Knights of Columbus: Mount Angel Council celebrates 100 years of service

February 2015 Posted in Arts, Culture & History
The Knights of Columbus – Mount Angel Council is celebrating 100 years.

The Knights of Columbus – Mount Angel Council is celebrating 100 years.

By Kristine Thomas 

If you ask Alfred Beyer, 82, or John Beyer, 89, why they became members of the Knights of Columbus Mount Angel Council, they will tell you they didn’t have a choice.

“We were told when you are 18 years old that you join,” Alfred said, laughing. “Plus, we enjoyed the togetherness of the group.”

“The Knights are a group of men who are committed to service to their community and helping others,” John added. “We do a lot of good for our community by donating money to good causes.”

Chat with the men a little more and you’ll discover what it really means to them to be a Knight of Columbus.

“When our dad injured his knee, the Knights came to our house and set all the posts in our five-acre Loganberry field,” John said. “What they did was a huge gift to our family.”

Being a Knight, means taking care of others, they said.

On Jan. 21, more than 140 men of the Knights of Columbus Mount Angel Council 1787 gathered at St. Mary’s Catholic Church to celebrate the group’s 100th anniversary. The evening began with a mass and concluded with a banquet. The council was started in November 1914 by 58 men, many with familiar last names still around today

Grand Knight Fred Vandecoevering said the first chapter of the Knights of Columbus was formed on Feb. 6, 1882 by Father Michael J. McGivney, an assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn.

Knights of Columbus“Father McGivney saw a real need for a religious order to take care of its own. The Knights cared for the widows and the orphaned children. The focus on the family is a very important part of what the Knights do,” Vandecoevering said.

A fraternal benefit society, the Knights’ founding principles are charity, unity and fraternity. According to its website, the Knights of Columbus was formed to “render financial aid to members and their families. Mutual aid and assistance was offered to sick, disabled and needy members and their families.” Today, there are 14,000 councils and 1.8 million members throughout the world.

Vandecoevering said the council’s clubhouse was a room in the former St. Mary’s school, where more than 100 men would meet to eat, drink and talk on a Tuesday night.

“When television came in and all the activities families do now days, the number of men attending meetings fell off,” Vandecoevering said.

While there isn’t a large gathering at meetings, he said the members are active throughout the community including having a free-throw contest and hosting three fundraising breakfasts a year, donating money to various organizations and volunteering to help at Oktoberfest and the Fourth of July celebration.

“We are currently talking with Habitat for Humanity on how we can volunteer there,” Vandecoevering said. “Our hope is to get some men helping to build homes.”

Father Philip Waibel of St. Mary’s Catholic Church is grateful for the Knights of Columbus.

“The Knights have provided an incredible service and generosity to St. Mary’s Church over the years,” Waibel said. “They do quite a lot of volunteer projects including the annual picnic.”

Ed Schiedler, 89, joined the council after serving in the Army and returning to Mount Angel in 1950.

“We make many contributions to the community,” he said, adding the Knights also support national causes such as the Right to Life.

Ray Eder became a member of the Knights of Columbus in 1985 because he was asked.

“There is a lot of pride in this council of getting to 100 years,” Eder said. “There probably aren’t a lot of councils that have achieved that goal.”

Vandecoevering said recently four new members joined the council. He said he joined because it was an opportunity to work with other Catholic men in his community.

“Being a Knight is a way to live my faith by giving back to my community,” Vandecoevering said., adding he also takes pride in the traditions and ceremonies.

Joe Schmidt, 70, said he joined the Knights in 1945 when he was 18 years old.

“These men are just a good bunch of people,” Schmidt said. “They are just good, old Catholic gentlemen.”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.