The N.J. Knights of Columbus State Officers for fraternal year 2022-2023 were installed during a July 9 Mass in the Co-Cathedral of St. Robert Bellarmine, Freehold. Standing before a painting of the Knights’ founder, Blessed Michael J. McGivney, are, from left, Scott C. Williams, State Warden; Russell D. Petrocelli, State Advocate; Daniel Rossi, Past State Deputy; James E. Stoever, State Deputy; Raymond C. Sands, State Secretary, and James P. Sweeney, State Treasurer. Courtesy photo.
The N.J. Knights of Columbus State Officers for fraternal year 2022-2023 were installed during a July 9 Mass in the Co-Cathedral of St. Robert Bellarmine, Freehold. Standing before a painting of the Knights’ founder, Blessed Michael J. McGivney, are, from left, Scott C. Williams, State Warden; Russell D. Petrocelli, State Advocate; Daniel Rossi, Past State Deputy; James E. Stoever, State Deputy; Raymond C. Sands, State Secretary, and James P. Sweeney, State Treasurer. Courtesy photo.
" I thank God that you say ‘yes’ through your vocation and the order of Knights. "
Knights of Columbus from throughout the state, their white-gloved hands clasping ceremonial swords and flags aloft, led a procession of clergy and fellow Knights down the center aisle of St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, July 9 during their annual installation Mass. Bishop Emeritus Paul G. Bootkoski, of Metuchen, the Knights’ State Chaplain, served as principal celebrant and was assisted by clergy from throughout the state, including the Co-Cathedral rector, Msgr. Sam Sirianni.

In his homily Bishop Bootkoski noted the Knights had responded much as the man invited to herald the Lord in the first Reading from Isaiah.

“Each one of you has responded, ‘Here I am, send me,’” [Isaiah 6:8], said the bishop. Doffing his zucchetto, he chuckled, “I take my hat off in praise to you.”

Bishop Bootkoski continued, “Knights always rise to the occasion,” noting their aid to those in the time of COVID and the needy in Ukraine. “I thank God that you say ‘yes’ through your vocation and the order of Knights.”

Bishop Bootkoski blessed the beribboned medals, or jewels, of office for each state officer and district deputy. As they were draped around the men’s necks by their spouses, each Knight promised to uphold the laws of the constitution, be unswervingly loyal to the Church and its hierarchy, and do all in their power to follow the principles of the order of the Knights of Columbus, founded by Blessed Michael J. McGivney in 1882.

James E. Stoever, a member of Epiphany Parish, Brick, and member of the Knights for 33 years, was installed by the Knights in a previous ceremony in New Haven, Conn., birthplace of the fraternal organization. Other N.J. state officers installed during the Mass included Raymond C. Sands (Diocese of Camden), State Secretary; James P. Sweeney (Diocese of Paterson), State Treasurer; Russell D. Petrocelli (Archdiocese of Newark), State Advocate, and Scott C. Williams (Diocese of Metuchen), State Warden.

“In its 140th year of existence, some wonder if the Knights of Columbus are still relevant,” said Stoever in his closing remarks. “I say they are more relevant than ever.” He noted the current trend towards an increasingly secular society, saying, “Our money says ‘In God We Trust,’ but time and time again, that trust is misplaced… There is much work we still have to accomplish.

“There are many other organizations that do admirable work as we do for charities. The difference is the guy on the Cross,” Stoever said, pointing to the Crucifix above the altar. “Everything we do should emanate from him and his commandment to us: to love each other as He loved us and remember to love God first. The other is the man over here,” Stoever said, pointing to a painting of Blessed Michael J. McGivney which had been commissioned by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., to hang in the Co-Cathedral.

“One hundred forty years ago, he laid down a challenge to remember we are our brother’s keeper, obligated to care for the outcast and raise up the downtrodden. That is the charge we have, and I know we are up to it.”