Knights highlight projects, share ideas at convention

When the Knights of Columbus gathered in Biloxi the last weekend in April, they did a little showing off – with a twist of humility. Each council submits a write up of their projects from the past year. Service projects, family events, faith formation programs – the variety of endeavors is surprising. A committee reviews the submissions and votes on which ones to recognize in a special way.
While the knights do get awards for the efforts, the real point is to inspire other councils and share ideas. What worked for one council may work for another.
Some examples of projects honored include Flowood St. Paul’s ‘a year for life.’ The knights in that council stepped up to find little and big things they could do to oppose abortion. They raised $2,500 to purchase ultrasound machines – a hefty donation – but they also supplied the snacks for the students who traveled to Washington DC for the March for Life, a less visible, but still needed support.
St. Paul knights also received kudos for a Pentecost parish picnic. Pastor Father Gerard Hurley wanted to celebrate Pentecost outside with Mass and a picnic. The knights did everything from clearing underbrush and securing a tent to helping prepare and serve food the day of the event.
Meridian’s council earned honors for two family-oriented projects. The first was a series of family nights throughout the year. Each night has a theme such as Italian night with lasagna. A band provided entertainment and families enjoyed the evening together. The knights in Meridian also teamed up with their youth groups to prepare care packages which they delivered, with Santa, to children in the hospital on Christmas Eve.
The Hernando De Soto council in Southaven undertook a months-long faith and spiritual formation program. “This is very important to the knights and we wanted to promote it. Some councils are strong on the social side or in doing service. We didn’t want to forget the spiritual side of membership,” explained Ted Lander, grand knight. The program had three main components, monthly morning prayer breakfasts, a Lenten weekend retreat and study groups who used Pope Francis’ Joy of the Gospel as their guide.
“The Joy of the Gospel is profound. It really gets you centered and asking ‘are we doing what the Lord wants us to do?” That question is essential for us as knights, for us as men and for us as Christians,” said Lander.
Lonnie Treadway, who headed up the project, said more than 500 copies of the text were ordered. “It took communication, persistence and leading by example,” said Treadway about how the group got so many men involved. The knights offered a variety of times and places for the study groups to meet to make it easier for men to get involved. The retreat was at Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas.
Both men mentioned that the year spent praying and studying has already led to new ideas for new projects including a blood drive and possible work with the Special Olympics.
In Greenville, the knights handle the parish fair and famous meatball sale. The fair celebrated 100 years last year and was bigger than ever. Jack Duthu said he was glad to lead the effort, even if he joked about being glad when all the work was finished. Knights prepared and served literally thousands of meatballs for the day.
All the money goes to the schools in Greenville, St. Joseph High and Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School. “This fair has more than 100 year history in this parish – which says something in itself,” said Paul Artman, principal at St. Joseph. “Anytime you have a group such as the knights who pour their heart and soul – and all that good cooking – into an event, it makes it all that much better,” he added. The parish fair raised $50,000 for each school, an amazing support for Catholic education in the Delta.
Other notable honorees include Jackson St. Richard Parish for the “Women and Spirit” event including a screening of the documentary of the same name and a luncheon honoring women religious in the diocese.
Oxford St. John’s knights submitted their fundraising projects which benefitted their building fund. Two councils, Southaven and Madison St. Francis of Assisi, were honored for social events which included the wives and widows of knights.
A full listing of the awards along with descriptions of the projects is posted on the convention section of the Knights of Columbus website,