When Alberta’s COVID-19 restrictions were eased in early July 2021, parishioners at St. Bonaventure Catholic Church in Calgary drew a sigh of relief. After 18 months of social distancing and limited seating, the church could once again open at full capacity.
“We’re on the cusp of getting back to normality — able to shake hands and hug and do the normal things that we haven’t been able to do for 18 months,” said John Horan, a member of St. Bonaventure Council 7432. “It’s been fantastic.”
While the Knights of Council 7432 are celebrating the return to ordinary parish life, they have not been idle during the pandemic. Despite the difficulties of the past year and a half, the council has continued its mission of unity, fraternity and charity without interruption.
“We never missed a monthly executive meeting and we never missed a monthly general meeting,” said William Wolff, past grand knight and current chancellor of the council. “They were all done virtually from approximately March of a year ago to this past March.”
In the wake of the pandemic, the Knights of Columbus established the Leave No Neighbor Behind initiative, calling on members Orderwide to serve those in need in their parishes and communities while adhering to safety guidelines. During Council 7432’s virtual meetings, members identified ways they could serve their brother Knights, fellow parishioners and others in the community.
The council organized a phone tree to check on all its members and established a weekly opportunity for Knights to meet virtually and pray the rosary for an end to the pandemic and for other intentions.
The Knights also found ways to keep up their charitable efforts while following safety regulations. Together with volunteers from the St. Vincent de Paul Society, they sponsored a bottle drive in St. Bonaventure’s parking lot, packing and transporting the donated bottles to be traded in for cash. The proceeds were given to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The council also worked with the organization to hold a clothing drive, collecting more than 300 large bags of clothes for those in need.
When restrictions began to ease, and a limited number of people were allowed to gather at St. Bonaventure Church, the Knights oversaw registration for Mass, served as ushers and disinfected the church.
Father Colin O’Hara, St. Bonaventure’s pastor and the council chaplain, said that the council’s work helped keep the parish alive during the difficult time.
“It was very much an embodiment of the Catholic faith in a time of great uncertainty,” Father O’Hara said. “That’s where our call to be Catholic, our call to be a disciple of Christ, really comes forth.”
Collectively, the members of Council 7432 contributed more than 4,000 volunteer hours and raised nearly 7,000 Canadian dollars for local charities over 18 months. For their achievements, they received the Leave No Neighbor Behind Program Award during the 139th Supreme Convention.
“To leave no neighbor behind means helping those who are less fortunate,” said Past Grand Knight John Leskowicz. “God has blessed us with good fortune, and it’s important that we share with others [and do] whatever we can do to help those that need us.”
View a brief video highlighting Council 7432’s efforts to Leave No Neighbor Behind.
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