Jonathan Reyes, senior vice president for Evangelization and Faith Formation, explains what it means for Knights to follow God
By William Nardi
Knights of Columbus are dedicated to our founder Father McGivney’s vision of an Order that helps others grow in their faith life, while sharing that life with others. This is what we mean by the familiar phrase “putting faith in action.”
Our Fraternal Mission department is tasked with organizing Knights to continue Father McGivney’s legacy of faith and fraternity. But what does success look like? How is a man supposed to live his faith in everyday situations? Jonathan Reyes, the senior vice president for Evangelization and Faith Formation, recently spoke with Knightline staff about Father McGivney’s profound vision for the Order, giving us the why behind Knights’ faith programming.
Knightline: What is your team’s goal?
Reyes: We want to serve Father McGivney’s vision of deepening our commitment to Christ and living heroically by program and resource development of all kinds — resources that not only help Knights, but that also help the wider Catholic community in the various countries where Knights are present.
As Knights, we are charged with carrying on Father McGivney’s vision of a fraternity of men committed to caring for one another and serving our parishes and communities. This is simply part of who we are. So when anyone sees us — sees Knights — we want them to see men who love God and love their neighbor no matter the cost.
This year, we are looking to particularly meet this goal by highlighting our new Into the Breach video series and program. The lessons of Into the Breach are foundational to the work that we do and who we are as Knights. Each of our “Faith in Action” programs is an opportunity to go into the breach and bring Christ to our communities, parishes and families. But to do that effectively, we first must recognize where the breaches of faith are, which is why we’re calling on every council to run the Into the Breach program.
Knightline: Why is a commitment to God and to the Catholic faith so important for Knights?
Reyes: Recently the supreme knight identified the root cause of so much of what the Church is suffering from today — he saw it as a failure of evangelization. The Knights of Columbus’ Evangelization and Faith Formation team hopes to address this by helping Knights with their mission to share their faith in evangelizing their families, and with the world. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is still the greatest news in the world, and we, as Knights, can make that news better known and loved by how we live and by what we say.
Knightline: What defines a Knight?
Reyes: Each Knight of Columbus, like every Catholic, is encouraged to live his faith boldly, to give himself in service, and to evangelize. The goal of our “Faith in Action” programs is to put our K of C brothers in situations through which they will encounter Christ and be Christ for others.
Knightline: How are family men supposed to evangelize?
Reyes: The answer of what it looks like for family men to evangelize is also the answer to this question: How do we live the domestic church? The “domestic church” is a phrase that captures what it means to live our family life as Catholics, and that phrase is at the heart of our programming. Why? Because at the heart of every civilization is the family.
Our families are facing real challenges these days. Our programs are designed to help men and their families commit to lives of discipleship — starting with us as fathers, grandfathers and brothers. To strengthen the family is to strengthen the individual and the parish and wider community. That is why we have built many of our programs around the domestic church.
Knightline: What’s an example of a successful program you’ve done?
Reyes: Leave No Neighbor Behind is a perfect example. The high numbers of participation and donations of time and money indicate something of how successful this program is.
But the numbers only tell part of the story. What is truly transformational in my mind is the witness that our brothers are giving in their communities. Even a casual reading of Knightline indicates just how many creative and, frankly, heroic ways the men are serving in this time of pandemic. During this pandemic, when many people are understandably much more cautious regarding how and where they spend their time, Knights of Columbus are a selfless light in the darkness. People are moved by this. And it bears witness to more than what we do, as impressive as that is. It bears witness to who we are: disciples of Jesus. And it leads people to ask “Why do you do that?” This is the perfect opening for an evangelizing moment. When people see what we do and ask why we do it, we can answer truthfully: We do it because we are servants of Jesus Christ and he did it first. We do it for love of God and love of our neighbor.
Knightline: How can Knights become a part of Leave No Neighbor Behind?
Reyes: There’s five calls to action for Knights as part of this program:
1) Support your brother Knights: This means consistently check-in with brother Knights to see how they are doing and if they need anything.
2) Support your parish: Frequently check in with our pastors to see how we may be of service during this difficult and challenging time.
3) Support your community: See a need, fill a need. Prayerfully see where God is calling councils to assist in the community and then answer that call.
4) Feed the hungry: Do everything possible to assist food banks. Also, if there are families in need of meals or food supplies, help them directly.
5) Participate in blood drives: Within the guidelines of your town/state, support blood banks, whether by providing financial support, donating blood yourself or even hosting a council-sponsored blood drive.