By Barb Arland-Fye
A LeClaire family, an Iowa City pastor and a Fort Madison deacon were among the honorees at the Iowa Knights of Columbus annual meeting April 30-May 1 in Des Moines.
Frank and Joni Sue Dohmen and their five children — Phillip, Hannah, Alexis, Kilee and Jada — received the Iowa Knights of Columbus 2010 Family of the Year award. They were honored because of their commitment to each other and for their dedication to serve their parish, Our Lady of the River in LeClaire, and the greater community. Their nominators referred to a statement that the late Pope John Paul II made in 1980 on the four general tasks of the Christian family: to form a community of persons; to serve life; to participate in society’s development; and to share in the life and mission of the Church.
“The Dohmen family exemplifies this identity and mission every day of their lives,” the nominators said. The parents have nurtured and educated their children “in the history and traditions of the church and share their time, talents, faith and convictions with others, as a full-time endeavor.” Frank is a KC and both he and his wife serve on Our Lady of the River’s Parish Council. Their children assist them with any number of activities at the parish.
“When we first got the call … I asked, ‘are you sure you have the right family?’” Joni Sue said. “The whole experience was amazing. We never expected anything like this. We didn’t do this for an award. We didn’t even know there was an award for this,” Joni Sue said. “The best part of all of it was that we are from Our Lady of the River. It’s an award for the parish.”
Father Mike Phillips, pastor of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City, received the Diocesan Chaplain of the Year Award for the Diocese of Davenport. His nominators said: “He will not take any credit due to him, but if not for Father Mike the St. Wenceslaus Knights of Columbus #14385 would be just a faint flicker of the burning spirit that has consumed our parish in the tradition of our Knights of Columbus founder Father Michael J. McGivney.”
Fr. Phillips told The Catholic Messenger, “I think it reflects more on the work the guys are doing. I just stood by and blessed them from time to time and encouraged them to do the good things they’re doing.”
His praise glows for St. Wenceslaus’ Knights of Columbus chapter, formed in November 2007. “They’re my right arm.” Their assistance with the diocesan capital campaign now underway in the parish is just one example of their invaluable support, Fr. Phillips said. “They complement the Altar and Rosary Society — the masculine and the feminine.”
Deacon Bob Gengenbacher of Holy Family Parish in Fort Madison received the Iowa Knights of Columbus 2010 Religious of the Year award. He and his wife, Donna, have served the Fort Madison Catholic Community for years. In addition to the liturgy-related responsibilities entrusted to deacons, Deacon Gengenbacher regularly visits the hospitalized and homebound members of the parish, ministers to those in hospice care, coordinates the parish’s marriage preparation program, is part of the RCIA team and coordinates the parish’s “Coming Home” ministry to welcome back fallen-away Catholics.
“His commitment to faith, to his family and his selfless service to God’s people are qualities that every deacon and every Knight of Columbus should seek to emulate,” the award presenter stated.
Deacon Gengenbacher told The Catholic Messenger he was shocked to hear he would receive the honor. He’d been watching the NCCA championship basketball game between Butler and Duke when a Knights representative called with the news.
“I am humbled that the KCs would honor me with this award. It is not mine alone. I share this award with all those who have helped form me into the person I am today: my beloved wife, Donna; our six children, whom we are so proud of; with my mother and father, brothers and sisters; with my father- and mother-in-law and extended family. With my brother deacons, fellow clergy and staff and people of Fort Madison and Burlington and all in the diocese. Last but not least, with our God who has so richly blest the house of Gengenbacher. We share this award as one family, united by one God, walking together in one faith.”
Among other honorees from the Davenport Diocese were top District Deputies Wiley Plummer of Our Lady of the River Parish, Bernard Lammers of Sacred Heart Parish in Newton, and Bill McNulty of St. Mary Parish in Williamsburg.