Finger Lakes Knights of Columbus council sees steady growth
The New York State Council of the Knights of Columbus recently recognized the Bishop Joseph L. Hogan Council 13194 as a Super Star Council.
This means the council, which is based out of St. Peter Parish in Shortsville, Phelps and Clifton Springs, met its recruitment and membership goals for the 2017-18 year, according to Mark Cazer, financial secretary for the Bishop Hogan council.
“The Supreme Council establishes a recruitment quota for the councils every year to encourage councils to grow their membership,” Cazer explained.
The Bishop Hogan council has been growing steadily for the last few years, added Cazer, who is one of the council’s founding members. The council was established in 2002 under the leadership of Father John Gagnier, then-pastor at St. Dominic Parish, which in 2012 merged with St. Felix in Clifton Springs and St. Francis in Phelps to form St. Peter Parish.
The council currently counts more than 60 men among its numbers, Cazer said.
“We’ve been growing quite a bit for the last couple years. The last two or three years we’ve met our (membership) quota,” he remarked.
The new members coming into the council have sparked a renewed enthusiasm and sense of commitment among some of the longtime Knights, he added.
“It’s been great for the council. When the new members get involved … it kind of re-energizes the whole group of men. We’ve had great turnout at our meetings. The new members like to be involved and they want to participate so they’re there, and that just kind of gets some of our older members involved again,” he said.
At these monthly meetings, Knights plan upcoming fundraisers and parish-based social events, discuss events that have recently taken place, and pray together with their fellow Knights, Cazer said.
“You really develop kind of a brothership among the Knights. You make new friends and that type of thing. The Knights can look out for each other,” he said.
The Knights also look out for others in their parishes and in the wider community, Cazer added.
“That’s kind of what we’re all about, is helping each other out,” agreed Steve Koch, the Bishop Hogan council’s Grand Knight.
This focus on service is one of the things that first attracted Koch to the Knights after he joined the parish eight years ago, he said. And although membership in the Bishop Hogan council is on the upswing, Koch believes even more men might be interested in joining if they knew more about what the Knights do.
“I don’t think they realize how much good we can do for the community, especially if we have more members. We try to help as much as we can,” he said
“The Knights spend a lot of time raising money and giving it all away,” Cazer agreed. “We’re obviously not in it to build up our bank account. We’re in it to help our church community and the people who live around us.”
The Knights have several go-to fundraisers, including an annual spaghetti dinner, and in the last few years also have been trying out some new fundraisers, he said. For the last few years, for example, the Knights occasionally have manned one of the concession stands at Rochester’s Frontier Field.
“Frontier Field donates a portion of the profits to nonprofit organizations who volunteer to work at the concession stand. We usually car pool with one or two cars and spend an afternoon selling hamburgers and hot dogs or whatever concessions we’re working that day,” Cazer said.
The council regularly donates money to local food cupboards, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas. It also makes free tickets to its spaghetti dinners available to local food cupboards to distribute to their clients, Cazer said.
For a number of years the council also has provided $500 scholarships to two high-school seniors from the parish who are going on to college.
“It’s not a lot, but they can buy their books with it,” Koch said.
This year, the Knights also are providing a $250 scholarship to a child who is enrolled in a local Catholic school and are currently in the process of choosing a winner, Cazer added.
“We had the kids write essays about why they love attending a Catholic school,” he said.