By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — One of Kansas City oldest Knights of Columbus councils, Cardinal Glennon Council #4613, recently received the Columbian Award from the Supreme Council for active service to the Church, community, council, family, pro-life, and youth.
From its earliest days, Cardinal Glennon Council has participated in many programs and activities serving the Church, the family, youth, the community and the council. More recently, member knights have also participated in many pro-life activities, including the Supreme Council’s Meet Life Campaign’s Ultrasound Initiative.
Founded at the old St. John the Baptist Parish at 5th Street and Garfield, the council received its charter in June 1958. Council #4613 was named in honor of Cardinal John J. Glennon, who was consecrated coadjutor to Bishop John J. Hogan in 1896 and as Archbishop of St. Louis in 1903. He was elevated to Cardinal in December 1945, about 3 months before his death.
According to John Polito, Deputy Grand Knight of Council 4613, the first council meetings were held at St. John the Baptist Church. The council was later moved to a room at the “Milk Jug,” a dairy delicatessen at 9th and Cleveland, and in 1979 to a room in the Cotton Candy Day Care at 9th and Bales. A few years later, in 1981, the Council purchased a building at 12th and Hardesty and named it Glennon Hall. Glennon Hall was home to Council #4613 for 25 years. In 2006, the Council moved to its current home, St. Joseph’s Hall, St. Anthony Parish at 3208 Lexington.
One of the first chaplains of the Cardinal Glennon Council was then-Father Michael F. McAuliffe, who was later consecrated and installed as the second Bishop of Jefferson City. Bishop McAuliffe died in Jan. 2006 at the Little Sisters of the Poor Jeanne Jugan Center in Kansas City.
Other chaplains include Msgr. Joseph Mancuso, who established a scholarship for pre-school through high school students to attend Catholic schools.
At one time, Polito said, the council’s Deanery included St. Stephen’s, St. Stanislaus, Assumption, St. Aloysius, St. John’s, Holy Trinity, Holy Cross, Old St. Patrick, St. Francis Seraph, St. Michael the Archangel, and the Cathedral. A diocesan planning committee announced in 1991 that St. John the Baptist, St. Francis Seraph and Assumption parishes would be consolidated into one parish at Assumption. The name of the new parish formed was St. Anthony of Padua. At the same time, Holy Trinity, St. Michael the Archangel, St. Stephen’s, and St. Stanislaus parishes were consolidated into one at the St. Stephen’s site, and renamed Our Lady of Peace. St. Aloysius was merged into St. Anthony Parish in 2008. Today Deanery III includes the parishes of St. Anthony, Our Lady of Peace, Holy Cross and Holy Rosary. The Knights Council at St. Anthony’s includes members from many of the original Deanery parishes. “We have Knights in their 20s, in their 90s and everywhere in between,” Polito said.
Each year the State Service Program awards competition recognizes the best programs conducted by local councils in the service areas of Church, community, council, family, pro-life, and youth activities. The Columbian Award recognizes a council that has shown consistent participation over the period of a year in programs and activities related to the service areas. A council must document its participation and activities and be qualified for three other associate and insurance membership and service awards, the “Star Council,” “Founder’s” and “Father McGivney” awards to be considered for the Columbian Award.
The Cardinal Glennon Council has served the Church by providing ushers, lectors, extraordinary Eucharistic ministers, sacristans and cantors to serve in the parishes. They assisted in the financial support of a seminarian. And they participated in liturgical and parish celebrations of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
He reported that in the past year, the Cardinal Glennon Council served the community by donating food for the homeless to Catholic Worker House. Knights assisted with the Historic Northeast Halloween trick-or-treat event and contributed to the diocese’s Strong City School Fund, which helps make Catholic education affordable for struggling families at Holy Cross, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Angels schools.
For a number of years the Cardinal Glennon Council has participated in the annual Columbus Day Tootsie Roll Drive for children with special needs at the Knights of Columbus Developmental Center of Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis. During the past year, the council also sponsored a golf tournament with proceeds benefiting the Dream Factory.
Member Knights served the Cardinal Glennon Council by hosting and serving at an annual picnic for members and their families. They built an Awards Board to display council awards and publish a monthly newsletter to keep members up to date on the council. Knight Christopher Polito developed and manages the council’s website.
Chris Polito also works on the newsletter. He said he had volunteered to help develop the website even before he became a Knight.
His father, John, had been initiated as a First Degree Knight in May 2011, and Chris, an Eagle Scout, watched him advance in the organization and “feel closer to his faith.” When father invited son to join the Knights, Chris accepted enthusiastically. “Besides the website and newsletter, I work on different events,” he said, “and try the best I can to help raise money for organizations the Knights sponsor, like the Tootsie Roll Drive.”
Chris, 24, is the youngest member of the Cardinal Glennon Council and Les Hubbard, 92, is the oldest new member of the Council.
Member Knights supported and participated in family-oriented activities, including sponsoring perpetual Mass league books in memory of deceased Knights, donating paper goods and gift cards for parish events and fundraisers, including monthly breakfasts, fish fries, Bingo, dances held at Holy Cross and horse races. Member Knights also serve as clowns for St. Anthony Parish’s annual picnic.
The Missouri State Council presented Cardinal Glennon Council Knight John Simone with the 2012 State Family Award. Polito said there were many reasons why his brother Knight was honored, not the least of which was that John Simone and his wife Sylvia were both baptized at Holy Rosary Church, he joined the Knights of Columbus at age 21, and is now 73. Despite disabilities, the couple, married 52 years, has been active in the parish and the Knights Council. Their children and grandchildren also live, work and go to school, and participate in activities and programs in their parish and the council. Polito, who served on the Family Committee, said the Simones “don’t slow down. God bless them, they don’t slow down!”
Several well-known Kansas Citians have been members of the Cardinal Glennon Council, Polito said, including Missouri State Senator Ronnie De Pasco, State Representatives Henry Rizzo and John Burnett, and Charlie Passantino, owner of Passantino Brothers Funeral Home. Many of the Knights are very active in the fraternal organization, including but not limited to Grand Knight Barney Klassen, John J. Simone, Deacon Alfredo “Freddie” M. Santellan, Jerry R. Kirchner, and the Politos.
Young people and children have benefitted from basketball free throws, soccer challenges and softball games that raised funds for school and youth events.
The Knights of Columbus have been unabashedly pro-life for 130 years. The fraternal association was founded in 1881 by Father Michael J. McGivney and some of his parishioners at St. Mary Church in New Haven, Conn., as a way of helping widows and their children. In May 1900, 49 men were initiated into the Kansas City Council #527 of the Knights of Columbus, the first in Kansas City.
The Missouri State Council of the Knights of Columbus held their Centennial in 2002, “100 years of service to Church, Council, Community, and Country,” Polito said.
The term “pro-life” wasn’t coined until the 1960s, but Knights councils have always promoted and supported “life,” in accordance with Catholic Church teaching.
In recent decades, since widespread use of contraception and abortion became legal, Planned Parenthood, among others, has opened “women’s health” clinics in many communities.
The Knights of Columbus Supreme Council launched the Ultrasound Initiative Jan. 22, 2009, the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion on demand. The Initiative was established to provide pregnancy resource centers with sonogram machines and enable a pregnant woman to see her developing child. The program pays half the cost of an ultrasound machine for an approved pregnancy resource center; local Knights councils raise the remaining amount, enabling more pregnancy centers to receive ultrasound machines. Women are given the opportunity to meet their babies, at no cost to them.
In collaboration with the Ultrasound Initiative, the Missouri State Knights of Columbus Council started the Meet Life Campaign in 2011. The goal of the campaign is to reduce abortions in the state by 50 percent by the end of 2016. Council #4613 embraced both the Ultrasound Initiative and the Meet Life Campaign.
Planned Parenthood in Independence is within walking distance of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist’s convent and prayer center on Noland Road. The Knights of several councils knew that the Sisters, especially Sister Catarina da Silva who had made it her daily mission, had been praying about the Planned Parenthood Clinic, and were thrilled when their prayers were answered. The Women’s Clinic of Kansas City acquired the space next door to Planned Parenthood and opened in 2004. When the Ultrasound Initiative was launched, several local Knights councils, including Council #4613, worked to raise funds for a new sonogram machine, which was installed at The Women’s Clinic in Independence in 2011.
The council participated in Roses for Life and other K of C pro-life programs, and plans to again in 2013.
Polito said, “There is no other group I would want to be associated with more than the Knights of Columbus.” Before joining in 2011 he had observed other organizations while at work and socially, especially the efforts of Shriners raising money for their children’s hospital and burn center. Polito had contributed when asked, but felt he needed to do something more. One day he curiously watched two St. Anthony’s parishioners leave the parish hall wearing tuxedos and asked them what kind of event they had attended. The man who answered told Polito it was a Knights event and “if he wanted to, he could someday wear a tux also” to some events.
“I wasn’t sure how the two were connected,” Polito recalled. “I learned later that the man I talked to was Keith Jones, then the Grand Knight of the Cardinal Glennon Council. I was glad when he asked if I wanted to join the Knights, because I never would have asked. I believed you had to be invited. I was given a form to fill out, which I did, and I became a First Degree Knight May 25, 2011, and a Second and Third Degree Knight Oct. 30. On March 24 of this year I became a Fourth Degree Knight. Each degree has made me feel closer to my faith.”
As a Knight of Columbus, Polito became more aware of “the good works the Knights do for children with the tootsie roll drive; for seminarians, families of the neighborhood, and women’s clinics. I have been on the Family Committee and was able to see Knights and their families honored.”
Polito added, “I’ve heard people say, ‘Knights are doing a lot of things, and you do not know they are Knights. They don’t call much attention to themselves.’ That is very true!”
The Columbian Award, and the other awards and recognitions earned by the Cardinal Glennon Council are on display in St. Joseph’s Hall at St. Anthony Parish. In another display case are mementos of Father John Hix, former pastor of Assumption and St. Aloysius parishes, Knight of Columbus, story teller and golfer. Father Hix died in 2001.
Polito also mentioned those Knights of the Council who had died over the years, from Charles Russo (1965), to Carl J. Sprofera, who died in July 2012.
Polito enjoys being a Knight of Columbus and hopes one day to be in the Honor Guard. “Each Knight is a cog in the wheel,” he said, “that keeps the dream of Father Michael J. McGivney and Council #4613 going. The service, the activities, the growing in faith — not to mention the different insurance programs that provide incomes for wives and children if something happens to a Knight. Being a Knight of Columbus is something I hope is passed down in my family. That would make me very proud!”
To learn more about the Knights of Columbus Cardinal Glennon Council, visit http://knightscouncil4613kc.proboards.com/index.cgi or www.kofc.org for information on the Knights of Columbus.