August 7, 2014
The Knights of Columbus Western Metroplex Chapter presented a check for $197,461 to Bishop Michael Olson July 28 at its 19th annual Priest and Religious Appreciation Dinner held at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Arlington.
The chapter, comprising the 54 Knights councils in the Diocese of Fort Worth, hosts the annual event to support those who serve God as priests, deacons, sisters, brothers, and seminarians, as well as to help fund a ministry designated by the bishop, the diocesan Deaf Ministry.
Of this amount, $138,000 is designated for the Vocations Office and was raised by Knights of Columbus Council 1473 in Wichita Falls. The remaining $59,461 was raised by Knights throughout the diocese as part of their Texas State Charities Fund, and will be awarded to the Deaf Ministry. The ministry has a long history of support in the diocese, with Bishops Joseph Delaney, Kevin Vann, and Bishop Olson all designating it as a recipient of the Knight’s Texas State Charities funding. An additional $24,000 was raised during the evening, through live and silent auctions, and will be applied to next year’s total check amount.
Since the Annual Priest and Religious Appreciation Dinner was first held in 1996, the Knights have raised more than $2.8 million for the Diocese of Fort Worth Vocations Office and Deaf Ministry.
Above and beyond those contributions, the Knights of Columbus raised an additional $4,500 this year specifically for seminarians and presented a check in that amount to Vocations Director Father James Wilcox. In the same way, the local Columbian Squires, the Knights of Columbus youth organization, contributed $500 to support seminarians.
Bishop Michael Olson receives a check presented by Jack Schooley, the Knights’ Western Metroplex Chapter president (center), and Leonard Gruca, the Knights’ assistant diocesan deputy.
In accepting the generosity from the Knights and Squires, Fr. Wilcox said the diocese is now blessed with 30 seminarians. Fr. Wilcox said he expects the trend of growing numbers of seminarians in formation to continue. The number of seminarians studying for the diocese has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.
The growth in the number of seminarians was made evident when they were introduced to the audience during the event, filling the entire church fellowship hall stage from end to end. “In a few years, the Knights are going to have to get a bigger stage, but that’s good problem to have,” Fr. Wilcox said.
“Our faith is dynamic and we see that in our seminarians,” Fr. Wilcox added.
The seminarians received a standing ovation and sustained applause from the 420 people in attendance. The audience included area Knights and their spouses, as well as about 80 priests, deacons, sisters, brothers, and seminarians. Also in attendance were about 20 members of the diocesan Deaf Ministry.
A lengthy applause — silent but visible with the audience’s hands waving high in the air — was also given to Deaf Ministry members in attendance after they gave a moving performance, in sign language, to the recorded song, “When You Believe” by Mariah Carey.
“This event is so important to us,” said Deaf Ministry Coordinator Connie Martin. “We are thankful for the support of the Knights of Columbus, and we get to meet so many of our friends that we have gotten to know through the years.”
In accepting the major check of the evening for the Vocations Office and Deaf Ministry, Bishop Olson expressed his gratitude to the Knights for their generosity.
|Members of the diocese’s Deaf Ministry preform “When you believe” by Mariah Carey in American Sign Language as a way to thank the Knights for their support.|
The bishop spoke for all priests and those who have served the Church through religious vocations, saying, “It’s always very awkward for us who are priests and religious because we really spend our lives thanking God for calling us to service, and so it’s a little awkward sometimes when we’re thanked for it. But we very much appreciate it.”
Regarding the growing number of seminarians in the diocese, the bishop said, “That is something that God is offering us.” He asked the faithful to “listen to the voice of the Lord and encourage others to hear it and have the courage to say ‘yes,’ because God is very generous with his gift — the call to service. And that’s what transforms us. And that’s our mission — to transform the world for his kingdom.”
The Knights gave each priest, deacon, sister, brother, and seminarian at the event a $20 gift card and several received $100 prizes during special drawings throughout the evening.
The Knights also presented the bishop with a lapel pin of gold Pro-Life ACE Wings — presented to pro-life “warriors” who defend the unborn “without apology, without compromise, and without exception.” In presenting the wings, the Knights’ Fort Worth diocesan deputy Pat Henz told Bishop Olson, “As bishop, your dedication, your support, and your hard work to help promote pro-life, you truly are a pro-life warrior.”
The bishop was also honored with a contribution to the Cardinal Medeiros Trust Fund — which supports the State Council’s educational grants program — made in his name. In addition, he was presented with a signed painting depicting the Knights’ founder, the Venerable Michael McGivney. Entitled, “A Legacy of Hope,” the work depicts Fr. McGivney consoling a widow and an orphan. Along one side are the words, “Charity, Unity, Fraternity” — the guiding principles of the Knights of Columbus.
On behalf of all Knights in the diocese, Henz pledged to continue to uphold those principles.
From the stage, Henz said, “Bishop Olson, we are all excited and thankful that you answered the call to be our new shepherd. On behalf of the Knights of Columbus and all our families here in the Fort Worth Diocese, we want you to know that we will support you, your priests, your sisters, your deacons, your brothers, and your future priests — the seminarians. As we promote a greater solidarity with our priests, know that you can count on us.”
The Knights of Columbus Western Metroplex Chapter presented a check for $197,461 to Bishop Michael Olson July 28 at its 19th annual Priest and Religious Appreciation Dinner held at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Arlington. The chapter, comprising the 54 Knights councils in the Diocese of Fort Worth, hosts the annual event to support those who serve God as priests, deacons, sisters, brothers, and seminarians, as well as to help fund a ministry designated by the bishop, the diocesan Deaf Ministry.