For their exemplary service to Knights of Columbus members and their families, three Knights of Columbus agents were recently honored at the 138th Supreme Convention.
The three award-winners — Kevin Pierce of Oklahoma, Robert Abbate of Virginia, and Tyler Meyer of Kansas — shared with us their experiences and stories of carrying on the mission of our founder, the Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney.
The Oklahoma highways can be lonely without company, but as Knights of Columbus General Agent Kevin Pierce will tell you, he is never really alone. Whenever he drives for his job, he feels the presence of Father Michael McGivney in the passenger seat. When he meets with a K of C member and his family, he senses the presence there too. Pierce believes that his job allows him to carry on the mission of Father McGivney, who founded the Order in 1882 to help band together Catholic men and to provide for the financial needs of their families.
“Father McGivney isn’t here to do that work — you’re doing Father McGivney’s work which is to protect Catholic families, widows and orphans,” Pierce said. “He’s staring at us in the eyes hoping we can take care of his members.”
Since Pierce began his career as a K of C field agent in 2006, he has helped many families achieve financial security. But agents aren’t just salesmen — they are first and foremost brother Knights who look after one another. Pierce looks after brothers like Kraston Colby.
Colby, like Pierce, was a convert to Catholicism. He worked as a chef for nearly a decade before becoming an owner of a garage door installation and repair business. Not long after becoming a Knight in 2016, he met Pierce, who introduced him to the products available to him as a member of the Order. Colby purchased a policy for his family.
Six months later, Colby was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Only six months after that, Colby died. At the funeral, two Knights who welcomed Colby into the Order stood by the casket. “We saw him into the Knights of Columbus and felt we needed to see him out,” Pierce recalls them saying.
Colby’s story reinforced in Pierce the truth – that the time the Lord calls us home is unknown, so we must be prepared.
“We have to live in a state of grace as much as we can, and have our ducks in a row,” Pierce said. “Colby put in the proper levels of coverage and his family is financially secure.”
This past fraternal year, the Pierce Agency finished number one in the Order. He credits that success to the 13 field agents in his K of C Agency who live out Father McGivney’s mission: to protect the widowed and orphaned.
“We can’t take away the loss, we can’t take away the emotion of the situation, but we can definitely look at ourselves in the mirror and know we did our job. That his wife and children will be okay,” Pierce said.
Robert Abbate joined the Knights in 1977 at the age of 18. As part of his job managing a car dealership group, he constantly traveled around the country. Then, when he and his family settled in Virginia Beach in the early 2000s, he began exploring the idea of becoming a Knights of Columbus insurance agent.
A clear go-getter, he called the K of C headquarters in 2005 and asked a simple question: “What does it take to be a field agent?”
A few months later, he was a licensed agent. Since then, he has built an agency practice with 27 field agents.
“We make sure that when a client walks in to one of our 8 offices in the state of Virginia, that they’re treated with respect and provided with an atmosphere that you’d expect from people that want to do business with a financial company,” Abbate said.
That approach served well for Abbate and his members in 2015 when a couple in their 60s walked into Abbate’s office. The man was a former state police officer and had a pension, but felt he needed more financial stability for his wife when he passed away. Abbate got to work and began the underwriting process.
A few days later, both Abbate and the Knight were at a local parish event. The Knight pointed out Abbate and introduced him to others as a great financial resource. Abbate felt humbled, but happy he could make a difference for his brother Knight.
The next Monday, the gentleman’s wife walked into Abbate’s office with her 30-year old son. She told Abbate the news — her husband died of a heart attack the day after the parish event. Abbate was shocked. He quickly checked to see if the man’s policy was confirmed and he learned that indeed, it was.
“When I called that lady, we both cried like babies because every one of my commercial counterparts said there was no company that would honor that policy,” Abbate said. “I was never more proud of what I did in my career.”
Abbate’s Agency has been recognized by the Knights of Columbus year-after-year for its excellence.
The K of C is a family tradition for Meyer, who followed in the footsteps of his grandfathers, father, and brother when he joined the Order at age 18. Around the same time, he went to college, then went on to fulfill his dream of becoming a math teacher. Meanwhile, his brother became a K of C field agent.
After several years of teaching, Meyer was searching for something new. That’s when his brother suggested the career as a field agent.
“He had convinced me to take a look at the career and it just so happened that at the time, in the area that I lived, there was an opening,” Meyer said. “I decided to take the jump to become a field agent.”
Meyer began his career in September 2013 and currently works in the Schafer Agency in Kansas. Since then he has enjoyed helping his brother Knights and their families achieve financial stability.
“Proper financial planning is so important to who we are as individuals and having the right pieces in place creates a level of peace of mind within our members’ families,” Meyer said. “It’s truly incredible to see the transformation of going through that stage of worry of ‘what if something happens’ to ‘even if the worst happened, we would financially be okay.’”
This past fraternal year, Tyler finished as the top field agent in the Order.
Share your story of how your council is helping strengthen people’s faith and offering support during this time. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in a weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. Access Knightline’s monthly archives.
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