The College Council Service Program awards recognize outstanding council programs in six key areas of outreach — Church, Community, Council, Family, Youth and Culture of Life— during the preceding fraternal year. Whether ongoing or one-time initiatives, these program embody the spirit of the Order and serve as an inspiration for all Knights of Columbus.
Winning Program: “Visible Signs of Catholic Identity on Campus” by St. Martin’s University Council 16361 in Lacey, Washington
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 with their peers and those on the peripheries. Though our communities are often blessed with great facilities in which to worship and gather as a community of faith, there are often ways to improve our Catholic presence on campus, as the members of St. Martin’s University discovered this past year.
Throughout both the Advent and Christmas seasons, the council obtained an outdoor Nativity scene and displayed it outside the student dining hall throughout the entire Advent and Christmas season outside the student dining hall. This made a difference in the atmosphere of the campus, reminding students through the stress of finals of the serenity of the Holy Family, and of the impending joy of Christmas.
When Mardi Gras came around, the Knights of St. Martin’s University distributed ice cream in the residence halls, and used that time to explain the connection between Mardi Gras and the Lenten season to follow. For the rest of Lent, they filled a need found on campus: a lack of Stations of the Cross.
To remedy this lack, the St. Martin’s council purchased a set of the Stations of the Cross and arranged with the facilities staff to have holders installed on the light poles around the main campus quad. During Fridays in Lent, the Knights placed the stations out at 8 AM and took them down at 5 PM so that students walking from the residence halls to class or to meals would be visibly reminded of the Lenten season and the Passion of Our Lord. Council members also invited their community to pray the Stations of the Cross on the quad, led by their chaplain, every day they were up Friday.
In addition to these seasonal events, the St. Martin’s council supported a weekly Rosary prayer group in the residence halls by distributing rosaries and rosary instructional pamphlets after the student liturgy for several weeks.
Winning Program: Hurricane Harvey Relief by Lamar University Council 16464 in Beaumont, Texas.
A college council serves its community by following the example set forth by our founder, Venerable Michael McGivney. They look beyond the fraternal ties of their council’s membership, beyond the boundaries of their campus, and reach out to those in society whose needs are sometimes forgotten or occur as a result of a sudden disaster.
When Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas, many people lost their homes, their jobs, and even their lives. In response to this disaster, the men of the Lamar University Council stepped up to assist those affected by the storm in many ways.
The first few hours after the storm, council members began assisting with evacuation efforts for families who were trapped in their homes filled with floodwater. These Knights even made their way to a nursing home and helped men and women who were unable to get in contact with their families. After the water receded, the Knights spread out to different parts of the community assisting homeowners to clear out their homes, cut sheetrock, and tear up carpet and flooring.
The council also cooked and served food for those displaced in shelters, first responders, city workers, and anyone off the street who needed a good, hot meal. Council members helped in approximately 200 homes and local businesses and served over 5000 meals.
Winning Program: End of the Year Cabin Retreat by the University of Tennessee Council 14341 in Knoxville, Tennessee.
An active, thriving council finds ways to work together in charity, while also uniting brothers in faith and fraternity. Councils not only work towards campus and community goals, but they grow stronger in faith. By praying together, a council strengthens the bonds of council members. This philosophy, which applies to all councils in the Order, was demonstrated particularly strongly by the University of Tennessee during their end of the year cabin retreat.
In order to celebrate the end of the school year and to further strengthen their brotherhood, the University of Tennessee council rented a cabin in the Smoky Mountains the weekend before classes ended. This retreat served not only as a relaxing getaway from classes, but also as a recruitment effort, as all Catholic men on campus were invited and many of attendees joined the Knights of Columbus.
To keep the weekend centered on ideals of the Order, the council asked one of their brother Knights, who is a seminarian, to speak about what it means to be a Catholic man in today’s society. He emphasized surrounding oneself with peers to strengthen the resolve to keep Jesus Christ in the center of one’s life. After this talk, the council presented their brother Knight with a check for $500 dollars, as the recipient of the council’s Refund Support Vocations Program.
Winning Program: Corvilla Thanksgiving by the University of Notre Dame Council 1477 in Notre Dame, Indiana.
While studying in college, students are often separated from their immediate family. This can be especially tough on birthdays, during stressful exam periods, and during holidays. To help their members cope with homesickness, and to share holiday cheer with the local community, Notre Dame Council 1477 has established a holiday tradition of their own: Corvilla thanksgiving.
For several years, members of this council prepare a large Thanksgiving meal of seven turkeys, trays full mashed potatoes and green bean casseroles, gravy, rolls, and plenty of pie for the residents of Corvilla, a local home for adults with developmental disabilities, and their families.
Each year, in addition to preparing the food and serving it to the Corvilla community, the Notre Dame Knights join in the Thanksgiving dinner themselves, eating with the residents of Corvilla and getting to know their families. During clean-up, the Knights are usually coaxed into singing the Notre Dame Fight Song and alma mater for the football fans at Corvilla.
Winning Program: Halloween on Campus by The Catholic University of America Council 9542 in Washington, D.C.
College Knights are a testament to the bright future of the Knights of Columbus. It is important that they reach out to the youth in their communities, to offer them positive male role models, to encourage them to grow in faith, to introduce them to the Order, and to help them discern their vocations as Christians.
Each year at The Catholic University of America, the Office of Campus Ministry sponsors an event for neighborhood children called "Halloween on Campus." This entirely free event is held in order to give the children of the surrounding neighborhood a safe option for trick-or-treating and other Halloween fun. Without the experience of Halloween on Campus, many of these children would not have an opportunity for Halloween fun due to the neighborhoods they live in.
In connection with “Halloween on Campus,” the CUA Knights sponsored an activity called "Fight the Knight." Throughout the Halloween festivities, two brother Knights dressed in medieval knight costumes and had mock battles using foam swords with the over 1,000 children who attended the event.
Brother Knights also helped with crowd control, passed out prizes to the kids and cheered them on as they took on their opponent. Many parents thanked the Knights for providing such an engaging and different activity, while others were amazed that college students took time out of their day to spend with children.
Winning Program: Persecuted Christians Week by Providence College Council 5787 in Providence, Rhode Island.
The encyclical Evangelium Vitae begins with a solemn reminder that “The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ message.” Throughout the Order, our councils take up this message of life and serve as strong defenders of the unborn, the elderly, the ill, and all those most vulnerable to the culture of death. This year, the Providence College council dedicated themselves to protecting a particularly embattled community—those persecuted for their Christian faith in the Middle East.
Persecuted Christians Week was the Providence council’s crowning achievement this past fraternal year. It was an initiative to educate fellow American Catholics, particularly those on campus, about the plight of the modern martyrs. The beginning of the week was devoted to advertising a lecture by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Nicholas Samra of the Eparchy of Newton, on the reality of life for Christians in the Middle East. Bishop Samra, himself a Syrian-American who visits Syria several times a year, provided first-hand accounts of the atrocities leveled on the Christian communities left in that region.
The council also held an all-night vigil in Eucharistic adoration, called “All Knight Adoration,” praying especially for the Church in the Middle East. This vigil culminated in Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament and a Mass offered for the intentions of persecuted Christians.
Finally, the council spent a day cooking and preparing for a dinner-dance, the proceeds of which were donated to the Knights of Columbus Christian Refugee Relief Fund.