A ceremony about patriotism took on an international flair June 3 as 29 Americans and one Asian cleric were exemplified into the fourth degree of the Knights of Columbus Catholic fraternal service organization. Pakistani Bishop Samson Shukardin, O.F.M., joined with Knights from the Diocese of Trenton for a ceremony and luncheon in St. Agnes Church, a worship site of Our Lady of Perpetual Help-St. Agnes Parish, Atlantic Highlands.
Bishop Shukardin, spiritual leader of Pakistan’s Diocese of Hyderabad, was ordained to the priesthood in 1993 and appointed by Pope Francis as Bishop in 2015. An admirer of the organization which inspires its members to lives of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism, he received his third degree while on a trip to Tennessee.
Continuing his U.S. travels in New York City, Bishop Shukardin was inspired to seek a fourth-degree exemplification in the tri-state area. After a call to the Knights of Columbus’ international headquarters in New Haven, Conn., an exemplification ceremony was identified in the Diocese of Trenton in St. Agnes Church, part of Our Lady of Perpetual Help-St. Agnes Parish, Atlantic Highlands.
Created in 1882 by Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Conn., the Knights of Columbus is a Catholic fraternal service organization with approximately 16,000 councils worldwide. The Order is dedicated to four core principles, or degrees – charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism – which are conferred in a parish or council chamber ceremony. During a fourth-degree exemplification, candidates are knighted with a ceremonial sword and becomes a “Sir Knight.”
Due to previous commitments, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., could not attend the ceremony, but the Knights presented his letter of welcome mounted on a plaque.
Bishop Shukardin expressed his gratitude for Bishop O’Connell’s welcome and the N.J. Knights’ hospitality and fraternalism, saying, “I am so pleased that I have been exemplified to the highest level in the Knights of Columbus, [and] the kindness extended to me by the Bishop of Trenton…The learning lesson of this Degree was a true lesson of Catholicity that every Catholic should hear and learn.”