Brothers I want to thank everyone involved in making our State Convention a great experience for everyone involved. Special thanks to Ron Rigby and Sandy Hillsman for their planning efforts. Thanks to Kevin York for terrific on site assistance that he provided with registration and troubleshooting and to Jerry Henry and Mike Palka for their assistance with the A/V. Thanks to Mickie and Mark Hofmann for handling the music for the Mass and to everyone that participated in the Choir. Thanks to Deacons Michael Garrett and Tom Ryan for assisting with the Masses and Marian Hour of Prayer. Thanks to Scott Read, Rich Parcels and Brian Sartain for their efforts in making our Convention Book one of our best yet! And thanks to all councils that supported our Convention Book with advertising and editorial material.
I want to thank all councils for a great year. We are nearing another year of achieving Pinnacle status thanks to your collective efforts. Below are some excerpts from my State of the Jurisdiction address at the Convention:
This past fraternal year we continued our strong Membership growth - recruiting over 1,000 new members for the 4th consecutive year! Our membership ranks now total over 18,237 brother Knights! While this total number is not as nearly as high as some northern jurisdictions, we have been steadily moving in the right direction and have been experiencing consistent positive growth for several years where northern states have had declining net membership. We have an extremely strong fraternal benefits program and I would like to thank new General Agent Joe Martinez and his team of wonderful Field Agents who, through their hard work on a 1:1 basis, keep the vision of Fr. McGivney very much alive in Georgia!
The goal of every Council should be to achieve Star Council status. On average Order-wide, only a small % of Councils achieve this honor. In the 2016-2017 Fraternal Year, Georgia again has been a leader in this area. For the 3rd year in a row we have exceeded our Star Council goal. The last 2 fraternal years we recorded 43 Star Councils each year rare air indeed. This year, we are on track to achieve another 30+ Star Councils! I know we can do it. We have 6 weeks left. Please join me in congratulating all Councils that have achieved Star Council status already this past year!
While it is very important for us to grow our membership, we MUST focus on recruiting QUALITY members - and giving these new members every opportunity to get out of our wonderful organization what they are looking to get out of it. At the 2016 Supreme Convention, I was honored to be named Chairman of the Good of the Order Committee and was asked to deliver this address at the Convention. Let me share with you some of my remarks:
We all need to be recruiters, not just Grand Knights and Membership Directors, but every council officer and member. Council officers should lead by example and commit to recruiting at least one new member themselves. But the real key to our success, Brothers, is retaining the members that we have and keeping them energized. We need to focus on three main areas:
Everyone joins the Knights of Columbus for a reason. It is up to us who recruit new members to make sure that we know these reasons and allow our new members to have their individual needs met. And providing ongoing mentoring for our new members will significantly increase our retention rate!
Let me take a few minutes to briefly discuss some highlights of what we accomplished this past year:
· Let me recognize our 2 newest Councils in Georgia St. Bernadette Council in Cedartown and St. Jude Council in Sandy Springs and GKs Ely Elefante and John Jedlicka
· Our Knights of Columbus Charities of Georgia had another outstanding year. Through the generous contributions of 344 individuals, Councils, groups and companies, this past fraternal year we raised $389,963 in revenue and wrote checks in the amount of $304,042 to support over 155 charitable entities. We look forward to even more council involvement with our Charity group next year.
· Our State Soccer Challenge and State Free Throw Events were very successful. Kudos to Bob Langstine, Todd Walker, and Tom Gordineer and all program volunteers for your collective efforts in making these annual events so successful.
· The Fall Games of the Special Olympics was another great success. Again, we were very active participating in the Opening Ceremonies and with staffing Olympic Town. Special thanks to John Cianfiglione for leading our efforts with Special Olympics and to all brother Knights that worked in Olympic Town. Special thanks to our Knights on Bikes brothers for their strong show of support!
· I want to personally thank my brother State Officers for working with me to present the Star Council Awards this fraternal year to our 43 Star Council winners! Brothers, thank you!
· We supported local Councils and individuals in the Savannah Diocese affected by Hurricane Matthew with Disaster Relief funding. We sent $2,500 Disaster Relief checks to FL and NC. Supreme also supported us with checks totaling $40,000! Supreme also sent us checks for $3,000 to support our Training programs and an additional $3,000+ to for Recruitment incentives.
· I want to salute all Councils for their efforts in raising money to support local charities. This is what we Knights of Columbus do. We are always there helping people in need. I would like to salute one Council in particular Council 13808 - St. John Paul II Council in Greensboro - for their continued efforts to raise funds to support numerous local charities. They have raised thousands of dollars over the years to support these charities and present a check to each charity at their annual charities Brunch every Spring. I have attended these events the last several years and seen first hand the gratitude expressed by these organizations for our generosity. I salute the efforts of everyone in this Council!
Brothers you are truly living the vision of Fr. McGivney!
· Our Second Responder program was highly successful this past year. I would like to thank Brother Sal Gullo for his passion for this program and for spearheading our efforts in GA to help brothers in need, especially our Savannah brothers that have experienced hardships in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew.
· We had another successful year with our Silver Rose Program. We were all saddened by the unexpected passing of program director John Carbonnell this past year. John was a special Knight. He had as much passion for this program as any Program Director has had for any program. Thanks to John for his service to the State and to DD Brian Sartain for stepping up to direct this program and carry on Johns legacy.
· Georgia also continues to lead in the area of Culture of Life and support for the unborn. Order-wide, the Knights of Columbus has placed 765 ultrasound machines in crisis pregnancy centers and have saved hundreds of lives through this effort. In Georgia, we have placed 26 ultrasound machines throughout the State and more are on the way ! I would like to congratulate all Councils that have raised funds to support this important Culture of Life initiative. Thanks to State Culture of Life Chairman John Luranc for your passion for this program and for leading our State effort in this area.
· By now, most Councils have had the chance to have the Holy Family Traveling Icon in their parishes for veneration. Thanks to Traveling Icon Director Joe Costa and State Church Director Joe Yorio for your efforts in making this program so successful. Personally, I believe this Icon is one of the most beautiful Icons that I have seen in many years and it puts the focus on an area where our Holy Father and Supreme Knight feel should be one of our primary areas of focus on families!
Brothers thanks to all of you for your collective efforts this past year. 2016-2017 has indeed been another great year for Georgia. We accomplished a lot and helped many people live better lives. Remember to do all you can to finish strong so that we can finish with a record number of Star Councils.
Congratulations to newly elected State Deputy Mark Corrigan and State Warden Brian Sartain. Brian will be a welcome addition to our executive team. I would like to thank IPSD Sandy Hillsman for his years of service to the Executive board. I would also like to say a special thank you to Fr. Ray for his 10 years of service as Associate State Chaplain - and to Bishop Boland for being my State Chaplain these past 2 years. Your support has made my time as State Deputy very special.
It has been a true honor and privilege to lead our wonderful State these past 2 years. My wife, Jan and I, will forever treasure this experience.
As I conclude my 2 years as State Deputy, reflecting on all that we accomplished, I look back with sincere pride. But more importantly, I look ahead with great optimism for what is to come and all the more great things I know that we will accomplish under your leadership and that of my brother District Deputies and State Officers. You, my brother Knights, are the Knights of Columbus. And because of you and your collective efforts, ALL things are possible.
Mark J. McMullen