At age 34, Paul Lee — state deputy of Iowa and a member of St. Stephen the Witness Council 14987 at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa — is the youngest and the first African American state deputy in his jurisdiction’s history. Lee and his wife, Amanda, have a special place in their heart for the K of C’s pro-life efforts: In 2013, the Lees, who have three children, also lost a son at birth. Paul and Amanda have said that helping raise funds for the Ultrasound Initiative was a special, proactive response during their grieving process.
But Lee almost didn’t stay in the Knights. Here’s his story.
I joined the Order in Normandy, Mo., in 2006 at the age of 19, out of a request from my father. I transferred to a new council in 2007 when I moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa, as a result of a job change and the ability to pursue graduate studies. I thought the Knights would allow me to meet others and get settled in a new town quicker.
But no one reached out. Thus my K of C journey ended — so I thought.
Three years later, in 2010, a young college student asked me to help him start a local council on his university campus. I joked, asking "Can the Knights even have members under 40 years old?"
We then established St. Stephen the Witness Council 14987 to serve the University of Northern Iowa, and I served as the charter grand knight. We had fun doing things we were passionate about: faith-sharing groups, bible study, helping students with children, eating contests and going to events on campus.
I have walked with college students throughout Iowa and across the United States, and helped other councils become more welcoming to the next group of dedicated servants. Since being part of the state leadership, one of my roles has been to ensure the young Knights within our ranks are being properly supported.
Within Iowa, we have continued our intentional evangelization to the next wave of dedicated servants. I don’t like using the term "next generation," as it already comes with a connotation that "you can have an active role in a while, but not now, so just hang out and do what you are told." We are making sure that all high school seniors know the value in being part of a faith-based organization. When a young man becomes a brother Knight, they are asked, "How can we help you grow in your faith?"
When we select our Knight of the Month and Family of the Month, we strive to find a young Knight to validate his service in the Order. At our state events and state convention, we ensure there are many activities for our wives and our kids of all ages to be engaged with. We also ensure that the costs associated with these activities are reasonable for a young family, even if that means discounts are provided without having to be requested.
As we say, charity begins at home.
Keep your council focused on serving God, your parish, and your local community. Ensure you are asking your new brother Knights how can we help them grow in the faith.
Originally published in the September 2019 edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. To share your K of C story, email email@example.com.
Empower a young Knight to be like Lee.
Invite young Knights to council events and ask them to lend a hand.
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