This past weekend the Marlboro chapter of the Knights of Columbus celebrated their 40th anniversary with a Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church followed by a dinner at the Ship Lantern Inn in Milton.
Fr. Thomas Dicks summed up their mission since their founding in Marlboro on March 1, 1979.
“The Knights of Columbus is a great organization of Catholic men who are really looking to make the world a better place and to incorporate charity, unity and fraternity into their whole lives,” Fr. Dicks said.
Justin Pascale joined in 2003, in large part because of his uncle Anthony Andola, who was a Grand Knight at that time.
“It was very attractive to help people and we did a lot of charitable stuff,” he said. “Anthony was the main chef at the time and we did a lot of functions cooking for less fortunate people and also to raise money.”
Pascale said the Marlboro chapter participates in the Cystic Fibrosis March and his uncle Anthony was instrumental in raising funds to send kids afflicted with the disease to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.
Andola joined in 1988 and is now a life member, having held numerous positions in the organization; as District Deputy, a Faithful Navigator and a two-time Grand Knight. He now lives in Vero Beach, Florida, and is a member there but traveled north for this special anniversary.
Ray Leduc joined in 2007 after receiving a pamphlet after a church service. “We have fundraising activities, supply poinsettias for the altar during the Christmas and Easter seasons, run blood drives twice a year, provide coats to kids in need, give a $1,000 scholarship to a graduating high school senior who is a member of St. Mary’s Parish. After graduation the student must attend a two or four year public or private college or a trade school.”
Leduc oversees the scholarship program.
“What we are looking for is the opposite of a couch potato; someone who is involved with the school, the community and the church,” he said. “They have to indicate what leadership roles they’ve had and that includes getting a job, that shows commitment, and they write an essay that the Knights of Columbus choose.” The essay reflects the ideals of their organization and the Catholic faith.
Leduc said students must also submit an application and a letter of recommendation written by someone other than a family member.
Geoff Pesano described the colorful clothing they wear; purple for the Color Core Commander; red, gold, green and light blue for Fourth Degree Assembly members and white for the Faithful Navigator.
Pesano recalled seeing the Knights of Columbus when he attended Catholic School and Church in Wappingers Falls. He joined in 2009.
“It was something I always thought about joining and saw the opportunity in Marlboro and I’ve been a Grand Knight twice, that’s top in the Council,” he said.
At the Mass Raymond Bianco offered a brief history of the Knights of Columbus. He highlighted the role of Fr. Michael J. McGivney, a priest in New Haven, Connecticut, who witnessed the impact to families upon the death or disability of the breadwinner. He brought together a dozen of the men of his parish, “who pooled their resources to care for the less fortunate among them.” Bianco credits the tenacity of this parish priest for establishing the first Knights of Columbus council in 1882, which today number more than 14,000 with about 2 million men, “carrying out acts of charity in almost every nation around the globe.”
Bianco credits Joe DiMarco with introducing him to the organization, calling the Marlboro chapter, “a good group of guys.” He said they provide whatever is needed to the community; “If Father calls us up and says there is a parishioner who can’t afford fuel this month, we buy them fuel or a load of firewood or pay a phone bill if needed. It’s the little things in life that make a big difference sometimes.”
Bianco said whatever they raise in the course of a year goes right back into the community to help those in need.
“At the end of the year we have zero dollars, whatever we collect goes right out the door. We gather it up and say let’s put it there, let’s put it there, let’s put it there,” he said. “I’m proud to be a member here.”
Bianco said their chapter meets on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at St. Mary’s Parish Hall and all are welcome. Anyone wising additional information can call him at 845-863-6057.
At the dinner Andola gave a short speech, saying that the Marlboro chapter, “goes way back. This council’s got a lot of history and I want everybody to remember that. We’re one of the first Council’s to do a Fourth Degree and definitely one of the first Council’s to do a Third Degree.”
In a touching moment at dinner, Geoff Pesano teared up, saying, “I gave 100% to this Council and yes I’ve been involved, but only because I wanted to because that’s what I believe.”