July 14, 2008

FRISCO, TX ( - 126 years ago, a 29 year old priest from St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut, concerned for the spiritual and economic welfare of his parishioners, sought a practical way to help them.  The priest, Fr. Michael J. McGivney, founded the Knights of Columbus. 

Today, with more than 1.7 million members, the Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization.  Earlier this year, on March 15, Pope Benedict XVI declared Fr. McGivney “venerable”, approving a decree of “Heroic Virtue”. 

On June 21, Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas, Fr. Antonio Ortiz, a priest of the Diocese, and 85 other men completed the Second and Third Degrees (Major Degrees) of the Order.  The event was held at St. Francis of Assisi in Frisco, Texas. 

Bishop Farrell, born in Dublin, Ireland, was installed as Bishop of Dallas on May 1, 2007.  Shortly thereafter, on July 18, he joined the Knights of Columbus, taking part in a First Degree ceremony.  That event was held at St. Joseph’s in Richardson, Texas.  According to a source who witnessed that event, Bishop Farrell told those present that the time was right for him to join the Order.  He also made a request for those present as well as all Knights in the diocese to increase their prayers for vocations to the priesthood, an early and continuing theme since his appointment. 

While many priests and bishops are members of the Knights of Columbus, it is a rare occasion for a bishop to participate in the Major Degrees.  How rare?  Apparently, no one is quite sure.  According to Roger Scott, Diocesan Deputy and Chapter President for the Diocese of Dallas, “It has to be very rare.”  Scott said that he was personally unaware of any other bishops taking their major degrees.  “Normally priests become Knights much earlier in their careers.” said Scott.  Stan Zmorzynski, Grand Knight of Council 12480, the host council, also struggled to recall a similar event.  It has been over twenty years since a bishop has attended a major degree.” said an emotional Zmorzynski, “It was a privilege to serve as the host council for this event.” 

Strong emotions and the notion of privilege was not lost on others either.  Stephan Ruff of Bellville, Texas was the Conferring Officer for the degrees.  Ruff said “I was so deeply moved to be officiating.  I, along with my Brother Knights, had the opportunity to bring Bishop Farrell into full Knighthood.”  Ruff has been a Knight for 9 years, serving on degree teams for 7, and as a “C.O.” for the past 3 years.  Asked about the personal rewards of being a C.O., Ruff said “I get excited each and every time I have to exemplify the Major Degrees.  This is my opportunity to share my enthusiasm and commitment to the Knights of Columbus and my Catholic Faith with Brother Knights all over Texas.”  Ruff drove more than 250 miles in the early morning hours to officiate.  The drive gave him plenty of time to think.  “I started the morning somewhat nervous, because I really wanted the Bishop to see the true spirit of the Knights of Columbus in the exemplification.  I feel that goal was achieved when I spoke with the Bishop after the ceremony.”  Kyle Cupp and Ben Wyse, both members of the host council, also took the degrees with Bishop Farrell.  Commenting on the experience of the degrees, Wyse, a Knight for 2 ½ years, said “I was strongly affected by it.  Although I had looked forward to it, I had no idea how moving the experience would actually be for me.”  A member for about a year, Cupp said Witnessing the degree ceremony revealed to me truths about myself, some pleasantly surprising, and others heart-achingly burdensome.  Time for confession, I think.  And further conversion.” 

While those who actually participated in the degrees will certainly remember “the day”, others will also remember the months of planning and the large amount of manpower that were required to ensure the success of the event.  Zmorzynski said that hosting the event required “a great deal of coordination” from his team and the parish.  An agenda needed to be “worked out” and communicated to all area councils.  Breakfast and lunch needed to be planned, prepared, and served.  Coordination of his team and the degree team were also required to ensure that all areas of the building were set up properly.  All participants attended Mass that morning, and there were considerations and staffing required for that as well.  Additionally, according to Zmorzynski, time was also a factor because Bishop Farrell was scheduled to leave for Rome later that evening.  Our pastor, Fr. Timothy, graciously moved the Mass that morning to 8:00am.  This change had to be communicated to all parishioners at every Mass a few weeks in advance”, he said.  Scott seemed pleased with the efforts stating “Grand Knight Stan Zmorzynski and his council team did an excellent job. They were adaptable and addressed any issues that arose, and helped to keep the degree work on schedule.” 

Then there was “The Secret”.  Zmorzynski said there were concerns of an unusually high turn-out of participants and witnesses should the word get out that Bishop Farrell would be present.  However, just how well that secret was kept may depend on one’s point of view.  David Utsler, who has been Pastoral Associate at St. Francis for the past 3 years and is transitioning to Director of Faith Formation said that to he believed only a few people knew.  As far as I know, the Knights, of course, knew, but I didn’t think the Bishop’s visit was common knowledge.” said Utsler.  Zmorzynski had a different perspective.  Well, just tell two Knights to keep a secret and before you know it…everyone knew about the Bishop attending these degrees.” 

In the end though, it all worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.  Bishop Farrell and Fr. Ortiz both addressed those present, thanking the Knights of Columbus for all they do in the Diocese.  Reflecting on the day’s events, Scott said “I was very proud and pleased for all of my Brother Knights in the Dallas Diocese as Bishop Farrell took this step to join us in full Knighthood.  I believe he was demonstrating his appreciation for all that the Knights do to support our bishops and priests.  The Knights as well as the entire Dallas Diocese are very fortunate to have Bishop Farrell as our leader.” 

“It was a dream come true.” said Zmorzynski, quickly adding “but I’m glad it’s over. 

DFW Catholic 

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Diocesan Knights of Columbus Support Special Olympics Fund

July 9, 2008

DALLAS, TX, July 9, 2008 ( The Knights of Columbus from the Dallas Diocese collected cell phones and other electronic equipment for recycling at EcoPhones during the 2007/2008 fraternal year and received $1567.45 that was donated to the KofC Texas State Charities Special Olympics Fund, which far exceeded their goal of $1000.00. Thanks to all of the Knights that contributed their time and effort to this project. The Knights have an evergreen arrangement with EcoPhones that will continue as long as the Knights desire. EcoPhones recycles cell phones, ink jet printer cartridges, laptop computers, MP3 players, iPods, digital cameras and digital video cameras. See for details. Used Nextel cell phones have a higher recycling value than most phones and EcoPhones encourages the Knights to request used Nextel cell phone donations from the local Sprint/Nextel retail locations as well as common and heavy users, such as law enforcement agencies, police departments, construction companies, home builders, trucking companies and any type business that requires Nextel’s unique walkie-talkie capability.

A recycler for Laser toner/print cartridges,, has been located and if the cartridges can be brought to general council meetings or given to Jim Massey, the Diocesan Coordinator for Special Olympics who can be reached at [email protected] or 972-235-6158, he will arrange for the shipment to the recycler and the monies donated to Special Olympics fund.

Texas Center for the Physically Impaired will receive any equipment related to a computer whether it is working or not. Printers, scanners, multifunction machines and even FAX machines are accepted. They need keyboards, mice, CPUs and monitors of all sizes. They have begun a CD/DVD recycling program that will go to a bona fide recycler (see For those media with personal data on them, write on the disk to destroy the data, and they have a diamond scratcher that renders the media totally unreadable. They operate from the King of Glory Lutheran Church located on the north service road of LBJ between Hillcrest and Preston from 1-4PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This means less to the landfills and more to charitable organizations.

Thank you Knights of Columbus for your continued support of the Special Olympics athletes.

For additional information please contact Jim Massey, Diocesan Coordinator for Special Olympics at [email protected] or 972-235-6158.

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