Standing 50 feet over the entrance of St. Ann Catholic Church in Haines City, Fla., is a prayer tower that has served as a beacon for parishioners since it was dedicated in 1983 by local Knights of Columbus. Several parishioners even claim the tower is a site where miracles have occurred.
After several decades, the tower needed to be refurbished, and St. Ann’s pastor Father Alfonso Cely called on Father Philip de Carriere Council 10484 in Haines City to sponsor a renovation project. He asked that the Knights install new tilework, and add a sitting area, a fresh coat of paint, candles, as well as statues of saints and Blessed Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus.
Grand Knight Ed Leo recognized it as an opportunity to demonstrate both the Order’s support of the Church and its principle of fraternity.
“People will see that the Knights of Columbus do beautiful things for the Church,” Leo said. “The Knights want people to be harmonious and work together as brothers.”
Enthusiasm at St. Ann’s for restoring the tower — while honoring the Knights’ founder — was strong, but it quickly became clear that the project would be financially daunting for Council 10484 to complete alone, with an estimated cost of $25,000. The council sought assistance from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen 3200 Assembly in Haines City, as well as Cypress Garden Council 7091 and Frank J. Durbin Assembly 2608, both in nearby Winter Haven.
Leo tasked Deputy Grand Knight Osbel Benitez of Council 10484 with coordinating the manpower behind the renovations.
“We had around eight brothers helping out with their talent every Saturday,” Benitez said. “They took their weekend off to give their talent to the prayer tower, but we had a lot of fun working as a team and the project made us get closer as brother Knights.”
The Knights imported from Italy statues of Sts. Jude, Dominic and Clare, as well as Blessed Michael McGivney, in addition to candles to adorn the inside of the tower. An anonymous donor also provided a crucifix.
On Dec. 19, 2021, the prayer tower was completed and blessed. During the ceremony, led by Father Cely, Sanabria placed the statue of Father McGivney in the tower — a responsibility he saw as the culmination of the project with his brother Knights.
“I believe that this helped me in a growing process spiritually, because I got to know my brother Knights more personally,” Sanabria said. “It helped us to better understand what Blessed Michael McGivney represents and it taught those who did not know the history.”
Several men who attended the ceremony were not yet members of the Knights of Columbus and have since joined the Order.
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