NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Knights of Columbus are dedicated to offering charity to people in need. But few Knights have had to offer their charity in the midst of a war.
For nearly six months, that has been the life of Youriy Maletskiy and the 2,000 Knights he leads in Ukraine as the fraternal order’s state deputy there.
“My wish is that nobody can live this experience,” said Maletskiy, who was in Nashville Aug. 2-4 for the Knights’ 140th Supreme Convention, during which he received the St. Michael Award.
It is presented to a Knight who has distinguished himself with exemplary service to the order and to the Catholic Church.
Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly presented the award to Maletskiy at the annual States Dinner attended by hundreds of Knight delegates and their families, members of the clergy and special guests. The festive evening includes attendees celebrating the Knights’ jurisdictions with flags and songs.
Carl Anderson, who retired as supreme knight in 2021, also was honored for his more than 20 years of service, and New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan delivered the evening’s keynote address.
About Maletskiy, Kelly said he “is one of the busiest and bravest men in the entire order.”
“When war broke out, Youriy could have easily stepped back from his duties as state deputy,” but instead, he decided the best way to serve his country “was by devoting his time and energy to the Knights,” said Kelly.
“Youriy has helped hundreds of thousands of men, women and children suffering in desperate circumstances,” he added. “With the help of the Ukraine Solidarity Fund, he has opened channels of support from Knights in Poland, the United States and around the world.
“In short, he’s been an instrument of hope to the Ukrainian people.”
Just days after Russia invaded Ukraine, leaders of the Knights in Ukraine met with Latin-rite Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv and Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, and established the Anti-Crisis Committee to coordinate relief efforts.
The first task was to help all the people fleeing the fighting who were arriving at train stations and bus stations in Lviv in western Ukraine near the Polish border. Most of them had to leave nearly everything behind, Maletskiy said.
The Knights provided food and clothing and then started organizing buses to take people from Lviv to areas closer to the border with Poland, Maletskiy explained. Once they crossed into Poland, the Polish Knights had established a Mercy Center to welcome them and to provide more help.
From the beginning of the war though the end of May, the Knights in Poland had served 300,000 people, 10% of the 3 million Ukrainians who had fled to Poland, said Szymon Czyszek, director of international growth in Europe for the Knights of Columbus who has been working closely with Maletskiy and the Knights in Ukraine.
Besides the material support, the people of Ukraine need the world to remain aware of the true situation in their country and in their war with Russia, Maletskiy said.
“I am standing here tonight as a humble representative of a nation fighting for its freedom,” Maletskiy said in accepting the St. Michael Award. “All of us are working and fighting for victory.”
“That’s the level of impact,” Czyszek said. “We were not asking, ‘Are you Catholic?’ No. We were asking, ‘Are you cold? Do you need food?’”
The Ukrainian Knights have been working closely with their brother Knights in Poland, where relief supplies from Knights around the world are gathered, boxed and shipped across the border to Lviv.
From there, Ukrainian Knights have been delivering the supplies all across the country as part of Knights of Columbus Charity Convoys once or twice a week, Maletskiy said.
As many as 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced within the country since the war began. As the war has progressed, the Knights have started providing other kinds of assistance, including places to stay in converted school classrooms or with Ukrainian and Polish families, and help finding a job, Maletskiy said.
“We are looking to support them in all possible ways,” he added. “We have crisis centers in all the main cities in western Ukraine.”
Maletskiy presented to Kelly a Ukrainian flag signed by Ukrainian soldiers, many of whom are Knights. “I bring with me a flag which represents what we are fighting for. … Don’t forget our nation which relies on you for its very existence.”
Overturning of Roe provides ‘chance to win fight for life,’ says top Knight
By Andy Telli | Catholic News Service
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to throw out the precedent set in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide, is a landmark victory but not the end of the fight for life, said Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly.
“Roe v. Wade is finally gone. We now have a chance to win the fight for life,” the CEO of the Knights of Columbus said in delivering his annual report to the Supreme Council Aug. 2, opening day of the Knights 140th Supreme Convention in Nashville.
The Knights have been involved in the effort to end abortion in the United States since the beginning of the respect-for-life movement soon after the 1973 Roe ruling, Kelly noted, by supporting the annual March for Life in Washington, providing ultrasound machines to pregnancy resource centers and a host of other activities.
“By ending Roe, the court has empowered us to end one of the worst injustices in American history,” Kelly said. “Roe is overturned, but we have more work to do. We will continue to march for life until abortion is unthinkable.”
“The good news is that the American people, in fact, are with us,” Kelly added. “We have found that when you move beyond simplistic labels and ask Americans what they actually think about abortion, there is a clear pro-life consensus.”
Polling by the Knights and Marist shows that seven in 10 Americans favor substantial restrictions on legal abortions, Kelly said. “Year after year, the overwhelming majority wants to protect life.”
“But we can’t just change the law. We must also change hearts and minds,” he said.
“With Roe gone, many mothers will still experience fear and uncertainty,” he continued. “Many will be tempted to seek an abortion in another state. But the Knights can point them in a different direction — toward life.”
Kelly called on the Knights to increase the fraternal order’s support for pregnancy resource centers that help women experiencing an unexpected or crisis pregnancy.
The Supreme Council has launched the Aid and Support After Pregnancy initiative, known as ASAP.
“When a council donates to a pregnancy center or maternity home,” Kelly said, “the Supreme Council will match” the amount 20%. “We’ve set an initial target of $5 million for this year alone. But I know we can exceed that goal.”