By KENNY KEANE, Globe staff reporter
May 29, 2003
About four years ago, a group of men from the parishes of Charter Oak St.
Boniface, Dow City St. Mary and Ute St. Mary came together to form the Bishop
Greteman Council Knights of Columbus. Since that time, the Bishop Greteman KCs
have volunteered their services in a number of ways.
During this time of the year, certain members can be found atop a riding
mower cutting the grass on one of the parish lawns. This volunteer service has
been a benefit to the parishes, especially from a financial standpoint.
"Obviously it's saving us money. I think that before we had done that
there was an individual who did the trimming and everything in a 10- to 12-hour
day or period by the time they mowed the church grounds and the cemetery,"
said Allen Staley, council treasurer, referring specifically to Charter Oak.
"Now mainly the retired KC members are doing it. They all drive their
mowers out there.
"That's helped us financially. We still put the gas in their mowers for
them, but before we bought this last mower we had lots of problems with the
other mower. So it's really cutting down on the maintenance of the mowers for
The grand knight of the council, Clarence Topf, said he feels as though it is
an honor to be able to offer this service.
"There are about five of us who are pretty regular at it, and then the
others come in and help," said Topf about those who volunteer at St.
Boniface. "It's a good way for the fellows to get together and have a
little ice cream when we get done. We just kind of enjoy doing it really.
"In Dow City, Bernard Smyth is very active down there in helping with
the lawn and general maintenance around the parish. Bernie is really the kingpin
Aside from mowing, the Knights also provide snow-removal service during the
"Clarence has a fairly big tractor, which also has a blade on it. So he
takes care of most of the parking lot for snow removal, and I do the smaller
stuff," Staley said. "That's saved money, too, because of payroll,
withholding taxes and all that stuff."
The council has also hosted a couple of fundraisers for brother Knights and
their family members.
"One got hurt in a serious farm accident, and every one of the Knights
from all three parishes got in and worked for that," Topf said. "Then
we had another one for a young fellow who was in a car accident. Everyone was
more than willing to help.
"They may not come to the meetings so often, but when you ask them to
help with something they're ready. They're very good about that."
This past year, one Dow City Knight in particular, Vincent J. Leinen,
organized the 28th annual holiday caroling at the Nebraska Skilled Nursing &
Rehabilitation Center in Omaha. He arranged for singers and musicians of all
talent levels from Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Missouri to help entertain
residents at this event.
Most recently, the KCs decided to put up a 4-by-8, pro-life billboard along
Highway 141. The messages on the billboard read, "Every baby is a
miracle," "Heartbeat 24 days from conception" and "Pro-life
Father Richard Ball, pastor at the three parishes, said the KC members have
become more aware of right to life issues and make sure that they stand up for
them, as illustrated by their act of putting up the billboard. He said there are
three other positive things in particular that he has seen since the formation
of this council.
"I see how the spirituality is growing among our young men from high
school on up," he said. "In terms of clustering, especially in the Dow
City, Charter Oak and Ute parishes, I see how we have drawn much closer together
and how we work together. When there has been a project that has come up, we
tend to just bind right together.
"I can also see how the men have taken steps forward to become more
involved in the spiritual life of their church - not just the physical upkeep of
the church, but in lectoring, being Eucharistic ministers and getting involved
with our youth. I'm a firm believer that has been a great contribution in
bringing out those gifts that they've always had."