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Brashinger: St. Anthony Knights of Columbus still growing

St. Anthony Knights Columbus members get food stready for Frankfort Fall Fest.  | Supplied photo

St. Anthony Knights of Columbus members get the food stand ready for the Frankfort Fall Fest. | Supplied photo

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Updated: October 9, 2013 6:08AM



The St. Anthony Parish Knights of Columbus Council 9770 is 25 years old this year.

The Frankfort chapter of the Catholic men’s organization is relatively young (organized in 1987), and its growth has been pretty remarkable.

“As the parish grew, we grew,” Gene Kalinowski, of Frankfort Square, said, adding that the original membership of about 35 has now reached nearly 200.

Kalinowski, Dan Danahey, Ted Lugger and George Fobert are original members of St. Anthony’s Knights of Columbus. Kalinowski said all four men were members of the St. Mary’s Parish Knights in Mokena, but as they watched their parish grow “we decided to start a council,” Kalinowski said.

“What’s nice about it is that we keep on growing, and most of our new members are young, 34 years old or younger,” he said.

Kalinowski became a member of the organization at 18, following in his father’s footsteps in joining the St. John the Baptist Parish council in Harvey. When asked why he joined the Knights at such a young age, he said he saw what the organization meant to his father and knew that it was a “good fraternal organization with family values.”

It’s also an opportunity to do good works. In 25 years, the St. Anthony Knights have given about $250,000 to a variety of charities, organizations, institutions and individuals, Kalinowski said.

He said the Knights might pay to fix a furnace for a single mom who can’t afford to do so, give money at Christmas for food baskets for those in need or contribute to the welfare of military families.

That wide range of charitable activity may be the reason the St. Anthony Knights is a growing organization, bringing in young men as well as keeping their older members.

Travis Bloomfield, 43, of Frankfort, is an example of a younger generation’s active involvement with the St. Anthony council.

Bloomfield is in his second year as the grand knight at St. Anthony. He’s excited about the direction the organization continues to take — a positive direction, he said, due in large part because of “some tremendous gentlemen who (are) committed to families and community.”

Bloomfield said his duty as grand knight is to make sure the older knights can continue playing important roles in the organization while engaging younger men so they feel their time is well spent. He acknowledges the many directions that young men, especially young fathers, may be pulled in today’s world.

“We have no problem recruiting new members,” he said, although the challenge to attracting young members is that they are “willing to commit time” if it is “meaningful.”

To that end, the St. Anthony Knights support right-to-life organizations, the Special Olympics and the Lincolnway Special Recreation Association among others. They offer service hours to religious education students in their Confirmation year and to high school students who need service hours for graduation. The group also holds basketball and soccer tournaments for youngsters.

The council supports seminaries by “adopting” a seminarian each year and also conducts prison and military ministries. It’s work that requires many to accomplish the goal of the Knights of Columbus — to help those in need.

The St. Anthony chapter cannot do its charitable and community work without the necessary funds.

Bloomfield said the group holds a variety of fundraisers, ranging from an annual pancake breakfast to casino nights several times a year.

“The Frankfort Knights Council donates about 8,000 volunteer hours per year and raises about $20,000 to $25,000,” Bloomfield said.

“The things we do as Knights of Columbus are not specific to Catholics,” Bloomfield said. “We support everyone.”

For more information, contact Bloomfield at travis_w_bloomfield@yahoo.com, visit www.kofc9770.org or call (815) 404-1142.



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