Corning Knights of Columbus rename council to honor priest - Catholic Courier
Several men pose for a photo with two priests, one of whom is holding a Divine Mercy icon.

Father Lewis Brown and members of Corning-area Knights of Columbus present a Divine Mercy icon to Father Joseph Martuscello on the occasion of his ordination in 2020. (Photo courtesy of the Knights of Columbus)

Corning Knights of Columbus rename council to honor priest

Over the past 125 years, the Corning-area Knights of Columbus has performed countless acts of charity and faith.

A beloved chaplain did so in an exceptional way — so notably, in fact, that his council was renamed in his honor.

Formerly Corning Council 281, the organization is now known as Father Lewis E. Brown Council 281. The new title — which officially took effect in February 2023 — pays tribute to a man who logged a decade-long chaplaincy with the council until his death on Sept. 5, 2020, at age 79.

“I’ve been in this 60 years, and we’ve had a lot of good chaplains. But Father Lew, I think, was the best,” said Nick Ferratella Sr., who serves as Council 281’s grand knight. “He came to every meeting and gave good spiritual guidance. He was a great guy.”

Nick Ferratella Jr., deputy grand knight, noted that Father Brown was active with several other Corning-area organizations as well.

“He was a pillar of the community in every sense,” he said. “He was an amazing shepherd.”

Corning-area priest kept active in community

Father Brown grew up in Elmira’s St. Mary Southside Parish and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Rochester in 1967. In 1985, he began a 22-year, full-time Navy chaplaincy commitment.

He retired from active military duty in 2007 and became parochial vicar at Corning’s All Saints Parish in 2008. Father Brown continued to be involved in the parish after reaching senior status in 2012, ministering there until his passing.

In addition to serving as chaplain of Council 281, Father Brown filled the same role for Father Guilfoil Assembly 732, a Southern Tier group of fourth-degree Knights of Columbus — the highest of four degrees.

According to the Ferratellas, Council 281 unanimously passed a resolution shortly following Father Brown’s death to name the council after him. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano then gave an official endorsement in late 2021. From that point, approval from the Knights of Columbus’ Supreme — or highest — level took about a year.

“It’s a wonderful tribute to Father Brown, who, of course, is so loved and well thought of. He made such a tremendous impact,” said Father Patrick Connor, pastor of Ss. Isidore and Maria Torribia Parish just west of Corning, where both Ferratellas attend.

Father Brown’s community involvement included not only the Knights of Columbus but also the Bath VA Medical Center, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Catholic Charities, Big Brothers Big Sisters and first responder chaplaincies. Another posthumous honor occurred Sept. 11, 2021, when Father Brown was recognized with a permanent memorial at the Tri-County First Responders Honor Park in Gang Mills, which pays tribute to police, fire, medical and rescue personnel from Steuben, Chemung and Schuyler counties.

“He was the most active senior priest I’ve ever seen,” Nick Ferratella Jr. said, adding that Council 281 continues to support several local causes “because we knew how important they were to Father Brown.”

Chaplain’s council is celebrating 125 years

Council 281, as well, is known for its high activity level.

The council established its charter Nov. 25, 1897, just 15 years after the Knights of Columbus — the world’s largest Catholic fraternal men’s organization — was established. This past Nov. 5, the 80-member council conducted its 125-year milestone dinner with Bishop Matano serving as keynote speaker.

Council 281 is involved in several pro-life efforts and stages many charitable fundraisers. In addition, the council has assisted with maintenance and repairs at All Saints Parish as well as Corning’s St. Mary’s Cemetery and former All Saints Academy.

“If the church needed something done, we’d be the group of guys to do it,” Nick Ferratella Sr. said.

Council 281 and Assembly 732 also provide financial and prayerful support for diocesan seminarians. In fact, a member of Council 281 — Father Joseph Martuscello, whose home parish was Ss. Isidore and Maria Torribia Parish — was ordained to the diocesan priesthood in June 2020. The Ferratellas, who both belong to Assembly 732, noted that the local Knights of Columbus earned mention in the order’s magazine, Columbia, for presenting a Divine Mercy icon to Father Martuscello on the occasion of his ordination. Father Brown was on hand for the presentation, which occurred just a few months before his passing.

“That was such a big event, to have a council member become a local priest,” Nick Ferratella Sr. remarked.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Those interested in learning more about Council 281 may email corningknights281@gmail.com.

Tags: Steuben County News
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