LAY men need to rediscover their niche in the Church, Kippa-Ring parishioner Hugh O’Donnell says.
Retired men, working men, fathers, brothers, sons – the Church needed men and men wanted to give of their time and talents according to their “niche”, he said.
Enter, the Knights of the Southern Cross.
“If I was in olden days, I’d have a sword and a horse and armour … well, we don’t go that far these days,” Mr O’Donnell, who has been a Knight of the Southern Cross for 10 years, said.
Stopping short of jousting and swordsmanship, the knights were a fraternity that supported the works of the Church – without seeking recognition.
“It was Catholic men that didn’t want all the recognition,” Mr O’Donnell, father-of-four and a grandfather-of-three, said.
“Not secretly, but privately giving a donation, supporting (the Church) … not getting up on the table and saying we did this or we did that.
“They work behind the scenes and supported either financially or with prayer.”
Their modest work and former oath of secrecy had really “shot them in the foot”, Mr O’Donnell said.
Without recognition, it was becoming a challenge to get young men to join.
Mr O’Donnell was at Ignite Conference 2019 recently, shedding light on the once-secret organisation and putting out there that the knights were part of Brisbane archdiocese and offered a path for lay men.
Mr O’Donnell, the groundsman at Southern Cross Catholic College, Scarborough, learned about the knights through his local parish.
It struck an interest with him and he joined up.
The knights’ ministries were manifold; on their roster were sacristans and chaplains who visited the sick or incarcerated, and older men who offered prayers or donations.
“We’re all stewards,” Mr O’Donnell said.
“We give our time, treasures and talents – that’s how we support one another.”
A lot of good comes from their work.
“We’ve done water projects over (in Papua New Guinea) and have a school over in Kimbe (PNG),” Mr O’Donnell said.
“So, clean drinking water – we supply tanks to a village (in PNG).
“We also give bursaries to the seminary and support the seminarians down in Banyo, and we give them a bursary when they go out into the priesthood.
“Southern Cross Care is how we take care of the elderly and that sort of ministry as well.
“During the year, (we perform) just small acts of kindness – sausages sizzles and fundraisers and that sort of thing.”
Mr O’Donnell said when the local branch convened, they studied scripture, prayed and organised events too, making good on their baptismal promise.
But they were not solely a prayer group, he said, it all worked together.
Supporting events like the Corpus Christi procession or Rosary in the square through marshalling work or traffic control was just part of their calendar.
“We try to align ourselves with the Holy Father,” Mr O’Donnell said. “So if he was to say this is the Year of the Youth, we try and align ourselves.
“We try and step up this message – will you help rebuild this Church. We’ve taken this on as an invitation.”