Formal decree recognizes Knights of the Holy Eucharist
Story by S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) – The feast of St. Francis of Assisi Oct. 4 was especially celebratory for the Knights of the Holy Eucharist as they had twice the joy: five brothers entered into first vows, and Bishop James Conley issued a decree formally recognizing the Knights on behalf of the Catholic Church.
Father Gary Coulter, diocesan co-vicar of religious, had the pleasure of announcing the bishop’s decision at the Oct. 4 Mass, celebrated at Sacred Heart Church in Lincoln. (Click for slideshow)
The bishop’s decree read, in part, “I, James Douglas Conley, by the Grace of God and the Apostolic See, Bishop of Lincoln, hereby formally recognize the Knights of the Holy Eucharist as a Private Association of the Faithful, desiring to become a religious institute.”
The decree explained to those present at the Mass that this is the “long established practice of the Holy See, that before becoming a religious institute, a community must first begin as an association of the faithful....
“Members live as if religious, while growing, gaining experience and preparing for formal approval. All institutes begin this way,” the bishop’s decree read.
“For me, it was truly divine intervention,” said Brother David Mary, KHE, co-founder, superior and vocations director for the order. “When Father Coulter came to our Mass and read that decree, it was a surprise and a shock to all of us.”
He explained, “We had been praying for it as a community... You don’t always know with certainty what God’s will is for your community until it is blessed by the Church.”
The Knights of the Holy Eucharist were established in 1998 by Mother Angelica of the Annunciation, P.C.P.A. At that time, she needed a community of consecrated Franciscan brothers to help her care for 400 acres of land and the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, then still under construction in Hanceville, Ala.
“I think it’s a way of God allowing the seed of Mother Angelica to find the right soil to be planted into,” ruminated Brother Michael Mary, K.H.E. “Through God’s providence, we were transplanted into the heartland of Nebraska to bear much fruit.”
In 2016, Bishop Conley welcomed the Knights to the Diocese of Lincoln for a trial year, allowing them to live at Our Lady of Good Counsel Retreat House in Waverly and to use part of the former convent at Sacred Heart Parish in Lincoln as their friary. (A portion of the first floor is the preschool.) With the help of some generous donors and volunteers, the Knights renovated their section of the building.
During that year, the Knights served in many different ways: leading processions, helping at Altar Server Leadership Camp, instructing altar servers, providing physical labor at the diocesan Catholic cemetery, various parishes and so on. In all things, they promote adoration of the Holy Eucharist and devotion to Our Lady, which Brother David refers to as the “two pillars” that ground their community.
He believes that the Knights are especially united with Bishop Conley.
“He has such a Eucharistic vision,” Brother David said.
He and all the other Knights are delighted to have the opportunity to grow with the Diocese of Lincoln as they work diligently to promote Bishop Conley’s recent pastoral letter, “Love Made Visible,” which calls the laity to more frequent Eucharistic Adoration.
Brother Michael said he “hopes we can live up to the expectations of being faithful sons of Holy Mother Church.
“With the approval of Bishop Conley, we now feel more united with his fatherly role to go forth and bear much fruit for the salvation of souls through a Eucharistic Renewal in the Church,” he said.
The five men who entered first vows Oct. 4 are: Brother Angelo Marie, Hidden Image of our Eucharistic Lord; Brother Augustine Marie, Consoler of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; Brother James Mary, Guide to the Way of Christ Crucified; Brother Julian Mary, Servant and Apostle of the Blessed Sacrament; and Brother Maximilian Marie, Defender of Charity.
These brothers are in temporary vows for three to five years before they enter final vows. But now that they don’t have to be under Brother Michael’s diligent supervision outside the friary, the Knights will be able to serve more parishes and schools.
“We can send them out two by two,” Brother Michael smiled.
He will continue to oversee their formation until more postulants join the community. Since the bishop’s decree, the Knights of the Holy Eucharist have already seen an upswing in the number of inquiries. One man is scheduled to join next spring.
“We felt an immediate grace for the community,” Brother David rejoiced.
He asked for the people of the diocese to pray diligently for young people to discern vocations.
“The times we live in are very difficult,” he said. “It’s difficult for the young people to make commitments.”
“It was a vision of Mother Angelica, that one day we would have 40 men knocking on our doors,” Brother Michael said. “When or how that will take place, only God knows.”
Brother David said he believes that being in the Lincoln Diocese will aid the Knights in their growth as a community.
“When the brothers worked at summer camp, they asked, ‘How many of you feel you have a vocation?’ I think it was over 30 boys who raised their hands,” he recounted.
All the faithful in the diocese are invited to pray for more men to be called to the Knights of the Eucharist and to encourage the young men they know to consider a possible vocation.
“When Mother Angelica invited me, I didn’t think I had a calling,” Brother David admitted. “She said, ‘Try it. What do you have to lose?’ So that’s what I would say to young men.”
For more information about the Knights of the Holy Eucharist and an opportunity to “Test Your Calling,” visit their website at www.knights.org.