Ga. Knights have raised $100k for seminarians
11/13/2018By Joe Pappalardo
$100k in 15 years: Ga. Knights help seminarians
Hand-written checks amounting to more than $100,000 have made their way to seminarians in Valdosta, Ga., thanks to Father John Kennedy Council 4913 during the past 15 years.
The amount was raised through St. John the Evangelist Parish’s annual Seminarian Recognition Dinner. Last June, the event raised a record amount of almost $8,000, and 19 seminarians in the Savannah diocese each received a check for over $400. Under the leadership of Knights of Columbus Council 4913, the parish event brings many groups together to raise money directly to benefit seminarians.
The Knights of Columbus are committed to providing moral, financial and spiritual support to future priests and religious at all stages of their formation. This Georgia event has been a staple of parish life for the past 15 years. Each year, seminarians in Georgia travel to St. John the Evangelist Parish to join community members for a night of prizes, food and entertainment.
According to the dinner’s chairman, Don Martin, the idea formed after he witnessed a similar event at St. Teresa’s parish in Albany, Ga.
“I attended one as a state officer in Albany and I got the idea that, ‘Why can't we do something like that?’” Martin said.
The Albany council has been putting on a seminarian support dinner for 15 years, allowing the recipients to make purchases for “personal needs, pizza and clothing or even be able to fix a minor repair on their vehicle.”
At the Valdosta parish, the Knights took the core idea of a fundraiser for seminarians and turned it into a community-driven event for 200 people. One of the focal points for the council has been the event’s theme. The 2018 dinner centered on Luke 5:4, loosely translated “Cast your nets into the deep.”
Along with the council, three other groups provided support: the Ladies’ Auxiliary, St. John Council of Catholic Women and St. John Youth. According to Martin, the women’s groups prepare the dinner, desserts table and some prizes, while the Knights provide substantial funding, the bars, set up and “behind the scenes general help.”
Martin noted that seminarians traveling longer distances will even stay the night at his house and those of other community members. In 2018, the dinner benefitted 19 local seminarians, and many of the former recipients are now priests. Not only have the Knights received countless thank you notes, but they can even point to success stories of men who received support from the dinner. One recipient is now an ordained priest who serves a Hispanic community just 20 miles away.
One of the current seminarians has attended the event the past three years.
“He's a deacon now,” Martin said. “So it’ll be kind of neat when he becomes a priest you have something to relate to.”
Because of the efforts of the Knights and parishioners at St. John the Evangelist, Georgia seminarians have a little more cash to cover their expenses. To help with events like this, you can find a local council and join online here.
Joe Pappalardo, Joseph.firstname.lastname@example.org