Knights of Columbus Announce Icon of St. Joseph as Prayer Program’s Centerpiece

Archbishop Lori said that St. Joseph’s obedient faith and trustworthiness are “two virtues [that] ought to stand out in us as Knights of Columbus, and especially in us who are leaders among our brother Knights in the Order.”

The Knights of Columbus announced the selection of this icon of St. Joseph holding the Child Jesus as the centerpiece of this year's KofC prayer program.
The Knights of Columbus announced the selection of this icon of St. Joseph holding the Child Jesus as the centerpiece of this year's KofC prayer program. (photo: Courtesy of Knights of Columbus / Knights of Columbus)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As the state deputies of the Knights of Columbus gathered for their semi-annual meeting last weekend in Nashville, Tennessee, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly encouraged the order’s leaders to grow in faith, expand the Order’s membership, and advance the Knight’s mission.

Kelly also introduced the Order’s new pilgrim icon prayer program, which features an icon of St. Joseph holding the child Jesus from St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Canada. 

The Knights of Columbus (KofC) is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, with more than two million members in 16,000 councils worldwide. 

The pilgrim icon prayer program is a longstanding tradition for the KofC, in which every few years a new icon of a saint is selected to inspire the Knights and their communities. The icon is distributed to each of the Knight’s more than 75 jurisdictions and travels from council to council.

Councils at parishes will use the icon as centerpieces for “rosary-based” prayer services, a press release said. Our Lady of Guadalupe was the first icon during the conception of the program in 1979. Since the initiation of the program, almost 175,000 council and parish prayer services have been held with about 22 million participants.

Past images commissioned by the council have been icons of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Częstochowa, Our Lady of Pochaiv, Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Charity, Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians, and the Holy Family.

Following a Votive Mass in honor of St. Joseph on Saturday, Nov. 6 celebrated by Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Kelly announced the featuring of the St. Joseph icon, which is inspired by Pope Francis’ Apostolic letter, Patris Corde. Pope Francis’s letter announced the year of St. Joseph that stretches from Dec. 8, 2020 to Dec 8, 2021. 

Kelly, who received a private audience with Pope Francis last month, said that the Holy Father was grateful that the Knights chose St. Joseph to be “a central focus of our spiritual efforts.”

Kelly was accompanied at the meeting by his predecessor, past Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, as well as Archbishop Lori.

The choice for the newly commissioned icon of St. Joseph is no surprise, as Kelly has advocated for devotion to the saint since his installation as the Supreme Knight. 

During his June installation, Kelly consecrated his administration to St. Joseph. “The example of St. Joseph teaches us how to be Knights of the Eucharist. He was the guardian of the first tabernacle — beginning with Mary herself when she bore Christ in her womb, and then in the home where he and Mary lived with Jesus,” he said at his installation address.

Also, in October, the Knights released a new documentary on St. Joseph, inspired by Pope Francis’s declaration of the Year of St. Joseph.

The Knights of Columbus's pilgrim icon prayer program is a longstanding tradition, in which every few years a new icon of a saint is selected to inspire the Knights and their communities. This year, the Knights have chosen an icon of St. Joseph holding the child Jesus from St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Canada. Jeffrey Bruno, Courtesy of the Knights of Columbus.

The Knights of Columbus's pilgrim icon prayer program is a longstanding tradition, in which every few years a new icon of a saint is selected to inspire the Knights and their communities. This year, the Knights have chosen an icon of St. Joseph holding the child Jesus from St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Canada. Jeffrey Bruno, Courtesy of the Knights of Columbus.

During his address on Saturday, Kelly encouraged Knights and their communities to again entrust themselves to St. Joseph. Kelly implored the men to “give thanks to God for the gift of his fatherly example and ask St. Joseph to be a father to us” as we seek to “grow in our own imitation of St. Joseph’s quiet strength, integrity, and fidelity.” 

Archbishop Lori said that St. Joseph’s obedient faith and trustworthiness are “two virtues [that] ought to stand out in us as Knights of Columbus, and especially in us who are leaders among our brother Knights in the Order.”

“St. Joseph’s vocation to foster the earthly life of Jesus is, of course, unique, but all of us have been called to the obedience of faith,” Archbishop Lori added. “Father McGivney envisioned his Knights, above all, as men of obedient faith, who, with their wives and children, would live their vocation to the fullest.”

“In choosing Joseph to care with a father’s love for the Incarnate Son of God, the Eternal Father recognized in St. Joseph a man of utmost integrity, a man who perhaps had no idea what God had in mind for him but nonetheless went about his daily life and work with honesty and reliability,” he said.

“A lot of men, especially young men, are looking for meaning and answers,” he said. “We offer both — a life of service and a life of meaning. Don’t just encourage men to adopt our initiatives; explain to them why our initiatives matter, and how the Knights can help them be the kind of men God is calling them to be,” he said.

Speaking of the Knight’s founder, Blessed Michael McGivney, Kelly told the state deputies on Friday, Nov. 5 that McGivney was a “man of action.” He said that McGivney “rose to meet the struggles” of his parishioners and community “head on,” and that by establishing the Knights of Columbus, he “gave men a place to stand as brothers, bound together in charity, unity, and fraternity.”

Kelly implored the Knights to fulfil the mission that McGivney started in his time. Kelly also called on the men to expand the Order’s membership by growing “deeper, as men of faith.”

On Nov. 7, at the meeting’s closing session, Kelly presented four Knights with the St. Michael Award for exemplary service to the Order. 

The four recipients were: former director of chaplains for the KofC, Augustinian Father John Grace; former Supreme Warden George W. Hanna; Supreme Master Dennis Stoddard; and Col. Charles “Chuck” Gallina (USMC-Ret.), the supreme knight’s advisor for military and veterans affairs.