Sarasota | Even before the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Knight of Columbus Council 15332 of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota was already actively using virtual meeting technology. And when everything shut down, the group went into “hyper-mode” to continue to serve the community.
“We first worried about members having trouble adapting to the technology, but these men embraced the new ‘toys’ and we now meet several times each week,” said Steven Wyer, Grand Knight for Council 15332.
The virtual connection has been crucial for many members who have struggled with various impacts from the pandemic, Wyer said. This has included a “Leave no neighbor behind” initiative which directs those in need to resources which offer emotional and financial support.
Council meetings include a Saturday “cocktail hour” for socializing and Sunday praying the glorious mysteries of the rosary. Most other meetings take place virtually while some small gatherings of less than 10 members are held in large dining areas to ensure social distancing.
Council 15332 recently received the distinction of Star Council, the international organization’s top award for local councils. The Star Council Award recognizes excellence in the areas of membership, fraternal insurance benefits, faith formation programs, and service-oriented activities. Council 15332 has received this award every year since its founding in July 2011.
Father Eric Scanlan, Incarnation Administrator, said the recognition as a Star Council is well deserved. “The Knights have been a great support to our Parish during the last few months of the pandemic. They were quick to adjust to the changing reality of the COVID limitations,” Father Scanlan said. “It has been a real witness to their strong faith and concern for one another, our Parish and the local community.”
The Knights recently organized a contactless food drive which brought in 2,000 pounds of food to help support the efforts of the St. Vincent de Paul Society Incarnation Conference. Wyer said the success of the food drive has encouraged the Council to begin planning for more.
In addition to the Star Council Award, the Knights were recognized as the top council in the 10-county Diocese of Venice. Earlier in the summer, the Council received eight major awards from the Florida State Council.
To earn these honors, during the past year alone, the Council participated in national and local prayer vigils for life; undertook construction, painting, and/or cleaning projects around the Parish; hosted monthly bingo, pancake breakfasts and trivia; conducted youth activities for Incarnation Catholic School students; and awarded a graduating eighth-grade student a scholarship to Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School. In spite of the pandemic, the Knights have been able to contribute nearly $25,000 to charitable organizations, begin a raffle program focused on raising $10,000 for the Incarnation School STREAM Program, provide financial support to two Diocesan Seminarians, and much more. While fund raising events are not taking place, Wyer said members have stepped-up to donate monthly to meet demand.
To learn more about or to join Knights of Columbus Council 15332, contact Council Chancellor Matt Dowell at 941-504-6418 or visit www.kofc15332.org.