The Centenary Mass of the Knights of St Columba
The Knights celebrated the Mass for the end of their Centenary Year in St Andrew’s Cathedral just over a week after the Apostleship of the Sea celebration, on 5 October. Archbishop Tartaglia presided at the Mass and was joined by the Ecclesiastical Advisor of the Knights, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP of Liverpool, Bishop Leslie Tomlinson from Sandhurst, Australia, Archbishop Emeritus Mario Conti, and Bishops Keenan and Toal.
Before the Mass began, the St Mungo Singers and Dr Noel Donnelly provided reflective music, as the Knights and their families, including Supreme Knight Bertie Grogan, former Supreme Knights and the Board of Directors, gathered. Archbishop Tartaglia, in his welcome, described their organisation and its work as a project of faith. The choir also led the music of the Liturgy.
In the homily, Archbishop McMahon began by saying that the words “Thank you” are central to our Mass and also to the Knights for their centenary of service. Thanks are due to all who have served – an estimate is that there have been around a quarter of a million Knights over the hundred years of their existence throughout the UK, to their wives and families, and to their friends who help.
When P J O’Callaghan started up a self-help group of Catholic men in Glasgow in 1919, he could have had no idea of what he was setting in motion, said Archbishop McMahon, for it has developed into an organisation caring for the church and for the wider community both in the UK and abroad. The Knights are truly missionary disciples, taking their faith out in their service, as reflected in their motto “Charity, unity, fraternity”. It was a fortunate coincidence that this month will see the canonisation of John Henry Newman, which gives a new opportunity to learn from the example of this great saint.
He reminded those present that Pope Francis has asked us to be a church that listens, to be among the people. The cry of the poor drives us on, he said, and the Lord will be with us in uncertain times. He demands that we are people of mercy, stretching out our hands to others, and our acts of charity are like lights in the storm for people. Recalling the words of Newman’s famous hymn Lead, Kindly Light , he reminded us that the light referred to in St John’s Gospel shines for us and enables us to walk together on the road.
As Newman said “to live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often”. With this thought in mind, he committed the next century of the Knights’ service to the intercession of St Columba and the care of Our Lady, so that we can be the church God is calling us to be.
During the Mass, the Supreme Knight installed the new Board Members, and at the end he took the opportunity to recall the names of those who had served the Knights over the years as Supreme Knights, Chaplains and Ecclesiastical Advisors. He invited those present to remember prayer was a powerful weapon in their work, to tell the story of the organisation, share the dream and lay the foundations for the future.