dr. Peter Latona, begins providing sacred music at the liturgies of the annual Supreme Convention. 2010   In cooperation with the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Arlington, the Supreme Council begins funding the weekly broadcast of Sunday Masses from the basilica for people confined to their homes.
2012   Knights participate in a Mass and Pilgrimage for Life and Liberty, led by Supreme Chaplain William E. Lori, to pray for the protection of human life and religious freedom. 2013   Thousands of Knights gather at the basilica Sept. 8 for a special Year of Faith Pilgrimage, during which the Order is reconsecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The event also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Knights’ Tower carillon. Three months later, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson receives the Patronal Medal from the National Shrine and The Catholic University of America for advancing Marian devotion. 2015   The Supreme Council provides funding and educational resources for the Mass of canonization of St. Junípero Serra, celebrated by Pope Francis at the National Shrine Sept. 23.
2016   The Order underwrites the television broadcasts of a “24 Hours for the Lord” devotion celebrated at the basilica for the Year of Mercy. The devotion is repeated in 2017 at the request of Pope Francis and again televised by the Knights. 2017   The Trinity Dome mosaic, the final stage of the architectural and iconographic plan for the basilica, is completed, thanks in part to the Order’s financial support of more than $1 million.      



On Saturday, December 9, 1531, while on his way for religious instruction, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an Indian and recent convert to Christianity, heard singing coming from the top of Tepeyac hill. Suddenly, the singing stopped, and a woman’s voice called out to him: “Juantzin, Juan Diegotzin.” Ascending the hill, Juan Diego found himself before a beautiful woman adorned in clothing that “shone like the sun.” The woman introduced herself as “the immaculate Mother of God” and explained the reason for her appearance: she came to request a church to be built there, and she wanted Juan Diego to take her request to the head of the Church in Mexico, Bishop Juan de Zumárraga. The task would not be easy. Like many New World missionaries, Friar Zumárraga was suspicious of supposed visionaries, fearing it was indigenous idolatry. Skeptical of Juan Diego and the Virgin’s message, the bishop sent him away, but promised to listen again at a later time..


Dejected, Juan Diego returned to the Virgin and begged her to send someone more esteemed than himself. The Virgin listened tenderly but responded firmly, insisting that Juan Diego be her messenger. The following day (December 10th), Juan Diego returned to the bishop and recounted the many details of the apparition. This time, the bishop requested that Juan Diego return with evidence of the miraculous appearance. To be sure Juan Diego was being honest, the bishop sent two men to follow Juan Diego. But after trailing him for some time, the men lost sight of him, and told the bishop that Juan Diego was a fraud deserving punishment. Meanwhile, Juan Diego arrived at Tepeyac hill and told the Virgin of the bishop’s request; she in turn asked Juan Diego to come back the following day, when she would give him the requested sign for the bishop.


Returning home, Juan Diego was met with sad news: his uncle Juan Bernardino had become deathly ill. Instead of going to Tepeyac hill, the next day (December 11th) Juan Diego found a doctor, but nothing could be done. So on Monday, December 12, Juan Diego put on his tilma (cloak) for warmth and went to find a priest. Hoping to avoid any delays, he took a different path so as to avoid the Virgin. But as he neared Tepeyac, she descended from the hill, asking what was wrong. She then reassured the sorrowful Juan Diego by declaring her motherhood and promising that his uncle was already healed. Hearing this, Juan Diego asked for the sign for the bishop, and went to the hilltop as she instructed him. There – in this barren, wintery spot – he found a garden of sweet-smelling flowers; he picked the flowers and brought them back down to the Virgin, who arranged them in his tilma. Juan Diego then set out for the bishop’s house.


When Juan Diego arrived, the servants refused him entry, but eventually let him enter when they could not take the flowers from his tilma. Before the bishop, Juan Diego recounted the Virgin’s words and the miracle of the flowers. When Juan Diego opened his tilma and flowers fell out, an even greater miracle was revealed: on the tilma’s surface was the Virgin’s image. The bishop and those in the room fell to their knees, admiring and praying, and the bishop asked to be shown the place for the Virgin’s church. With his mission fulfilled, Juan Diego returned home to find his uncle completely healed, just as the Virgin had promised. Even more, the Virgin had appeared to Juan Bernardino, too, and had told him her name: “the Perfect Virgin Holy Mary of Guadalupe.” Two weeks later, the day after Christmas, her chapel was completed, and the tilma with its image was placed above the altar.

But that was just the beginning of the story. In the centuries since her apparition, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas has continued to transform lives. Her message and her image have been celebrated, venerated, studied, and passed on throughout the world. View the timeline to follow the Guadalupe Story from the apparitions to the present day.

Reflections Newsletter - August 2017


 Lawrence P. Grayson


The Pro-Life Future is Bright


Sixty million abortions and counting!  The number is staggering.  Since Roe v. Wade legalized the willful termination of pregnancy, one of every four children conceived in the United States has been killed in the womb.  

And what has been the response to combatting this barbarity?  Encouraging, but not yet satisfactory!

The majority of adults in this nation still believe, as they did in the late 1970s, that most abortions should be legal, at least under certain circumstances.  While seemingly little has changed in 44 years of pro-life effort, the breadth of the statement masks a notable shift in opinion by age group.  In the 1970s, the 77 million Baby Boomers, born in the period 1946-1964, had come of age and were changing the nation’s social values.  Many of them became the revolutionaries of the 1960s and ‘70s, and the Yuppies of the 1970s and ‘80s.  Self-centered and self-righteous, they engaged in free love, pursued radical feminism, considered marriage an option and made divorce socially acceptable.  Children would not disrupt their life styles.  Abortion was the answer.


In the succeeding years, their views on human life did not change significantly.  They aged, however, so that as today’s seniors they are much more supportive of abortion than the seniors of the 1970s.  Others raised in these years resisted the surrounding cultural pressures.  They, and some of the “latch-key kids” they bore, became omnipresent parents who pushed their children to succeed, especially academically.  Their children, born in the period 1981-2000, constitute the Millennial Generation.  They are optimistic, focused, have strong views, and are much more pro-life than their earlier counterparts.  In the early 1990s, only 14 percent of the 18-29 age group held that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances; 15 years later, 23 percent believed it should be illegal.


The latest cohort of children, born after 2000, appears to be equally committed to pro-life.  Teenage pregnancy, birth and abortion rates are now at 40-year lows.  Referred to as the iGeneration, they have been wedded to computers, cell phones and video games since their earliest years.  For many, their first picture was taken via ultrasound in the womb, presenting them with the undeniable humanity of the unborn.  They are flooded with digitally-delivered information and network and communicate almost constantly in “tweets” through social media.  They know what they want and how to get it.

The Millennials have already shown that they are a Pro-Life Generation.  From among their ranks are many of today’s pro-life activists, disturbing the consciences of their elders, bringing the atrocities of abortion into public view, and expanding their numbers through outreach efforts in schools, colleges and universities.  Those who identify as pro-life are intense in their commitment.  A NARAL survey in 2010 found that 51 percent of young people who identified as pro-life held that abortion was a very important voting issue.  In contrast, among those who identified as pro-choice, the percentage plummeted to 26 percent.


What might this intensity gap among the young mean for society?  Consider what a few passionate Millenials have and are doing.  Kristan Hawkins, as a sophomore in high school, volunteered at a pregnancy care center, then started a pro-life club at her school and did the same in college.  In 2006, a year after graduating college, she was chosen to head Students for Life in America.  In the past ten years, she has helped create 1,100 college and high school chapters, began Med Students for Life, Law Students for Life, and Pregnant on Campus.  Shawn Carney was a college freshman in 2001 when he was asked by a co-ed to pray with her in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic.  He did, and three years later the two of them joined with David Bereit to found 40 Days for Life.  In the last decade, the organization has conducted almost 5,000 campaigns in 44 countries, drawn 750,000 participants and saved 13,305 babies.  Lila Rose, in 2004 at the age of 15, founded Live Action, an organization devoted to educating the public about the savagery of abortion.  She began by conducting undercover work to expose the operations of the worst abortion facilities.  Now, she has built the largest social media following in the pro-life movement, with her recent Internet video discussing abortion procedures being viewed by 80 million people.  David Daleiden, at age 18, headed a chapter of Live Action.  In 2013, he founded The Center for Medical Progress to do covert investigative journalism on the abortion industry.  In the past few years, the Center released a series of videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s sale of body parts from aborted children.  This has resulted in several Congressional investigations and a growing number of states eliminating funding for the abortion organization.  Stephanie Gray began giving pro-life talks at the age of 18 as a college freshman.  Upon graduation, she co-founded the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform in 2001, and has given over 800 pro-life presentations, debated numerous abortion advocates throughout Canada, the United States and other countries, and has been a frequent guest on radio and television.  Now, she has started a new ministry, Love Unleashes Life.


These and other committed individuals are changing society.  Public attitudes are shifting.  Pro-life advocacy is increasing.  Pro-abortion support is declining.  The annual number of abortions is now the lowest it has been since abortion was legalized in 1973.  And, as a positive indicator of the future, the number of teenage pregnancies is at an all-time low and decreasing.

The signs are clear.  Abortion in America will be outlawed, and it will occur within this generation – if we continue to work and pray for its demise.


* * * * *

August 2017