Oldest Knights of Columbus chapter in St. Tammany thriving | St. Tammany Community News
Knights of Columbus St. Benedict-Covington Council 3061, the first chartered chapter of the Knights of Columbus in St. Tammany, has not only survived but thrived for the past 75 years.
While many civic and charitable organizations struggle to retain their membership, St. Benedict-Covington Council has 121 members and is more dedicated than ever to “keeping the pulse of the community and helping out in times of need,” said Grand Knight Dale Bratschi.
“Pope Pius XXI called the Knights of Columbus the ‘right arm of the Church,’ and we are proud of that title,” Bratschi said.
He said the group attracts younger members by including families in their social events, a strategy reflected in the 75th anniversary itself. Bratschi said ten years ago the celebration would have been a formal affair held in the evening with a sit-down dinner and a touch of the fancy.
But instead, the St. Benedict KCs celebrated their longevity on June 18 with a picnic-style lunch open to the community at Louisiana Room 25 near Folsom. Nearly 100 Knights, their families, a church member, Covington Mayor Mark Johnson and Parish President Mike Cooper attended.
The council began in 1947 at St. Peter’s Parish in Covington, then moved to St. Benedict in 2003. The organization made up of Catholic men also includes a women’s auxiliary branch and uses volunteer help for their projects. community outreach to parishioners at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Folsom.
These projects include supporting non-profit organizations, such as the Northshore Crisis Pregnancy Center in Covington, Toys for Tots and other Christmas programs for underprivileged children, and working with St. Tammany Parish Schools to sponsor classrooms for children with special needs.
A recent fundraiser enabled the group to underwrite a sensory room for students with autism and special needs, said John Mendow, a member of the organization, which works closely with the school system and teachers with special needs. specials to stay current on how the organization can be of service to the students.
“With the equipment we were able to provide them, these students can learn at a faster pace,” he said.
The organization has worked specifically with teachers in typical and special needs classes at Lyon Elementary, Covington High, William Pitcher Junior High, Pineview Middle, Madisonville Junior High and Fifth Ward Junior High.
Other community service efforts include offering a Catholic youth leadership award and scholarship, supporting seminarians at St. Joseph’s Abbey, hosting an appreciation dinner for local clergy and assistance to Ukrainian refugees in conjunction with the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
To raise money for the projects they support, council members have held bingo games every Saturday in their hall since 1990 and offer fish fry dinners during the Lenten season, a hallmark of any Knights organization. of Columbus. Members also participate in can-shake campaigns at local businesses and organize other fundraisers throughout the year.
The Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882 in New Haven, Connecticut, primarily to meet the needs of families suffering from the death of a breadwinner. From the day of its founding, service and charity have been at the heart of the Knights.
Being a Knight today may be different than when it started, but members say the mission remains true to its founding principles of charity, unity and brotherhood.
“They have become my second family since my wife passed away,” said member and former Grand Knight Harry Fabre, who has been with the organization for 42 years. “You really build a bond between members and families.”
In the Knights’ 75 years in the Covington area, they’ve changed locations five times, but since 1990 they’ve been located in an 8,600 square foot facility on 17.5 acres along Louisiana 25. Purchased to the Benedictine nuns, the house and grounds are on the original convent complex of the Sisters of Saint Gertrude.
In addition to hot dogs and burgers, potato salad and other side dishes, and a memorial cake, everyone who attended the anniversary event received a booklet of reflections that Bratschi created in honor of the occasion. In the booklet, he detailed highlights of the organization’s history and service to the community.
“I am happy and proud to be part of this council,” he said. “Allow me to express my gratitude for the leadership and inspiration that these men have given me through their efforts in regard to the church and the community.”