By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — During the Iowa Knights of Columbus State Convention banquet April 6 at the RiverCenter, a crowd of more than 400 people stood and applauded for Father Ron Hodges. The pastor of St. Mary Parish in Grinnell was honored as the Diocese of Davenport Chaplain of the Year.
The next morning, he was back in Grinnell, attending the Eagle Scout ceremony of 18-year-old parishioner Adam Gruman. After the ceremony, Fr. Hodges headed back to Davenport with the Gruman
family, who received the Iowa KC’s Family of the Year award at that evening’s banquet.
Deputy Grand Knight Lee McFee of the Grinnell council said that Bill, Sandra and their four children fill their weeks with work, scouting, firefighting, sports and music. But no matter how busy they get, they make time to serve their parish and its KC council. “Their whole family is the first to volunteer to help with everything going on at church,” McFee wrote in the nomination form. “They are super involved and willing to serve.”
Bill has been a member of the Knights of Columbus for 17 years and serves as Council 4248’s program director. Bill and the three teenage children — Adam, Ryan and Monica — help out with the Grinnell council’s two major events, the Lenten fish fries and the local free throw contest. The youngest child, Emily, is 5.
Family members serve at Mass as readers, cantors, altar servers and ushers. Bill serves on the parish council and Sandra is involved with the music ministry commission. Bill, who works for the Grinnell-Newburg Community School District as a technology integrationist, shared his talents by spending hundreds of hours installing the internet, phone and video/sound systems in the new parish hall and church remodeling project. His family was there to assist him, McFee noted. Bill and Sandra are presenters for Worldwide Marriage Encounter as well.
The fact that Fr. Hodges made the two-hour trip twice in one weekend to show support for the family showcased his dedication to the parish and the Knights, noted Rick Jacoby, a past Grand Knight for the Grinnell Council who serves as State Youth Director. He said Fr. Hodges has been involved with the Grinnell council since “the minute he started” as pastor. Fr. Hodges has encouraged the KCs to become more visible and active in the parish. “One of our first council meetings (with him), we were on the fence about ordering (KC) shirts. He said, ‘Well, I’d like to see them at Mass!’” The council ordered the shirts and did just as Fr. Hodges asked.
In addition to serving as council chaplain, Fr. Hodges is the Faithful Friar for the Bishop William Lawrence Adrian Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Assembly, which includes Grinnell. “He impacts not only Grinnell, but a large part of this region,” Jacoby said.
At the heart of his involvement in the Knights is a passion for forming faith, Jacoby said. Fr. Hodges explains not just what the church teaches, but why. “He’s done a tremendous job not just for the Knights but for the parish, continuing to inform us on our faith.”