KLAGETOH, Ariz. — A family living on the Navajo Reservation has finally moved out of their tent and into a house for the first time, thanks to Knights of Columbus members from Our Lady of the Sea Council 7272 of Gulf Breeze, Fla.
The Knights completed the ceiling installation, flooring, painting and damp-proofing for the family. They also assisted families and elderly residents in other homes on the reservation, work which included fixing plumbing leaks and rebuilding fire walls.
“They had no water, no electricity. A lot of them were living in tents,” Mike Werner from Council 7272 said.
K of C councils around the world put their faith into action to help those less fortunate in the local and global communities through the Helping Hands program. Our Lady of the Sea Council’s mission trip to the Navajo reservation is one inspiring example.
The Knights initially traveled across the country to renovate St. Anne Mission, which was established in 1927 by the Franciscan Friars in order to serve the communities of Klagetoh, Wide Ruins and Cornfields on the Navajo Reservation. There, they received calls from residents who needed help.
The council has financially supported the St. Anne Mission for several years. In May 2018, a group of 10 Knights travelled to the area at the request of the mission’s administrator, Brother Charles Shilling, for a week.
Werner and other Knights renovated the entrance to the church by installing a wheelchair ramp, replacing the mission’s siding and light fixtures and repairing its electrical system.
The Knights’ service went beyond repairing St. Anne Mission or residents’ homes. In one instance, Knights helped an elderly resident unload and stock hay for their sheep. They also replaced flowers and tattered American flags on veterans’ graves at a cemetery adjacent to St. Anne’s.
Following Sunday Mass, Navajo nation residents extended their thanks to the Knights in a traditional Navajo ceremony.
“It was a total surprise,” Werner said. “I felt honored that they would ask us to be part of that.”
The Knights couldn’t return to the mission this year, but they didn’t forget about their friends on the reservation, sending them new winter coats through the K of C’s Coats for Kids program.
Werner expects to return to St. Anne’s Mission next year and to continue working with residents of the Navajo reservation.
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