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Texas Knights Recognize Defender of Religious Liberty

By Ron Gay, Past Supreme Director, Past State Deputy

Vol. 4, 2016-2017

Carroll Award

There is no question that our religious liberties, enshrined in the United State Constitution, are under attack from a government that seems determined to remove the Catholic Church from the public square. In the view of many government officials, religion is a private matter, and our freedom to practice our religion as we see fit is not guaranteed. Look what has happened to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who had to take their fight to be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church all the way to the United State Supreme Court. The Knights of Columbus in Texas have entered the fight for Religious Freedom, and in a substantial way.

Knights of Columbus Msgr. Valenta Assembly 2041 in College Station, TX developed the Archbishop John Carroll Religious Liberty Award to recognize a national defender of Religious Liberty. The cousin of the only Catholic signatory of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Archbishop John Carroll was the first bishop to be appointed in the United States of America by Pope Pius VI in 1789. Archbishop Carroll wrote the first defense of the Catholic Church in America in 1784, and was instrumental in having our religious liberties enshrined in the United State Constitution in article 6, section 3, and in the first amendment. He also founded Georgetown University. He was named the first Archbishop of Baltimore in 1804.

The Archbishop John Carroll Award is a solid gold medal with a likeness of the Archbishop Carroll on one side, and the 4th Degree emblem on the reverse side. The medal was designed by jeweler Chuck Konderla, a Sir Knight from Bryan, TX, and the brother of Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa, OK. The Msgr. Valenta Assembly raised the funds for the award and over saw the making of the medal. District Master Michael Moreno and the other assemblies in District 6 raised another $2,500 as a monetary award to go with the medal. Those funds will be donated in the name of the recipient to the Supreme Council’s Military Chaplains Seminarian Fund.

The first recipient of Texas’ Archbishop John Carroll Religious Liberty Medal is the Supreme Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore. In 2009, members of the Connecticut legislature introduced a bill that would have stripped Bishops and Priests of their diocesan and parish administrative duties and placed them with appointed boards of parishioners. The bill applied only to Catholic Churches and no other faith traditions. Archbishop Lori lead the fight to defeat HB 1098. His effective arguments ended up defeating the bill in committee. Archbishop Lori is also the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty for the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In that role, he developed the “Fortnight for Freedom” novena, a campaign of prayer and reflection for religious liberty.

The Archbishop John Carroll Religious Liberty Medal is intended to be an annual award.

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