Knights aid Auburn schools - Catholic Courier

Knights aid Auburn schools

Catholic education in the Auburn area got a big boost from the Knights of Columbus over the July 28-30 weekend.

The Knights Auburn Council No. 207 sponsored a July 28 benefit concert in support of education and divided the proceeds between three Auburn schools with Catholic ties: St. Joseph School, a diocesan Catholic school; Ss. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic School; and Tyburn Academy, an independent, private high school in the Catholic tradition.

Two days later, on July 30, the council sponsored the 15th Annual Father Shamon Memorial Golf Tournament, which raised money for Tyburn Academy’s Father Shamon Education Fund. Father Albert Shamon, a diocesan priest and Catholic Courier columnist, was instrumental in the 1993 founding of Tyburn Academy. He passed away in November 2003.

Through the benefit concert the Knights raised $1,200, which was to be distributed between the three Auburn schools, said Jack Conway, the Auburn council’s grand knight. St. Joseph and Ss. Peter and Paul were to each receive $500, and Tyburn Academy was to receive $200. Tyburn Academy was getting a smaller portion of the concert proceeds because the school also was receiving proceeds from the golf tournament, he added.

As one of the largest fraternal organizations in the world, the Knights of Columbus is well-poised to use its strength and influence to support the worthwhile cause of Catholic education, said Joe Lo Piccolo, chancellor of the Auburn council.

“We feel the vast majority of vocations come out of Catholic schools,” Lo Piccolo said. Thus, by supporting Catholic schools, the Knights also are supporting vocations, he added.

Catholic schools are probably such a fertile breeding ground for vocations because in such schools, discussions about God, faith and values are not only allowed, but actually encouraged, he said.

The Knights’ Auburn council typically holds two dances or concerts each summer, but not in the hopes of turning a profit for itself, Conway said.

“They’re always a benefit. The Knights don’t have things just to raise money for the Knights. We raise money for folks who need it,” he said.

Conway, who is himself a product of Catholic schools, said it was commonplace when he was a student in the 1960s and 1970s for parents to enroll their children in Catholic schools. These days, however, Catholics schools seem to face more obstacles, and hopefully the council’s fundraisers can help the schools overcome those challenges, he said.

“They need all the help they can get,” Conway said. “We’re a Catholic men’s organization, so it would just stand to reason that we would support Catholic education. It’s the right thing to do.”

Gary Dunes and the Del-Tunes performed at the July 28 concert, which was held in the parking lot outside the Knights’ headquarters on Market Street. That particular act was chosen because its cover performances of popular oldies and classic hits appeal to people of all ages, Conway said. The benefit drew a strong crowd despite an early threat of rain, he added.

“The skies cleared right up at about five and we didn’t have any rain. We had a very nice crowd; the parking lot was full,” he said, estimating that between 500 and 600 people attended the concert.

The Knights always has been a strong supporter of Catholic education in the area, said Kathleen Coye, principal at St. Joseph. They often hold pancake-breakfast fundraisers to benefit St. Joseph, Tyburn Academy and other youth-related organizations in the area, including Auburn’s Catholic Youth Organization Athletics program. The council also has let St. Joseph and Tyburn Academy hold meetings and other functions at its headquarters, noted both Coye and Jeanne Hogan, Tyburn Academy’s principal.

“The Knights of Columbus are a very generous group in the area. I’m grateful that they were willing to do this for us,” Coye said.

“They’re always very good supporters of Catholic education,” Hogan noted.

St. Joseph’s portion of the concert proceeds will be used to help pay for the new floor that was installed in the school’s gymnasium in June, Coye said. Since the gymnasium hosts St. Alphonsus Parish’s bingo program and many of Auburn’s CYO Athletics program games, St. Joseph, St. Alphonsus and the CYO Athletics program are each paying for one-third of the new floor’s cost, said Kim Guinnip.

“It was a major project,” said Guinnip, treasurer of the CYO Athletics program who also works in St. Alponsus’ business office. “This (new floor) is the best floor for growing bones, to reduce the stress to the joints and bones.”

Manufactured by Robbins Sports Surfaces and installed by Rochester-based Western New York Flooring, the new floor features a bottom layer made of recycled tires underneath a seamless, polyurethane structural layer, Guinnip said.

“It’s something we’re looking forward to having for the students in the fall,” Coye added. “It was an exciting venture, and it really looks nice.”

Tyburn Academy officials planned to use their school’s portion of the concert proceeds to fund a student retreat at Stella Maris Retreat and Renewal Center in Skaneateles during the 2006-07 school year, Hogan said.

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