By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Des Moines — At the Iowa Knights of Columbus’ 113th annual banquet last weekend, Father William Reynolds of Sacred Heart Parish in Newton was appointed State Chaplain. Additionally, a diocesan priest and a local council were given awards for their dedication to the Catholic fraternal organization.
Fr. Reynolds currently serves as Assistant Chaplain for the state. His five-year commitment as State Chaplain will commence July 1.
State Deputy Joe Ramirez nominated Fr. Reynolds for his new role, and the nomination was approved by Bishop Martin Amos. Traditionally, the Iowa Knights of Columbus have chosen the State Chaplain based on diocese of origin, with the position rotating between the dioceses every two years. Ramirez said this rule was changed since the last appointment, and now five-year assignments are given, choosing quality of candidate versus diocese of origin. Fr. Reynolds is the first chaplain appointed under this new system.
Ramirez said he has known Fr. Reynolds for years, but his admiration for Fr. Reynolds grew last year during a trip to Quebec, Canada, to celebrate the 300-year anniversary of the Catholic Church there. “Spiritually, he’s top for me, and such an inspiration … he’s just a remarkable man of the cloth,” Ramirez said.
He respects Fr. Reynolds’s ability to shift roles from leader to follower as the situation dictates and the priest’s knowledge on faith, Catholicism and Scripture. He believes Fr. Reynolds will be an excellent state chaplain because “we need to get stronger in our religion and spirituality, and he will be the guy to lead us down that path.”
Fr. Reynolds will continue his roles as pastor of Sacred Heart in Newton and sacramental minister for Immaculate Conception in Colfax during his five-year appointment, Ramirez said.
Father Robert Harness of Council 14678 of Holy Family Parish in Davenport received the award for Davenport Chaplain of the Year. Grand Knight Joseph Hasson nominated Fr. Harness on the basis of his support and dedication to the Knights of Columbus.
In his nomination form, Hasson noted a project Fr. Harness initiated to aid handicapped parishioners moving to and from their cars for Mass. Additionally, he wrote that Fr. Harness attempts to generate parish involvement in the Knights of Columbus through mentions at Mass and in his personal involvement. “Our council values his opinion when it comes to parish activities,” Hasson wrote.
Council 568 of Ss. John & Paul Parish, Burlington, received two awards, one for Council Service Program of the Year, and one for Family Service Program of the Year.
The service project, Supporting Bishop’s Blast, aimed to invite more men into the Knights of Columbus, as requested by Bishop Amos in his Catholic Messenger column. Council 568 created a “Father Wants You” Knights of Columbus membership campaign, which consisted of personal letters, parish bulletin announcements and mentions at Mass. The campaign brought in more than 60 potential members.
The service program, St. Valentine Social/Evangelization, consisted of two Valentine’s Day weekend activities intended to engage current members and increase interest in Knights of Columbus. On Feb. 14, the council hosted a dinner for current and new members. The following day, members were treated to a speech about Jesus’ love for humanity by author Father James Kubicki, SJ, the national director of Apostleship and Prayer. Ninety members attended each event.
Keith Howard, the council’s financial director, said they were “honored to be held up as an example to all the Knights of Columbus in Iowa,” and credited the priests in Burlington for their support. He said the awards are “an outward sign that the council is healthy and meaningful in the lives of the Catholic family here.”
More than 400 Knights from Iowa councils attended the banquet last weekend. Aside from appointments and award recognition, Knights were treated to a keynote speech about the spirit of charity, presented by Andrew Walthers, vice president of Media and Research and Development for the Supreme Council in New Haven, Conn. Additionally, Bishop Richard Pates, bishop of the Des Moines Diocese, delivered a message of peace, friendship and understanding.
In response to the accolades earned over the weekend, Bishop Amos expressed pride for the recognized priests and Council 568 in the Davenport Diocese. “It is a real honor to the diocese,” he said. “But, it is also an honor for all of the Knights of Columbus in the diocese who do so much for their parishes and for the Church.”
Founded in 1882, the Knights of Columbus is the largest Catholic Fraternal organization in the world with over 1.8 million members in 14 countries. The Iowa Knights of Columbus, with over 31,000 members, continue to serve parishes and communities in the four dioceses of Iowa.