Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God. -1 Peter 2:16
As I begin my time as Grand Knight, I am thankful for the trust and support of the Council and most appreciative of those that have served ahead of me. At this time of year, I also think much about the past and notably those men that sacrificed much to start our path as a nation…and to establish those freedoms that, until lately, we may have taken for granted.
Growing up, I heard stories of my great-grandfather Thomas Baxter. He was apparently the Grand Knight of the Sacred Heart Council in Bowie, MD in the early 1920s. Unfortunately for my family, the KKK decided to make him an example of their own religious bigotries against Catholics and burned down the family’s General Store. Financially destitute, he could not continue to support his five young children (including my grandmother Dorothy Agnes Baxter). Some were sent to other family members and others began their lives in the workforce. This separation, though challenging, ultimately ended as the family persevered. That incident cemented my family into a stronger one, and most importantly they continued to be centered in their faith.
Most of your families also went through great struggles just to come to this country…as others now still do. Many wanted to escape suffering, famine, poverty and their own religious persecution. They all sought the promise of a better life, and to use their God-given talents to the fullest. The word “Patriotism,” once a quality to be proud of in this county, is now used by many of our society (and in the media) with disdain to cast dispersion, shame and to obscure their own intolerance. They seek our division, while our past is one of unity. This is the work of evil.
As Knights we need to continue to stand strong. Daily, we need to hold the line for Truth, Justice, Honesty, Integrity, and God. This path is not easy, but Jesus has shown us the Way through Love. We must continue to love our fellow citizens and help those in need, in pain, and yes, even those that unknowingly (or knowingly) seek evil. Fight daily for those liberties that Jefferson well-understood, and upon what this country was founded. “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” is not just a phrase, it is our heritage. We cannot take our Patriotism for granted. Please do your best to be exemplary citizens and to pray that God may continue to bless the United States of America.
Bill McCarthy, GK