“Honored, Thankful, and Blessed”: Patrick E. Kelly Elected 14th Supreme Knight

by Colin J. McNeil

Shortly after Father Michael J. McGivney was beatified in 2020, Supreme Knight Carl A.
Anderson remarked, “The gift of Father McGivney’s beatification presents to us a great
responsibility – to be faithful and productive stewards of his legacy.”

Now, as Supreme Knight Anderson’s 20-year tenure draws to a close, Father McGivney’s legacy has been passed on to former Deputy Supreme Knight Patrick E. Kelly. By all accounts, Mr. Kelly is a man with an illustrious career and a fervent love of Christ and His Church: a man well equipped to lead the Knights into the future.

Mr. Kelly joined the Knights while studying for a bachelor’s degree in economics at Marquette University in 1983. From there, he went on to earn a law degree from Marquette University Law School and a master’s in theology from the Catholic University of America.

From 2005 to 2006, Mr. Kelly served as senior advisor to the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department. He was the Department’s principal liaison to the Vatican, and led delegations to the World Summit on Islamic-Christian Dialogue in 2005 and to the UN Conference on Interfaith Cooperation in 2006. That same year, he was named the Knight’s Vice President for Public Policy, the mediator between the Knights and the United States Government. He held this position for 11 years.

After becoming the first executive director of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., Mr. Kelly oversaw the renewal of the site when it was purchased by the Knights of Columbus in 2011.

In 2012, Mr. Kelly became both the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the March for Life, a position he still holds today, and the State Deputy in the District of Columbia until 2013. In addition, he is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

In 2016, Mr. Kelly retired from the United States Navy after 24 years of honorable service as a Judge Advocate General. He had earned a Meritorious Service Medal, three Navy Achievement Medals, and five Navy Commendation Medals.

On January 1st, 2017, Mr. Kelly was elected Deputy Supreme Knight. As the COVID-19
pandemic spread four years later, he led KofC’s “Leave No Neighbor Behind” COVID-19 relief initiative, providing loving aid to those under quarantine or isolation and supplies to food banks and blood banks.

After his election as the next Supreme Knight on February 5th, 2021, Supreme Knight-elect Kelly remarked,

“I am honored, thankful, and blessed.

I am honored to be called to serve as Supreme Knight.

I am thankful to my wife and family, and to my brother Knights for affording me this honor and privilege.

I am blessed to have worked beside Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who has done so much to strengthen the Knights of Columbus and fulfill our mission through acts of love, kindness, compassion, and prayer that have helped countless people here at home and around the world.”

Mr. Kelly will be sworn in on March 1st, to continue the order’s legacy of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism.

Blessed Fr. Michael J. McGivney, pray for Patrick E. Kelly and all of us!

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