Dennis Savoie, along with Mary Ann Kuharski, Lorraine Hartsook and Rev. John Ensor, will be a keynote speaker at this year’s National Pro-Life Conference in Moncton, N.B., “the Hub of the Maritimes,” Oct. 25-27. He currently serves as deputy supreme knight (second in command) of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s fraternal benefit society formed in 1882 to render financial aid to members and their families. In the years since, it has grown from several members in one council to more than 13,000 councils and 1.7 million members throughout the United States, Canada and several other countries. It has come to be recognized for support of the Catholic church, programs of evangelization and education, civic involvement, aid to those in need – and backing for the pro-life cause. In addition to the numerous pro-life works of individual, local councils, the K of C internationally: underwrites the Bishops’ Workshop on Medical-Moral Issues, held every other year in Dallas by the U.S. National Catholic Bioethics Centre in Boston; sponsors the North American session of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family; regularly publishes pro-life features in its magazine, Columbia ; runs the Silver Rose program, a sign of the knights’ unity on life issues; holds prayer services in support of the March 25 Day of the Unborn Child; collaborates with U.S. Catholic bishops on the annual observance of Respect Life Month in October; puts forth a Culture of Life Legislative Initiative; informs its membership on vital life issues; encourages its members and others to vote pro-life at the ballot box; promotes pro-life in international forums through its status as a non-governmental organization; and makes financial contributions to numerous pro-life organizations. In Canada, the knights are a prominent fixture at the annual March for Life in Ottawa and were also very active during the debate over the meaning of marriage.

As deputy supreme knight, Savoie, a native of New Brunswick who previously served as vice-president of the New Brunswick Electric Power Corp and executive director of the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes, is responsible for all of the K of C’s day-to-day business operations.

More information on this year’s National Pro-Life Conference is available on the internet at: .

The Interim : Can you tell me about your history with the K of C, when you became deputy supreme knight and about your duties in that position?

Dennis Savoie : I’ve been involved with the Knights of Columbus since 1973 … I was state deputy of New Brunswick from 1992 to 1994, was elected to the international board of directors in 1995 … In 2004, I was asked to come to the Supreme Council to work as assistant supreme treasurer (and assistant to the supreme knight for Canadian affairs) … I became supreme treasurer in April 2006 and became deputy supreme knight in October 2006.

The Interim : What are your current duties – do they involve liaising with pro-life groups?

Dennis Savoie : The Knights of Columbus has been involved with the pro-life movement from the word “go.” We have been in the forefront of the pro-life movement for many, many years and still are. From that point of view, yes, I liaise with different pro-life movements, mostly in Canada … I’ve been involved as a participant, along with my brother knights, at the March for Life in Ottawa on an annual basis. I’ve been there for a number of years … (and) was given the privilege to speak at the rally on three or four occasions.

The Interim : Individual councils also do a lot at local levels?

Dennis Savoie : Oh yes. In fact, it’s interesting to note that in Canada this year, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the March for Life, we invited our brother knights across the country … to have a march in front of their own provincial legislatures. If memory serves me right, seven of the 10 provinces were able to do that. We hope to continue that, so that the National March for Life … will be a truly national march, because it will happen at the same time in every province as it does in Ottawa.

The Interim : Although there were the local events, the Ottawa march had its biggest attendance ever. Knights of Columbus signs were very much in evidence there.

Dennis Savoie : Like I said, we’ve been involved from the word “go,” will continue to be involved and will not take our eyes off the ball on that one, I can tell you that.

The Interim : Do the knights have any future plans or projects along pro-life lines?

Dennis Savoie : One of the things we have to keep our eyes and ears open for is this movement for euthanasia and assisted suicide. There was a bill presented in the House some years ago that basically died on the table, but that’s not the end of the movement. We have to be very vigilant in terms of what’s going to take place there. Indeed, we’re going to be on the lookout for that. The abortion issue, of course, is in the forefront … There are all kinds of encouraging signs that we are indeed winning the battle, so we’re not going to keep our eyes off the ball. We’re going to stick to it.

The Interim : Do you foresee victory or progress on life issues in the near future?

Dennis Savoie : It may take us a complete generation. I’ve got a tremendous amount of faith in the young people … I think what happened to at least my generation was that we were brainwashed into thinking that that was the right thing to do. I don’t think the people who promote the “pro-choice” approach … understand … I can’t imagine anybody wanting to kill a child in the womb. It escapes any form of logic. The young people, I think, have understood this. If you look at what happened at the March for Life in Ottawa, this year and last year, 70 per cent of the participants (were) young people. To me, that’s a good sign for the future … The next generation is going to say, “No, this is not right.” I’m convinced in 100 years, people are going to look back at our era and history and are going to say: “What happened here?”

The Interim : Do you have any idea what you will be talking about at the Moncton conference?

Dennis Savoie : We’ve entitled the talk (in paraphrase) … “Blessed are the pro-life peacemakers” … I haven’t put words to paper yet … One of the things I’m going to try to put across is that you don’t have to bash the opposition over the head … That’s not going to attract any support for our cause … It may not be that at all, I don’t know. But I’m going to try to put a spin on it that is something people can hopefully take back, think about and say, “I can do something” … I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that we don’t hear the word “abortion” or the word “euthanasia” … Even in Catholic circles, I’ve heard Catholics say, “Sure, I think people should have a right to die” … If only we were to say, “Listen, that’s wrong” … People may start to think, “What does that mean, that’s wrong?” When you think about it, if abortion is not wrong, then nothing is wrong … Frankly, I don’t think (people) fully understand that abortion is wrong.

The Interim : So there’s an education job to do.

Dennis Savoie : Big time. Big time.