WASHINGTON, DC—Supporters of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS) set record levels of attendance and giving at the Archdiocese’s Annual Benefit Saturday evening in Washington, DC. According to the AMS Office of Advancement, a record 286 registered for—and 269 attended—the Ninth Annual Benefit at the St. John Paul II Shrine, donating more than $375,000 to the Archdiocese, the largest amount ever raised in the nine-year history of the Annual Benefit. The event opened with an anticipated Sunday Mass and included a sit-down dinner highlighted by presentation of the Medal of the Archdiocese to Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson of the Knights of Columbus (K of C).
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, was the principal celebrant and homilist at the 5:00 p.m. Mass. Concelebrating were Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore and more than a dozen other priests including all four of Archbishop Broglio’s auxiliaries, Bishops Richard B. Higgins, F. Richard Spencer, Neal J. Buckon, and Robert J. Coyle, the Archbishop’s Vicar General, the Reverend Monsignor John J.M. Foster, J.C.D., archdiocesan Judicial Vicar, the Very Reverend Christopher Armstrong, and the Archbishop’s Chancellor, Father Robert Cannon. Five co-sponsored seminarians assisted at the altar.
Special guests included Chief Judge Scott W. Stucky of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, a wounded warrior, Capt. Luis Avila of the U.S. Army, and other active-duty and retired members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Among their ranks were more than 50 officers, including seven generals and seven admirals.
In his homily, Archbishop Broglio reminded the congregation that good Christians, like good warriors, must dedicate themselves to service:
“We are here because we know of the examples of self-less service that abound in the military and our VA medical centers are filled with those healing, because of that service. We apply that value of service to patria or patriotism to the gift of faith we have received and we recognize that it is a gift meant to be shared… We are continually challenged to share our faith effectively so that others might see our example and live theirs fruitfully. Evangelization is a constant task for everyone who believes. Our sending forth from the Eucharist is a charge to share what we have received. That is ever more important in our distracted contemporary age.”
Archbishop Broglio urged the faithful to “go out as missionary disciples of the good news about Jesus Christ. Only He offers life without end.” Go here to read the full text of Archbishop Broglio’s homily. Go here to watch video of the Mass.
At dinner, Archbishop Broglio presented the Medal of the Archdiocese to Mr. Anderson, thanking the Worthy Supreme Knight for the K of C’s continued and generous support for the AMS, support that has included an abundance of gifts totaling more than $2.5 million over the past 20 years alone. In his acceptance remarks, Mr. Anderson expressed his deep gratitude, noting the award is “especially significant as the Knights of Columbus commemorates 100 years of support of our military and our military chaplains.”
Mr. Anderson quoted from World War II historian Stephen Ambrose’s book, To America. Ambrose found, in his interviews with World War II veterans, that “they sometimes tell me that the reason they fought was they had learned as children the difference between right and wrong and they didn’t want to live in a world in which wrong prevailed, so they fought…”
“But where,” Mr. Anderson asked, “does the moral compass come from to discern right from wrong and where does the moral courage come from to defend what we know to be right? Those of us who have had the privilege of working alongside the Archdiocese for the Military Services know very well the answer to those questions. We have seen the impact on our troops of distributing 600,000 military prayer books — and recently a retired Marine Corps Colonel told me he carried our prayer book in the uniform pocket over his heart every day he served in Iraq. We have seen the dedication of our priests serving as chaplains throughout the world — and the same spirit of service in those men entering the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program. We have seen the courage of those veterans in VA medical centers we have accompanied through the VAVS (Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service) program. We have been inspired by the sacrifice and courage of our wounded warriors and their families on pilgrimage to the Shrine at Lourdes. It is for these reasons and more that the Knights of Columbus is so proud to begin our second century of support of our military and our chaplains this year.”
Go here to watch the video of Supreme Knight Anderson’s acceptance remarks.