PROVIDENCE — Bishop Thomas J. Tobin has appointed Father Mark G. Gadoury to serve as State Chaplain to the Knights of Columbus, R.I. Council, effective Nov. 1.
Father Gadoury, who was ordained on June 4 at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, will assume the Knights chaplaincy while continuing in his primary assignment as assistant pastor at St. Luke Church in Barrington.
Bishop Tobin made the appointment at the request of David G. Bebyn, Rhode Island State Deputy of the Knights of Columbus.
“As you know, the Knights of Columbus is an outstanding organization of faithful Catholic men who love and support the Church and provide many important services to the broader community,” Bishop Tobin said in his appointment letter to Father Gadoury.
“I have no doubt that our availability and your ministry will be a great blessing to the Knights of Columbus and will help them to maintain a clear spiritual vision and to be strong in the practice of their Catholic Faith.”
Father Gadoury replaces Father Joseph Paquette, who is retiring as State Chaplain after serving in that capacity for just under 20 years.
“I’ve only ever known Father Joe as the State Chaplain,” Bebyn told Rhode Island Catholic. “He has been loved by all. He is such a great guy. He’s always been there when you needed him.”
He said that Father Joe was a great mentor and was beloved by countless other State Chaplains who attended the Supreme Conventions, which attracted Knights from across North America and around the world.
“They would always ask ‘Is Father Joe here yet?’” Bebyn recalled, noting, “Father Joe has been a blessing to me.”
When Father Joe indicated that he would like to retire this year, he assisted Bebyn in an extensive process to identify a suitable successor to present to Bishop Tobin for his consideration.
Bebyn noted that with the current State Board being one of the youngest in age that they’ve had in many years, the goal was to bring a younger candidate into the chaplaincy, one with the abundance of energy needed to bring out the spirit of the Knights.
Father Gadoury’s name soon came to the forefront of consideration as he was already a Knight, having joined the organization when he was a seminarian.
He also received support from board members who were familiar with him from both his home parish of St. Joan of Arc in Cumberland, as well as St. Luke in Barrington, where he was assigned after ordination.
Bebyn also found a parallel between the recently ordained Father Gadoury and the founder of the Knights of Columbus.
Father Michael J. McGivney, now Blessed, and being considered for Sainthood, founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 to serve the Church, as well as communities and family life with virtue and faith.
“It’s exciting that our founder, the Blessed Michael J. McGivney, was similar in age to when he founded the Knights as Father Gadoury was when he was ordained,” Bebyn said.
But Bebyn said what really put Father Gadoury’s name at the top of the list was his spirituality and willingness to reach out and evangelize the faithful.
“What really solidified it for me was Father Gadoury’s social posts,” he said. “Even though he’s young there’s a wisdom there. It definitely inspired us. Father is in an awesome position to promote the Knights.”
Father Gadoury said that when Father Joe called him recently to tell him that the Knights had requested him to be their new State Chaplain, he immediately felt very honored to be asked.
“I am more than honored and excited to be a part of this group of men and their mission, and look forward to the great work that lies ahead,” he said.
Father Gadoury said that throughout his time as a seminarian and now as a priest, he experienced firsthand how the Knights have been so supportive to vocations and the clergy.
“And I witnessed throughout these past years the great charitable work the Knights do, not only throughout our diocese, but throughout the Universal Church — whether it be supporting life, families, the poor, vocations...the list goes on,” he said.
“The Knights are a major supportive pillar in our Church, and I am honored to now be their Chaplain and continue the great work of Father Joe Paquette who was their faithful and beloved chaplain for nearly two decades now.”
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