2011 College Council Service Awards
Church Activity Award: University of St. Thomas Council 11949, St. Paul, Minnesota
To be named the winner in the Church service program category, a college council must display a commitment to the faith and a desire to share that devotion and dedication with their classmates and the community at large.
Many Catholic universities have struggled to preserve their religious mission and identity, in the midst of increasing academic and public pressure to secularize. These brother Knights sought to tackle this challenge head-on, and to put Christ back into the classroom.
After seeking permission from their university administration and enlisting the support of their university president, these Knights started a campaign to raise funds for the placement of crucifixes in every classroom on campus. Working with university alumni and major donors, they have raised more than $45,000 in donations and planned giving pledges for this project. Crucifixes have already been placed in each classroom of one of the most prominent buildings on campus, and the project is planned to continue throughout the next academic year. A large crucifix will be proudly featured as the centerpiece of the university’s new student center, which is scheduled to open in January 2012.
In recognition of this exemplary achievement in service to the Church and their campus, the 2010-11 winner of the Church Activity Award is Council 11949 at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Community Activity Award: Louisiana State University Council 15064, Baton Rouge
The brother Knights organized a dinner-dance fundraiser to defray the cost of the renovation. This benefit dinner raised awareness about Burmese culture and human rights abuses in Myanmar, and it also provided an evening’s entertainment for the family and their eight children.
Using the money raised by the dinner-dance, these college Knights rolled-up their sleeves and provided some much-needed renovation for the apartment. They installed a new sink and counter in the kitchen, repaired damaged electrical outlets, built shelving units for storage, plastered holes in the walls, arranged for pest control, and bought new window treatments for the living room – all to make the apartment feel more like home. The remaining funds were given to Catholic Charities to help provide English-language programs for the parents.
For their exemplary work in service to Burmese refugees, Council 15064 at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was named the 2010-2011 Community Activity Award winner.
Council Activity Award: Catholic University of America Council 9542, Washington, D.C.
An active, thriving council should always be proud of and willing to recognize the outstanding contributions other Knights have made to the council and to the Order. This sense of brotherhood helps bond us together.
Each semester, these brother Knights plan an off-campus, overnight retreat to reinforce the bonds of fraternity and integrate new members into the council. After a hosting a First Degree exemplification, the council welcomes the new members with Mass, Eucharistic adoration, the Rosary and night prayer. After praying together, they enjoy great food, play board games, watch movies, and get to know each other better. Being off-campus frees the Knights from distraction, and it allows them to focus on building a community with each other. While the candidates for the First Degree may have come to the council as “strangers,” they leave the retreat with new friends and a strong feeling of commitment to their brother Knights.
In recognition of this outstanding fraternity-building program, the 2010-2011 Council Activity Award was presented to Council 9542 at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Family Activity Award: University of Notre Dame Council 1477, South Bend, Indiana
When Father Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, one of the most important missions of the Order was to support the family.
The Church has consistently taught that marriage and respect for chastity are the foundation of a strong society. Campus life presents a damaging, alternative view of sexuality, which undermines the institution of marriage and human dignity. Most college students have witnessed the damaging effects of casual hook-up culture firsthand.
These college Knights sought to present a positive vision on campus, to help students build healthy relationships, and stronger marriages and families. These brother Knights established a dinner and discussion series, which they called Rodzinka. The Polish word for “little family,” Rodzinka recalls the name of a group of students to whom Blessed Pope John Paul II ministered, when he was a professor at the Catholic University of Lublin.
Last Spring, Rodzinka featured dinners and discussions with professors and prominent Catholic leaders, on topics including the importance of parental involvement in childhood religious education, bioethics, divorce, artificial contraception, chastity, and the damaging effects of pornography.
In recognition of this outstanding program, Council 1477 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, is the winner 2010-2011 Family Activity Award.
Pro-Life Activity Award: University of Illinois Council 2782, Urbana-Champaign
Since the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in the United States in 1973, the Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to protecting the sanctity of human life.
40 Days for Life was established in College Station, Texas, in 2004. This campaign seeks to end abortion through community outreach, prayer and fasting, and vigils outside of abortion clinics. Many Knights of Columbus college councils participate in this program annually, often partnering with their campus chapter of Students for Life.
One council, however, stood out from the rest. These brother Knights organized two 40 Days for Life campaigns during the last academic year: one in November, and one during Lent. To ensure the success of the 24-hour prayer vigil campaign, the Knights waited for the more desirable vigil shifts to fill with other student volunteers. The council committed itself to ensuring that the least desirable shifts were covered. This was a serious challenge, considering the late nights, cold weather and other academic and extracurricular obligations of the council members. However, these men persevered and demonstrated strong commitment to the campaign – many college Knights served for multiple shifts each week. Not only did they have the courage to stand against abortion and promote a culture of life, but they sought to make it easier for other students to participate in the campaign.
For their outstanding service and dedication to the pro-life cause, the 2010-2011 Pro-Life Activity Award recipient is Council 2782 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Youth Activity Award: University of Houston Council 15105
College Knights are the future of the Knights of Columbus. It is important that they reach out to the youth in their communities, to encourage these students to grow in their faith, to introduce them to the Order and to help them discern their vocations as Christians.
These brother Knights worked to support a local Catholic school, and to mentor the students. Cristo Rey Jesuit high school offers quality Catholic education to low-income families. Twice each week, the students participate in work-study and internship programs with local corporations. This program helps to defray the cost of tuition, and it offers students the opportunity to gain real-world experience, which will prepare them for higher education and future employment.
The presence of positive role models in the lives of young students is very important, especially for students trying to balance the demands of work and academics. These brother Knights partnered with the school to provide mentoring and tutoring for these students. They have also partnered with the campus ministry at Cristo Rey Jesuit to establish a Columbian Squires circle for the students.
In recognition of their service and commitment to the students of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, the 2010-2011 Youth Activity Award recipient was Council 15105 at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas.