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    ‘Their Need Became Our Need’

    Nebraska councils refurbish a barn and shed to be used by religious sisters as spiritual retreat centers

    By Andrew Fowler 2/7/2022
    Knights from Councils 1966, 3152 and 7021 repair a barn for the Franciscan Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother in Nebraska City. Photo courtesy of Michael Vaughn

    The Franciscan Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother in Nebraska City, Neb., envisioned turning an 80-year-old barn and maintenance shed in need of repair on their 10-acre property into a quiet retreat center for spiritual reflection and vocational growth.

    Father Shine Council 1966 in Plattsmouth, Neb., with the assistance of other local councils, made that dream come true. Initially, members of Council 1966 volunteered to complete the necessary repairs using their own labor, saving the sisters an estimated $25,000.

    “The Franciscan Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother are an important part of our mostly rural communities,” said council member Michael Vaughn. “They are a blessing. Their need became our need.”

    The Knights figured the prior experience they had fixing roofs on the rectory and garage at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Plattsmouth made this job right up their alley. But the work would require more manpower than initially anticipated.

    “The barn’s roof had holes and much of the wood was rotten,” explained Vaughn. “The shed’s roof was in somewhat better shape than the barn’s, but it also required repairs and the roofing material itself needed to be replaced.”

    The council reached out to neighboring Knights — members of Father Joseph Vanderheiden Council 3152 in Nebraska City and Father Frank R. Flicek Council 7021 in Auburn — as well as a Franciscan community known as the Knights of the Holy Eucharist, to collaborate on the repairs. Together, the men gathered for two work days last May to complete the necessary work.

    “The roofs were stripped of old shingles, nails were removed, the roof deck was repaired and replaced where needed, and the fascia was completely replaced,” said Vaughn. “Barrier material was put in place, and finally, a new steel roof was installed.”

    He added, “We had two Knights who went back later and painted the maintenance shed at no cost to the nuns.”

    In total, nearly 40 Knights from the three councils assisted in the renovation project, as well as five brothers representing the Knights of the Holy Eucharist.

    The religious sisters expressed their gratitude in a note to the councils that participated. “You gentlemen of the Knights of Columbus did an excellent job of transforming a very rickety, holey barn roof into a gorgeous, long-lasting one!” the sisters wrote. “God will bless you! Father McGivney is smiling down upon you!”

    Council 1966’s charitable handiwork continues to be an important presence in the community. Most recently, the Knights installed a new roof for My Neighbor’s Closet, a thrift store at the Church of the Holy Spirit whose profits support those in need.

    To learn more about the Knights of Columbus, click here.

    Share your story of your council’s latest charitable activity with knightline@kofc.org.

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