Let’s face it. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in ways that could have incalculable lasting effects. When it is finally over, how many people will return to church? Will many of the social organizations that have cancelled their meetings ever start up again?

The jury is still out on that, but judging from present activities, one relatively small Knights of Columbus Council (79 members), Father Joseph D. Gallagher Council #3673 which meets in Holy Trinity Parish in Morrisville, is not only surviving, it is thriving. For Gallagher Council, COVID has not been an impediment to their mission of service.

“In my 48 years of priesthood and parish work, I have never been more impressed with the dedicated men that make up our parish Knights of Columbus,” observed Msgr. John C. Eckert, pastor of Holy Trinity Parish. “No matter what the occasion or need, they are ready and willing to help. I could not be more proud and grateful to the men in our Father Joseph D. Gallagher Council.”

A good part of the present success of Gallagher Council can be traced to the energetic leadership provided by Grand Knight Joe Pargola and his leadership team. The funny thing is, although Pargola comes from a family of Knights – preceded by his grandfather, father and uncles — it was only recently that he joined the Knights himself.

Msgr. John Eckert (center), pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Morrisville, stands proudly with some of the Knights of Columbus of Father Joseph D. Gallagher Council #3673.

It was only after the two children of himself and wife Katie — Isabella and Joseph — became of school age that he decided he should become more active in parish affairs.

Because Gallagher Council has traditionally had a close relationship with the parish, he joined the Knights and quickly rose to leadership.

Under his watch, the COVID pandemic has become an opportunity to serve the parish and school, not a hindrance.

When Pennsylvania ordered churches closed for services last spring, Holy Trinity Church remained open for private prayer with members of Gallagher Council keeping a watchful eye, especially at those times when Masses would have normally been scheduled.

When the liturgies were reinstated, but with spaced limited seating, the Knights took charge of the seating of people at proper distances and took it upon themselves to sanitize the church. This has gone on week after week ever since.

“It makes world of difference for the people and frankly for the Knights themselves,” Grand Knight Pargola said. “Everybody wants a piece of normalcy in these uncertain times.”

These sentiments are echoed by other Gallagher Council members.

“Being part of the Knights of Columbus during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped me remember that our hope is God our Father,” said James King, the Deputy Grand Knight. “It is through the works we do together as a council in service of our parochial community and the larger community that I see our Lord’s presence through our current struggles. I am comforted knowing we will come out stronger and more united because of his providential love for us.”

While service to Holy Trinity Parish in time of pandemic has become a temporary focus for Gallagher Council, it also continues with its regular works including meetings that can be attended either in person or virtually, and continued assistance to programs at the parish school.

Perhaps that’s where future members of Gallagher Council may be watching and learning what it means to be a Knight of Columbus.

Two Knights serve during a liturgy that is both well attended and socially distanced at Holy Trinity Church, Morrisville, Bucks County.