On March 13, 2021, the Knights of Columbus Msgr. William J. Blake Assembly 118 4th Degree was awarded the Knights of Columbus Star Assembly Award and Civic Award. Assembly 118 was one of only two Assemblies in Connecticut to be awarded the highest award given by the Knights of Columbus. The Star Assembly Award recognizes outstanding achievement in new membership, charitable faith-based patriotic programming and overall high operations. Assembly 118 was also one of only three Assemblies to be awarded the Knights of Columbus Civic Award. The Civic Award is given to Assemblies for their outstanding implementation of patriotic programming.
For Assembly 118 it is not about winning awards. The goal is to follow the work that Blessed Father Michael McGivney started in 1882 when he founded the Knights of Columbus. Father McGivney was a man ahead of his time.
Father McGivney’s work was dedicated to helping his poor Catholic parishioners in their lives and faith. At that time Catholic priests tended to stay on the Church property and focus their work there. But Father McGivney was surrounded by Catholics in great need at home and in society. The families of his parish at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn. were dealing with high poverty, deadly diseases and dangerous working conditions. Men were dying at an early age and leaving behind widows and orphans who were being tossed out on the street.
To combat these societal needs Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus. He was known for walking into the community to visit the sick and console grieving families. Father McGivney was happy to help the local children start up a baseball game or organize a St. Patrick’s Day theatre production. He had no problem going into court to help a widow keep her children from being forced into an orphanage or continuously visiting a man on death row up until his final moments.
The members of Assembly 118 continue to follow the lead of Father McGivney today through their volunteer work in the Fairfield community. Sir Knight of the Year 2020 Russell Edgett has helped homeless veterans at Homes for the Brave for many years. The Assembly also supports the American Wheelchair Mission through fundraisers which raise much-needed funds to purchase wheelchairs for children and adults who do not have wheelchairs. Over the years, Treasurer Tom Kelty Sr. has been known to run raffles to help raise money for these wheelchairs. Some of the charities Assembly 118 support are: Malta House, Merton House, Military Chaplains Scholarship Fund, American Legion, Homes for the Brave, American Wheelchair Mission and all the parishes of Fairfield Conn.
It is really a team effort. Officers Tom Langdon and Andrew Geisert help handle all the financial reporting and requirements while Trustee Jim Dobson helps with the coordination and publicity for all events.
Assembly 118 also dedicates itself to spreading patriotism throughout the community. Sir Knight of the Year 2019 Terry Armstrong and the late Harry Ackley have helped collect and retire used and worn American Flags in a respectful manner. Some of the locations we have collected flags include: Holy Cross, Holy Family, and St. Emery Churches as well as the local Fairfield libraries.
On Flag Day and Veterans Day Ken Elwood, Bob Madar and Bob Elinskas hand out flags to families listening to patriotic music at the Fairfield town gazebo or to school children at St. Thomas Aquinas and Our Lady of Assumption Schools. Peter Mantilia, David Parise and Mark Drexel love to march in the Fairfield Memorial Day Parade. This past fall Patrick Colligan, Geo Crume and Tom Kelty Jr. also helped to remember those who lost their lives on September 11 by placing American Flags in front of Our Lady of Assumption, St. Pius X and St. Thomas Aquinas Churches over the 911 weekend.
Father McGivney started a fraternal organization open to all Catholic men regardless of their race, education, or economic status. The organization stands ready to help all people in need. Through the years the Knights of Columbus have helped publish the written works of Jewish and African Americans when no one else would publish their work. The Knights have helped families during destructive floods and hurricanes, pandemics and wars. The Knights help people here in America and around the world. All the members of Assembly 118 help volunteer in their own special way to help continue the work of Father McGivney.
(Interested in joining the team? Go to www.kofc.org and make a difference.)
By: Tom Kelty Jr. PFN
Pictued above Assembly 118 Color Corps members dressed in full regalia holding the Star Assembly Award and relic of Blessed Fr. Michael McGivney.
From Left to Right: Jim Dobson, Andrew Geisert, Tom Kelty, Jr & Ken Elwood