College Knights Come to New Haven
Over 200 Knights from more than 77 councils throughout the Order will gather in New Haven, Conn., from Friday, Sept 30 to Sunday, Oct. 2, to continue the fraternity, discourse and networking that have been part of the annual College Conference for more than 50 years.
The 2016 conference’s advisory board, responsible for the planning and implementing of many of the activities, include Chairman Christiaan van Nispen, The George Washington University Council 13242; Vice-Chairman Joseph “Rudy” Rudolph, University of Notre Dame Council 1477; Patrick Aselin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Council 13635; Daniel Cerrito, University of Arizona Council 16061; David DesPres, Georgia Institute of Technology Council 14496; Andrew Girman, University of Scranton Council 4032; Daniel Hackenjos, The Catholic University of America Council 9542; Brandon Riddle, George Mason University Council 10806; Jeremy Sousek, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Council 13015; and Michael White, University of St. Thomas (Texas) Council 13940.
“The Knights of Columbus links people together in a strong way,” said van Nispen in speaking about his experience as a college Knight. “This relationship goes beyond having friends of convenience with similar interests,” he added. “Knights also have overlapping faith and lifestyles that leads to lifelong friendships.”
A friend of his father’s (who is also a Knight) once told him, “I always associate the Knights of Columbus as being the good guys of the parish.”
“The Knights are seen as the guys you see helping out where they are needed and doing it in a low key way that is not flashy,” van Nispen added. “The Knight are there to help,” he said, “not for accolades."
“It’s the same way with the College councils,” he continued. “We’re there to help on our campuses and in our communities, and we do it to make a real difference, not for the prize at the end. Through our charitable works, we evangelize.”
He was also among the college Knights who traveled to Poland for World Youth Day 2016, an experience that he said was inspiring. “To be there among two million people attending to experience the joy of the Gospel, it reaffirms your faith,” van Nispen said. “And the experience of World Youth Day is applicable to this weekend’s conference: We come together in our faith, we meet people we didn’t know before, and we go home energized in our faith and in the mission of the Knights of Columbus.”
For the College Conference participants, van Nispen said he hopes they leave the conference with a renewed zeal for the Knights of Columbus that they take back to their campuses, a determination to send representatives to future conferences, a knowledge of how to get things done, and – possible most important – having enjoyed the fraternal aspect of the event and having made new friends and taken the opportunity to form relationships between councils.
“I think being a Knight, especially a college Knight, confirms for you that people who practice their faith and want to live as Catholics should are not weird and are not alone, and together we help bring each other strength in our beliefs,” he said.
This year’s conference will be opened Friday night, Sept. 30, with a social and the annual Awards Banquet, which gives recognition to the outstanding achievements of councils for the 2015-16 fraternal year. The guest speaker at the banquet will be Major General Mike Regner, USMC (Ret.).Supreme Knight Carl Anderson will also give his remarks during the banquet.
Early Saturday morning, college Knights will visit St. Mary’s Church, the birthplace of the Order. At this church where Father McGivney celebrated the liturgy for the first Knights 134 years ago, college Knights will attend Mass, with Dominican Father John Paul Walker serving as principal celebrant and homilist. Father Walker serves as pastor of the historic church.
College Council Advisory Board Chairman Christiaan van Nispen, will welcome conference attendees during the business session following the Mass. Manager of College Councils and Adult Outreach Robert Rauch will address the Knights on the importance of membership recruitment. Following the presentation, the Knights will participate in a variety of breakout sessions covering areas of leadership development, council management, membership growth, spirituality, and programming. The business session will end with a presentation on “Into the Breach” by Thomas Perretta, Jr., manager of Domestic Church activities.
As Knights attend these events, financial secretaries and chaplains will attend training sessions and discussions tailored specifically to their needs.
Saturday will close with a tour of the Supreme Council Office building followed by a program at the Knights of Columbus Museum and an evening social.
On Sunday, college Knights will attend Mass with Dominican Father Jonathan Kalisch as the principal celebrant and homilist. The Mass will be followed by a presentation by Dominican Father Benedict Croell, director of vocations at St. Joseph Province, and a talk on the Knights of Columbus legacy by Director of Insurance Marketing Matthew St. John.