A Family Affair
by Brian Caulfield
Families are the centerpiece of the annual convention, just as they are everyday throughout the Knights of Columbus. That is why the Order calls itself a Catholic family fraternal organization.
One family that has been making a big impression in Washington, D.C., is the McNally clan from Kansas. Robert and Trisha McNally are here with their five children, four girls and one boy.
Robert, 46 years old, has been a member of the Order since 1983 and is a past district deputy. “This is my first convention and we are really enjoying ourselves,” he said. “There is so much to see and do in D.C., and the kids are really having a great experience.”
The children are: Emily, 15; Erin, 14; identical twins Kaci and Kori, 12; and Ethan,6.
On Saturday night they took the DC at Night Tour, passing by all the beautifully lighted downtown monuments, and on Sunday morning they went to the National Zoo, which is a short walk from the convention hotel.
Robert is a charter member of St. Patrick’s Council 13394 in Corning, Kansas. He said the council is made up mainly of young fathers who are anxious to live their Catholic faith more deeply and serve others in the community. Wives and children also help with the charitable, parish and community events, he noted.
“Our council started a Soup Day to raise money for families that may be having a tough time,” he said. “Our children are a big part of that, serving the soup and helping in other ways. They do the Basketball Free Throw Championship each year. Ethan, our 6-year-old, really loves the Knights and would join right now if he could.”
Robert also said that the wives play a key role in the council’s activities. “Anything outside of the business meetings and ceremonials, they are right there. We really couldn’t get anything accomplished without them.”
His wife, Trisha, added, “When the council puts on an event, we wives always say that we’re doing this too. We really feel like honorary Knights.”
Robert said that recruiting young men to the Order is easy because the council “is really very open to the input of new ideas.”
“We tell them all the good things we do, and then say that if they’re not interested in those charitable works, then they should come to the next meeting with their own list of ideas,” he said. “We figure as long as we can make them a part of something bigger than themselves, that’s what most young men are interested in. They can have an impact right away after they join.”
Members of Council 13394 also talk to parish religious education classes and ask 18-year-olds to join. The Knights is a perfect match for their idealism and enthusiasm, he said.
“We just tell them who we are and what we do, and that’s really enough to get them to join,” he said. “Then, of course, there are the fraternal benefits and the insurance program which is a great deal for young people.”
For the McNallys and all families, it’s a winning formula with the Knights.