Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 15, 2000
Order supports the Church
Knights' first duty is to God, says state church director
By By GLEN ARGAN
Every day, Boniface Markowski gets up and prays, "Almighty God, I offer this day to you."
"My father always said, 'My duty is to God,'" says Markowski, the state Church director and state millennium director for the Knights of Columbus. "I still believe that."
"Our first duty as knights is to God and to support our parish priests," he says.
Across Alberta, the Knights are doing just that. Last year, local councils organized 890 prayer services with three travelling millennium crosses. They held those services in churches, schools and even private homes.
"Almost every council in our jurisdiction is involved with the Church, whether it's promoting the rosary or some other devotion," says Markowski.
As well, the Alberta Knights sold 1,100 copies of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to their brother knights and they distribute pamphlets on Catholic doctrine in parishes.
Several rural councils help to arrange and put on Confirmation and First Communion services in their parishes, he says. In Edmonton, Polish Knights are deeply involved with the annual Corpus Christi procession at Holy Rosary Church.
Markowski himself played a key role in arranging to have the Knights erect a Nativity scene at the otherwise secular Bright Nights display in Hawrelak Park. That project was part of the Knights' Keep Christ in Christmas campaign that features billboards and public service announcements on TV and radio.
He will soon get together with archdiocesan vocations director Father Sylvain Casavant to launch another program requested by Archbishop Thomas Collins - parish-based Eucharistic Adoration for the family and religious vocations.
Vocations promotion has become such a big job for the Knights that another Edmonton knight, Ed Matheson, is overseeing that part of the order's Church activities.
Matheson said local councils have encouraged students in Grades 1 to 9 to think about vocations by writing a poem or essay or drawing a picture related to the topic. School winners will receive a wooden cross with the year 2000 printed on it.
The Knights also run Pennies for Heaven, a project that pulls together small donations from local councils to fund vocations work. "That's a project that's been running for a long time," said Matheson.
Last year, the order also provided a video of a talk on vocations by Archbishop Collins to every Catholic high school in Alberta.
"God has never stopped calling," said Matheson. "We have stopped listening and responding. There is nothing more important in a community than to have priests and sisters as models for children and parents."
Markowski said his job is not only helping the Knights promote Church activities but also defending Church decisions such as the parish mergers currently taking place in the Edmonton Archdiocese.
"I get a lot of static from various areas of the province with people saying, 'Why are we closing down these churches?'"
"I have a brother knight who's in charge of that," he says, referring to the archbishop.
In answering the question, Markowski refers to the existence of five Catholic churches along 118th Avenue in northeast Edmonton. Members of merged parishes, he says, should easily be able to travel along the street to the next church. "Some of the churches are ancient and the upkeep is great."
The Church director is also concerned that Catholics don't know their faith. "Somewhere along the line, as Catholics, we're too busy trying to make the almighty dollar and not spending enough time studying our religion."
A better society would result if Catholics spent even 15 minutes a day learning about their faith, he says.
That's his next project. "I have a big job next year to get our councils to work on educating our Catholic people."
But whatever projects the Knights take on, Markowski wants none of the credit. As he sees it, he's just following orders. The Knights' supreme office in New Haven, Conn., finds out what the pope wants done and it urges the 1.6 million knights to take action.
"My directions come from the pope," says Markowski.