News and Highlights from the 132nd Supreme Convention
Order Announces Expansion to South Korea
During his annual report Aug. 5, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson announced that the Order has expanded to South Korea. The chartering of St. Andrew Kim Taegon Council 16000 in Seoul extends the Order’s reach to the country’s growing Catholic population.
“There are nearly 5.5 million Catholics in South Korea today,” said Anderson. “It is among the fastest-growing Catholic communities in the world. I am sure that South Korea, like the Philippines, will play a significant role in the future of the Knights of Columbus.”
The Order made its initial inroads into Korea in 2007 with the establishment of Bishop John J. Kaising Council 14223 at U.S. Army Base Camp Humphreys near Osan. Since then, military Knights in Korea have provided support to fellow service members in the Middle East and have demonstrated charity to Korean communities in need.
Members of Council 14223 include Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and Bishop Francis Xavier Yu Soo-il of the Military Ordinariate of Korea.
In addition to the councils in Korea, there are five military councils in Japan. But the Order’s largest presence in Asia lies in the Philippines, where there are more than 320,000 members in approximately 2,600 councils.
States Dinner Highlights Partnership With Wounded Veterans Program
Speaking as a special guest at the States Dinner Aug. 5, actor Gary Sinise, who played Lt. Dan Taylor in the movie Forrest Gump, thanked the Knights of Columbus for its support of his foundation for wounded military personnel. He said, “You have shown that you can be a shining light of hope” for severely injured veterans.
During his annual report earlier in the day, Supreme Knight Anderson announced that the Order had provided $200,000 to the Gary Sinise Foundation to help build a computer-equipped “smart home” for U.S. Army Cpl. Kyle Hockenberry, who lost both legs and his left arm when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near his unit in Afghanistan. Located in Marietta, Ohio, the home is custom built to accommodate a wheelchair and the special challenges faced by Hockenberry and his wife, Ashley.
In an emotional and very personal talk, Sinise recalled growing up during the final years of the unpopular Vietnam War and not thinking much about the sacrifice of those who fought. Talking with family members who served in the military, however, inspired him to begin working with veterans in 1984. Ten years later, amid a successful acting career, Sinise jumped at the opportunity to play Lt. Dan, a double amputee Vietnam vet, in the popular film Forrest Gump. He said that by playing the role with depth and integrity, he saw his work as another way to pay back veterans for their sacrifices.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sinise became even more determined to do something for those who served their country, forming the Lt. Dan Band and entertaining troops with the USO. In 2011, he launched the Gary Sinise Foundation, which has developed numerous programs to help veterans who are injured physically or emotionally.
Sinise also shared the personal story of how he and his wife began attending Mass and eventually entered the Catholic Church. She was confirmed in 2000, and he was confirmed on Christmas Eve 2010.
“The Church has been a rock for me and my family,” Sinise said.
Awards Session Recognizes Outstanding Achievements
Each fraternal year, the Supreme Council recognizes individual Knights, as well as councils, assemblies and Squires circles, for outstanding achievements related to membership growth and retention, insurance sales, and charitable work.
Here is a summary of some of the award categories, including the six international service program awards, and their recipients at the 2014 Awards Session:
• International Family of the Year: James and Stefanie Bell, married for 27 years, have 10 children (nine still living), ranging in age from 2 to 24. All family members are active in St. Anthony of Padua Parish, their community and the Knights of Columbus. James has been a member of Bishop Maurice Burke Council 4031 in Cody, Wyo., since 1995. One of their most impressive traits is their deep commitment to the culture of life. Among the many activities that the family has helped to organize or support, the Bells have raised funds to purchase an ultrasound machine for a pregnancy resource center and have sponsored pro-life programming as an alternative to events organized by a local family-planning organization.
• Church Activity: Coquitlam (British Columbia) Council 5540 for completing interior construction of a 24-hour adoration chapel at its new parish center. The project included a new altar, tabernacle, stained-glass window and relic of St. Faustina.
• Community Activity: Marysville (Ohio) Council 5534 for its “Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Project,” which netted about $16,000 for a softball team comprised of amputee veterans.
• Council Activity: Marquette Council 815 in Sioux Falls, S.D., for the Robocker Family Benefit and Home Renovation initiative. Funds from the event went to support the family of a council member who was killed in a car accident, leaving behind a pregnant wife and five children.
• Culture of Life Activity: St. Joseph Council 12405 in San Mateo, Luzon, for offering free ultrasounds to 79 pregnant mothers, 23 of whom were teenagers. In addition to the medical care, Knights also offered food and spiritual assistance.
• Family Activity: Tillamook (Ore.) Council 2171 for its council garden, which provided 15,000 pounds of fresh produce to the Oregon Food Bank.
• Youth Activity: Roanoke (Va.) Council 562 for its “Hunger Is Not a Game” food drive to benefit needy schoolchildren.
• Leading General Agents: Ben Baca III of California (250 percent of quota) and Anthony “Tony” W. Swanson of Nebraska (239 percent of quota).
• Leading Field Agents: Ronald “Joe” Sandoval Jr. of the Baca Agency in California (824 percent of quota) and Chad McAuliff of the Pierce Agency in Oklahoma (640 percent of quota).
• Top Recruiter: Past State Deputy Walter N. Streit of Alberta was recognized as the top recruiter of 2013-2014 for having signed up 261 new members.
• Century Club: Councils that add 100 members over suspensions and withdrawals are eligible for the Order’s prestigious Century Club Award. This year’s winners are: Blessed Rev. Michał Piaszczyński Council 15652 in Lomza, Poland (165 members); Cabatuan Council 6048 in Iloilo, Visayas (103 members); and St. Hyacinth Council 12651 in Camalaniugan, Luzon (101 members).
Convention Hosts St. John Paul II Celebration
On Aug. 6, the 132nd Supreme Convention hosted a special celebration featuring a first-class relic of St. John Paul II, a homily by the postulator of his cause for canonization and the premiere of a new documentary about John Paul II’s life.
The celebration began with the screening of a one-hour documentary titled John Paul II in America: Uniting a Continent, which was produced by the Knights of Columbus.
Setting the stage for the prayer service that followed was an impressive backdrop depicting St. Peter’s Square and the tapestry of St. John Paul II that was present at his canonization Mass April 27.
Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore presided at the service, which included veneration of a first-class relic that was entrusted in 2011 to the Knights of Columbus by Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, archbishop of Kraków and longtime personal secretary to Pope John Paul II. The reliquary, which includes a glass ampoule that contains the late Holy Father’s blood, was given to foster devotion at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.
Msgr. Sławomir Oder, postulator of the cause for the canonization of St. John Paul II, said in his homily, “We can find in the book of the life of St. John Paul II the sure road which leads, through faith, humility, prayer and love of neighbor, to full communion with God.”
The prayer service also included Scripture readings and prayers, including the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and sacred music performed by members of the Choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception.
Saint Michael Award Conferred on Former Supreme Director
During the closing business session Aug. 7, Supreme Knight Anderson conferred the St. Michael Award for exemplary service to the Order on Javier G. Nájera Cabrales, who has served as a special consultant to the supreme knight for Mexico.
Nájera Cabrales joined the Order in 1975 and belongs to Purísima Concepción Council 3903 and Purísima Concepción Assembly, both in Celaya. He was state deputy of Mexico Central from 1998 to 2000 and served as a supreme director for three terms, until 2009.
The St. Michael Award was inaugurated last year when it was given to Joseph P. Schultz, who served as the supreme knight’s special consultant for Poland. Schultz died this past May.
New Board Members Elected
Tommy C. Harger
|During the Aug. 6 business session, Supreme Convention delegates elected two new members to the Order’s Board of Directors to replace two retiring members. Elected to three-year terms starting Sept. 1 were Larry W. Kustra, 66, past state deputy of Manitoba and a member of St. Emile Council 8221 in Winnipeg, and Tommy C. Harger, 66, past state deputy of Virginia and a member of Holy Spirit Council 11922 in Annandale. They hold the title of supreme director. Retiring are Ronald White of Maryland and Meclea “Mickey” Casavant of Alberta.||
Larry W. Kustra
Former Deputy Supreme Knight Appointed Ambassador
On Aug. 1, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Former Deputy Supreme Knight and Past State Deputy of New Brunswick Dennis A. Savoie as Ambassador of Canada to the Holy See. The following day, the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors meeting at the 132nd Supreme Convention adopted a resolution honoring Savoie and expressing prayerful best wishes on his new role. The resolution noted that Savoie “distinguished himself as a fraternal leader throughout his four decades of service to the Order.”