By Anne Marie Amacher, Barb Arland-Fye and Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Five Knights of Columbus councils in the Diocese of Davenport received awards during the Iowa Knights of Columbus state convention held last weekend in Sioux City.
• Deacon Steve Barton, Deacon of the Year, Council 14678, Davenport.
• Father Jake Greiner, Chaplain of the Year for the Diocese of Davenport, Council 532, Davenport.
• Kalli Hart, Youth of the Year, Council 4248, Grinnell.
• Family Program Award, Council 532, Davenport.
• Community Program Award, Council 959, DeWitt.
Last year’s convention had to be cancelled because of the pandemic — just days before it was to commence in Sioux City, said Dawn Prosser, director of communications for the Sioux City Diocese. This year, some 127 Knights participated in person and another 50 participated via livestreaming. Typically, attendance is around 250 Knights, officials told her.
J. Pablo Martinez of Ottumwa, a Knight for 11 years, said he began attending the state convention when he earned Knight of the Year honors in 2012. “I am very excited — I like to meet brother KCs of Iowa,” he said of the in-person conference. “I like to be social with everyone.”
Paul Falck of St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa and a Knight for 32 years, said the mix of in-person and virtual attendees at the 2021 convention required implementation of new technology — from livestreaming Masses and events to electronic voting. “There were a couple of hiccups, but it has gone off,” said Falck, who is also the state council’s membership director. “The voting was done in less time … you could vote on any mobile device.”
Long-time veterans of the fraternal organization were not the only men in attendance. The Knights are encouraging youth membership and participation by reaching out to colleges. Johnathan Langenberg, the Knights’ college councils coordinator, became involved while a student at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. “We have sites at UNI, Loras and Iowa State. There are other (sites) we are trying to get. We have some ISU students here today,” he said during the convention.
Visitors said they felt safe at the gathering where people wore masks and followed social distancing guidelines throughout the convention center. “I’ve had my shots, so I’m good,” explained Roger Braun of Cherokee in the Diocese of Sioux City.
Deacon of the Year
The Iowa Knights of Columbus chose Deacon Steve Barton of the Diocese of Davenport as Deacon of the Year at its state convention held April 30 to May 2 at the Sioux City Convention Center.
Knights of Columbus Council 14678 of Holy Family Parish in Davenport nominated Deacon Barton for the honor. A deacon for nearly four years, he is also an active Fourth Degree Knight, serving his council as an officer and lecturer.
Ordained a deacon in 2017, Deacon Barton “has enthusiastically served Holy Family Parish in many capacities,” his Knights of Columbus council stated in the nomination form. “In addition to his ministry at Mass and other liturgies, Steve conducts baptisms, marriages, is a hospital and homebound eucharistic minister and leads Benediction on Thursday evenings.”
Deacon Barton serves his parish in liturgy planning, on the Vision 20/20 team and in homebound ministry. He and his wife, Rosie, lead the parish RCIA team, Social Action Commission and sponsor couples for marriage preparation. For the Diocese of Davenport, Deacon Barton is assigned to the Social Action office and is a mentor and supervisor of field experience for the deacon formation program.
Outside the parish, Deacon Barton is involved with Habitat for Humanity and is a founding member of Rebuilding Together, which improves and repairs the homes of people in need. His nominators described him as a special person. The Knights of Columbus council and parish members say they are “blessed to have him.”
Deacon Barton, an active member of the Knights of Columbus for about 15 years, originally joined the Knights at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, then transferred to Holy Family Parish when the diocese assigned him to that parish to serve as deacon. As a Knights of Columbus lecturer, Deacon Barton said he offers reflections at meetings and leads prayer services and retreats.
“I am very touched and honored to be nominated by my brothers at Holy Family,” Deacon Barton said of being named Deacon of the Year. “I knew our council nominated me, but was very surprised I was selected. I know there are many deacons who are active Knights, who do a lot for the order in their parish, more so than me. It was moving to be nominated by my brothers in the Holy Family council. I hope all Knights thank and recognize their deacons for their vocation and service.”
He said the roles of deacon and Knight intertwine as they “both have a mission of service and charity. Being a Knight is a good opportunity for deacons to reach further in their ministry both inside and outside the parish. We refer back and forth to each other to help people in need. Deacons can bring an additional faith presence to the work of Knights like leading a prayer at the beginning of a workday or an event. In those projects and events, deacons can build relationships in ways they might not have in other opportunities.”
Father Greiner named Chaplain of the Year — Davenport Diocese
Father Jake Greiner, pastor of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport, is the Knights of Columbus Chaplain of the Year for the Diocese of Davenport for his repeated, affirmative response to addressing needs during the pandemic.
A deeply appreciative Loras Council 532 of the Knights of Columbus nominated Father Greiner for the award. “Just as our founder Father (Michael) McGivney did during the flu pandemic of 1889-90, Father Jake has risen to the occasion to support us in our efforts to help the greater community during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the council stated. Father Greiner serves as chaplain for Loras Council 532.
“At a time when church envelope giving is down, Father Jake’s concern for the needy in our community was very evident. We approached Father Jake with an idea to do a drive-up food drive at Our Lady of Victory to help those that are struggling. He received this with open arms.”
Despite the council’s concerns that the parish’s needs were not being met, Father Greiner “told us that we must focus on those in need.” After the first food drive, which collected 2,650 pounds of food for the food pantry at St. Anthony Parish in Davenport, “He encouraged us to do more,” Grand Knight Rick Willows stated in the nomination form. “To date, we have collected 9,495 pounds of food and contributed $2,800 in cash to local food pantries.”
When the Knights learned of a need for diapers and wipes at the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf, Father Greiner granted permission to conduct another donation drive. Parishioners’ response “was amazing! We collected 5,138 diapers (and) 13,246 wipes.” The Knights held additional donation drives and have collected to date 19,528 diapers, 43,046 wipes and $1,780 to help parents who have lost jobs or had hours reduced during the pandemic.”
Father Greiner also gave his approval to a school supplies fundraising drive last August for John F. Kennedy School, (the parish’s school) to assist parents who were struggling. That effort resulted in donations of 50 cases of bottled water, 10 cases of disposable masks, a pick-up truck full of school supplies, and $1,175.
Loras Council 532 “had one more big ask of Father Jake and the parishioners of Our Lady of Victory:” raise enough money to help the Women’s Choice Center purchase an ultrasound machine. If the council raised $14,000, the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council would match that amount. “Our main fundraiser was a ‘baby bottle boomerang’ that ran from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day,” Willows said. “Father Jake challenged our parishioners to help by filling baby bottles with loose change/cash/checks. We raised almost $17,000!”
Equally important are the little things that Father Greiner “does for us every day to show his commitment to service and helping others. He or another priest brought Communion to the Knights when they conducted their fundraising drives, made sure a priest was able to serve Mass during the Knights’ monthly meetings and connected the council with seminarian Dale Mallory.
“Through the many challenges that we have faced this year, Father Jake has made a difference at Council 532. He has exemplified the mission of the Knights of Columbus,” Willows said.
Last month, Loras Council 532 announced the good news of Father Greiner’s award at the end of the 11 a.m. Mass at which the priest presided. They invited his parents, who were present. “All I did was say ‘yes’ four times,” Father Greiner said modestly.
Youth of the Year
Kalli Hart, a sophomore at Grinnell-Newburg High School and a member of St. Mary Parish in Grinnell, won Youth of the Year honors at the Iowa Knights of Columbus state convention. Council 4248 in Grinnell nominated her, describing Kalli as prayerful, inquisitive and having a desire to serve the Lord. She serves as an assistant kindergarten Faith Formation teacher, a greeter, lector, and an altar server. She is also active in the parish’s youth group and in Totus Tuus.
Kalli said she was shocked and excited to receive the award. “I had no idea that I was even being considered for such a prestigious award and I am so honored that my mentors at my church felt that I am deserving of it. … I feel so loved and blessed by God and all those in my life who have granted me this huge gift.”
Community Program Award
Knights of Columbus Council 959 of St. Joseph Paraish in DeWitt received the Community Program Award for its support of a new Referral Center facility.
The Referral Center in DeWitt is a local food pantry and thrift store. Council 959 has donated monthly to the center for years, but stepped up efforts last year when the Referral Center identified a need for a larger facility to serve those struggling to make ends meet.
Council 959 donated $15,000 toward the Referral Center’s $995,000 campaign while also challenging members to raise money. Altogether, the council donated $99,400 to the campaign. The Referral Center will break ground on a new facility this spring.
Grand Knight Don Fuglsang said he found out about the council’s award in March, and placed a congratulatory note in the council’s April newsletter. He looks forward to celebrating with his fellow Knights of Columbus in person at their upcoming May meeting.
Loras Council 532 wins award for ‘packing the pantry’
A nourishing effort on behalf of the food pantry at St. Anthony Parish in Davenport resulted in Loras Council 532 receiving the Family Program Award from the Iowa Knights of Columbus.
The council’s members conducted four food drives at their parish, Our Lady of Victory in Davenport. To date, the council has collected 9,500 pounds of food and $2,800 in donations to local food pantries. “Council 532 came to the rescue of St. Anthony’s to feed many patrons and families at their meal site and from their food pantry at a time of great need,” the Iowa Knights of Columbus said in written remarks.
Father Rudolph Juarez, pastor of St. Anthony Parish, shared his gratitude to Loras Council 532 in a letter addressed to the Supreme Council: “Council 532 has done a phenomenal job in ‘packing the pantry’ at St. Anthony Catholic Church since the COVID crisis hit. Right before the COVID shutdown, we were in the process of becoming members of River Bend Food Bank. With the shutdown, we were unable to finish the approval process so we had a huge need without any support for the pantry. The Knights of Council 532 came to our rescue by hosting several food drives in conjunction with Our Lady of Victory. They also conducted a food drive at St. Anthony as well. Through the generous support of Council 532 we have been able to feed many patrons at our meal site and food pantry ….”