District Master Report to the Fourth Degree Annual Meeting
Iowa State Council of the Knights of Columbus
Des Moines, Iowa
May 3, 2019
Most Reverend Plácido Rodríguez, Worthy State Chaplain Father William Reynolds, Reverend Fathers, Supreme Membership Growth Director Joseph Ramirez, Vice Supreme Master Patrick O’Keefe, State Deputy Antonio Banuelos, Former Supreme Directors Jim Murphy and Dave Bellendier, Former Vice Supreme Master Francis Schlueter, Former District Masters, Past State Deputies, State Officers and my Brother Sir Knights. Welcome to our 118th Annual State Convention. This is the official meeting for the Iowa Fourth Degree District of the Father Juan de Padilla Province.
Our State Deputy reminds us that “We are Called” to be men of faith and action in serving our Church and those in need. We are living in the time God chose for us. We must be determined to embrace our church and our priests even more. As Sir Knights we have a special duty to stand by our Post as men of recognized civic virtue, faithfulness in Church and in family life and fidelity to the promises we’ve made. Let nothing of the current difficulties deprive us of the most precious gift we have: our faith. It’s our choice. As I recently wrote I reflected this past Lent on words from Msgr. Charles Pope: “Deeds become habits; habits become character; character becomes destiny. Many little choices form our hearts, establish our character, and move us into one future or another.”
Of course, part of my reflection has been how these words are lived out within our councils and assemblies; generally recognizing our charitable deeds as brother Knights can move us toward a future that is filled with the transforming grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. But it starts with those little choices made daily.
Each of us as Sir Knights is called to invite other men – our brothers at the council or men in the pew not yet members to rise to their potential as men of God through the lessons of the Knights of Columbus and participation in our activities. Our focus as leaders in the Knights should be on these values above all other considerations.
Iowa started the fraternal year on July 1, 2018 with 4,853 Sir Knights, a net loss of 11 Sir Knights over the previous year (2017 at 4,864). Deaths are exceeding replacements! Our growth goal for the 2018-2019 fraternal year is 340; as of May 1st, we have 132 new Sir Knights. Last year the District ended with 138 new members in 4 exemplifications. We must continue to recruit new Sir Knights and assemblies need to host exemplifications, so it is convenient for candidates to attend locally. A reminder that every 3rd Degree Member in good standing is immediately eligible to become a Sir Knight – plan to recruit them from the major degree to the next scheduled fourth degree exemplification.
Bishop’s Communication Fund
This year I had the pleasure of presenting a check for $2,500 on your behalf to each of our Bishops for their use in supporting Diocesan Communications. This donation was made possible through the $3.00 voluntary assessment for each dues paying member of your assembly. As of April 21st, 34 out of 47 assemblies had contributed to Bishop’s/Master Fund. Your prompt remittance would be appreciated so that we may continue this support of our Bishops at the levels we have in the past.
My thanks to the Sir Knights who assisted in hosting exemplifications this fraternal year. Thanks to the cooperation of our degree staffs and efforts to cut back on unnecessary expenses, no assemblies were charged for hosting an exemplification. Included in your packets you will find an “Exemplification Task Checklist”. This has been a great help to those assemblies hosting a degree. Notice we are offering an option for Sunday afternoon exemplification. The team(s) have cut back to one-night motel or none which for some means 4-6 hours’ drive time or more in the same day.
Degree costs up to convention:
Degree costs up to convention:
Location Candidates Net
Ames 20 -$276.35
Waterloo 10 -$1,422.97
Guttenberg 11 -$1,476.85
Council Bluffs 22 -$1,157.94
Sioux City 12 -$422.38
Mason City 57 -$492.02
We need to see these many exemplifications for next year as well. To build a healthy fourth degree district in Iowa we need new Sir Knights in every part of the state. Experience shows that having more exemplifications in all areas of the state make it convenient for busy younger men to join our ranks as Sir Knights. Currently we have Decorah in September and Sioux City at the next convention on our calendar. Contact myself or the District Secretary to discuss scheduling one in your area. I’m looking for Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Davenport as well as Ames again for this coming year.
This past year saw several of our team members due to work, age or health unable to assist with the exemplification. Local Sir Knights stepped in to fill the gap; however, I’d like more volunteers to fill in as backups and potential future team members. You don’t have to be perfect, only passionate about the patriotic degree. Talk to me if you are interested in taking a part in the exemplification
Why new assemblies? To give men the opportunity to be involved with the work of patriotism and Catholic citizenship in their local area. The advantages of a local assembly include less travel distance which has shown to increase participation in meetings, functions and honor guards. A new assembly can be formed with as few as six new members. With 47 Assemblies and 243+ councils there are still opportunities to form additional assemblies in Iowa. I’ve been in conversation with the men of Guttenburg about creating an assembly on the north side of the current 1573 Dubourg assembly. There is also discussion of considering splitting Davis assembly 271 to make it more convenient for members to travel to events. Growth is good as it spurs involvement and opens doors of opportunity.
Serving Those Who Served
The Fourth Degree Knights are a volunteer partner with the Veterans Affairs Medical Facilities in Des Moines, Iowa City, and Omaha, Nebraska in a program known as “Serving Those Who Served”. Established in 1946, the Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) has become the largest volunteer program in the Federal Government. John Martinez, Robert Ukena, Kevin Hayes and Roger Shaw currently serve as our representatives. Sir Knight Hayes is newly appointed in Iowa City and could use an assistant. Please let me know if you are interested in serving as a representative.
Terrain Therapy Garden
All Sir Knight should be aware of a major project being spearheaded by Knights at the Veterans Hospital in Des Moines. Through the efforts of Sir Knights like Robert Ukena and Mark Lyle the Terrain Therapy Garden will become a reality in 2019. This innovative and necessary addition to the Hospital grounds will provide veterans receiving care there a safe environment to enjoy the outdoors while gaining confidence in traversing various terrains like those they will encounter when returning home.
I am inviting all Knights, Councils and Assemblies to become informed about this project and consider making a funding donation toward its completion. Your State Council Executive Committee has already committed a $2,000 donation. Mark and Bob have agreed that Knights could pool donations and sponsor one large facet of the garden and in so doing receive a recognition plaque to be forever memorialized on the grounds. Contact DistrictMaster@iowakofc.org or Mark Lyle email@example.com for details on how to become involved; more information will be available at www.iowakofc.org and on the Iowa Knights Facebook page. You can view a presentation about the garden by visiting their website https://vatherapygarden.org/
Military Chaplains Fund
The Fourth Degree was again called upon to lead the effort to fund scholarships for those preparing to serve as Chaplains to our deployed men and women abroad. I encourage all here present to organize at a minimum a pass the helmet to collect necessary funds for this effort.
Knights of Columbus Safe Environment
Our Church is in crisis in many dioceses over the various abuse scandals. All of us were shocked and dismayed by the revelations of sexual abuse or cover up by those whom we trusted. Our Supreme Knight is calling for Knights to take a leading role in recovering trust. Naivete and ignorance must be exchanged for knowledge and courage.
The Knights of Columbus has no higher priority than the safety and well-being of the young people served through its programs and activities. Our Safe Environment Program safeguards children and other vulnerable persons, assures members and their families that we maintain a safe environment, protects members from awkward situations, misunderstandings, and appearances of impropriety, builds trust with arch/dioceses and parishes, and protects the good name of the Knights of Columbus. Knights of Columbus Safe Environment Program requirements are in addition to all the safe environment/youth protection requirements established by local dioceses and parishes.
Last fall your assembly leaders were encouraged to participate in the Armatus Safe Environment program. All of us need to be aware of warning signs that inappropriate behavior may be happening and stop it before any boundaries are crossed or anyone is violated in any way. I encourage any member of the Knights to take the Armatus training and to be vigilant in your home communities. As Sir Knights we take a leading role as models of faithful witness and sacrificial love of neighbor; we need to also take up the task rebuilding trust in our parishes.
Christ Our Life Conference
Every other year the people of Iowa have the privilege to host this spiritually enlivening event. I was present along with many other Knights for the speakers and prayers. The Fourth Degree had an excellent showing providing honor guards on both days. I was especially moved by standing at salute during adoration. I kept thinking of the pain Christ felt on the cross for me as my arm grew weary from the long salute. I do know that many who saw us there were openly thankful for the visible and prayerful presence of the Knights.
Let me remind all that honor guards in church or church related events are directed by the local Bishop or presiding priest. If they say no swords, there are no swords. No discussion. Honor guard participants should sit at the back of the Church so as not to obstruct the vision of the faithful attending mass.
Without exception, honors by the Honor Guard shall be offered to deceased Sir Knights, their immediate family members, Council members and to their immediate family members provided a request is made. It must be distinctly understood that the wishes of the family of the deceased member are paramount and will be given the fullest consideration as to the selection of elements of the Honor Guard involved if any.
It is my opinion that no Knight or family of a Knight that passes expecting his brothers to gather around him in honor and send him off in prayer should be left unaided during their time of loss.
My thanks to the many Sir Knights that served as line guard for today’s exemplification. I encourage you to take part in the honor guard for the Saturday and Sunday convention masses this week end.
Color Corps – uniform change
Further there have been many communications from Sir Knights expressing displeasure about the new uniform or its implementation. Likewise, there have been positive comments as well. While we should entertain discussion and considered opinions from our membership; the decision to change is beyond the Iowa District. It is now our duty as leaders to conduct a smooth transition to the new uniform. I encourage assembly officers to approach this with a positive outlook and encourage participation in the color corps as a voluntary additional activity.
I remind all here that deadline for the new uniform is June 30. Consider helping anyone who desires to embrace the new uniform but is hesitant over current finances. Some ideas:
Consider a program to give credit to anyone who participates in Honor Guard callouts and reward participants with $ to reimburse uniform expense after a set number of events are attended.
Consider an interest free loan program from available reserve funds to enable members to purchase the new uniform now and pay back the assembly over the next year.
It has also been brought to my attention that with new members and old some training on the Drill Manual and the Manual of the Sword is in order. I encourage all Faithful Navigators to delegate this to their Color Corps Commanders and assist them by obtaining the revised edition of the Drill manual.
If assemblies wish assistance in this matter please contact the District Master and an assistant to the Master will be assigned.
· The Fourth-Degree Uniform website is officially live and functional and ready to accept orders! It can be found at www.kofcuniform.com.
· There is also a link on Knightsgear.com that will lead you to the uniform website to place an order.
· NEW: Beret Rank Patches may be ordered when the uniform is ordered.
· Those already with uniform and needing patches DO NOT call Supreme.
o Please remember to include the following information in the e-mail.
§ Full Name
§ Membership number
§ Position/color of patch
Civic Involvement Opportunities
As the Patriotic arm of the Order assemblies are encouraged to conduct programs that support Civic Engagement and Patriotic Pride.
Last year at Convention we highlighted a Des Moines based organization called “Puppy Jake Foundation.” Their mission is to improve the physical and emotional well-being of wounded military veterans through trained service dogs. Assembly officers can find out more by visiting www.puppyjakefoundation.org
Both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars have local chapters across our state. Assemblies are encouraged to work with these local chapters to assist with fund raising or veteran’s assistance activities where or when they can as partners. Assemblies should not create additional programs. https://www.iowavfw.org/ & http://www.ialegion.org/. There are a great many under-served Iowa Veterans among us and I’m asking all assemblies take a second look at how they can participate with other local agencies in their area to do more to lend a hand to these worthy warriors. Send a note to your District Master or your District Secretary to let us know how your assembly is promoting civic virtue or assisting our Veterans. we’d love to hear from you and want to promote those ideas to others around the state.
There are several recognition awards available to assemblies that are engaged in programs supporting the vision and goals of the 4th degree. I encourage each assemble to work toward the Civic Award and the “To Be a Patriot” award.
· The Civic Award is a tribute to the spirit of patriotism and national pride exemplified by the assembly’s program of activities. To qualify, the assembly must conduct and report at least four varied patriotic programs held within the fraternal year.
· The “To Be a Patriot” Award annually recognizes the three best patriotic programs conducted by Fourth Degree Assemblies each fraternal year. The assembly must submit a report on their single best patriotic activity on form #TBP-2 and send it directly to the Master by April 30. I’ve contacted all the assemblies that have achieved their membership goal and requested this application. I will accept these through this coming week.
· The Supreme Council now awards the “Star Assembly Award” It includes the above two distinctions and several other items. I encourage assembly leadership to review the requirements and make them part of your yearly goals. You will be hearing from me separately on this again as I believe many more assemblies qualify than have applied.
The Fourth Degree Honor Guard will once again take part in the opening ceremonies for the Iowa Special Olympics Summer Games. The event will be held on May 23, 2019 in Ames at Hilton Coliseum – just prior to Memorial Day week-end. A light hospitality lunch will be provided beginning at 5:00 PM. The line up to meet the athletes will begin at 6:35 and the ceremony will start at 7:00 PM. Please come and support these special athletes. It will change your life. For some of you this may be one last opportunity to show your support while wearing the traditional regalia
Installation of Officers
Laws and rules of the Fourth Degree require that assembly officers be installed no later than the first regular meeting in October. Send your request and several potential dates to myself (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that I may schedule myself or a representative be present. I will make as many as I can but will need to rely on the Assistants to the Master to help. It works out well if you can combine your installation with other area assemblies. It is nice if you have a social with wives and families invited. Tuxedos or dark suits should be worn.
Please be timely in your submission of assembly forms. NOTE that all copies of forms indicating they be sent to District Master should be mailed to District Secretary, Jim Bates at 15102 Brookview Drive, Urbandale, IA 50323-2567 or emailed to Jim at: email@example.com. Report due dates are listed in the Assembly Report Forms Booklet sent annually to each assembly. Forms can also be found on the Supreme Council website at: http://kofc.org/un/en/officers/forms/assembly.html along with their due dates.
PLEASE submit your Report of Officers Chosen as soon as you can. This allows us to get the State Directory printed in a timely manner and gives the Supreme Office accurate names and addresses for them to mail their information. This form needs to be submitted each year – even if the officers remain the same.
A key reminder each assembly MUST complete an IRS Form 990 and to send a copy to the District Master. Don’t put this off. Failure to comply can be an expensive proposition.
You can find a shorter but earlier report to the third-degree convention delegates pre-convention report booklet and I refer you to that document in addition to this lengthier report.
A Final Thought:
How many times do we hear about how busy this or that person is? It’s a common complaint from all quarters (including my own) these days. A recent reflection from Dr. Tod Worner caught my eye and I believe it worth offering to you.
You see the desire to be our best self often leads us to strive harder, to achieve more, to be excellent at tasks and activities. This builds a resume of accomplishments worthy of regard by others but perhaps devoid of personal warmth.
GK Chesteron according to Dr Worner observed: “comradeship and serious joy are not interludes in our travel; but … rather our travels are interludes in comradeship and joy, which through God shall endure forever.”
How descriptive of the Knights. A band of brothers – comrades in charity whose joy and happiness comes from our deep commitment to each other and to helping those in need.
Brothers let us focus less on building our resume of busyness and more on our principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism building toward those sturdy bonds of comradeship and shared joy in the life of Christ.
Many Thanks ….
To all who have helped me get through this year as your Master.
To the Sir Knights from assemblies that hosted exemplifications for your efforts in putting on first class events.
To Father Bill Reynolds who served as Faithful Friar at this year’s convention exemplification.
To the degree team for your time and effort in traveling, memorizing your parts and dedication to advancing the Fourth Degree.
To Jim Bates and Ed Pancrazio for all their administrative support.
To Vice Supreme Master Patrick O’Keefe his advice and encouragement as our Vice Supreme Master.
To my wife Anita for sharing her organizational skills, putting together the program for this convention, keeping me in line and always being at my side for support.
And finally, to my Brother Sir Knights for defending the faith and supporting our veterans.
Michael P. Gaspers
District Master, Iowa