The family as domestic church is central to both the work of the new evangelization and to the future sustainability of our parishes as well as the future sustainability of the Order. But the Catholic family cannot perform this important mission on its own.
The reason is simple: As Blessed Paul VI observed, the family can only truly be a domestic church when its daily life "mirrors the various aspects of the entire Church." And for this to become a reality, the family must be more fully integrated into the sacramental life of the parish. Knights of Columbus parish-based councils today are not only places that provide invaluable support to parish life in terms of charitable and social activities. They are a primary place to support the evangelization of family life through the mission of the domestic church. Our councils can do this by more fully integrating families into the life of the parish through the many programs of our parish-based councils. If we do this, then we will continue the legacy of Father McGivney a legacy which, as Pope Benedict observed, was to promote spiritual renewal among Catholics by strengthening them in holiness and unity. And as a parish priest, Father McGivney saw that this renewal could be assisted in powerful ways in the parish by the new organization he had established.
THE RENEWAL OF PARISH AND FAMILY LIFE Today, we are determined to continue this work of renewal and unity. In this way, we will also realize the mission that St. John Paul II identified in Ecclesia in America: "The renewal of the Church in America will not be possible without the active presence of the laity. Therefore they are largely responsible for the future of the Church"
The pastoral visit of Pope Francis to the United States and his attendance at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia present a historic opportunity for Catholics throughout the world and especially for Catholics in North America. During the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis called for a new alliance between the Church and the family in order that Catholic families might receive greater encouragement and support. "May God grant us this gift of a renewed closeness between the family and the Church," the pope said. "Families need it, the Church needs it, and we pastors need it."
But for millions of Catholic families, this new alliance will become a reality only if they can find this greater support within their local parish. There is no Catholic organization better positioned for this task today in thousands of parishes than the Knights of Columbus.
Today, the Knights of Columbus is providentially positioned to play a key role in the new alliance between the Church and the family called for by Pope Francis. But for us to do so requires that we adopt new methods. We must devote even greater efforts to our fundamental mission of charity, unity and fraternity, and we must do so with even greater attention to the needs and the future of our parishes and our families. What is necessary now is our greater involvement in the renewal of parish and family life. To meet this need we will have to do some things differently. Our councils will have to become even more active in our parish communities. We will have to stop duplicating activities that are more appropriately done by and through the parish. We will have to focus more on programs that support Catholic families in their mission as a domestic church.