Farmers Of Faith



Dave Borowski

Jesse Straight, a member of Father Herman J. Veger Council 5561 in Warrenton, Va., feeds grain to his pastured chickens. (photo by Greg Gibson Photography)

Whiffletree Farm lies on 82 acres of rolling countryside outside of Warrenton, Va., just 50 miles west of Washington, D.C. The farmhouse where Jesse Straight and his family live sits on a hill surrounded by green fields that are populated by pastured chickens and turkeys, grass-fed cattle, and free-foraging pigs. Straight, 32, wakes up before dawn each day and is out the door by 6 a.m.

“Being a farmer is special because this is your office,” he said with a smile in September as he looked out over his herd grazing in the morning sunlight. “I spend the day making animals happy.”

Straight, a member of Father Herman J. Veger Council 5561 in Warrenton, has been farming this land since 2012 and abides by a simple yet profoundly Catholic principle: “If you pay close attention to how God created nature, then everything around you starts to flourish — land, animals, farmers, people who eat your food, and the community at large.”

Straight came to farming out of a concern for people who consume the products of the land. His parents bought the farm several years ago, and he and his wife, Liz, both converts to Catholicism, own and live in a small house on the property with their five young children. He loves what he does.

“I enjoy physical and manual work,” said Straight. “And I enjoy how the work flows together with family and parish life. This is my vision of the good life.”

While the Straights are new to farming and their farm is small, they are not so unlike multigenerational farming families such as the Ankleys in Imlay City, Mich., and the Kinderknechts in Park, Kan. These Catholic homesteads — and many like them — share a common vision of faith and stewardship.


The Bible is rich with stories about farming and the covenant between God and farmers. One psalm praises God as the creator of all things, including the bounty of the land: “You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth” (Ps 104:14).

This covenant, of course, still exists today. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2003 document Catholic Reflections on Food, Farmers, and Farmworkers states, “Food sustains life itself; it is not just another product. Providing food for all is a Gospel imperative, not just another policy choice.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 96 percent of the more than 2 million farms in the United States are considered “family-owned” — defined as “any farm organized as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or family corporation.” James F. Ennis, executive director of Catholic Rural Life, further estimates that approximately 350,000 U.S. farms are operated by Catholic families.

A national organization founded in 1923 and based today in St. Paul, Minn., Catholic Rural Life has 2,200 member leaders who reach out to some 10 million rural Catholics, including farmers, in nearly every U.S. state.

Ennis laments the industrialization of farming, noting that large commercial farms often have a negative societal and environmental impact.

“Small farmers act as stewards of the land who are out to pass it on to the next generation,” said Ennis.

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistical Service, the number of farms has dropped from more than 5.3 million in 1950 to 2.2 million in 2012, but the average farm size has been steadily increasing since the 1930s.

At 82 acres, Whiffletree Farm is considered small. The Straight family raises approximately 30 beef cattle, 200 pigs, 500 turkeys and 10,000 broiler chickens annually, and also pastures hens that produce about 360 dozen eggs a week. The family sells its bounty to local groceries, restaurants and consumers, and runs a farm store on its property that helps other local farmers sell lamb, salmon, honey, fruits and vegetables.

Straight’s philosophy about farming has been influenced by two popular farmers, writers and social activists: Wendell Berry and Joel Salatin. He first was attracted to Berry’s vision of the interconnectedness of life, blossoming from the home and fostering healthy local communities.

Salatin then provided the nuts and bolts to put this vision into practice: Raise animals free of harmful chemicals and move them from one fresh pasture to another, rather than cramming them into centralized feeding areas and propping them up with antibiotics.

As a Catholic, Straight believes that farmers like him have to do a better job of explaining the difference between what he calls “virtuous farming” and the food they produce and common practices of large corporate farms. He would also like to see the Church do more to discuss the virtues of stewardship with parishioners.

“My hope is that more and more people will see the good of this kind of farming,” he said.

There are, of course, challenges to virtuous farming. For one thing, it’s more expensive, making it even harder to compete. For Straight, however, the benefits far outweigh the difficulties.

“When you do things within God’s design,” he said, “things spiral upward: Healthy land and animals produce healthy food, which makes for healthy people and communities.”


While the Straights are new to farming, many other Catholic families have been in the agricultural business for generations.

The Ankley Family Farm is located about 60 miles north of Detroit and has been in operation since 1902, when Philip Ankley purchased a 160-acre farm. A little over a century and several generations later, the 80-cow dairy farm is run by William Ankley, 54, and now includes an additional 580 acres where the family raise 200 head of cattle and grow corn, alfalfa, wheat and soybeans.

A member of Our Lady, Queen of Peace Council 4556 in Imlay City, Ankley considers the most important things in his life to be faith, family and farming — in that order.

“Farming is a lifestyle,” said Ankley. “But faith has to come first.”

Ankley and his wife, Virginia, have been married for 26 years and have eight children. “There’s no better place to raise a family than on a farm,” he said. “We work together.”

Belonging to the Knights of Columbus is also a family tradition. All of Ankley’s six sons, except the youngest, who is 15, are members.

Bill and Virginia are both active in the pro-life movement. They serve as the council’s pro-life chair couple, and Bill serves as the president of Lapeer County Right to Life.

Being pro-life goes hand in hand with farming, Ankley explained. “It’s all intertwined,” he added. “Everything you do on the farm entails growth and life and depends on God’s blessing, from weather to healthy animals.”

As the farm has developed over the years, Ankley has focused on sustainability. Many of the current farm buildings were constructed using recycled material from the original farm, and in 2011, with help from a USDA grant, he installed 32 solar panels on the roof of his barn.

“If we don’t respect the land, we’ll have nothing for future generations,” he said.

Like the Ankleys, the Kinderknecht family has operated a family farm for more than a century. Anton Kinderknecht, a German immigrant, established the farm in rural, western Kansas in 1906. It has since grown to become a 3,000-acre farm with half the area for crops (wheat, sorghum, feed and corn) and the other half for grazing more than 200 cows.

Tom Kinderknecht, 75, has lived on the farm his whole life. He is a member of Park (Kan.) Council 2538. For him, farming is a way of life, and it’s a wonderful life.

“We grew up in a Catholic farming family. My parents helped other people out, and they helped us out,” Kinderknecht said. “I don’t know anything else.”

In recognition for the family’s many years of service, Kinderknecht and his wife, Barb, received the 2014 Msgr. John George Weber Century Farm Award from the Salina Diocesan Catholic Rural Life Commission.

Tom’s son, Tony, 35, has recently taken over much of the farm’s day-to-day operations with the help of his wife, Jaime. The couple has three young children. Tony, who is also a member Council 2538, does most of the farm labor himself and takes great pride in his work.

“You can see the life cycle of your work, and see a job from start to finish,” he said. “No year is ever the same.”

Despite a rigorous work schedule and all the unpredictable factors involved in farming, Tony is also active in the church, the Knights of Columbus and the community.

“In the end, it’s in God’s hands,” he said. “Mostly I pray for our health and that we will all be together.”

For Straight, Ankley and the Kinderknechts, like so many other Knights who run family-owned farms, food is more than just a commodity. It is a gift that is essential for human life.

“If you take care of God’s creation, everyone wins,” said Straight.

DAVE BOROWSKI is a staff writer for the Arlington Catholic Herald and a member of Edward Douglass White Council 2473 in Arlington, Va.




By Andrew Fowler


Dr. Adrian Power, a member of Holy Spirit Council 6792 in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland, had been wanting to apply his dentistry to help people in Haiti for a few years. In Jan. 2018, he finally got the opportunity.

“It allowed me to give willingly of my talents,” Power said. “I expected no payment for this service, just the good feeling for doing something for another person who otherwise could not afford that particular service. That in itself is worth the trip.”

This past January (2019) he returned to Haiti to provide dental services with the Canadian International Dental Foundation. The group has a motto, “Spreading Smiles in Haiti, One Smile at a Time.”

Power has been practicing dentistry for 30 years since graduating from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia. He has also been a member of the Holy Spirit Council in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada since 1992. Power said that the trips to Haiti helped him grow as a Catholic and a Knight.

“I believe you join the Knights to help others — the weak, the poor and the needy,” Power said. “Even small contributions can add to improve local conditions.”

For 10 days, that’s just what they did as Power and other dentists worked in a clinic and journeyed through villages in the jungle surrounding Pétion-Ville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, the capital of the country.

The dental group stayed at a compound owned by the George Stines Foundation, a program that provides dental services throughout Haiti. From there, they trekked up the mountains to Jacmel and Bassin-Bleu.

Rising at 4 a.m., Power and the other dentists traveled for hours to reach the mountain villages. While conducting screenings and oral exams, Power and the group averaged almost 250 patients each day. The dentists performed cleanings, fillings or extractions for 150 to 175 people daily. For some Haitians, it was the first time they had received dental care.

“The village is always excited by just the idea of a visitor and more so in that we offer free dental care to anyone who wants it,” Power said.

Some of the cases Power saw were critical. In one instance, he tended to a 16-year-old girl who needed all of her right-sided teeth removed because they had rotted to stumps. Other patients he saw had lip cancers and large dental abscesses that made “the swollen cheek look like the patient has a balloon in their mouth.”

“Most of the patients are grateful for their treatment and some will be excited with the dental filling they get, especially if it is a front tooth,” Power said. “Every patient is given a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. It is for some, their first and probably only toothbrush.”

The villages Power visited had poor sanitation and many lacked electricity and potable water. The dental group relied on generators to provide proper care. They also collected and purified their drinking and working water in large drums.

The Knights of Columbus is the largest fraternal Catholic organization, with more than 1.9 million members worldwide. Last year, members donated $185 million and volunteered over 75 million hours.

To learn more about the Knights, click here.

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by Andrew Butler


We Will Rebuild

Bryant Sayers is helping the homeless — one recycled plastic bag at a time.

A Knight of Columbus from Bishop Salpointe Council 4584 in Sierra Vista, Ariz., Sayers leads neighborhood cleanups where he collects plastic bags to crochet into sleeping mats for those most in need.

“I was at our State Convention here a few years ago and I saw this lady – a wife of our brother Knight – crocheting and so I went up and started talking to her and asked what she was doing,” said Sayers.

She told him about the sleeping mat she was making, and taught him how to crochet. He took the skill home to Sierra Vista, a town located 80 miles from Tucson.

Now, brother Knights help him collect plastic bags – it takes about 700 to make one mat – and Sayers works his magic.

“We’ve got a bunch of people collecting the bags and cutting them and rolling them up and then they give them to me,” said Sayers. “Then, when I’m sitting in my chair and I’m not doing anything else, I start working on them.”

Creating sleeping mats is just one way Knights serve the most disadvantaged members of their communities. Through the Helping Hands program, Knights worldwide assist the homeless, the addicted, the elderly who may feel isolated and others in their local community.

Sayers takes “helping hands” quite literally by crocheting. His mats have caught on, and for several reasons. First, the mats protect one from the wet ground. Second, insects don’t like plastic, so a person can sleep on it without that added worry. Finally, the mat can be rolled up and easily strapped onto one’s back for carrying.

He has now distributed dozens of sleeping mats to the homeless, including several veterans.

“It was a big hit. People ask if I have any more or where they can get some,” Sayers said. “And I’ve gone around town and I’ve seen guys and gals walking down the streets with these things strapped to their back so I know that they’re being used.”

(Click here to learn how to make the sleeping mats.)

A Catholic convert, Sayers was welcomed into the Church on Christmas Day 2000 while serving in the Army. That same day, a fellow serviceman — who happened to be a Knight — invited him over for Christmas dinner. It was there that he decided to join the Knights.

Sayers became heavily involved in the Knights, serving in many different leadership rolls. A past state deputy in Arizona, he currently serves as district master. A testament to his dedication, he said Knights of Columbus t-shirts are “the only shirts I have.”

Sayers was awarded the 2018 Environmental Merit Award by the city of Sierra Vista for his work cleaning up local neighborhoods. When he’s not making sleeping mats or cleaning up the city, Sayers crochets blankets for babies with Down syndrome. He also crochets blankets for his own grandchildren and “anybody that wants them.”

Exemplifying the Knights of Columbus’ first principle of charity, Sayers proudly serves those most in need.

“I try to do whatever I can to help our veterans and all the homeless down here in this area.”

Join Bryant and the nearly 2 million men who are putting their faith in action every day. Become a Knight.

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The Way Of The Cross



Columbia staff, with prayers by Pope Benedict XVI

Throughout the years, countless Knights of Columbus units have taken the lead on constructing, restoring or commissioning Stations of the Cross at their parishes or for outdoor prayer walks. Pictured here are the outdoor Stations of the Cross at Our Lady, Queen of Peace Shrine in Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia. The life-size statues were restored in 2008 with assistance from Father Angellus Pickelle Council 12416 and Msgr. A.L. McIntyre Assembly. (photo by Kimberly Rae Sanderson)

For many centuries, the Via Crucis, or Way of the Cross, has been one of the most beloved Christian devotions, especially during Lent. Also known as the Stations of the Cross, the practice developed over several centuries to eventually include the 14 traditional stations depicting episodes of Jesus’ passion and death. These are sometimes modified to include biblical scenes such as Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Olives and the promise of paradise to the Good Thief.

Each year on Good Friday, the pope presides over a nighttime Way of the Cross service at Rome’s Colosseum, using prayers and meditations written by a person or group of people at the pope’s request.

The following prayers were excerpted from the text written by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2005, presented just one week before the death of Pope John Paul II (the full text is available online at Unable to attend the service due to his failing health, John Paul II watched via television from his private chapel and sent a message to participants: “I also offer my sufferings so that God’s plan may be completed and his Word spread among the peoples. I, in turn, am close to all who are tried by suffering at this time. I pray for each one of them.”

So, too, Pope Benedict has assured us he is praying with and for the Church during this Lent, as we prepare to welcome his successor.

This prayer is said after the announcement of each station:

V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

R. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


Jesus is condemned to death

Reading: Matthew 27:22-23,26

Prayer: Lord, you were condemned to death because fear of what other people may think suppressed the voice of conscience. So too, throughout history, the innocent have always been maltreated, condemned and killed. How many times have we ourselves preferred success to the truth, our reputation to justice? Strengthen the quiet voice of our conscience, your own voice, in our lives. Look at me as you looked at Peter after his denial. Let your gaze penetrate our hearts and indicate the direction our lives must take. On the day of Pentecost you stirred the hearts of those who, on Good Friday, clamored for your death, and you brought them to conversion. In this way you gave hope to all. Grant us, ever anew, the grace of conversion.


Jesus takes up his Cross

Reading: Matthew 27:27-31

Prayer: Lord, you willingly subjected yourself to mockery and scorn. Help us not to ally ourselves with those who look down on the weak and suffering. Help us to acknowledge your face in the lowly and the outcast. May we never lose heart when faced with the contempt of this world, which ridicules our obedience to your will. You carried your own Cross and you ask us to follow you on this path (cf. Mt 10:38). Help us to take up the Cross, and not to shun it. May we never complain or become discouraged by life’s trials. Help us to follow the path of love and, in submitting to its demands, to find true joy.


Jesus falls for the first time

Reading: Isaiah 53:4-6

Prayer: Lord Jesus, the weight of the Cross made you fall to the ground. The weight of our sin, the weight of our pride, brought you down. But your fall is not a tragedy, or mere human weakness. You came to us when, in our pride, we were laid low. The arrogance that makes us think that we ourselves can create human beings has turned man into a kind of merchandise, to be bought and sold, or stored to provide parts for experimentation. In doing this, we hope to conquer death by our own efforts, yet in reality we are profoundly debasing human dignity. Lord help us; we have fallen. Help us to abandon our destructive pride and, by learning from your humility, to rise again.


Jesus meets his Mother

Reading: Luke 2:34-35,51

Prayer: Holy Mary, Mother of the Lord, you remained faithful when the disciples fled. Just as you believed the angels’ incredible message — that you would become the Mother of the Most High, so too you believed at the hour of his greatest abasement. In this way, at the hour of the Cross, at the hour of the world’s darkest night, you became the Mother of all believers, the Mother of the Church. We beg you: teach us to believe, and grant that our faith may bear fruit in courageous service and be the sign of a love ever ready to share suffering and to offer assistance.


The Cyrenian helps Jesus carry the Cross

Reading: Matthew 27:32; 16:24

Prayer: Lord, you opened the eyes and heart of Simon of Cyrene, and you gave him, by his share in your Cross, the grace of faith. Help us to aid our neighbors in need, even when this interferes with our own plans and desires. Help us to realize that it is a grace to be able to share the cross of others and, in this way, know that we are walking with you along the way. Help us to appreciate with joy that, when we share in your suffering and the sufferings of this world, we become servants of salvation and are able to help build up your Body, the Church.


Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Reading: Isaiah 53:2-3; Psalms 27:8-9

Prayer: Lord, grant us restless hearts, hearts that seek your face. Keep us from the blindness of heart that sees only the surface of things. Give us the simplicity and purity that allow us to recognize your presence in the world. When we are not able to accomplish great things, grant us the courage that is born of humility and goodness. Impress your face on our hearts. May we encounter you along the way and show your image to the world.


Jesus falls for the second time

Reading: Lamentations 3:1-2,9,16

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you have borne all our burdens and you continue to carry us. Our weight has made you fall. Lift us up, for by ourselves we cannot rise from the dust. Free us from the bonds of lust. In place of a heart of stone, give us a heart of flesh, a heart capable of seeing. Lay low the power of ideologies, so that all may see that they are a web of lies. Do not let the wall of materialism become insurmountable. Make us aware of your presence. Keep us sober and vigilant, capable of resisting the forces of evil. Help us to recognize the spiritual and material needs of others, and to give them the help they need. Lift us up, so that we may lift others up. Give us hope at every moment of darkness, so that we may bring your hope to the world.


Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem who weep for him

Reading: Luke 23:28-31

Prayer: Lord, to the weeping women you spoke of repentance and the Day of Judgment, when all of us will stand before your face: before you, the Judge of the world. You call us to leave behind the trivialization of evil, which salves our consciences and allows us to carry on as before. You show us the seriousness of our responsibility, the danger of our being found guilty and without excuse on the Day of Judgment. Grant that we may not simply walk at your side, with nothing to offer other than compassionate words. Convert us and give us new life. Grant that in the end we will not be dry wood, but living branches in you, the true vine, bearing fruit for eternal life (cf. Jn 15:1-10).


Jesus falls for the third time

Reading: Lamentations 3:27-32

Prayer: Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures. Have mercy on your Church; within her too, Adam continues to fall. When we fall, we drag you down to earth, and Satan laughs, for he hopes that you will not be able to rise from that fall; he hopes that being dragged down in the fall of your Church, you will remain prostrate and overpowered. But you will rise again. You stood up, you arose and you can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your Church. Save and sanctify us all.


Jesus is stripped of his garments

Reading: Matthew 27:33-36

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you were stripped of your garments, exposed to shame, cast out of society. You took upon yourself the shame of Adam, and you healed it. You also take upon yourself the sufferings and the needs of the poor, the outcasts of our world. And in this very way you fulfill the words of the prophets. This is how you bring meaning into apparent meaninglessness. This is how you make us realize that your Father holds you, us, and the whole world in his hands. Give us a profound respect for man at every stage of his existence, and in all the situations in which we encounter him. Clothe us in the light of your grace.


Jesus is nailed to the Cross

Reading: Matthew 27:37-42

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you let yourself be nailed to the Cross, accepting the terrible cruelty of this suffering, the destruction of your body and your dignity. You allowed yourself to be nailed fast; you did not try to escape or to lessen your suffering. May we never flee from what we are called to do. Help us to remain faithful to you. Help us to unmask the false freedom which would distance us from you. Help us to accept your “binding” freedom, and, “bound” fast to you, to discover true freedom.


Jesus dies on the Cross

Reading: John 19:19-20; Matthew 27:45-50,54

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, at the hour of your death the sun was darkened. Ever anew you are being nailed to the Cross. At this present hour of history we are living in God’s darkness. Through your great sufferings and the wickedness of men, the face of God, your face, seems obscured, unrecognizable. And yet, on the Cross, you have revealed yourself. Precisely by being the one who suffers and loves, you are exalted. From the Cross on high you have triumphed. Help us to recognize your face at this hour of darkness and tribulation. Help us to believe in you and to follow you in our hour of darkness and need. Show yourself once more to the world at this hour. Reveal to us your salvation.


Jesus is taken down from the Cross and given to his Mother

Reading: Matthew 27:54-55

Prayer: Lord, you descended into the darkness of death. But your body is placed in good hands and wrapped in a white shroud (Mt 27:59). Faith has not completely died; the sun has not completely set. How often does it appear that you are asleep? How easy it is for us to step back and say to ourselves: “God is dead.” In the hour of darkness, help us to know that you are still there. Do not abandon us when we are tempted to lose heart. Help us not to leave you alone. Give us the fidelity to withstand moments of confusion and a love ready to embrace you in your utter helplessness, like your Mother, who once more holds you to her breast. Help us, the poor and rich, simple and learned, to look beyond all our fears and prejudices, and to offer you our abilities, our hearts and our time, and thus to prepare a garden for the Resurrection.


Jesus is laid in the tomb

Reading: Matthew 27:59-61

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, in your burial you have taken on the death of the grain of wheat. You have become the lifeless grain of wheat that produces abundant fruit for every age and for all eternity. From the tomb shines forth in every generation the promise of the grain of wheat which gives rise to the true manna, the Bread of Life, in which you offer us your very self.

You put yourself into our hands and into our hearts, so that your word can grow within us and bear fruit. Through the death of the grain of wheat you give us yourself, so that we too can dare to lose our life in order to find it, so that we too can trust the promise of the grain of wheat. Help us grow in love and veneration for your eucharistic mystery — to make you, the Bread of heaven, the source of our life. Help us to become your “fragrance,” and to make known in this world the mysterious traces of your life.

Like the grain of wheat that rises from the earth, putting forth its stalk and then its ear, you could not remain enclosed in the tomb: the tomb is empty because he — the Father — “did not abandon you to the nether world, nor let your flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:31; Ps 16:10). No, you did not see corruption. You have risen, and have made a place for our transfigured flesh in the very heart of God. Help us to rejoice in this hope and bring it joyfully to the world. Help us to become witnesses of your Resurrection.

The Ultimate Fish Fry



By Joseph Pappalardo

Rob Firriolo of Council 6318 preps for a fish fry.

Rob Firriolo of Council 6318 preps for a fish fry (Courtesy of Firriolo)

Steve Gheduzzi used to fry fish in a turkey fryer on a fire escape. He sat outside in a New York snowstorm with a walkie-talkie, dunking fish in a fryer designed for poultry, so that local families could gather and enjoy a Lenten meal together. This is what Knights do.

Now the current grand knight of Our Lady of the Lakes Council 6318 in Carmel, N.Y., Gheduzzi and his brother Knights use a 10-burner stove, double oven and two commercial fish fryers. The result could put seafood restaurants to shame. This isn’t just a fish sandwich dinner — these Knights have adopted a decades-old Friday tradition and taken it to the extreme.

Every Friday during Lent from 5-8 p.m., 200 hungry diners can expect to eat more than fish and chips. The council also makes Italian linguine with white clam sauce, shrimp scampi, Cape Cod clam strips and a weekly special (taste-tested at the officers’ meeting, of course). Families gather each week for fish fry rarities like lobster mac & cheese, sole piccata, clam chowder and fish tacos. With hundreds of eager diners, the Knights are serving more than one meal per minute.

“It’s gotten to be a thing to expect during Lent in the community,” Gheduzzi said. “We give them a healthy portion. They get a decent amount of food for a fair price.”

The fish fry brings in $2,000 for charity each year, but its main goal is bringing families in the community together for a Lenten meal. The council also gains about 30 members annually, thanks in part to Catholic men witnessing the group’s exceptional fish fry.

(It’s More than Just a Fish Fry)

The Ultimate Firsh Fry

By the time families have packed the dining room, 8 to 12 Knights are already hard at work in the hall’s kitchen and dining room, while Ladies’ Auxiliary members handle the orders and money. Customers order on digital tablets which send the orders to a printer in the kitchen. With the Knights’ children as food runners, it’s a family affair. At the end of the night, when the customers are gone, the staff of husbands, wives and children gathers around the table to eat whatever hasn’t sold out.

Not every council offers so many options on their Lenten menu, but Rob Firriolo stated there’s only one way to get started.

“Try,” he said. “We started ours as a one-night experiment.”

In this kitchen, there are no secrets. Firriolo offers to show every step of the fish fry to any Knights who come by and visit. With the success they’ve had at bringing hundreds together to share a meal, the council could have made the event last through all of Lent — but not on Good Friday. Taking the day off on Good Friday allows council members to take a break from the fryer.

This gives the Knights a chance to attend Good Friday services with their families. On April 19, all Knights are encouragedto attend and build up the domestic church together. Councils will also work to educate their parishes about the plight of Christians in the Holy Land and other areas around the world where Christians are persecuted for their faith. This is what Knights do.

“If you’re looking for a way to give purpose to your life and faith as a Catholic gentleman, this is the place,” Firriolo said.

Beneficiaries of Council 6138’s fish frys include the St. James Parish Food Pantry, Disabled American Veterans, Special Olympics NY, the KofC Christians at Risk Fund, CAREERS Support Solutions and their scholarship fund.

To learn more about the Knights, click here.

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French priest’s 150-year-old heart being venerated in NYC

French priest’s 150-year-old heart being venerated in NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — The 150-year-old heart of a French priest is on a U.S. tour — a Roman Catholic relic with New York City as its latest stop.

It was on display Saturday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, where both the faithful and the curious lined up to see the human organ behind glass. The Knights of Columbus fraternity is sponsoring the pilgrimage of this heart, which has been to 28 states so far, with more coming up.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, is to lead a Sunday procession venerating the heart of Saint John Vianney, who was a priest in the southern French town of Ars, outside Lyon. He lived during the French Revolution, helping to hide priests on the run.

The tradition of preserving the body parts of saintly Catholics goes back to the Middle Ages in Italy. When St. Catherine of Siena died in Rome, her hometown of Siena wanted her remains. But they didn’t want to get caught making off with the whole body, and decided to take just her head.

Vianney is considered the patron saint of parish priests, famed for hearing confessions for endless hours with an ear so understanding that he drew Catholics from all around Europe.

“He would also recount to them the sins they left out, because he instinctively felt who they are,” says Joseph Cullen, a member of the Knights of Columbus. “But he had a heart of gold.”

In the next week, Vianney’s heart will be displayed in schools and churches in other parts of New York City — Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn — and Long Island, as well as other venues on the East Coast. The relic is to return to its permanent home at a French shrine in Ars in early June. The U.S. tour began in November.

“Vianney was recognized by the church as a saint and since then, priests especially have honored him and looked to him as a good model for the way they’re supposed to be living their lives,” said Monsignor Robert Ritchie, who has worked as a pastor at parishes in the Bronx and Harlem. “It’s a perfect time especially for priests in the middle of the scandals and all of the stories that are going around; we need an example of somebody good, holy and pure.”


AP radio correspondent Julie Walker contributed to this report.





The Knights of Columbus applauds the measures by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to strengthen the Mexico City policy and to better enforce the Siljander Amendment, steps that are needed to prevent backdoor funding of abortions. We steadfastly oppose sending U.S. tax dollars to NGOs or any organizations that support ending lives through abortion. As the largest Catholic fraternal organization in the world, the Knights of Columbus has worked vigorously to protect the lives of the unborn and to re-establish a culture of life in the United States and other countries that are home to our nearly 2 million members. A recent Marist/Knights of Columbus pollshowed Americans are increasingly with us on this issue. That poll found that 75 percent of Americans oppose using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion abroad.


By Andrew Butler



A Model of Holiness

If you saw hundreds of young men gathered for a weekend in a college town, you probably wouldn’t expect find them in a church.

But at the Knights of Columbus College Conference in New Haven, Conn., this past fall, 254 young men spent their Saturday night in church offering prayers of consecration to St. Joseph.

Why this? Why now?

Dominican Father John Paul Walker — the pastor of St. Mary’s Church, where the college students prayed and where the Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882 — has an answer to that question. He said this in his homily just prior to the consecration:

“In this time of confusion in the Church, we need men of clarity. In this time of darkness, we need men of light. In this time of wickedness and sin, we need men of holiness and virtue. We need men who can be everything that Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney wanted and desired and expected of men when he founded our order.”

The students represented 97 K of C college councils from across North America. Prior to the conference, they were asked to fast for a week, giving up something they would normally do or consume. In addition, priests heard confessions in the holy hour leading up to the consecration.

Pope Pius XII described an act of consecration as “a total gift of self, for the whole of life and for all eternity; and a gift which is not a mere formality or sentimentality, but effectual, comprising the full intensity of the Christian life.”

The Importance of St. Joseph

Sean Tobin from Providence College, who attended the conference, said that men need to look to St. Joseph’s dedication to Mary and Jesus.

“St. Joseph doesn’t have a single line in scripture attributed to him. Nothing. He worked quietly, humbly aiding the Blessed Virgin Mary and our Lord,” he said.

“And that’s our role as Catholic men. Especially in our culture today and in our country. Building up the Church, building up our families, building up our councils and supporting our brothers. Humbly acting rather than saying.”

The Knights of Columbus provides ample opportunities for Catholic men to build up the Church, to grow in holiness while strengthening families. The consecration to St. Joseph is just one way of doing this. The similar Consecration to the Holy Family, a required program for Knights, is helping Knights worldwide revitalize both their family and parish life.

Fr. Patrick Nwoyoke, Catholic chaplain at Southeast Missouri University, attended the College Councils Conference and saw the consecration as fitting for the college Knights.

“I have never doubted that young people are capable of doing great things,” he said. “They are also interested in truly finding God.”

St. Joseph, pray for us!

Every member of the Knights of Columbus is called to boldly put his faith in action. Join the K of C today.

Do you have a story of Knights putting their faith in action? Email





St. Joseph with Jesus: Unknown artist

Credit: St. Joseph with Jesus: Unknown artist, Varna Archaeological Museum, Varna, Bulgaria [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons [edited]

Our intrepid correspondent sits with an honored guest in a coffee shop a few days before the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19. He has a cup of bold Guatemalan blend coffee with a touch of hazelnut creamer. St. Joseph enjoys a tall cappuccino. With no notes taken, the following is not a verbatim account.

Were there special challenges in raising the Son of God?
I’ll admit I was more than a little confused when Mary became pregnant. Knowing her so well, it was difficult to doubt her purity, but there was that baby bump. So I figured the best thing to do was to call off the marriage quietly and shield her from shame. Then the angel appeared in a dream to tell me she had conceived by the Holy Spirit and the child will save his people from their sins. Don’t be afraid, he added. Afraid? I was terrified, shaking and sweating when I woke up. I, poor Joseph the carpenter, was asked, commanded really, to raise God’s own Son? Was this a blessing or a testing?

What could you really teach the Second Person of the Trinity?
Quite a bit, as it turned out. As he grew, he still had to learn to read and write, make his bed, dress, and tie his sandals. He had to learn how to pray, worship, and serve God, according to our Jewish tradition. Mary and I taught him what it means to be part of a family and the larger community. Naturally, I taught him the carpentry trade. He had an eye for detail and craftsmanship. A real perfectionist. I hope my example instilled the value of hard work and integrity.

He taught us a lot as well, and there was always this air of mystery about him, like he was in the world but not quite of it. Every once in a while he would say something intriguing or insightful, way beyond his age. I’m a man of practical action. When God says “Go,” I go. When God says “Return,” I return. When I see a mystery, I want to solve it. So I had this nagging question how a divine person could live with a human nature, yet Jesus always answered my question with another question or a story. But Mary was wiser than I. She simply held all these mysteries of her Son in her heart.

Tell us about Mary. How did you get along? Did you ever have disagreements?

[Silence, as Joseph gazes into heaven.]

Excuse me. Just thinking about our relationship brings joy to my heart and a tear to my eye. She was, truly, the model not just for women but for all humanity. The amazing thing about her is that you see in her all these virtues and the radiance of perfection, yet they’re cloaked – no, not cloaked – they’re integrated and enhanced by her humility. Not a false humility but an active one that invited others to share in her virtues. Like when she went in haste to see Elizabeth. I wondered where she was heading and if I should protect her, but she just smiled that wonderful smile of peace and total love and said that she was on a mission for God. It turned out to be a mission withGod in her womb.

But back to your question. I don’t know how parents can raise children unless they have a solid relationship themselves. I think it’s vital for husband and wife to see eye to eye, especially in faith and values. We prayed together, communicated well, respected one another. Our whole married life was based in love and service to God and to each other. I’d like to think Jesus’ great love and respect for his mother is in part a reflection of the love and respect I showed her, but he purified my love. He had this effect on people. Either their good nature would become even better or their bad points would be exposed, as the thoughts of many hearts were revealed.

You’re a key figure in salvation history, and Jesus claims his human lineage through you. Yet Gospels don’t record a word you said.
I know, “the strong, silent type.” I hear this a lot, but you don’t have to say much to be a good man. You have to lead more by example than by word. Love your wife, love your children, and sacrifice for them every day. That’s the vocation of a husband and father.

I was just a poor carpenter, and God entrusted me with Mary and this incredible miracle of a child. It’s staggering. But – this may sound like a pious cliché – when God gives you a task he also gives you the grace to do it. So it’s a matter of embracing his will as your life’s purpose. That’s where you’ll always find happiness, in seeking and fulfilling God’s will.

You’re considered the patron of a “good death,” with Jesus and Mary at your bedside. What is the key a good death?
A good death simply means to die in a state of grace so as to be welcomed into God’s heavenly kingdom. Be faithful to the end. Be vigilant. Don’t compromise your faith thinking death is a distant reality. Be ready to meet God at any time. That’s something Jesus preached about a lot.

I know you are busy with March 19 coming up and so many more prayers directed toward you, so one final question. What do you think of the practice of people burying your statue upside-down to hasten the sale of their home?

[Silence, as Joseph gazes into heaven with a smile.]

I will hold those thoughts in my heart.

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