On Wednesday (7/26) of last week, I was visited by Bishop Antonisamy Francis of the Diocese of Kumbakonam, India, who was accompanied by Father Father Selva Raj, the Mission Coordinator for his diocese. They were here to meet with Maureen Heil of our Pontifical Mission Societies Office and also to explore the idea of sending some of their seminarians to study at St. John's Seminary.
Bishop Francis presented me with this very nice shawl. You see, it is an Indian custom to greet someone by draping a garland of flowers around their neck -- something like a Hawaiian lei. However, when you are in a situation where you wouldn't have fresh flowers, a scarf or shawl is used instead. Father Selva also presented me with a commemorative plate of Mother Teresa and St. John Paul II.
Business managers ceremony
Later that afternoon (7/26), I greeted the parish business managers who were gathered for the ceremony marking their completion of our Finance and Operations Certificate Program. Many of the business managers were accompanied by their families, pastors and other representatives from their parish for the proud occasion. We are very grateful to be able to have business managers who are being trained so they can fulfill their very important function from a pastoral point of view but, striving always to have the best professional qualifications and preparation possible. So, I wanted to thank them personally for their efforts and extend my congratulations on completing the program.
Visit with Adoption Center representatives
That afternoon, I was visited by representatives of Bright Futures Adoption Center. They have been working with our Pro-Life Office, and certainly, we all realize the importance of promoting adoption as an alternative to abortion. Yet, we also realize how complicated this issue is and that, very often, women have a negative perception of adoption. So, we are very anxious to work with groups like this one to help people understand the benefits of adoption.
Meeting with Latin American bishops
Then, last Friday (7/28), I went to The Connors Retreat Center in Dover to meet with a number of bishops and catechetical scholars from Latin America who were gathered for meetings at Boston College organized by Hoffsman Ospino. They invited me to have lunch and a time of dialogue with them.
Among the bishops attending are Bishop Diego Padron, president of the Venezuelan Conference of Bishops and Bishop Eugenio Rixen from Brazil. We were also joined by two bishops from the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization: Bishop Octavio Ruiz Arenas and Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst.
Much of the rest this week I spent attending the 135th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in St. Louis.
It's always very edifying to attend this important event. In a particular way, it is very edifying to see the continued growth of the Knights -- there are now almost 2 million Knights around the world, and we see new groups at the Supreme Convention every year. This year, the latest group came from France, and there were also large delegations from Poland and the Philippines. Of course, the United States and Canada have always been the bulk of the attendees, but now there are so many other nations represented.
This just shows what impact the Knights are having, not just in the United States but throughout the world, and the impact of their good works -- they help families in need, disabled children and victims of earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Currently, there is a great impetus to help refugees from the Middle East and those who are suffering persecution for their faith.