Columbiettes gaining ground in S.C.

COLUMBIA – The third time is definitely a charm for the Columbiettes.

The Catholic women, who work side-by-side with the Knights of Columbus councils with which they are affiliated, organized the state’s third group recently.

Charles Richitelli was a state officer for the Knights of Columbus when his friend Richard Kohler, then state deputy, asked him if he would try to start a Columbiette auxiliary. Although the organization began in 1939 in New York and is well established in the northeast, it had not yet formed in South Carolina.

When Richitelli became the state deputy, he and his wife Betty decided to try and start a Columbiette auxiliary as a joint effort. Betty spoke tirelessly about the organization to the grand knights of the state, but there was only minimal interest and she became discouraged.

A good friend of hers, who had been a member of the group in New York, decided she was not going to wait any longer and pushed forward to organize an auxiliary at her parish in Beaufort. It became the first one in the state.

With the help of Grand Knight Larry Patineau, Summerville then started a second auxiliary. Finally it was the right time for Richitelli to gather the women at St. John Neumann. Their auxiliary now has approximately 35 members, 28 women with major degrees and the rest first degrees.

With the guidance of Florence Mucci, supreme territorial director for the state and liaison between South Carolina’s auxiliaries and the Supreme Council of Columbiettes, St. John Neumann now has its own officers, inducted Nov. 16 as Msgr. Martin Murphy Council 6847 Columbiettes.

The officers are: Betty Richitelli as president, Terry Zammarrelli, vice president, Jean Underwood, secretary, Elaine Slan, Treasurer, Sandra Verzwyvelt, financial secretary, and Sharon Linenberger, Sentinel.

Even before the induction, the women were working on projects and praying together. They held a day of reflection, assisted with the Scott Hahn talks by running a concession, and sell oplatek (Christmas wafers).

The gathering at St. John Neumann was not only for the induction of officers but the Columbiettes also had a ceremony for women to become first degree and some became a major degree, the highest level.

Five cadets from The Citadel were present for another first. They earned their major degree. Carrie Graves, one of the cadets, founded the group. They only need four more women to form their own auxiliary.

Richitelli hopes that the three auxiliaries are just a beginning and that more will form so that they can have their own state council.