As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and many usual daily activities are halted, the Knights of Columbus in the Philadelphia region are responding to the needs of their parishes and communities with “Leave No Neighbor Behind,” an order–wide service program to assist people during the crisis.
Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson challenges his fellow Knights to take this moment as an opportunity to “deepen our commitment to the very principles which define us: charity, unity and fraternity.”
This program identifies five areas of service activities, while abiding by social distancing and other health guidelines.
They include Knights calling one another and contacting widows of deceased Brother Knights; talking with their pastors to help with charitable and spiritual needs of their parish; reaching out to help their communities’ non-profit organizations, helping neighbors in need, calling people isolated in assisted living facilities and shopping for those unable to leave their houses; assisting local food banks and pantries; and scheduling blood donations on their behalf and that of family and friends.
“Even before this shutdown of our society, Knights were always active in our parishes and our communities,” said Michael J. Kish, a Knights of Columbus leader in the Philadelphia Region. Kish has been a member of the Knights of Columbus since 1999 and belongs to the William J. Fenerty Council, No. 7208 at St. Joseph Parish in Downingtown.
“When this started happening,” said Kish, “the program was created to keep us Knights active and involved in our parishes and communities, and also to help our Brother Knights. We have a lot of elderly Knights who shouldn’t go out right now. We should all look out for each other, do what can we do. That’s what we’ve done since the Knights was founded in 1882. We’re always there to help in a situation that’s not our normal.”
The Catholic men’s fraternal organization based in New Haven, Connecticut “came out with a really nice program,” Kish said. “When this is all done, we won’t need to do all of these things, but we should carry on afterwards keeping in touch with our elderly. This situation brings to the forefront that we need to keep in touch with the members of our community.”
“We’re doing the mission we’re meant to do,” said Ray McLaughlin, program chairman for the Knights’ Eastern Region, which includes the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and he’s also the newly elected Pennsylvania State Secretary for the Knights of Columbus.
McLaughlin, who is also the newly elected Pennsylvania state secretary for the Knights of Columbus, has been a Knight for 38 years and is a member of St. Albert the Great Council, No. 7925 in Huntingdon Valley.
He reports his council has donated money to St. Albert the Great Parish and a local veterans’ home.
McLaughlin has seen a great response to the program and cited examples of how members are responding with great enthusiasm around the Philadelphia region:
— Perkiomen Valley Council, No. 3633 in Schwenksville, Montgomery County collected 450 pounds of food, which was donated to the Daily Bread Community Food Pantry in Schwenksville.
— Msgr. Schuyler Council, No. 1333 in West Chester held a food drive and collected 40 bags of food along with a $2,000 donation. They also held a blood drive on April 14 and had 52 blood donors.
— Father Joseph D. Gallagher Council, No. 3673 in Morrisville, Bucks County distributed food donations to the Holy Trinity Parish Food Pantry in Morrisville.
— Father Leo J. Letterhouse Council, No. 6614 in East Greenville, Montgomery County donated $1,000 to their parish, St. Philip Neri.
— SS. Simon and Jude Council, No. 11564 in West Chester established a council phone chain and email contact list for all members to stay connected and established a fund to provide financial assistance to any Knight or neighbor in need.
— Mother of Divine Providence Council, No. 14454 in King of Prussia, Montgomery County, donated $4,000 to their parish and set up livestreaming of Holy Week and Sunday Masses. They also sponsored two blood drives before the pandemic was underway.
— Archbishop Wood Assembly, No. 1680 in Warminster, Bucks County worked with Domino’s Pizza to donate 475 pizzas to healthcare workers in Bucks and Montgomery counties, including Doylestown Hospital, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Abington Hospital and Holy Redeemer Hospital.
Chris Owens is Grand Knight of Father Bally Council, No. 1192 in Pottstown, Montgomery County, and he’s been a Knight for 15 years.
His council has been doing service projects such as providing help to local retirement homes and food banks before the “Leave No Neighbor Behind” program started, but it has helped his council to “bump up our game,” he said.
Members of his council are now contacting senior citizens in their parishes and at ManorCare Health Services in Pottstown. They are also leveraging Facebook Live to broadcast Masses from St. Aloysius Parish in Pottstown.
Owens and his Brother Knights are staying connected and checking in with one another regularly. “We text each other a lot,” he said, “even if it’s just to ask your Brother Knight, ‘How are you doing? What’s new? How’s the wife? How’s the kids?’ It helps.”
Owens’ Knights of Columbus Council will resume regular meetings next week using Zoom, an online video conferencing platform.
“With Christ’s help,” said Owens, “we can get through this. We’re here for the long haul. We’re in it to win it. I’m proud of the Knights.”
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