In a partnership with the Knights of Columbus, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Hartford are fundraising money to aid the religious minorities persecuted by the Islamic State.
The Knights have supplied olive wood solidarity crosses, manufactured in the Middle East, to raise financial support for Christian towns in Iraq and Syria.
Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson applauded the cooperation of the Hartford archdiocese, particularly its high schools.
“We are very grateful to the Archdiocese of Hartford for its support of those who have been persecuted for their faith in the Middle East, and we have been truly inspired by these high school students who have taken time and energy to learn about this important issue and raise money to help,” he said in an April 15 statement.
All nine of Hartford’s Catholic high schools have sought to educate their students on Islamic State terrorism and the victims involved. Each school has also adopted a town in the Middle East to keep within their prayers.
At an April 15 Mass at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Catholic leaders applauded the project on its efforts to promote Catholic solidarity and preserve Christian culture. In his homily, Bishop Bawair Soro of the Chaldean Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto expressed his gratitude.
“The message that I have for the Knights of Columbus is one of admiration, that you are amazing. We thank you,” the bishop said.
“We are encouraged by your model, please continue. I know many of the good things that have been done have been influencing us and I know that what you see publicly is only 10 percent of the things that the Knights have been doing. We pray that this will continue and God bless you all.”
A question-and-answer session followed the Mass. In attendance were Stephen Rasche, Counsel to Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil; Bishop Soro; Archbishop Leonard Blair of Harford; and Andrew Walther, the Knights of Columbus' vice president for communications and strategic planning.
“Our mission is to preserve the word and example of Christ in the Middle East, and this we are committed to do, whatever the cost,” said Rasche. “In this, we are grateful for the support and solidarity we have received from our brothers and sisters in Connecticut and elsewhere.”
In the past, the Knights have advocated for projects to aid Middle Eastern Christians. Since 2014, the organization has contributed $19 million to support the victims of the Islamic State. In 2016, the Knights of Columbus campaigned for the U.S. Congress and Department of State to recognize the persecutions as an act of genocide.