By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Several individuals and councils from the Diocese of Davenport are set to receive state awards at this year’s Iowa Knights of Columbus convention. The convention will take place April 7-9 at the Grand River Center in Dubuque.
Grand Knight of the Year
When the Iowa Knights of Columbus called Joe Lickteig of Pella to inform him he’d been selected as “Grand Knight of the Year,” it was a bit like deja vu.
“I was at the fish fry — much like (fellow Pella KC) Todd Wieser was last year when he found out he’d won Knight of the Year,” Lickteig said.
Though it may seem like history repeating, in Lickteig’s mind, it’s no coincidence that Pella KCs have received individual honors two years in a row. The recent honors are simply a reflection on the council’s work as a whole, the support of the parish and the generosity of the Pella community in embracing the council’s charitable endeavors.
Still, council members Brian Huddle and Randy Borgerding, in their nomination letter, stated that Lickteig “models to his fellow brothers how a Knight acts, what a Knight does, and who a Knight is.” During his tenure as Grand Knight, he has introduced monthly email newsletters and added pizzazz to meetings with book of the month, song of the month and trivia activities. He also “started more personal outreach to members in distress and less than active members.”
Youth of the Year
Bethany Jacoby, a high school senior and member of St. Mary Parish in Grinnell, will receive the Youth of the Year award at the state convention.
A nomination letter submitted by the Grinnell KCs stated that Bethany has a long-term commitment to helping others and has taken on an active role in supporting the Knights of Columbus. She also took part in convention planning in 2015 and 2016, helping draw in youth guests through the planning of relevant activities. “Bethany is one of the few that has volunteered for the Knights on the local, district and state levels,” the nomination stated. “Finally, Bethany has taken every opportunity to excel and to improve her community. Her friends have come to rely on her advice and caring character.”
In addition to helping out the KCs, she assists St. Mary’s religious education program and volunteers as an usher/greeter, altar server and choir member. She is also part of the parish’s youth group. At Grinnell High School, she is involved with theater, band, choir and a variety of other activities.
Paul Lee, state program director, said Jacoby’s nomination stood out because people valued the breadth of her involvement throughout her high school career and the number of ways she gave back to various organizations and served in leadership capacities. “It was very uplifting.”
Outstanding Family Program Award
Muscatine Council No. 1305 will receive recognition for its Thanksgiving program at the upcoming state convention. What started out more than a decade ago as a singular Thanksgiving dinner donation from past Grand Knight Jim Weigand and his wife, Carol, has become a large-scale council program which fed 1,000 persons in need in the Muscatine area last Thanksgiving. The KCs and volunteers host a homemade beef and noodle dinner at Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish to raise money for the program. Last year, the council delivered Thanksgiving meals to Muscatine Community Social Action, the Jesus Mission, the local women’s shelter and 55 individual families in need.
Weigand was “flabbergasted” by the news that the project had been selected by the Iowa KCs for recognition. “It’s gratifying; our council really put forth a good effort. Every year we’ve done this project the Knights show up in full force.”
He hopes that with the added recognition for the project, other councils will consider doing similar projects. “If 50 other councils did this, imagine how many people we could feed!”
Chaplain of the Year
Each year, the Iowa Knights of Columbus honor a chaplain from each of the four Iowa dioceses. This year’s Diocese of Davenport Chaplain of the Year is Father Ross Epping, parochial vicar of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf and chaplain of Council 4403.
In the nomination letter, Grand Knight Patrick Monahan noted how Fr. Epping assumed his duties as chaplain with enthusiasm shortly after his ordination in June. “He greatly assists in each Knight’s spiritual growth by presiding at Mass before all our business meetings. We have found this to be rewarding and a great way to begin our deliberations. As his time allows, he supports our endeavors and the several ministries of our parish. An exceptional example of his involvement was his recent trip to our sister parish in Haiti as part of our annual medical mission. Fr. Ross supports our council with great enthusiasm. We appreciate his presiding over the Eucharistic before each business meeting and he adds to our spiritual perspective in all we undertake.”