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Two awards presented at biennial KoC dinner

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Knights of Columbus
Knights of Columbus

By John Stegeman
The Catholic Telegraph 

Sometimes people can forget the power of saying thank you.

In the zeal to serve and spread the Gospel, dinners and other events related to church affairs often serve multiple purposes. Some are fundraisers and social gatherings, others aim to raise awareness or spread a particular devotion.

The Salute to Religious dinner, a biennial event sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the Knights of Columbus, however, has the sole and simple purpose of saying thank you to the ordained clergy and religious of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

This year’s dinner was held in the undercroft at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains on Feb. 27.

The dinner, wherein many members of the Knights and others pay for priests, deacons, brothers and sisters to enjoy a catered meal, has always conferred an award to honor one of the clergy or religious present. This year, for the first time, the Knights bestowed two awards.

Father Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh, rector of The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, was the featured speaker at the dinner and also happened to be the recipient of the Archbishop Nicholas T. Elko award. Father O’Cinnsealaigh earned the award for his tireless work at the seminary, which has seen growth in enrollment.

Ursuline of Cincinnati Sister Mary Williams Luxford was given the St. Isaac Jogues award for her work in ministering to those suffering from alcoholism and addiction.

Both awards take their names from Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus assemblies.

Roughly 150 people attended this year’s dinner, and event co-chair Jonathan Pearson said a large percentage of them were clergy.

“The dinner really is a salute,” Pearson said. “It’s predominant purpose is to say thank you for being a priest and religious. To say thank you for serving as a deacon, religious or priest. We’re going to give you a dinner and just say thanks. It sounds sort of simplistic to say it that way… Have some food, have a beer, we’re glad you’re with us. It is so simple, but sometimes we forget that simplicity is the most beautiful thing we can do for our religious and priests.”

The dinner’s other co-chair was Bob Ammer.

While the event is not a fundraiser, any money left over after expenses is donated to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Vocation Office. The cost for the catered dinner was $22.

The dinner is open for the public to buy tickets, but Pearson said it hasn’t been publicized to a high degree. By the next dinner in 2016, he hopes to see the event grow.

“This is and has always been open to more than just the Knights, but since so many of the Knights were so excited about it, it never occurred to them to promote it more outside of us,” he said. “My goal would be to outgrow the undercroft at the cathedral.”

While future growth could mean a larger check for the Vocations Osffice, Pearson stressed again that the event isn’t about the money. Rather it is about expressing gratitude to those who dedicated their lives to serving the church.

“So many priests get hammered because they spoke up about gay marriage or contraceptives,” he said. “This is a time to say thank you for being that man. Our religious stand there in the background with no public accolades whatsoever doing the same thing. This is a time to say thank you.”

To learn more , visit the Greater Cincinnati chapter website at www.cincykofc.org.

This article originally appeared in the April 2014 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

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