St. Mary’s Knights of Columbus are new and active

GREENVILLE — St. Mary Church is the venerable old lady of the Piedmont Deanery, but her Knights of Columbus group is still a toddler. The parish council celebrated its second anniversary on March 29, and like a two-year-old, it has been very active.

Council 13112 is named after the late pastor of St. Mary, Msgr. Charles J. Baum. In its inaugural year, the local fraternal organization was named a star council, a feat that requires the council to make its membership and insurance quotas and to accomplish four service projects in the areas of family, youth, church and community.

According to the parish organization’s leader, they were one of only two councils in the Upstate to garner the award.

“We expect to get it again this year, as well as go from honor council to distinguished council,” said Joseph L. Schmidt, grand knight of the Baum Council. The council also received the Gold Achievement Award at last year’s convention in Columbia.

Those kudos were only a small part of the unit’s success in the two years of its existence. The Knights of St. Mary have also raised more than $12,000 and have given away more than $10,000 to charities. And their big golf tournament is still to come on April 23.

The 55 members have given $500 to each of the three seminarians from their parish. They exceeded their Operation Hope goal by 153 percent in the last fiscal year and will exceed it again this year. The money raised through Operation Hope goes to the Washington Center, a Greenville County public school for retarded youth.

“We’re just starting to see our membership grow to the point where we can branch out into some larger projects. Our main focus is to help build community at St. Mary’s,” Schmidt said.

One long-term plan is to fund a parish memorial to unborn children who have died from abortion. The council has organized an All Saints Day festival for children of the parish, and puts on family breakfasts every month.

None of this would have been possible without the support of the pastor of St. Mary, Father Jay Scott Newman. He is a charter member of the Baum Council, according to Schmidt.

The council replaces one that desolved into those of daughter parishes decades ago and wasn’t revived until then-district deputy Chuck Rohling resolved in 2002 that the mother church of the deanery should have its own council.

A core group of men, most of whom had never been Knights, formed into a roundtable and organized into a council. Among the other founders were Keith Kingren, Frank Rogers, Tom Bianca and Gary Little.