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Pandemic & Florida State Council Annual Convention

By Scott A O'Connor
Pandemic and Update on Florida State Council Operations and Annual 2020 State Convention as of 3/26/2020

Worthy Brother Knights,

On behalf of the Officers and Board of Directors of the Florida State Council, Knights of Columbus, I want you to know that we are all praying for your good health and the safety of your families, as we persevere through this difficult time in our world community. The Coronavirus (COVED-19) Pandemic is one of the most impactful events if not the most impactful, that most of us living today have ever experienced, life as we knew it will not be the same again! This pandemic is one of those moments in history in which we are brought to a precipice. Following the ebb of the virus, life will evolve; society will form new norms and businesses, schools, church and community will develop new ways to communicate and to conduct their operations, the Knights of Columbus included.

As an Organization of Catholic Men, the 55,000 + active Knights in Florida represent a significant force that can be directed to make significant contributions to the good of our Church, our Community and our Society as a whole. For us to come out of the pandemic stronger, smarter and better equipped to handle emergency situations in the future, we must not only learn but evolve! To the first point, we are learning every day, we are taking steps to ensure that our operational model survives and that we can maintain communications between our membership. To the second part, we must be smarter, we must be capable of not only communicating but operating in times when we cannot physically be present. To that end I have provided some thoughts in the section below titled “How Do We Operate In These Difficult Times When We Can’t Meet In Person.”

We have also received communications from some of you asking “why we are continuing to ask for advertisement money for printing of the convention reports book and other advertisements, during these difficult times? I have provided a response for the actions that we are taking to try and preserve our organization. We have many volunteers working tirelessly behind the scenes, they are dedicated to seeing that our operations can “remain afloat.” The best way that we as an organization can help our Brother Knights and Families, our Church, our Communities and our Order is to remain viable. We must by law, conduct some administrative activities each year. One of those activities is the “Annual Meeting” much like the annual stockholders meeting of any corporation, our state council must convene an Annual Meeting, elect officers, report budgets and audit findings, report on financials and vote on such matters. While not required to be in a (physical) location, we must prepare the reports, minutes of prior meetings, resolutions, budgets and all items that require a vote, and present this package to each voting member. It takes a significant amount of funds to prepare the documents, run the printing and packaging and cover postage. Conducting a virtual meeting also requires some specialized equipment and upgraded internet connections to conduct such an event on-line. All these things have a cost; however, the cost will be far less than that what it is to conduct an in- person convention at a hotel. But, for these reasons we must continue to raise funds to cover the actual costs.

A “draft” Agenda for the 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting is posted on the website. This draft is subject to change and will be adjusted as and when the Supreme Council comes out with additional directives. A final agenda will be sent to all who are registered (on-line at floridakofc.org) either as Delegates or Officers of the Florida State Council.

 HOW DO WE OPERATE IN THESE DIFFICULT TIMES WHEN WE CAN’T MEET IN PERSON?

  • As you all should know, the Order by-laws require that every active council in good standing, is required to hold 12 regular business meetings each fraternal year. The business meeting is convened when it has been verified that the officers and members have established a “quorum”. We follow Roberts Rules of Order in conducting our meetings, however, you do not have to be physically in the same room. In fact, many councils have now moved to conducting business meetings on-line. There are many “free” services which allow call-in for multiple users. When conducting an on-line meeting, voice votes can be done by identification of the caller then answer “Yes” or “No” on the vote.
  • Council activities – many councils have started weekly or twice-weekly “cocktail” hours, these are held in the late afternoon or early evening and are just call-in sessions to chat, check on your friends and share experiences. Other groups are holding early morning prayer sessions saying the Novena or praying the Rosary together and others are establishing call-trees, where they divide up the roster of members then they each make calls to the names on the list. It may be just to say “Hi-how are you doing” or in some cases you may find out they need help picking up prescriptions or getting to the clinic or doctor, Knights are helping to see that these people get the help they need.
  • Membership Recruiting – While recruiting may be the farthest thing from your mind, don’t forget that many families who are underinsured and worrying about what would happen to the children if something bad happens to the breadwinner(s) may be looking for assistance right about now. They may need help in finding the kind of protection that Insurance through our Life Insurance and Long-Term Care products offer. We have an obligation to see that every eligible Catholic has the opportunity to join us. If you know of a person whom you may have been talking to previously, about possible membership and who had not yet joined prior to the Pandemic, now would be a good time to reach back out to him. Offer to help your councils membership team by offering to contact prospects by phone. When contacting a prospect, let them know that we are here for them, we care about their wellbeing and their families and let them know that if they would like to join us we can walk them through signing up on line.  They can then access our insurance products and meet with one of our Fraternal Benefits Advisors. Note: The Field Agents are practicing safe contact policies.
  • Virtual Exemplification Degrees – Many have asked if we are continuing with degree work. The answer is yes, we are continuing to offer exemplifications. Work is being done on a virtual exemplification in which the team is on-line, and the candidates log in from their (safe) own location. The only difference between this and a live degree is that the Rosary, Pin and fibers are not distributed. Those items could be sent in the mail to the candidate once he has taken the degree. The signature may be done by submitting an email from the candidates email address stating he acknowledges having read and understood the Charter and he is agreeing to be bound by it. We will be bringing more information on this as it evolves but for now E- Membership signup is the best way to go.

In closing, we continue to pray for our leaders, that our government can and will act in the best interests of the people and refrain from partisanship politics. Together, we will come out on the other side of this pandemic, we will be stronger, smarter and better prepared to do the great works that Fr. McGivney intended us to do. Please remember that we have a duty and an obligation to sustain our great Order, be supportive of the efforts being done by our volunteers, offer to help. Keep safe, keep in touch with your fellow Knights and stay watchful for further updates from the State and Supreme Council.

Also, remember to check our website: www.floridakofc.org often, as updates are posted regularly.

Vivat Jesus

Scott A. O’Connor,

State Deputy, Knights of Columbus - Florida State Council