Knights take up their tools to help St. Francis Church

HILTON HEAD — The Stations of the Cross on the campus of St. Francis by the Sea Church have a new look thanks to Knights of Columbus Council 10668.

Earlier this year, members of the council worked together to make new wooden outdoor stations to replace a weather-beaten set they installed in 2000.

Father Michael J. Oenbrink, administrator of St. Francis, dedicated and blessed the stations at a March 14 ceremony attended by the Knights, students and staff members from St. Francis School.

“Some of the Knights had looked at the stations, and these things were getting pretty shabby,” said Jack Wilfore, public relations chairman for the Reilley council. “They originally thought to get them all cleaned up and redone for Holy Week, but they basically ended up making new ones.”

Rich Regan, a member of the council since its beginning in 1991, did much of the woodwork. He used treated lumber to replace the old posts which were damaged by termites. Then he carved cypress wood to make smaller crosses and various pieces designed to hold the panels depicting each scene of the devotion. His wife, Lil, painted the pieces. Regan estimated he spent about 32 hours on the woodwork, and his wife’s painting took about eight.

Regan is a skilled carpenter who works for a cabinet company. He  recently built an altar and wooden candle stands for a chapel at the convent house shared by the Dominican sisters who serve St. Francis parish and school.

“I was really pleased with the way the stations turned out,” Regan said. “I thoroughly enjoy the work the council does. It’s a small, tight-knit community. Everybody knows each other and helps out with things around the parish and the community.”

Lee Sturm, a council member for eight years, said he helped the Regans assemble the 14 new stations and deliver them to the church. A group of Knights dug holes and arranged them around a lagoon near the columbarium at the back of the church property. Other Knights also tidied up the landscaping.

Sturm said pamphlets are available in a display case nearby that advise visitors about the significance of the Stations of the Cross and how to pray before each one.

“I think it turned out really well — we’ve been getting a lot of good feedback on it,” Sturm said. “I’ve heard from a lot of people who visit the stations for prayer. Something public like this gets a lot of feedback from parishioners. It was a superb effort.”

Wilfore said the project was the latest in a long series of services and activities for the Reilley council, which has been named a Star Council nine times. The Star award is the Knights of Columbus’ highest award and is given to councils with a strong record of social and community involvement.

The council has about 325 members, mainly from Hilton Head Island.

“I’ve been a Christian Catholic gentleman for a long time, and I know when I moved down here I couldn’t believe how active the Knights here were,” Wilfore said. “This is a council that is really involved in a lot of things. We’re ready to do what needs to be done. I’m absolutely thrilled we were able to do the stations for St. Francis.”