Knights of Columbus Celebrate Centennial
The Father Nicholas Phelan Council #1875 (formally the Grass Valley Council) celebrated the brotherhood’s centennial year of serving our church and local community on Saturday, Sept. 9, with a dinner attended by more than 100 brother knights, their wives, guests and Knights of Columbus dignitaries.
The evening began with a beautiful prayer delivered by The Reverend Jim Shea, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Don Soto, Faithful Navigator of the Bishop Eugene O’Connell Assembly. Entertainment was provided by Mount Saint Mary’s Academy students, Chloe Wong at the piano, Aidan Mabry on violin, and alumni Ali McDaniel and Ellie Wood, who each sang a cappella.
Pastor and Council’s Chaplain, Father Chris Fraser, was the opening speaker, who reminded everyone of the beginnings of the Knights of Columbus organization, whose motto is “In Service to One. In Service to All.”
The Knights of Columbus itself was founded in 1882, in New Haven, Connecticut, by Father Michael J. McGivney, who saw a need to help care for widows and orphans following the loss of the family breadwinner. Only 35 years following the organization’s beginnings, men from St. Patrick’s Church, under the direction of Reverend Kiely, applied to form a council and was officially recognized as Council 1875 on May 6, 1917, boasting 42 charter members.
Council 1875, renamed Father Nicholas Phelan Council 1875 after the death of the former beloved pastor and former Knights chaplain, is now over 200 strong and growing. Internationally, the organization itself has grown to 1.9 million members in 15,000 active councils to date.
Aside from welcoming everyone to the event, Grand Knight James Mabry, wearing Knights of Columbus cufflinks that belonged to his late grandfather, shared his thoughts and experiences as a Knight, explaining that being a member of the organization makes members better husbands, fathers, Catholics and citizens. “Most important is that I want to be an example to my boys,” said Mabry, who wants his boys to grow up to be good servants.
Mabry is proud of the work that his council is doing. An integral part of the parish, the Council has been fund-raising and volunteering to help others since the beginning. What began as providing inexpensive insurance and financial help to widows and orphans quickly grew to helping the parish, Mount Saint Mary’s Academy and our local community in various ways.
Several Knights dignitaries spoke at the dinner, all of them congratulating local Knights over and over for following the four pillars of the organization, charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. The Knights were honored to have California State Deputy Romeo Quevedo and his wife, Russel, in attendance.
“We are our brother’s keeper,” shared Knights Insurance Agent, who praised the group for their exemplary volunteerism in the church and local community.
The Council contributes regularly to the upkeep of the old cemetery across the street from the church, in recent years funding the surrounding iron fencing and volunteering to do maintenance work on a regular basis.
Every year the Knights have a presence at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, where they run a food booth that they constructed back in 1983. Since 2000, when the parish acquired a substantial piece of land across from the Fairgrounds, the Knights have operated a parking lot during the Fair and other Fairground events.
Back in the 1850s, St. Patrick’s Parish Hall, called Sierra Hall, was located at the corner of Church and Neal streets, where the Bank of America stands today. It was in disrepair so the Knights stepped up and worked hard to raise the funds to build St. Patrick’s Hall, adjacent to the church. It has recently been remodeled and served as the location for the Centennial Celebration, complete with tables beautifully set and decorated by wives of brother Knights. In keeping with their volunteerism, several of the Knights were responsible for preparing the Celebration meal. The youth group from St. Patrick’s Church, headed by Tiffany Neuman, served the meal and helped with cleanup.
Since completion of the hall in 1958, the Knights have offered a monthly breakfast, which also serves as a fund-raiser, and annually the Council serves a crab feed fund-raiser that is enjoyed by all who attend.
This year marked the 19th Annual Father Phelan Golf Tournament that most recently generated over $15,000 to support Mount Saint Mary’s Academy and Sierra Roots, which serves the chronically homeless of Nevada County.
All of the Council’s efforts support the parish, Mount Saint Mary’s Academy and several local non-profits, such as Interfaith Food Ministry, Hospice of the Foothills, Women of Worth and Special Olympics of Northern California, to name a few. As well, Knights can often be found volunteering their time around the parish and community in other ministries.
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