After two years of pandemic, B.C. Knights find renewed fervour

Knights of Columbus State Deputy Ed Panes delivers coats for children at the SOS Children's Village as part of the Knights’ Winter Coats for Kids program. Panes says the Knights’ goal for the coming year is to encourage families to learn how their parish is keeping them safe and healthy as COVID restrictions wind down. (Submitted photo - The B.C. Catholic, CCN)

By Rosette Correa, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – During two years of COVID-19 pandemic, the Church has been wrought with challenges of Mass attendance and participation among the faithful. It’s been a trying time for parishes trying to engage churchgoers amid the chaos, confusion, and restrictions on places of worship.

Catholic organizations also experienced dwindling numbers as members stepped away from the Church and the pandemic severed ties among family and friends. So Ed Panes and his brothers in British Columbia’s Knights of Columbus prayed and sought for solutions that could reignite the fervour of the Knights in service. What they came up with was the COVID Recovery Program as a way to help organizations and parishes come out stronger after the pandemic.

“The COVID Recovery Program focused on ways to resume operations that will continue to inspire members and parishioners to become re-involved with Church and community activities,” said Panes, State Deputy of the B.C. Knights.

“Summer of 2021 was especially busy as the State Officers made an effort to personally visit each B.C. Council to train and educate our members about the CRP.”

With pandemic restrictions dying down, the plan now is to encourage families to find out how their local parish is keeping them safe and healthy, “and with that knowledge, work on reigniting and supporting their local council’s activities.”

Membership growth will also remain one of the key focuses for the coming year. Despite the pandemic, the K of C remained strong in numbers and as of 2020 there were two million Knights registered, each member belonging to one of more than 16,000 councils around the world, including more than 300 university and college councils.

“This year we are blessed with new members of all ages, from 18 years old and older, and we are at 90 per cent of our membership goal,” which they hope to meet by the end of April.

Panes, who is winding down the first year of his two-year term, is only the second Knight of Filipino heritage to be named as State Deputy in B.C. It’s been a year in which he feels blessed to have been able as a Canadian of Filipino descent to witness the Philippines celebrate 500 years of Christianity.

“We have Filipino members in almost every council in B.C. Knights of Columbus, so together with our Filipino communities we celebrated with our friends and families the birth of Christianity in the Philippines,” said Panes, who has been a Knight for 15 years and was invited to join while serving in the hospitality ministry at St. Joseph the Worker in Richmond.

The K of C in the Philippines was founded in 1905 with Manila Council 1000, which was chartered after the Spanish-American War during the period of American colonization. The Philippines, under American rule, was one of four countries the K of C saw as an area of expansion. There are now nearly 500,000 Knights in the Philippines, but countless other Filipino Knights all over the world are serving their parishes in many ways.

The Knights council at St. Anthony of Padua in Agassiz is working with Father Dennis Flores to support the building of a Santo Nino Shrine, an homage to the Infant Jesus who has been venerated by Filipinos for centuries.

At their annual meeting April 22-24 the Knights have invited as guest speaker Sofia Roux, a Vancouver teen who sells her artwork to help educate girls in Africa. Using the funds she raised, Roux designed, developed, and built a solar powered computer lab for STEM education at a home for children in Cape Town, South Africa. Both the Knights and Catholic Women’s League were so inspired by her work that they invited her to speak at their respective conventions.