MY JOURNEY AS A KNIGHT
BY: MARK ANTHONY ROSOLOWSKI
MSGR. HENRY O'CARROLL COUNCIL 444
NEWBURGH, NEW YORK 12550
As I tell this story, to those who are reading who do not know what the Knights of Columbus are, please look for it on the web, there are many sites that you will find to tell you about the Knights and our Order. To those of you who are familiar with the Knights and my Brother Knights, I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
My journey in the Knight's of Columbus, actually started before I was even old enough to be a Knight, or for that matter to even know what a Knight was. My father was in the Knights of Columbus, Newburgh Council, (later to be named the Msgr. Henry O'Carroll Council) 444. I remember as a young boy my father putting on his chapeau, his cape and sword and I would later see him in church at the mass. When he died, I was 6; I remember seeing him in his tuxedo, with his cape and chapeau on top of the coffin. There were Knights on either side of his coffin, an Honor Guard, and I remember his funeral the Knights who carried his coffin were in their capes and chapeau, what an impression they made on me.
As I grew up and became a teenager, I was as all teenagers do, trying to spread my wings and seeing if I could fly. I was like most teens, impressionable and looking for friends, and looking for things to do to fit in. That was when a friend came along and asked me to join the Squires. He explained to me that the Squires were a youth organization of the Knights of Columbus, for boys from 13 to 18 and that they did charitable work for the church like the Knights and was also just a group of guys that I could hang out with and do things. I decided to give it a try and joined the Squires, as a Squire, I learned the importance of serving both God and Country, I learned how to plan and organize events, I learned how to run meetings and how to have fun.
IN 1978 at 18 I joined the Knight's of Columbus, I went through the degrees, and with the Knights I learned more about my Religion, my Country and about Brotherhood, I also became a counselor for the Squires, that was for two reasons, the first it would look good on my college applications and I could still spend time with the guys I had grown up with in a social setting. Too bad it wasn't until 2008, I found what the Knights really meant, and it is a family. I tell this as if I knew it all along, in a sense I guess I did, but as the old saying I couldn't see the forest, for the trees were in the way.
After joining the Knights, I joined the Navy and went to Boot Camp, I lost touch with my Brothers in the Knights but I still had the love for God and the love for my Country. After Boot Camp, I was assigned to a school in San Diego, and in-between other things, I did find a Knight's of Columbus Council in the area and I went to a few meetings to meet a few people. The thing that impressed me the most was that I was at home in the Knights, when I first went there I was accepted as a Brother, it did not matter that they did not know me, I was a member of the Knights and therefore I was family, I was a brother.
As soon as I was done with my Naval School, I went home on leave and got married. Several of my Brothers were in attendance as well as some of those young men I had grown up with as a Squire, after all we were not only friends we were family. A family that cared about each other, that was there to support each other.
After I was married we moved to Corpus Christi, Texas when I was assigned as a Hospital Corpsman at the Naval Regional Medical Center, on Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi. While in Corpus Christi, I did go to Knights of Columbus meetings, where again I found the same welcoming attitude, I had a sense of family.
I had a short stay in Corpus Christi; it was only a temporary duty before I went to additional school in San Antonio, at Fort Sam Houston. My wife returned to NY and while in San Antonio, I did seek out the Knights, I went there and again found family, I was welcomed as if I hade been coming there all my life. I was not a stranger with my Brother Knights.
I then had to go to the Oak Knoll Naval Regional Medical Center for additional education, while there I sought out the Knights, once I found them I again had a place to be with my Brother Knights, This was a short stay as well so I did not really get involved in anything, but I was accepted there.
After that I was assigned back to San Diego, my wife came out and joined me. We joined a Parish; I was approached by a Brother Knight at the first mass we attended. He asked me if I was interested in joining the Knights of Columbus. I explained to him that I was already a member, told him what I had been recently doing in the Navy, and yes I was interested in doing things at the local Council. He called his wife over and his children, we were introduced al around and my wife and I were invited to dinner. Not bad being as we were only both in San Diego for less then a week and this was the first mass we attended together in San Diego. We were with family, across the country we were with family.
As a member of the Council in San Diego, I was instrumental in getting a Squires Circle started and was active in the church community, being an usher, and being involved in different activities. It was a big family; we cared about each other, took care of each other and were there for each other.
Upon my discharge and return home, I let my membership in the Knights lapse, I got involved a few times, but always let my membership lapse again< I had the excuse I was too busy and did not have the time. I stopped attending church, turned away; it was a waste of my time. Then one day I did reactivate my membership, but I still did not go to meetings, I remained a member in name only, pay the dues and I was done.
Then one day I was approached be a Knight he noticed my lapel pin and asked what Council I belonged to, I told him 444, he looked at me and said, Well I am the Grand Knight, why dont I see you at meetings? I tried a few excuses but they sounded flimsy, and he asked me to please come to the next meeting.
I went to the meeting, and it was as if I had never left, old friends were there and new friends as well, I was with n=my Brothers, my family. My wife and I started to attend church with our children again. I found what had been missing in my life, I found my way home to God and He was there waiting for me to return.
I became an active member in my Council, I became an Officer and worked my way up to being Deputy Grand Knight, as I was Deputy Grand Knight, my Grand Knight had to resign and on February 1. 2010, I became Grand Knight of Council 444, the same Council my father had served as Grand Knight. I went home and told my wife, she knew this was what I wanted; I can still see the smile on her face as I told her.
I became Grand Knight less then 2 months before my wife died, the first place I went to was Church then to my Brothers. When I needed help to get through there were people I could call, people I could turn to, my family, my Brothers.
At my wifes wake my Brothers came as one as a group and said the Rosary for my wife. They were there for me as any family should, I could never find the words to say thank you to them because those words seem so inadequate.
During my recent battle with my health I had my family to rely on, they have given me the strength to battle back, to not give up, continuing to smile, laugh and love life and living it to its fullest.
Now as I end my second full year as Grand Knight, my sister passed away, about 2 months before I finished my term in office. Once again my family turned out for me, they were there.
It is truly a miracle that an organization that was founded in 1882, by Father Michael J. McGivney with just 12 men, bloomed into what it is today. A group of men, worldwide, that proudly proclaims their love of God, love of Country, and love of their Brothers.
As I end this to all the Knights of Columbus, I want to thank you all for helping me to grow and become the man I am today, if it was not for you I would still be lost. Vivat Jesu.
Before I end this I have to add after my sisters funeral. We were having a meal when my mother said to one of my Brother Knights, His father would be proud of him. those words will live with me forever.