Worthy Sir Grand Knight, Michael Bullock
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14, 16)
Worthy Officers, Brothers and Sir Knights,
My name is Michael Bullock, your new Council 7525 Grand Knight. It is a distinct honor and privilege to take on this important position at this challenging period in our history. I live in Hinesburg with my wife Candice of 42 years and daughter Elizabeth, age 11, and our dog Marlo. We have four grown children, and six grandchildren. I belong to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Charlotte, but most weekends you can find me at a service at St. Jude the Apostle Church. I currently work for Valiant Integrated Services as a full-time Officer Senior Trainer to the Vermont Army National Guard (VTARNG) 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) (Mountain) and other units in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maryland. I served 31 years in the US Army, mostly part-time (M-Day) for the VTARNG. For 27 years I enjoyed a concurrent career in Insurance Adjusting. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 with the 124th Regional Training Institute (Forward) and retired with the rank of Colonel in 2007. In 2011 I retired a second time after a second tour in Afghanistan with the 86th IBCT (MTN) in 2010.
The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement have challenged us in many ways. This is a time of introspection and reflection, a time to question long held assumptions about what it means to worship God and serve our neighbor in His holy name.
I recall being distressed when the Churches closed, but not the liquor stores, when our collective response to the pandemic meant “social distancing”, “shelter in place”, “wear a mask” and ”wash your hands frequently.” Certainly, I thought, worship was an essential human activity. My comfort came from the Word; “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)
The BLM Movement has shattered our complacency about matters of race, bias, inequality and injustice. We are reminded of the anti-Catholic sentiment common at the time of our founding and moved to consider whether Catholic lives can matter until black lives matter. When will the lives of the unborn matter? Is it enough to consider ourselves “color blind”; or should we endeavor to be militantly anti-racist? People are questioning the persistent loyalty to cherished icons; founding fathers, confederate leaders, and explorers like our own Christopher Columbus. How best should we reconcile their great achievements with their human frailty?
This moment and this movement are opportunities to excel. They serve to reinforce our commitment to our founding values and principles. Our creative response has already made it possible to engage members virtually who have not been able, due to health or distance, to attend a meeting or an event. We need their ideas and their prayers to get after the important work of the Council. Our Mission remains our focus in 2020; “to provide members and their families with volunteer opportunities in service to the Catholic Church, their communities, families and young people.”
We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our members and officers who have succeeded in bringing us safely to another base camp in our ascent to the Kingdom of Heaven. I especially want to thank our Brother, Sir Knight Tom Gravelin for his leadership and patient assistance during this transition. As the leader he blazed a new trail through three feet of snow against a strong headwind, assisted by many Sherpas. “Many hands make light work” and the role of the Sherpa, the officers and members of our Council, is essential. (Some scholars believe that the first humans to summit Mount Everest where Sherpas, not famous explorers) Thank-you Brother Tom for your service as Grand Knight.
The theme and focus of my service will be “renewal”. Even in the four years since I became a member of the Knights of Columbus, the number of Sherpas, or laborers in the field, has grown noticeably smaller. The cross that must be carried to achieve the summit of our aspirations does not change; the total weight is divided by the number of willing carriers. Our success depends on the number of laborers. The burden can be joyfully carried if each of us grabs a rucksack and takes on our share of the load to the next basecamp.
Father M. Eugene Boylan, in his wonderful book “This Tremendous Lover” reminds us that “There can, therefore, be no true union with God unless we love also our neighbor.” But he also observes “The greatest service we can render our neighbor is to sanctify ourselves… and to pray for them; …by a life of faith, hope, charity, humility, and abandonment to the will of God.”
It is my hope and prayer that you will find in your membership in the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal community dedicated to your sanctification and demonstrating a love of neighbor by becoming Christ to each other and to those we serve.