Young Catholic men find joy and fulfillment in ‘knightly’ service of Christ’s Eucharistic Presence
priests each year who come to the Shrine for retreats.”
One of the original seven Knights is Brother Pio, who is named after St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), the 20th-century mystic who suffered the stigmata, the wounds of Christ on his own body. Like his namesake, Brother Pio is a “victim soul,” having been disabled since he sustained a serious spinal injury in a fall several years ago. Brother Pio presently lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., but visits the community once or twice a year.
“We felt in the early stages that we needed to have a victim soul, one who was called to suffer for the community, and Brother Pio is our victim soul,” said Brother David, a native of West Virginia. “Because he is confined to a wheelchair, all the suffering he endures and all his prayers are offered for the community.”
Two years ago, the Knights of the Holy Eucharist became affiliated with the Heralds of the Gospel, a rapidly growing evangelistic community that was founded in Brazil in 1999 and canonically recognized as an “association of the faithful of pontifical right” in 2001. The Heralds and their founder, Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, had developed a relationship of mutual support and admiration with Mother Angelica and were very receptive when the Knights petitioned Msgr. Clá to join the Heralds family.
On June 29, 2007, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Knights of the Holy Eucharist thus became “a branch within the Heralds of the Gospel,” said Brother Thomas Walsh, who lives and works in a Heralds community in Houston. With that union, the Knights of the Holy Eucharist share the Heralds’ pontifical blessing.
That fall, the Knights enrolled its first candidates for the priesthood at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Conn. This coming academic year, the Knights will have six seminarians at various stages of formation.
Twenty-four-year-old Damien Pellerin, now Brother Michael, was one of the first Knights to enter the seminary four years ago. He was working in construction for his father in southern Louisiana five years ago when the two of them happened to stop by the monastery en route to a builders’ convention in Florida. Having already decided to spend a year to discern his vocation, Damien was impressed with the Knights and applied for acceptance shortly thereafter.
“After I was there just a short time, I felt this was it,” said Brother Michael. “It was really the charism of the community, the great spiritual life, the solid formation. Life at the monastery is a great gift to all of us.”
Developing a sense of vocation
By fall, the community will have 12 members in all. Many more are envisioned for the future.
“Mother Angelica has felt for a long time that the vocations are truly there, that God continues to call young men to the consecrated life. Unfortunately, with all the distractions of today, they don’t hear God’s voice calling them,” said Brother David.
As a result, “many young men today are not thinking about their vocations,” he said. “There’s a sense of a lack of fulfillment in the soul, and the soul can’t be at peace where it is, and ultimately that leaves them unhappy. They have to develop not only the awareness that they have a vocation from God, but also how to carry out that vocation plan in their lives.”
The community seeks applicants between the ages of 17 and 21 and hopes to draw more young men right out of high school. Part of the vision is to establish an academy near the Shrine that can begin the formation of young men separated from the world, Brother David said.
As the vision continues to unfold for the Knights of the Holy Eucharist, many more community members will be needed to serve the Shrine and monastery, form young men in the academy, and provide priestly ministry to pilgrims, sisters, and fellow Knights alike.
There is further expansion planned for the monastery grounds as well. Among these plans is the Pope John Paul II Eucharistic Center, conceived as an educational center designed to lead both Catholics and non-Catholics to a deeper appreciation of Christ’s Eucharistic Presence — which is what the Knights of the Holy Eucharist are all about.
For young men still trying to discern the path upon which God is calling them, Brother Michael offered simple and straightforward advice.
“Seek to do the Lord’s will,” he said. “That’s where we find our peace and joy.”
(Editor’s note: The Knights of the Holy Eucharist will be featured for the first time on EWTN’s “Life on the Rock” program on Thursday, July 30, at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.)
Readers,and those who may seek to discern a possible vocation,may communicate with the Knights of the Holy Eucharist:
Brother David Mary
3222 County Road 548,
Hanceville, AL 35077
Telephone: 205) 795-5720
Online at: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Gerald Korson, a longtime Catholic journalist, writes from Indiana.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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