by Tim Harfmann
Joining in a special hour of prayer held simultaneously throughout New York state on May 16, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio led local members of the Knights of Columbus before the Blessed Sacrament and the icon of Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians in a service at St. James Cathedral, Downtown Brooklyn.
“It’s terrible that people would use violence against people of faith, especially when they’re praying. Praying for an end to violence is something that we know we can do. The Lord listens to our prayers. We have to ask,” Bishop DiMarzio said.
The Knights of Columbus are at the forefront in helping Christians facing violence because of their faith, and Kenneth Latham, New York state’s deputy knight, said K of C members in New York stand in solidarity with worshipers overseas.
“They need money. They don’t have houses. They don’t have shelter. This is what the Knights of Columbus is helping to provide to persecuted Christians,” Latham said.
Father Michael Gelfant, a Knights of Columbus chaplain, said the persecution is also felt here at home. “Our Christian values are being attacked by certain laws and politicians, and there’s this sense of the Church also being under attack,” he said.
The latest attacks against Christians was remembered at the service. Ten worshippers were killed in just two days in Burkina Faso in West Africa this month, and more than 250 were killed in Sri Lanka in bombings on Easter.
After the prayer service at St. James, a newly formed Knights of Columbus was recognized. It is named in memory of the late Bishop Thomas Daily. The group became the 17,000th official Knights of Columbus council in the world.
“[Bishop Daily] just loved the Knights of Columbus. I had so many great conversations with him, and his love of the order just came from him naturally,” Latham said.
“He was so proud to be a knight,” Bishop DiMarzio added. “His father had worked for the Knights of Columbus. He was a very faithful knight, and this is something to his memory.”