Saturday, June 02, 2007


Our family spent a totally delightful afternoon at a Knights of Columbus BBQ today. It was specifically designed for the new Knights to get better involved with the organization, so there were lots of younger men with children there in addition to the old guard. There were sack races, water balloon fights, organized sports, horseshoes, a jumper, cotton candy, etc., etc. so needless to say the kids--and the adults--had a great time.

For those of you who don't know much about the Knights of Columbus, it is a Catholic, fraternal organization. It makes money through the sale of insurance (and, at least in our area, an active bingo program), and then generously delivers this money back to the community. Our Knights support the local Catholic schools, all sorts of youth ministries, the pregnancy resource center, the list goes on and on.

Jay has really found a home with the Knights. To him, it is the perfect marriage of prayer and beer. To me, it is a "who's who" in our community, a gathering of all the people who share our family's values. These are the people I want to invest time with, the people whose children I want my children to know. And they're all conveniently together in one banquet hall, event after event!

It was surprising to me, then, to hear that some people don't care too much for the Knights as an organization. The comment was made, by someone who was not from our area, that the Knights are Catholic in name only, that they are really just a social club. Here in Lancaster, that could not be farther from the truth. These are the men you see at daily mass. These men, especially the older ones, are doing everything they can to support and sustain young families. This organization, through their generous donations, helped to save more than 200 babies last year alone by keeping the pregnancy resource center open. These men support our priests. In fact, all three of our priests are Knights. Until I heard this comment, I had assumed that all Knights of Columbus councils are just like ours, but apparently they are not.

The same can be said of the Cub Scouts. I was talking to someone recently who was telling me what a nightmare participation in the Scouts had been for her son. Our experience with our den has been nothing short of wonderful over the past two years. The parents are involved, the kids get along well together, the pack is active. I did not know that this was not universal.

Before these recent conversations, I hadn't really considered how different the same organization can be in various places. We are so used to chains, like McDonald's, where no matter where you go the offering is completely predictable. But this is not true of social and philanthropic organizations, apparently. What matters is the people making them happen wherever you are.

But, as Jay rightly pointed out to me tonight, in addition to mattering where you are, it also matters who you are. People join these types of organizations for different reasons, and a lot of a person's experience depends on the expectations going in, and how much of oneself one is willing to bring to the table. Jay and I, for example, tend to be "joiners". We jump in and volunteer for lots of things, and, because of this, we get to know other members fairly quickly and feel comfortable in how things are done. Someone who prefers to get involved by sticking a toe at a time in the water might find it to be tepid and unfriendly.

Regardless of how or why, I believe that we have found some lovely (and, apparently, all-too-rare) microcosms in our life. We live in a community that may be physically dry and barren, but it is quite lush and fertile in producing people of character. We are fortunate to be among them.


Michelle said...

It's a shame that someone was so ready to judge the entire KoC organization as "Catholic in name only". That certainly was not the case at our old parish, where Bill continues to be a member. He never switched to the local one because he was never home to actually get involved, but from what we've seen, they seem just as wonderful here as there.

As for Cub Scouts...each of my boys had really bad leaders their first year. Fortunately, this past year, Fritz's leader was great and the pack leadership has been fantastic both years and made up for what the den leaders lacked. Also, now that we know what we're doing, we were able to step forward and basically do Billy's den leader's job on a few occasions in order to organize the necessary activities.

Yes, any organization is only as good as those who are involved, most especially the leadership.

nutmeg said...

Excellent post.

We have the same type of community here. And although we do not belong to the K of C, we have found plenty of families that share in our faith and values.

I love the line: "We live in a community that may be physically dry and barren, but it is quite lush and fertile in producing people of character." Substitute "ugly" for dry and barren, and you're in our neck of the woods...


4andcounting said...

We, too, are blessed by our community. Our Knights are great, and there are several other groups/ministries here that have become a part of our lives. Attitude and expectations go a long way in how a group is perceived. We love our community and don't plan to leave it. However, we have too many situations where the same people are doing a majority of the "work" across many ministries. I guess that happens everywhere though.
Anyway, I love our Catholic communities and am glad to hear your family has more than one nourishing you. :)

And Nutmeg, what do you mean by ugly?

nutmeg said...

Sorry if I offended, 4 and counting...

I moved down here from Vancouver, after going to school in California and growing up in upstate NY... all beautiful places.

Here we have no mountains or oceans, not much scenery at all. Rolling hills? ...I guess, but here in suburbia you don't have that either.

Love the people, though!

nutmeg said...

ps. tag, you're it.

Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

Nutmeg, Texas is gorgeous compared to Lancaster. We are blessed with many things here, but abundant physical beauty is not one of them.

But, even Lancaster enjoys some beauty. Beauty is, after all, where you find it, right? We are having, for example, a lovely spring. Everything is in bloom right now and I am loving the weather before it gets too hot. :-)