College Councils: A Year in Review
In 1882, Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in part to offer laymen an organization through which to serve their local communities and the Church, and to foster fraternal fellowship. Those traditions of charity and fellowship continue today in the good works of local and college councils of the Knights of Columbus across the world.
There are over 20,000 college Knights across the United States, Canada, Philippines, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Poland who make an invaluable impact on their local communities, serving both on and off campus.
Knights of Charity
Last winter the Knights of Texas Tech University teamed up with Catholic Charities for a “Day of Service” in Lubbock, Texas. From the predawn hours of the morning to well past the evening twilight, the Knights of Council 14426 volunteered at homes of the less fortunate and elderly across the city, hauling away scrap metal, painting houses, trimming trees, mowing lawns, hanging Christmas lights and installing Christmas trees.
The Knights of Louisiana State University also brought Christmas joy to their local community through their “Holiday Hope” program. Council 15064 purchased Christmas trees and then inspired local high school students to decorate them, offering the students a festive and charitable outlet for their creativity. The decorated trees were then donated to various organizations around Baton Rouge, La., including a retirement home, shelter for children, children’s hospital ward, halfway home for young men and Veterans’ Hall.
In every season, college Knights better their communities, often catering to the local culture. This past spring, Council 10624 of Texas A&M University hosted a “Hoedown for Life.” With live music, dancing and games for all ages, this wholesome gathering supported pro-family culture and the culture of life initiative while raising thousands of dollars for the Project Gabriel Good Samaritan Life Center in Bryan, Texas.
Knights of Faith
Of course, Knights serve their entire community, especially their local parishes. In some cases, college Knights are literally building up the Church, like Council 9542’s reconstruction of St. James Parish in Mt. Rainier. Throughout the year, the members of the council at Catholic University of America volunteered their time to renovate the local parish church by converting an old kitchen to a classroom, painting the community hall and cleaning the entire facility. In addition to contributing manual labor, they also held fundraisers to support the parish’s renovation.
Beyond the physical church, college Knights dedicate countless hours to hosting Church-related youth activities. Projects like “Conquest Youth Ministry,” led by Council 14789 of the University of North Texas, are very successful at making young Catholics feel at home in their parish. Every Friday, the college Knights get together with elementary, middle and high school students in Denton, Texas, to play sports, eat, and study Scripture. These Knights not only create an environment of fellowship, but also become role models to the young Catholics in their community.
In all parts of their Church community, college Knights have a strong presence. The Knights of Council 8250 at West Point, for example, become instrumental to the liturgy at the weekly “Knights Mass.” At the Sunday morning Mass, the roles of acolyte, lectors and ushers are all performed by cadet Knights.
Indeed, in many cases, the Catholic witness borne by the Knights challenges others to deepen their faith. At Georgetown University, the Knights of Council 6375 have a “Nightly Mass Fellowship” program, in which the Knights coordinate daily Mass and bake treats to be served twice a week after Monday and Thursday evening Masses. This small act of charity has significantly increased the attendance at daily Mass and attracts many college students to become more active members of the Church.
Knights of Community
College Knights are also frequently instrumental in fostering the bonds of fellowship in their local and Church community by sponsoring service, liturgical, social and sporting events. In Dubuque, Iowa, the Knights of Council 9224 of Loras College host an annual basketball competition between themselves and their sister organization, the Daughters of Isabella. The funds raised from this charitable event are then donated to the Vitae Family Health Clinic in Des Moines, Iowa.
At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Knights of Council 2782 combine their love of games and prayer in Nerf gun events held throughout the year. Between rounds of “Nerf War,” the Knights pray decades of the rosary. Not only does this event encourage fraternal bonding, but it is very successful at attracting new recruits from the local Newman Center.
From all of these wonderful programs — and many more — college Knights across the world are honoring Father McGivney’s legacy and enriching their campus communities.
This month, in order to celebrate their achievements, meet in fellowship and learn how to better serve their college communities, nearly 150 college Knights from 65 campuses across the United States, Canada and Mexico will travel to New Haven, Conn., for the 48th Annual College Council Conference, taking place September 27-29.