CHARLESTON—Ask people what activities they associate with a college campus, and Knights of Columbus meetings probably won’t be the first thing they mention.
Citadel Council 6900 in Charleston wants to change that.
The council was founded in 1977 and has been active in varying degrees since then, said Father Dennis B. Willey, Catholic chaplain and leader of Catholic campus ministry at The Citadel.
“Sometimes the council was very active, other times they’ve struggled, but there’s been a renewed focus recently and that’s really helped with membership,” Father Willey said. “We’ve been meeting regularly for the last two years, and I’ve been very proud of the progress they’ve made. I’m very grateful for the leadership of the cadets, because it’s added work for them.”
About 70 Knights regularly attend meetings, held at noon Mondays to accommodate the cadets’ busy academic schedules.
Father Willey said several of the Knights have made their fourth degree, a major achievement.
William Pawlak, the financial secretary, became a Knight in 2011 and still attends campus meetings even though he completed his studies in 2013. He has undergraduate and masters degrees in business and currently works in the hospitality industry in Summerville.
“I wanted to get more involved in the community and get more in touch with being Catholic because I had kind of strayed away from my faith,” Pawlak said. “The Knights really helped me to rally and revitalize my interest in my faith. I’ve stayed with it because it’s nice to meet regularly with like-minded people, and it’s fun to be able to help out the cadets who are joining. The council really offers a good source of support for Catholics on campus.”
Council 6900 is the only college council in South Carolina. There are more than 210 college councils in the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Poland, with an estimated membership of 20,000, according to the official Knights of Columbus website.
Father Willey said student Knights focus on the same values as others in the organization, including fraternity, service and patriotism. The meetings also includes time for faith formation, with focus on Scripture, church teachings and how to apply it all to daily life.
During the 2013 football season, Council 6900 earned money by working at a concession stand and in the parking lots at Citadel football games. On Jan. 27, they gave a $2,500 donation to Crisis Ministries in Charleston to fund a living cubicle for a homeless veteran. Father Willey said they hope to raise a similar amount for the veterans’ shelter program during the 2014 season.
“The cadets voted for the veterans shelter for a service project because they have a strong attachment to the military, not only because we’re a military college but many of them will hopefully go on to serve our country,” he said.
The Knights also helped at the annual fundraising auction for Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach on Johns Island on Jan. 26.
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