All in the Family

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4/1/2005

Can being a Knight of Columbus help encourage or foster a son’s vocation to the priesthood? Is a Knights of Columbus home more receptive and supportive after a son decides to go to the seminary?

Some Knights and their sons who are studying for ordination have some revealing answers to questions about home life and the calling to priesthood.

A Good Environment Back to Top

“We talked to our pastor and he told us most parents aren’t supportive about it when their sons tell them they want to be a priest,” said Jeffrey Alello, a member of St. Jude the Apostle Council 9692 in Baton Rouge, La. “We told him we’re very supportive whatever Michael wants to do.”

The support didn’t surprise Michael Alello, also a member of Council 9692, who is studying at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans for the Diocese of Baton Rouge. He is the first seminarian from St. Jude the Apostle Parish, which opened in 1966.

“The Knights are not afraid to talk vocations, and that boils over in the household,” Michael said. “By being a Knight of Columbus, they’re willing to raise their children in a Catholic environment. Ultimately someone’s got to cultivate that vocation, and the best place to do that is in the home.”

Jason Kahle of Father Michael Muehe Council 5669 in Kalida, Ohio, found his parents, Michael and Lucy Kahle, very supportive when he entered Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West, located in Cincinnati.

“My father lived out the qualities of a good Knight, which created a good environment for me to be raised in, and which affected my decision to discern whether or not I’m being called to serve God as a priest,” explained Jason, who is studying for the Diocese of Toledo.

He said his father taught the importance of family, respect for others, being kind and generous — the same teachings of the Knights of Columbus.

Looking back, his father sees a connection.

“I think involvement with the Church and with the Knights of Columbus set an example,” he explained. “The Knights’ involvement with Church activities and support of the Church, and respect for priests, might have had something to do with it.

“I think any Knight would feel the same way I do about a son receiving a call to the priesthood. I thought it was an honor and a privilege to have our son called to the ministry.”

Fathers and Grandfathers Help Back to Top

At first, Chet Weber didn’t think his being a Knight had any bearing on his son Zachary’s vocation. “But a letter he had written as a senior in high school gave some insight,” Chet reported. “He was talking about the example my wife Terri and I set with the Knights of Columbus and the Church. We think it was more of a calling itself.”

Growing up in a K of C family fanned the vocational flames for Zachary, who is studying for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He is a member of Archbishop Purcell Council 2798, where his father and grandfather both served as grand knight.

Did their Knightly example have a bearing on his vocation?

“Certainly it did,” Zachary said. “It was part of the whole experience growing up Catholic for me.” He remembers going to many K of C Christmas functions and helping his father raise money for people with intellectual disabilities.

Zachary pointed out that the general qualities of a Knights of Columbus family can make a tremendous difference. “Just the religious climate — going to Mass together on Sundays as a family, eating together as a family — that unity, that faith in God might seem small, but today when people are busy running around, it’s important to stay close to the family.”

“The Knights of Columbus considers itself the right hand of the Church, and our council is big on family things,” his father explained. “So kids growing up around the Knights see that whole demeanor, practicing faith. Just being around it is helpful.”

Daily Mass and the Rosary Back to Top

There’s no doubt that a pro-vocations atmosphere in a K of C family inspired Tom Anderson, son of Charles and Kathleen Anderson, who is studying for the Diocese of Sioux Falls, S.D., at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver. The Andersons are members of Pierre (S.D.) Council 2686.

“When I was growing up, my grandpa, Maurice Anderson, was a big influence on me as far as my faith is concerned,” Tom said. “He was a Fourth Degree Knight and would go to Mass every morning. I was curious and decided I was going to go to daily Mass also when I was in Catholic grade school.”

Tom’s father added, “My parents lived in our house and had their own apartment. His grandfather, my dad, was involved heavily with the Knights. That had a big effect on Tom. My dad would always go to daily Mass with Tom when he was in St. Joseph School.”

Adding to the picture, Tom said, “For my grandpa and for my father it was a consistency of faith shown in a quiet way. Grandpa would say rosaries all the time. He’d pray with Grandma before going to bed. We’d always go to church on Sundays. Faith was deep and it was a part of them.”

Men of Action Back to Top

For a Knight to live his faith every day in every way is a powerful example to children, according to Steve Lemay, a member of Ste. Anne de Danville (Que.) Council 3322, and a student for the Sherbrooke Diocese at the Grande Seminaire de Montreal.

“My father, Bernard, never verbally promoted the vocation to the priesthood at home,” he said. “He is not a man of many words — he is a man of action! In this sense I can say that his involvement with the Knights was a witness to me.”

“He taught me the importance of getting involved to help the poor and suffering,” he continued. “My father, as a Knight of Columbus, taught me to put myself at the service of my brothers and sisters. In his leadership as a grand knight of his local council, he taught me to give myself completely to the causes that mean much to me. I chose the cause of the Gospel, and my father is there to help me morally and financially.”

Steve also observed his father’s respect for priests and other religious.

Looking back, he realizes “that my father’s engagement as a Knight of Columbus is an important influence on my road to the priesthood. It is easier to discern a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life if we grow in an environment that esteems them.”

Bernard Lemay believes his son received encouragement to pursue his vocation by being around active Knights. Bernard was involved in everything from constructing the council chamber and organizing the children’s Christmas social to collecting for the needy.

“My deep commitment to the Knights certainly moved him to be open to the needs of the community and to give of himself completely in the vocation to which he is called,” said Bernard.

“The diverse activities of the Knights of Columbus helped Steve to discover the important role of the priest in society.” As a grand knight, Bernard says he worked alongside the parish priests.

“I know to what degree the community needs priests,” said Bernard. “Even if it means sacrifice, this helps us to support Steve in his journey.”

Growing in Holiness Together Back to Top

Seminarian Ryan Moravitz, son of Richard and Diana Moravitz, learned from his father’s example of prayer. They both belong to Ely (Minn.) Council 3238.

“I see my dad on a level of prayer that I hope to attain some day,” he said. “He’s a man of prayer, and part of that is being a Knight. Praying the rosary and eucharistic adoration have always been big things for him. Whenever someone asks me about my dad, I think about how faithful he is to that, and how he encourages me in my own prayer life and growing in holiness.”

His father’s example has paid double benefits. Ryan is studying at the North American College for the Diocese of Duluth, Minn., and his brother Brandon has begun studies at Immaculate Heart of Mary (minor) Seminary in Winona.

Their father believes being a Knight has a definite effect on a decision for a religious vocation. “It’s another resource — a spiritual resource through prayer,” he said. “At every meeting we pray for vocations, and every prayer helps.”

In fact, Richard himself is now in his first year of formation for the permanent diaconate.

Ryan says, God willing, he’s looking forward to the day when he will celebrate Mass with his brother concelebrating, and their father assisting as deacon.

Joseph Pronechen writes for the Catholic press from Trumbull, Conn.