SAN ANTONIO (CNS) — The Knights of Columbus launched a new Marian prayer program dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception at a Mass Aug. 7 during the order’s 131st supreme convention.

It is the 16th such prayer program of the Knights of Columbus using a sacred image as its centerpiece.

In 1979, the first program was begun with images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. In preparation for the 1982 centennial of the order, the second prayer program was initiated, which also highlighted the Immaculate Conception. Over the years, Mary also has been honored by the Knights under her titles of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Czestochowa, Our Lady of the Assumption, Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Charity and Our Lady of Pochaiv, a traditional Marian title of Ukrainian Catholics.

The image that will be used with the new campaign is a reproduction of the painting that embellishes the Basilica Cathedral Notre-Dame de Quebec, above the main altar, a colorful painting of Our Lady, the work of Sister Marie de l’Eucharistie, a Sister of Charity of Quebec. Both the church and the Archdiocese of Quebec will be celebrating their 350th anniversaries next year.

“May Our Lady accompany our church and all the members of our order all over the world. Like her, we want to be open to the Holy Spirit and available to accomplish God’s plan in today’s world,” said Archbishop Gerard C. Lacroix of Quebec, primate of Canada, in remarks at the inauguration of the prayer program. “And following Our Lady’s example, we want to leave with haste as she did, to share the good news of the Gospel to a world that needs the hope and the truth and the love of Jesus Christ.”

The Knights’ order-wide programs of Marian prayer have gathered together more than 16 million people at some 140,000 prayer services conducted at local councils and parishes.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, then blessed the framed images, which were carried before the altar in a procession by the Knights’ state deputies, prior to the conclusion of the liturgy. He prayed for God’s blessing upon the state deputies as they prepared to “carry these images of Our Lady to councils and countries throughout the world.”

The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, and Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago was the homilist.

Cardinal George spoke on the theme of the convention, “Be Protectors of God’s Gifts,” taken from Pope Francis’ words at his inauguration Mass March 19.

“The most important gift is the gift of God’s grace, which gives meaning to all the other gifts God bestows,” said the cardinal. He added that other gifts include life itself, the church, religious liberty, marriage and family. These must be protected on a personal level by prayer and avoidance of sin, which is a “distortion of human desire,” and on a societal level by public witness and practical action, he said.


McMorrough is editor of Today’s Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.