GALA NIGHT AT KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS CONVENTION
August 2, 2016
Following the day’s formalities, procedures and the Opening Mass and 1st major session, the Knights - as well as the many spouses and families that accompanied a lot of them to Toronto - were bussed to the Allstream Centre at the campus of the Canadian National Exhibition. The formal-attire-only gala event began with the invocation led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and then a few welcome remarks by Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson.
After the banquet meal had began, Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore rose and read the citation for this year’s ‘Gaudium et Spes Award’. It was established in 1992 to recognize those “who have made outstanding contributions to both the Catholic Church and society”. Past recipients have included Mother Theresa, Jean Vanier and Cardinals John O’Connor and Francis George among others. This year the recipient was the community of the Little Sisters of the Poor in the U.S. It is a community of Sisters that stared to come together around 1839 in France, but which was formally recognized 13 years later in 1852. They first came to the United States in 1868. They received the award this year because of their many years of working with the poor and the elderly in their 27 homes in the United States, but also for their boldness in resisting a recent coercive government mandate that would have seen them violate their consciences and their Catholic principles. They were being forced to change their staff policies that would provide immoral ‘services’ to employees. They could not in conscience comply with the demand nor could they abandon the poor, elderly and dying that were in their care. They chose to oppose the regulation and did so right up to the Supreme Court and were successful – not only for themselves, but for all Christian institutions.
Throughout the Dinner, an orchestra played and sang a song for each state/province throughout the Order. This meant different languages and a variety of different music styles. As a state council was recognized its delegates would stand and cheer and wave their flag. Often other states scattered around the great hall would also join them in support. The two state councils that receive the greatest – even unanimous support – were the newest council of Ukraine and the host council, Ontario. The keynote speaker was Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, PSS who now serves as the Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops and as the President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. He shared many insights into the daily life of Pope Francis and explained why he held the present Roman Pontiff in high esteem and is convinced that he is the Pope for our day.
The evening concluded with the non-delegates making their way back to the hotel and the delegate members moving upstairs to a large meeting hall for a caucus meeting in preparation for the sessions in the days ahead. A number of matters concerning resolutions and candidates for various positions were discussed. It was a long day.