By Barb Arland-Fye
CORALVILLE — As a newly minted member of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, Bishop Martin Amos donated a Sunday collection intended for his use to victims of Mapleton’s April 9 tornado.
Disaster struck the western Iowa town of just under 2,000 people while the Iowa Knights of Columbus were celebrating their annual convention in southeast Iowa at the Coralville Marriott Hotel. The tornado damaged or destroyed numerous homes, but no deaths and just a few injuries were reported.
Traditionally, the collection taken up during the annual convention’s Sunday Mass is given to the bishop of the host diocese. But Bishop Amos, who presided at this year’s Mass on April 10, “turned around and gave the collection — $2,500 — to Father Brian (Danner), whose home parish, St. Mary’s, is in Mapleton,” said Michael Gaspers, public relations spokesman for the Iowa KCs. Fr. Danner of the Sioux City Diocese is state chaplain for the Iowa Knights of Columbus.
Bishop Amos was class honoree among 110 men who became Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, the highest rank in the Catholic lay organization. Three priests of the Davenport Diocese also became Fourth Degree Knights during the Iowa Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Exemplification and Banquet: Father Troy Richmond, pastor of St. James Parish in Washington; Father Joseph Phung van Phung, pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Mount Pleasant; and Father Joseph Nguyen, parochial vicar of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton.
In addition, the Knights of Columbus (KCs) also chose Father Gary Beckman, pastor of St. John Parish in Houghton and St. James Parish in St. Paul, as Chaplain of the Year for the Davenport Diocese.
Bishop Amos, who became a member of the KCs in 1970 at the invitation of his Ohio parish, chose to become a Fourth Degree Knight because of what he’s observed in recent years. “The Knights have become a lot more spiritual, they are actively pro-life and I see them doing many things to support their parishes and to support vocations,” he said. And, with the state convention being held this year in the Davenport Diocese, “it seemed an appropriate time to do it.”
The four degrees of the Knights of Columbus represent four principles: charity (first degree), unity (second degree), fraternity (third degree), and patriotism (fourth degree). Bishop Amos said no additional duties are assigned to him as a Fourth Degree Knight, but he felt honored to be part of the Fourth Degree Exemplification Class. The Iowa KCs have more than 31,000 members in 225 councils throughout the state, Gaspers said.
In brief remarks he made to the KCs, Bishop Amos talked about how the role of the laity has changed since his ordination to the priesthood May 25, 1968. At that time, priests and nuns did everything in the parish. But as the changes promulgated by Vatican II took effect, the laity assumed greater roles in the life of the Church.
He cited the Vatican II document, “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church:” “The laity, however, are given this special vocation: to make the church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it is only through them that it can become the salt of the earth.”