This past Columbus Day, San Marco Catholic Church’s Knights of Columbus kicked off the new season with a spaghetti dinner that celebrated the 125th anniversary of their organization’s founding. The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Their motto is, “In service to one. In service to all.” The order’s founder, Fr. Michael J. McGivney, chose Columbus as their patron because he was a man of vision, courage and missionary spirit.
Fr. Tim Navins, Pastor of San Marco said, “The Knights of Columbus is one of the mainstays of our parish. The Knights, together with the Council of Catholic Women and the Columbiettes (the women’s version of the Knights) serve so many needs. It was the vision of Fr. McGivney to care for widows and orphans.” Navins grew up with the Knights of Columbus and his uncle was a past grand knight.
“The Knights are a group of men dedicated to both the spiritual and financial welfare of people in our community and around the world,” said member Mike Minozzi.
Woven into the fabric of the Knights of Columbus are the principals of charity, fraternity, unity and patriotism. While talking to members that evening, the church lady heard the words commitment, church and community mentioned over and over, along with, “Have you eaten yet?” In addition to their commitment to church and community, the San Marco Knights have a secret sauce.
Joe Granda became the leader, or grand knight, in July. He is also the keeper of the secret tomato sauce recipe entrusted to him by the founding fathers of the San Marco group. When first contacted for this article, he was up to his elbows in 30 gallons of sauce. Five additional gallons of sauce were made for the Columbus Day dinner. The meal also included meatballs, sausage, salad, bread, ice cream and coffee or tea. Twenty Knights worked in the kitchen and served on the floor. Some members of the Catholic Youth were also on hand to serve ice cream and help clean up. “We served 351 dinners that evening, which is great for early October, when not many of the snowbirds are back yet,” said Granda. When they have spaghetti dinners in season, they double the amount of sauce and serve upwards of 700 dinners.
The K of C at San Marco was chartered 37 years ago and Granda was entrusted with the recipe 35 years go. The founders of the spaghetti dinners that started in 1977 were Herman Giglio, Bud LaMendola, Chris Karlich and Alex Schulik. As a remembrance, Granda wears an apron at all the spaghetti dinners that was owned by one of the original founders. At San Marco, there is Council #6344, with approximately 300 members that are the first three degrees of the order – charity, fraternity and unity. They also have Assembly #2514, which is the fourth degree of the Order – patriotism, with about 100 members. Granda explained that to become a member of the assembly, you must have completed the first three degrees and then take the fourth degree.
Granda listed the numerous charitable, social, church, community and youth events the Knights are involved with. Members serve the church as ushers, deacons, lectors, eucharistic ministers, altar servers, religious education teachers and youth leaders. They also support all pro-life efforts in our area, including prayerful vigils in front of Planned Parenthood in Naples and support for the shelter for abused women and children. They also sponsor programs to raise funds and bring the church community together with breakfasts, a family picnic, bingo, a fish fry every Friday during Lent, spaghetti dinners, a St. Patrick and St. Joseph dinner dances, a golf tournament, Habitat for Humanity, a parish day of recollection, the Tootsie Roll drive for the intellectually challenged and participation in island Christmas parade.
“The day of recollection scheduled for Jan. 30 is for the purpose of getting closer to our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Granda. The day will begin at the 8 a.m. Mass, followed by a program dealing with four topics of relevance today: pro-life discussion, end of life discussion, the Ten Commandments and what our reaction would be if Jesus would come to the world today, instead of 2,000 years ago. The program will conclude around 4 p.m.
The Knights also help the city of Marco in many ways. They keep San Marco Road clean of debris and help the veterans put the flags in the median strip on Collier Boulevard. Individual Knights are also involved in many city programs. They support the youth programs of their church and raise money for high school and college scholarships. Knight Bill Christ and his wife Roseanne are a pro-life couple within the Knights. He finds his work very gratifying and it is an opportunity to interface with everyone in the church community.
Sal Sciarrino said, “[The K of C is] one of the greatest organizations on Marco. We have a comradely lead by our Grand Knight, Joe Granda, we are dedicated to the church, our priest and the good of the community.”
Granda’s right-hand man, Bob Wilcox, deputy grand knight and former grand knight, said, “We try to give a little back. We meet every Tuesday of every month to pray the rosary. We pray for the sick and the underprivileged.” He also promised that the Knights’ entry in Marco’s Christmas parade will be something beautiful.
Ted Konuszy noted that there will be a membership drive for the San Marco Knights the weekend of Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. An announcement will be made at church and Knights will be available outside the church after Mass to answer questions from prospective members.
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Kathleen Tuttle, a Marco Island resident since 1987, has written articles for various nonprofits for more than 25 years. She is a community volunteer, former science teacher and microbiologist.