HOUSTON, TX –– The Texas State Council of the Knights of Columbus recently presented the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), a check for $60,550 to support the AMS Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program(CSP). The gift comprises funds raised over the past two years by the Texas Women’s Project, headed by Ms. Mary Evans, outgoing First Lady of the Texas Knights of Columbus and wife of Immediate Past State Deputy T. Mark Evans.
In a July 24 letter accompanying the check to His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, Ms. Evans wrote, “Many of our members either have personally benefitted from your program or have had family members impacted by the extraordinary service that the Archdiocese provides to military members and their families. We are honored to be able to support our military troops throughout the world in this small way.”
Archbishop Broglio expressed gratitude for the gift: “The overwhelming generosity of the Texas Women continues the constant generosity of the Knights of Columbus in support of the ministry of this global archdiocese. The co-sponsored seminarian program is essentially an investment in the future both of the military chaplaincy and of priestly vocations in the United States. I am deeply grateful for this incredible support.”
The $60,550 will go into the Father McGivney Military Chaplain Scholarship fund, which the K of C established in 2011 to help pay seminary tuition and related expenses for prospective Catholic U.S. Military chaplains enrolled in the CSP (pictured). The CSP is a vocations partnership between the AMS and cooperating U.S. dioceses and religious communities to support young men discerning a call to both priesthood and military chaplaincy. To date, the K of C has donated a total of more than $2 million to the Father McGivney Military Chaplain Scholarship fund.
The support is sorely needed. The CSP has enjoyed a tremendous steady growth in enrollment over the past decade as the AMS strives to overcome a desperate shortage of Catholic priests on active duty in all branches of the military due to attrition: chaplains are reaching retirement faster than they can be replaced. Thirty-eight men are currently enrolled in the CSP, up from only seven in 2008. While that is an encouraging sign, the growth has produced enormous strain on the AMS budget as the Archdiocese aims to meet seminary expenses. The AMS’s average share of costs per seminarian’s five-year education is $100,000. The total projected cost for all co-sponsored seminarians over the next five years alone is more than $3.8 million.
In Texas, tradition is that the wife of the State Deputy selects a charitable cause to promote and raise funds towards while her husband serves in office. This is not the first time the First Lady has chosen the CSP. In 2018, the Texas State Council, under then-State Deputy Douglas Oldmixon and First Lady Jo-Dee Benson, also helped make it possible for the U.S. Military to welcome a new generation of active-duty Catholic chaplains.