My Brother Knights:


As I write my first article for the Oklahoma Knight, I am reflecting on the recent Organizational Meeting and Officer Installation Ceremony. It was heartwarming to see so many of my Brother Knights and their families at the Installation Mass. Being elected as your State Deputy has been a humbling experience given the many great leaders who have held this position in the past. While the thought of living up to the standards set by my predecessors is daunting, I know that I have the full support of our current leadership team, the Past State Deputies and the membership at large.


Our Immediate Past State Deputy, Robert Melko, and his officers set a high bar over the past two years and we are now challenged to meet or exceed their accomplishments. As we begin the 2017-2018 fraternal year, I am confident that the new team of State Officers, Directors and District Deputies are up to the challenge.


For the past several years, the State Council and many local councils have focused significant attention on the Center of Family Love in Okarche. The Center was founded by the Oklahoma State Council in 1975 and the doors of the new facility were opened in 1981. Since then, the Center has faced many challenges. To date, the challengers, though many, have been addressed and resolved by the Center's dedicated staff with the assistance of our members. The financial model that sustained the Center in the 1980's and 1990's is no longer viable, consequently, the Center will continue to face challenge for the foreseeable future. The Oklahoma Knights of Columbus, through our charitable works, will continue to rise to this challenge.


We will assure the continued existence of this facility that so lovingly provides material and spiritual support for the residents who call the Center their home. We will continue to support: the Intellectual Disabilities Fund Drive by handing out Tootsie Rolls; the Special Olympics program by providing manpower for the Oklahoma State games; the annual Gala by selling raffle tickets and attending the event; and the Love Challenge by encouraging our fellow parishioners to adopt a resident. In addition, out councils will continue to provide manpower to address needed facility repairs and improvements. And why will we do this? Because we are Knights!


As we begin our new fraternal year, the Supreme Council is encouraging all councils to promote the Building of the Domestic Church Program. The inspiration for this program is rooted in St. John Paul II's charge, "Family, become what you are..." from his 1981 apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio and from these words of guidance from Pope Francis: "Families are the domestic Church, where Jesus grows; he grows in the love of spouses, he grows in the lives of children." Through the leadership of the General Program Director Philip Stramski, the State Council will be providing information and materials to assist all local councils in the implementation of this program. I ask that councils avail themselves of the assistance offered by our General Programs team. I also ask that we make a concerted effort to offer the Building the Domestic Church Program to our parishes and to all the families that are members of our parishes. As Knights of Columbus in the State of Oklahoma, we can continue to support the Center of Family Love and provide the programs that strengthen our parishes because we are part of a vibrant and growing organization.


Assuring the continued growth and viability of our Order is not only the responsibility of the Supreme Council and the State Council, it is our responsibility as individual members of our Order. Our ranks are periodically reduced as a result of withdrawals and suspensions, but the single biggest threat to the existence of our Order is the depletion of our ranks by the death of our members. Half of the membership in the State of Oklahoma is over the age of 56. Order wide, this demographic is much worse. Even though the mean age of our membership in Oklahoma is not alarming in and of itself, it is alarming to know that our mean age has increased by five years over the last ten years.


There are two ways to offset this trend: 1) Live longer and 2) Recruit and retain more young members. Through God's providence, we can address the former. As to the latter, this responsibility fall squarely on our shoulders. Every council faces unique circumstances related to recruitment. The good news is the State Council has a strong membership team lead by Membership Director Ryan King. Ryan and his team have dealt with a host of recruitment challenges encountered in our Jurisdiction and they have the resources to address the issues you face. All you have to do is ask for help. There are programs available through the State Membership team that provide guidance on how to conduct a successful recruitment drive. In addition, there are Supreme and State programs that provide recruitment incentives for councils and individual members. The State Membership team can help councils establish recruitment goals and to prepare a plan to reach those goals. But please remember this: at the end of the day, it is our responsibility to assure the continued viability of the Knights of Columbus in the State of Oklahoma. We will fulfill this responsibility by continuously adding younger members to our ranks.


I am confident that you, my Brother Knights, will do whatever it takes to keep Columbianism alive and well in the State of Oklahoma. As we develop our plans and reach for new heights, I am certain that we are all of like mind. I look forward to working with each and every one of you as we continue to serve our members, our families, our clergy, our parishes and our communities.


Vivat Jesus!

John Pierce, State Deputy