This past weekend I spoke at each of the masses as part of, well, I’ll just let my words speak for themselves.
Hello. I am Daniel Pelfrey. Some of you may know me from my lectoring, usually at the 5 o clock vigil mass. Most of you probably know me from the school. But I am here to talk to you about the other part of my faith being put into practice here at St. John the Evangelist. The Knights of Columbus.
My grandfather was Travis Pelfrey. My older son August was born just under a year after his death and I swear he has a piece of his soul in him, they are so alike. We gave one of our younger sons, Xavier, Travis as a middle name to honor him. My grandfather, for many reasons, was heavily influential in my life and I am proud to continue honoring him through my actions.
Travis moved around a lot. I mean, a lot. For decades he never lived more than a year in one place, often 6 months would be the norm. He was chasing work, always trying to get the best for his family. Part of what helped him was the ready made community of the church, and particularly the ready friendship of a local chapter of the Knights of Columbus.
Most of us aren’t nearly as transient as my grandfather was, but there are still many valuable lessons to be had from his experience. The watchwords of the Knights of Columbus are very much how I remember my grandfather. Charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. He may not have been as devout as my grandmother, but in practice, he truly lived up to many of the Catholic ideals we all strive for.
And much of that had to do with the Knights of Columbus. No matter where he landed he could jump in and lend a hand to whatever volunteer project was taking place. He was a doer, a very hands on kind of man, and always willing help others. If someone asked, and sometimes even if they didn’t, he would jump in and help. He was a man of deed, much like the Knights of Columbus are.
That is why I joined the Knights of Columbus – to put my faith into action.
As an organization, the Knights of Columbus awarded nearly 2 million in scholarships and grants for higher education. The winter of 2016 saw over 75,000 coats distributed in over 1600 communities, part of a program that has been running since 2009. Support and aid for military chaplains and vocations. Wheelchairs. And so many other charitable works.
On a more local level one council in Louisiana held a fundraiser to help rebuild the St. Joseph Abbey damaged by flooding in 2016. A council in Kansas serves monthly at a free meal ministry. In Idaho a council helped with a program providing gas voucher and bus passes to homeless veterans to get to the VA. A New York council raised $3000 for St. Jude research hospital. An accessible ball field is being built in Ohio with the help of a council. Two Pennsylvania councils worked together to build a Marian shrine and offer free supply of rosaries and prayer cars at the entrance of a church.
The Knights of Columbus chapter here at St. John has supports the middle school trips, scouting programs, provides rosaries for first communicants and confirmands, and our annual Christmas tree sale helps the women’s shelter here at St. John’s. You also may remember a few years ago we spearheaded an effort to build a well in Father’s village in Kenya.
Now, this is where you come in. We need your help.
The idea of putting your faith into practice is very much something we all can take away from my Grandfather’s example.
The Knights of Columbus here at St. John are looking for new members. The barrier for entry is pretty low. I mean, they not only let me be a member, but they put me in charge, so that should tell you something.
The requirements to join are to be Catholic, I think most of you have that covered, male and over 18.
The benefits of joining are innumerable. The insurance is something that cannot be understated. It’s a fantastic deal dating back to the organization’s inception in 1882 when the Knights was formed as a way to provide for widows and children of Catholic men.
But I became a knight to, like my grandfather, put my faith into action. And I am challenging you to do the same.
I have heard all the excuses before. I don’t like the politics of the Knights. It’s too liberal, it’s too conservative. I have heard both! I’m too busy. It’s a commitment. I want to help out, but don’t want to join.
I know my grandfather didn’t agree with the politics in many of the places he found himself in, but he was still a Knight because he believed in the works they were doing. I can’t tell you how to reconcile these things, but I can tell you that living your faith every day and putting it into tangible deed is an easy choice for me.
I have 7 kids, I’m leading 2 Cub Scout dens and am active with my son’s Boy Scout troop. Like everyone else, I am a busy person, this is my faith. Being a Catholic is a commitment. Being a knight helps me follow through on that commitment.
I’m not even asking you to attend our meetings which are held once a month – though it would be nice. We need some new blood to help get projects going and find new ones to support. Sometimes we just need a few extra hands for one day, for one project, and if you can make it for only that, we would welcome you with open arms.
You CAN do it. Don’t sell yourself short.
With the Knights of Columbus, it is truly putting your faith into action and you get back much so more than what you put into it.