I will always be indebted to the Knights of Columbus for their role in bringing me to an adult understanding of and acceptance of my Catholic faith.
In 1994, I was an Ensign in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Northern Virginia. My wife and I were expecting our first child, and I knew next to nothing about what it meant to be Catholic. The priests that we were encountering in the Arlington diocese were challenging us to live out our Catholic faith, but I didn’t have any real idea what that meant.
Earlier attempts to grow in knowledge, through a Renew group in college and through a catechism purchased at a Christian bookstore in the mall, had proven fruitless. Neither offered the kind of explanation and defense of what the Catholic Church taught that I was looking for. I wanted to know why I should be Catholic. I wanted to know what I was saying about myself when I identified myself as Catholic.
And so it happened one morning in 1994 (this was before the Catechism of the Catholic Church was available in English), that I was sitting in my dining room reading the Sunday edition of the Washington Post. While flipping through the Parade magazine insert, I came across an advertisement promoting a correspondence course on the teachings of the Catholic Church. All that I had to do was clip the coupon, fill in the information, and send it in to the Catholic Information Service, a program of the Knights of Columbus. There was no charge for the course. I would receive the first two lessons, and I didn’t have to worry about anybody showing up at my door or calling me on the phone. It seemed ideal.
When I received the first two lessons, I underlined and highlighted the booklets. I took the quizzes and sent them in. A short time later, I received the quizzes back, along with an answer key and the next two lessons. There were ten lessons total, and I found, as I studied, that it all fit together. The teachings of the Catholic Church formed a coherent philosophy that gave meaning to life. Because of that correspondence course, I knew what I was saying when I declared myself to be Catholic, and I agreed with it.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the Knights for that.