Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Our Lady of Fatima Church in Las Piñas, Luzon South, bustled with activity — especially on Sunday, when the parish offered 10 Masses, the first at 5:30 a.m. But when strict COVID-19 lockdowns swept across the Philippines in spring 2020, the busy church fell silent. Masses were canceled and all the normal activities of the vibrant faith community went out the window.
“The pandemic was a game changer,” recalled Augie Lusung, deputy grand knight of Our Lady of Fatima Council 9636. “But that did not stop us from thinking of ways to continue our service to the Church.”
Not long after the Supreme Council launched the Leave No Neighbor Behind initiative, calling on members to serve their parishes and communities during the pandemic, Council 9636 responded to the needs of its community with a program it called “Leave No Parish Behind.”
One thing that was urgently needed, council leaders decided, was prayer. In May 2020, Council 9636 began a virtual Family Prayer Night, inviting Knights and other parishioners to gather weekly over Zoom to pray the rosary. The first Family Prayer Night on May 23 brought together eight Knights; in the months that followed, participation grew to several hundred people, including Knights, family members and other parishioners.
Council members say the program has produced much goodwill within the community as families pray for each other’s intentions.
“We pray the rosary for sick relatives,” explained Past Grand Knight Glorioso Apatosaurus Jr. “We pray for those who served during this pandemic, the frontliners. We pray for the country, for the parish and our priest, for our brother Knights who are members of different councils.”
The program has also strengthened and united the families themselves.
“The primary goal of the Family Prayer Night is to enable the families to become closer through community prayers,” said Todi Rolban, a district deputy and member of the council. “Perhaps one of the silver linings of this pandemic, or this community lockdown, is that our families became closer.”
Family Prayer Night was only one aspect of Council 9636’s participation in the Leave No Parish Behind program. The council also assisted Our Lady of Fatima Church financially when the pandemic stretched the parish’s already limited resources.
“We wanted to help the parish by financing some of its direct costs,” Rolban said. “We were able to cover the costs of some of its charitable activities and pastoral duties, enabling the parish to operate even during the pandemic.”
For their work supporting their parish during the pandemic, Council 9636 received the 2021 Family Program Award during the 139th Supreme Convention. While the members of the council appreciate the recognition, they said the most rewarding aspect of the program was bringing the community together in prayer.
Grand Knight Michael Villanueva also noted that the program represents the core principles of the Knights of Columbus.
“We captured the mission of the Knights of Columbus,” Villanueva said. “Father Michael McGivney always implored unity, fraternity and support of the family members of brother Knights in their communities.”
Click here to view a brief video highlighting Council 9636’s award-winning Leave No Parish Behind program.
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