AUBURN — Members of Boy Scout Troop 21, Sacred Heart Parish and St. Ann’s Parish in Owasco recently honored former Scoutmaster Richard Knaul for his many years of service to the community and to Scouting in general. Pastoral Administrator Sister Chris Treichel, OSF, and Dawn Corriveau, pastoral council chairperson, decided it would be fitting to honor Knaul after Sacred Heart’s 10:30 a.m. Mass Feb. 6 — Scout Sunday.
The Boy Scouts of America celebrate Feb. 8 as the anniversary of Scouting, and the Sunday prior to the anniversary is always designated as Scout Sunday. On this day, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts often wear their uniforms to Mass, and many participate in the Mass as altar servers, ushers, lectors and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion.
After the Mass ended, Sister Treichel invited Corriveau to read a letter the pastoral council had penned for the occasion. Young people are a community’s greatest resource, Corriveau read from the letter, and a person who dedicates his time to help youths is a very rare and treasured individual.
“Rich Knaul, you are such an individual,” and the parishes consider themselves lucky to have such a man in their midst, she continued before presenting him with a plaque.
Knaul’s involvement with Boy Scouts has spanned several decades.
“I was in Scouting as a kid and enjoyed it very much, and it was something that I had hoped my kids would enjoy,” he said. This wish came true, as both of his sons achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and his daughter was involved with Girl Scouts, he said.
In the 1940s, Knaul spent some time as assistant Scoutmaster in Bainbridge, Md., while he was serving in the Navy and worked with the Sea Scouts in Auburn after leaving the Navy. When his sons became old enough to join Cub Scouts in the early 1980s, he became Cubmaster of Pack 6 in Auburn. When they moved from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts, Knaul moved up as well, spending 17 years as Scoutmaster of Troop 21, which is sponsored by the men’s club at Sacred Heart and St. Ann’s Parish.
Knaul stepped down from that position in September 2003 when the Cayuga County Boy Scout Council revoked his membership, an action Knaul said came as a result of his public opposition earlier that year to the council’s campaign to raise $500,000 for a new service center. When the Catholic Courier contacted him for comment, council Executive Director Donald Grillo said the circumstances surrounding revocation of Knaul’s membership were “much more involved than that,” but refused to elaborate.
“He has been very active, and he’s no longer the Scoutmaster, but he still participates actively with them. He’s certainly a very giving man; he’s giving of himself and loves to work with children, but he also helps the parents a lot,” Corriveau told the Courier.
Knaul is also active in the community and his parish, she said. An electrician by trade, Knaul often puts those skills to use around Sacred Heart, maintaining and repairing anything that needs it. When he passed on his trade as a BOCES instructor, he often helped his students to develop their skills by doing work for not-for-profit organizations, Corriveau added.
Knaul is also a member of the Owasco Yacht Club and the chairman of the Owasco Planning Board, said Doug Mason, who served as Scoutmaster of Troop 21 until Knaul took over in 1986. Mason has remained involved with the troop as chairman of the adult committee, which includes many parents and helps support the troop.
“You just can’t say enough about the guy, and it isn’t just Scouting and it isn’t just church (that Knaul is involved with). He’s been a terrific role model,” Mason said. “Rich was very humbled when he received the recognition that he did, but he’s certainly very deserving of it.”
Under Knaul’s leadership, nearly 30 young men have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, Mason said. Knaul has also helped generate adult interest in the troop, and such participation from adults and parents is one of the keys to the troop’s success, he added.
Knaul had a unique and very effective style of leadership, according to Tyson Turner, assistant Scoutmaster and the troop’s chartered organization representative. Turner’s son, Joseph, became an Eagle Scout while Knaul was Scoutmaster, and his other son, Patrick, is currently a member of the troop.
“He’s an individual that generated a lot of interesting and unique ideas as well as being an individual that is accepting of input and participation by others,” Turner said. “I’ve never seen him lose his cool. I don’t know how he maintains such composure.”
A number of Eagle Scouts and friends of Scouting attended a reception held for Knaul after the Mass, Turner said.
“A lot of folks that he had touched came by and gave their congratulations. It was a fitting tribute to all that he’s given,” Turner said.