Part of the Knights charitable work

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When Kelly Mortensen assumed the office of Virginia state deputy of the Knights of Columbus July 1, 2008, he had an important officer vacancy to fill on the state council. The chaplain, Father Edward L. Richardson, had died the previous year. Mortensen knew the man he wanted for the job - Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde.

The bishop had been the state chaplain for the New York Knights of Columbus.

Mortensen has known the bishop for a long time before he approached him with the request.

"He's one of my favorite people in the whole world," he said. "The Knights just love Bishop Loverde."

He added that the bishop is a well-respected Knight in the state.

The Knights of Columbus were founded in 1882 by Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Conn. It is the largest Catholic fraternal and service organization in the world.

The Supreme Knight (currently Carl Anderson) and the Supreme Chaplain (Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori) are at the top of the international structure. At the local council level the Grand Knight and chaplain are the head of the basic unit of the Knights of Columbus.

The state council, led by the state deputy and the chaplain, guide local council activities. The chaplain provides spiritual guidance to Knights in the state. He's usually a priest, but some states have a bishop as chaplain. That Bishop Loverde accepted the role shows the value he places in the Knights' work.

"(The state chaplain) should collaborate with local, state and supreme officers to develop ways and means to preach God's Word to brother Knights and their families, to help them to be more firmly rooted in faith, hope, and charity, and to further their growth in the knowledge of their Catholic faith so as to be able witnesses of the mystery of salvation everywhere and to everyone," the Knights of Columbus chaplain handbook states.

The bishop attends as many state conventions as he can, and Mortensen said that when he comes to a convention, he relaxes with the Knights.

"You can see him 'chill out,'" he said.

The current state deputy, Stephen P. Raschke, also has worked with the bishop for years.

"Bishop Loverde is a very strong supporter of the Knights," he said.

Raschke believes that this support is because the bishop realizes the work the Knights do at the parish level. The bishop sets a good example for his pastors, said Raschke.

He also is impressed that the bishop comes to as many meetings as he does, including the Virginia annual meeting.

Both Mortensen and Raschke believe, and hope, that the bishop will continue on as chaplain after retirement.

Bishop Loverde said that he is privileged and proud to be a brother Knight.

"The Knights of Columbus are an outstanding group of Catholic laymen, who live out the vision of their founder, the Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney, in upholding the truths of the Catholic faith, supporting family life and reaching out with authentic charity to those in need. Along with their wives and families, they are 'the right hand' of the church," said the bishop.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015