BALTOJI VOKĖ, Lithuania — Her apartment was in shambles due to a fire, but it was the only home this single mother could afford. With a borrowed 5,000 euros from a friend, she tried to fix it up for herself and her three children — ages 6, 8 and 16 years.
The task was overwhelming. Lacking adequate resources, she turned to a Catholic charity organization in the hopes that they could repair her home. They couldn’t help, but they reached out to a group who could — the Knights of Columbus.
St. Casimir and Blessed Jurdis Matulaitis Council 17187 in Vilnius is named after well-known Slavic Catholics. And the Knights in the council are living up to their namesake’s example. They work with Cathedral Caritas on the Ministry of Hearing program for these kinds of situations, where people need help with basic necessities.
When Grand Knight Vadim Davliasevic and his brother Knights saw the damage, they were shaken. The cracked floors were caked by dust and rubble from the brick walls, and the ceilings were blackened by the flames and smoke. Every part of the apartment had to be repaired.
“It is really terrible,” Davliasevic said. “But we are full of hope and energy to help that woman and her children.”
The Knights cleaned the debris from the apartment, repaired and replaced the wooden floors and installed new electrical wiring. The Knights hope to complete the project by next year.
“Thanks to God, everything is going really well,” Davliasevic said.
The Knights of Columbus was founded as a way for parishioners to bring financial aid and assistance to the sick, disabled and others in need. This included immigrant mothers who lost their husbands — and usually the family’s breadwinner — due to hazardous jobs. Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights, saw this as a critical mission. That legacy has expanded from the cellar of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., to the burned apartment in Baltoji Vokė, Lithuania.
The Knights is the largest, fraternal Catholic organization in the world, with councils in Canada, Philippines, Mexico, Poland and more. The Order expanded to Lithuania the Knights in 2013 and now has 73 members and 2 councils.
Through their renovations, the Lithuanian Knights are not only providing a livable apartment, but hope.
“We want to give this family, these children some light in their lives, that they would see not just darkness and needs,” Davliasevic said. “We want to give them hope, that God is great and alive is wonderful full of God's love and mercy. That's why we help this family to fix the flat.”
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