College Council Awards
Over 220 college Knights, representing nearly 90 colleges and universities, attended the October 2015 College Councils Conference at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council office. This year’s conference was a special milestone, as it marked the 50th occasion of the College Conference.
College councils at 45 campuses earned the distinction of Star Council, showing their strength in membership, insurance and programming.
For the second consecutive year, Council 14534 at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, received the award for highest net gain in membership, with 51 new members. Monmouth University Council 15907 in West Long Branch, New Jersey, earned the award for highest percentage gain in membership, expanding its roster by 115 percent.
Council 2782 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was recognized for adding 12 new insurance members. This was their third straight year winning this award. The award for highest percentage gain in insurance membership went to Council 15457 at South Dakota State University in Brookings, with 15.2 percent growth.
The Church Activity Award
The Church Activity Award was presented to Council 14987 at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. These Knights organized a UNI Panther Catholic Week to promote the Catholic faith on campus and to encourage others to learn what it means to be Catholic at a public university. The council worked with their Catholic Student Association and a Culture of Life group to organize a week of activities featuring talks, performances, concerts, films, Masses and social events. Knowing that public witness and sharing information is key to the success of any program or activity, the council actively publicized these events, which were open to the campus community and public. The success of the event also contributed to a recent spike in young men joining the council.
Community Activity Award
Council 14188 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, received the Community Activity Award for raising awareness of the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. In order to promote solidarity with their fellow Christians, the council organized a benefit dinner featuring Middle Eastern cuisine, the proceeds of which were donated to the Order’s Christian Refugee Relief Fund. The council announced the dinner at all Easter Masses and sold tickets in the weeks that followed. When the night of the dinner came, students, faculty and community members came together for an evening of prayer and raised several hundred dollars.
Council Activity Award
The Council Activity Award went to Council 9542 at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., for organizing a reception for council alumni that coincided with the campus’ homecoming events. More than 50 people attended, which allowed current students and alumni to share their favorite council memories, develop relationships and exchange ideas. Since the gathering, Council 9542 has noticed more of their alumni becoming involved with their parish councils and offering increased support. In turn, the current council members are finding inspiration in the example set by past council leaders. The event reminded all attendees that joining the Knights of Columbus in college signifies not just a temporary club affiliation but an opportunity to engage in a faith-filled fraternity for life.
Family Activity Award
This year, two councils earned the Family Activity Award for responding to the needs of families who lost young children. Council 13242 at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., upon learning of the death of their lay Catholic minister’s infant daughter, immediately responded through both spiritual and financial means. Within hours, the Knights organized a prayer vigil, where they offered specific intentions and a rosary for the family. During the vigil, the council also collected donations to offset the costs of the funeral, raising more than $1,000 in just two days. Elsewhere, Council 14987 at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls responded to the needs of a parish family who lost their three year-old son. The council hosted a chili dinner and other fundraisers which raised over $2,000 in assistance to the family. Additionally, the council sought to console the family’s other children by taking them trick-or-treating for Halloween, providing Christmas presents and attending birthday celebrations. True to Father McGivney’s vision, both of these councils have committed to serving Catholic families in need.
Youth Activity Award
The Youth Activity Award was presented to Council 13577 at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Council members labored to prepare hot grilled lunches and other snacks for hundreds of Special Olympics athletes. In addition to cooking and serving food, these Knights helped with the cleanup and found time to cheer on athletes throughout the day.
Culture of Life Activity Award
Council 16034 at John Paul the Great Catholic University in Escondido, California, won the Culture of Life Activity Award. Knowing that students at their university are film majors, the council organized and hosted a film festival built around a pro-life theme. The event featured a red carpet entrance that led to showings of 6 of the 9 submitted films, which were graded by a panel of judges. Following the film viewings and trophy presentation, the council hosted a dance social for the campus community.
Outstanding College Council Award
The Outstanding College Council Award was presented to Council 2782 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Maintaining its own First Degree and Second Degree teams, the council has brought in 40 members over the past year. Among their many spiritual and charitable initiatives, these brother Knights serve as ushers for all Sunday Masses and special events at their Newman Center. The council also supports Special Olympics; this year they hosted a volleyball tournament fundraiser which brought together many groups from across the campus.
The council also participated in polar plunges and date auctions, and they held candy drives to raise money for organizations in support of those who are physically or mentally disabled. For the homeless and less fortunate, they supported a Backpack Ministry and the local food bank. The council also helped build the Catholic community on campus through various social events, including trivia nights, retreats, dances and a chili cook-off. In addition, Council 2782 partnered with the American Red Cross to host K of C blood drives, which are known to be the most successful blood drives on campus. Finally, the Knights hosted their state’s Squires Convention and participated in the Order’s Coats for Kids program. Their work truly exemplifies an outstanding college council and the vision set forth by our founder, Father Michael J. McGivney.
These awards only briefly highlight the charitable initiatives performed by the Knights of Columbus from nearly 350 college and university campuses.