Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 5, 2007
Knights begin annual Marian Hour of Prayer
Icon of Our Lady of Charity travels in Alberta, N.W.T.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
We have to seek Mary's intercession because her intercession is very powerful
Since 1980 the Knights have sponsored Marian Hour prayer programs devoted to Mary under various titles, including Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas, and Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, the patroness of Poland.
It's appropriate for the Knights to honour Our Lady of Charity this year since charity is one of the order's main principles and was the theme of Pope Benedict's first encyclical, State Deputy Wally Streit said in a recent letter to K of C officials.
"Although the Virgin of Charity has her origins in Cuba, devotion to her is most appropriate for Knights of Columbus everywhere."
Having Knights spread devotion to Our Lady of Charity can also enhance the order's many charitable programs, according to Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. "This program is an opportunity to reflect on the virtue of charity and what it means to every knight," he said recently. "Charity, or love, is what must distinguish every member."
Markowski, who has been chair of the Marian Hour since its inception, said the prayer services have yielded tangible results over the years. "We have attracted many people to the Knights because of the services and we have increased the number of vocations to the priesthood and to the diaconate."
Archbishop Richard Smith welcomed the Knights' initiative.
"I welcome it and I support it," he said Oct. 29. "It's a way of encouraging families to pray together and to pray specifically at certain times to Mary for her intercession. We have to seek Mary's intercession because her intercession is very powerful - she is the mother of the Son of God."
Devotion to Our Lady of Charity dates back to the early 1600s, when three young men found a statue of the Blessed Mother holding the infant Jesus in Cuban waters.
As the story has been passed down, the three were rowing in search of salt to preserve meat for the copper miners of El Cobre. Halfway across the bay, the young men sought shelter from a storm and encamped for the night.
In the morning they saw a white bundle floating towards them. It was a statue attached to a board that was inscribed with the words "Yo soy la Virgen de la Caridad," Spanish for "I'm the Virgin of Charity." A shrine was later erected in her honour and devotion to Our Lady of Charity spread throughout Cuba.
The late Pope John Paul II crowned the statue of Our Lady of Charity during his historic pastoral tour of Cuba in January 1998.
The Marian Hour of Prayer program, a worldwide Knights' program, will conclude in September of next year.
An estimated 12 million people have attended more than 70,000 K of C prayer services worldwide.
The Knights of Alberta-Northwest Territories had their best year in 1981-82 when the Marian program focused on the Immaculate Conception. At that time they held 79 services with a total of 16,480 participants. In 2002-03 the Alberta Knights held 121 services and attracted 12,980 participants.
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