Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly reminded Knights of Columbus state deputies in a Nov. 5 address that the fraternal order's founder, Blessed Michael McGivney, was "a man of action."

"Our founder was not content to watch and lament the struggles of his parishioners and community. He rose to meet those struggles head-on -- decisively and courageously," Kelly said in an address during the semiannual meeting of state deputies held in Nashville Nov. 5-7.

Speaking to the leaders of nearly 70 jurisdictions, he encouraged them to grow in faith, expand the fraternal order's membership, and advance the mission established by Blessed McGivney.

"A lot of men, especially young men, are looking for meaning and answers," Kelly 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."

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, the Knights' supreme chaplain, also addressed the state deputies, telling them that "our debt to Father McGivney is incalculable."

"Without him, countless Catholic men would have lost their faith and countless families would have been set adrift," he said. "Because of his holiness, barriers such as time, place and culture dissolve. He accompanies us on our journey of faith today, wherever we may be, no less than he accompanied his 19th-century parishioners of St. Mary's in New Haven (Connecticut)."

Archbishop Lori added, "When we venerate Blessed McGivney throughout our jurisdictions, we are inviting him to smile upon us from his place in heaven, and more than that, we are inviting him to visit us in our need."

The archbishop celebrated a votive Mass Nov. 6 in honor of St. Joseph. He drew from Scripture two important virtues in St. Joseph's life -- his obedient faith and his trustworthiness.

"These two virtues ought to stand out in us as Knights of Columbus, and especially in us who are leaders among our brother Knights in the order," he said.

Obedience of faith means that, due to the working of God's grace, Archbishop Lori said, "our hearts are repaired, cleansed, transformed and fully attuned to God's will, especially to God's mysterious plan for the redemption of the world."

He added, "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. 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."

Regarding St. Joseph's example of trustworthiness, he reminded the Knights that "in choosing Joseph to care with a father's love for the Incarnate Son of God," the Father recognized in him "a man of utmost integrity."

Joseph was perhaps a man who "had no idea what God had in mind for him but nonetheless went about his daily life and work with honesty and reliability," the archbishop said.

In brief remarks following the Mass, Kelly launched the Knights' new two-year pilgrim icon prayer program, inspired by "Patris Corde" ("With a Father's Heart"), Pope Francis' apostolic letter announcing the Year of St. Joseph, which began Dec. 8, 2020.

The prayer program features an icon of St. Joseph holding the Christ Child from St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal.

Recalling his Oct. 25 meeting with Pope Francis in Rome, Kelly noted, "The Holy Father was grateful that we've made St. Joseph a central focus of our spiritual efforts."

Kelly, who entrusted his tenure as the Knights' CEO to St. Joseph when he took office in March, encouraged the state deputies and their communities to "turn in prayer to St. Joseph."

Supreme Knight Patrick E. Kelly, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, addresses the Knights' state deputies Nov. 5, 2021, during their semiannual meeting Nov. 5-7 in Nashville, Tenn. (CNS photo/courtesy Knights of Columbus)

"Give thanks to God for the gift of his fatherly example and ask St. Joseph to be a father to us," he said, as all Knights seek to "grow in our own imitation of St. Joseph's quiet strength, integrity and fidelity."

The St. Joseph icon is the latest sacred image to be featured in the Knights of Columbus pilgrim prayer program.

Previous images for the program have included Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Czestochowa, Our Lady of Pochaiv, Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Charity, Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians and the Holy Family.

The icons travel from council to council and serve as the centerpieces for rosary-based prayer services in parishes around the world.

Since its inception in 1979, the program has held more than 174,800 local council and parish prayer services with some 22 million participants.

Kelly also honored four Knights with the St. Michael Award for exemplary service to the fraternal order: Augustinian Father John Grace, former director of chaplains for the Knights of Columbus; George W. Hanna, former supreme warden; Dennis Stoddard, supreme master; and retired Marine Col. Charles "Chuck" Gallina, the supreme knight's adviser for military and veterans affairs.