2017 STATE CONVENTION PROGRAMMING AWARDS - Gil Spisak, State Program Director           [click HERE for Membership Awards]

After a fish dinner at a KofC fish fry, the program team of directors met in mid-March to review the submitted entries for the State Council Service Programs Awards. We received 28 service entries onthe the STSP forms, as well as 12 entries for Outstanding Catholic Laymen, Outstanding Catholic Youth, and Family of the Year. There were many great submissions, which made it difficult to narrow down the entries to our winners.  Thank you to all the councils and everyone who submitted entries.  It was interesting to read about the many unique ways Knights provide service to their parishes, families, and communities. The following 6 Program Award Winners will be forwarded to Supreme for consideration in the International Service Program Awards.

You can click on each Project link to see the council's actual detailed submission.

CHURCH PROJECT   All Saints Council #9441 in Clinton - Project: BUILDING A SPIRITUAL GARDEN AND GROTTO   (click HERE to view Full Project Entry)


When the old rectory was torn down, the church was left with an empty lot that was an eyesore for many months.  The parish priest had a vision of building and installing a spiritual garden and a grotto for people to come pray to our Mother Mary.  The Knights worked with the Parish council and the women's club to raise the necessary funds for supplies, bricks, topsoil and mulch needed to help beautify the Sacred Heart campus and complete this project.  They also had soup and spaghetti dinners and brick sales with names engraved in the bricks as the major fund raisers.  After the the construction of the grotto was complete, members of the Archdiocese came to Sacred Heart in Clinton to dedicate the spiritual garden as Father held a special mass on November 6, 2016. Immediately following the mass and dedication of the Grotto and spiritual garden, the Knights prepared a spaghetti dinner for the entire church.  (Event Chairmen Ricardo Hutchins, Larry Rardin & GK Tom Klotz, DD#26 Andrew Miller)

COMMUNITY PROJECT   St Pius X Council #3433 in Indianapolis – Project:  CHILI CONTEST FOR THE VETERAN'S HONOR FLIGHT PROGRAM   (click HERE to view Full Project Entry)

The Council’s Club chef’s father is a World War II veteran and the Club also is the meeting place for a World War II Veterans Historical Society.  The Club chef mentioned the Veterans Honor Flight Program to some of the council members and asked for assistance with a fund raising activity to send veterans on the honor flight to receive recognition in Washington DC.  They held a chili cooking contest on Oct.23rd with seventeen entries and served three hundred visitors who paid ten dollars admission for the chili lunch and entertainment. The complimentary chili was provided by the contestants. Several World War II and Korean War veterans were present. Entertainment was provided by a teenage girl’s Acapella group that sang war period songs and the Boy Scouts of America Central Indiana Council Band played patriotic music.  The proceeds were adequate enough for the council to present a check for the cost of sending three veterans on an Honor Flight. (Event Chairman, GK John Kohlbacher, DD#23: Richard Ryan)

COUNCIL PROJECT   Nativity of Our Savior Council #9114 in Portage – Project:  PERMANENT YEAR-ROUND OUTDOOR NATIVITY SCENE AND BUILDING   (click HERE to view Full Project Entry)

For over 40 years, Nativity of Our Savior Church had an outdoor ‘seasonal’ Nativity Scene that was originally designed by brother Knights. Each year it was assembled and disassembled often in freezing weather by the Council members. Twice in the 3 years it was blown over by severe winds almost destroying it and requiring immediate repairs to be ready for Christmas day. The Knights succeeded in repairs and reassembled it in freezing weather. It became obvious something had to be done and several knights presented a plan to the council to build a permanent Nativity Scene and since the parish is called Nativity of Our Savior, having a permanent Nativity scene seemed appropriate. The goal was to build something that would be around for at least the next 50 to 100 years with minimal maintenance. The cost was estimated to be $20,000.00.  Money was raised through many council fundraisers. This was a team effort, with over 650 volunteer hours from the Knights of the council, who used their time, talents, and ideas for the project over a couple of years. Once the plans were decided, the construction by the knights began.  The concrete sidewalk poured around the exterior of the Nativity Scene is in the shape of the cup of a chalice.  Framing of the structure, along with the roofing, soffit, and facia, was performed by the labor of the knights.  A stone exterior was installed along with the large glass front window.  During this time, some of the knight’s wives worked on the restoration of the life size Nativity Scene figures. After the electrical was installed, with the help of council knights who were electricians, special LED lighting fixtures were installed along with cameras, so anyone could view the scene over the internet. Exterior Speakers were also installed and religious Christmas music can be heard 24 hours a day for the enjoyment of visitors.  Roses and landscaping bricks were installed by the knights around the sidewalk of the structure.  The building and scene was donated to Nativity Parish by the Knights, with a large plaque on the building scene to the parishioners of Nativity of Our Savior Parish.  The scene is on the church access road in front of the church on a main street in Portage with many people driving by and viewing the scene every day. (GK-Bill Pritchard, DD#5: Rich Rajski)

CULTURE OF LIFE PROJECT   Msgr. Hoffmann Council #13003 in Merrillville – Project:  DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD RALLY   (BIG entry - click for PART1 or PART2)

The purpose of this project for the Culture of Life State winner was to bring awareness of the need to defund federal tax funds to an organization that performs abortions. The council decided to participate in a Nation-wide movement taking place on February 11TH that brings attention to the general public, about the fact of our tax money, to the amount of one-half billion dollars, is given, without restrictions, to a business that performs abortions. The Planned Parenthood organization disguises itself as a women's care facility, but in actuality, the only thing that the doctors do is arrive at the facility in time to perform abortions. They do not see patients, diagnose illnesses, or dispense medicines. The council contacted persons in the Gary diocese, informing them about a local representation of the National Rally. The council's Rally Chairman was registered as event coordinator with the national organizing "Pro Life Action League", and put their own rally together at a local Merrillville, Indiana abortuary. They had Priests and Pro Life activists speak at the event. They also passed out copies of prayers to be recited together. It was an ecumenical event and attracted 200 Pro Life advocates.  (Event Chairman Mike Velasco, GK Larry Beishline, DD#3: James Premeske)

FAMILY PROJECT   Mary, Queen of Peace Council #11896 in Danville – Project: FEEDING THE HOMELESS   (click HERE to view Full Project Entry)

Family Promise is an organization that assists homeless families in Hendricks County, Indiana. This is an ongoing and recurring activity hosted at Mary, Queen of Peace. Since its inception, the Council has been a huge proponent of supporting the community, youth, families, and the church. One of the more innovative efforts of the council has been the support of the homeless. Since 2009 several members of the council have regularly taken food, clothing, and toiletries to homeless members in the Indianapolis area. Once a month, they used money and time donated by the council to take meals and supplies to homeless that lived on the outskirts of Indianapolis. In recent years, since these homeless had been relocated, the group modified their plan to support the Family Promise organization of Hendricks County. This organization supports families who have found themselves without a home and provides a place to sleep and 2 meals/day while they work to get employment and a permanent place to stay. The council members supported the effort of providing living space once a quarter for a week at the facility. The council provided $500 for rugs and furnishings as well as volunteers to stay various nights with the guests. The members served as a point of contact and safety for the overnight stays. Over the past 2 years, the team of parishioners and K of C members has helped to support various families in this program for 4 weeks. With the excellent planning by the group, they have helped alleviate the stress on several families which has allowed them to find permanent work and housing. The K of C also provided a free buffet breakfast on Mother’s Day for the families staying during one week of support. (Event Chairman Mark Richardt, GK Michael Wigger)

YOUTH PROJECT   St. Michael the Archangel Council #12177 in Schererville – Project:  SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN CHRISTMAS PARTY   (click HERE to view Full Project Entry)

This Council reached out to the Special Needs Kids of the community and let them know they are loved and appreciated during the Christmas season. For the past 15 years, PGK, Deacon Ron Pyle has been organizing this event. The special needs kids of the community get to experience some traditional Christmas fun. They get to play games for prizes and do some craft work. The patrons are also entertained by the local scout troop and other youth as they help run the games and crafts. It almost seems like the patrons would rather interact with the younger people, and the youth groups enjoy helping them. This also helps the youth realize that leading a normal life should not always be taken for granted and that all life is a precious gift from God. The patrons, along with their parents and guardians, get to enjoy Christmas story time. After that, St. Nick comes to pay a visit and of course, they all recognize who that is and excitement fills the room. The council hopes to continue this tradition for as long as they are blessed to do so. This is one of the council’s ways to give back and a way to show gratitude and love to the people that sometimes get overlooked in society. (GK Robert Hanson, Jr., DD#2: Dave Negrete)

Keep in mind that we received many excellent entries, and these are a small fraction of the many service activities credited to councils in Indiana so far this fraternal year. As State winners, each of the six previously mentioned Outstanding Service Project entries will now move on to The Supreme Council where they will be competing internationally. Good Luck to all!


This council sponsored a group of 9 Knights and parishioners to travel to Simon Brute College Seminary in Indianapolis to provide dinner for 30 seminarians and 3 priests. They served several kinds of chili, summer sausage, cheese and crackers and a large assortment of desserts. The group spent time talking with the 3 seminarians from the Batesville Deanery; which includes Eamonn Daily, Andrew Alig and Charlie Wessel; then toured the College Seminary. The seminary is anticipating significant growth this coming year. The delegation promised the seminarians their continued prayers during their discernment process.

Now, we’ll turn our attention to the individuals and families that councils choose to honor:

OUTSTANDING CATHOLIC YOUTH 2017 – Sarah Swanson was nominated by St. Thomas More Council #7431 in Mooresville   (click HERE to view Full Entry)

A senior at Mooresville High School, she plans on attending IUPUI to pursue a career in civil engineering.  She was raised by a single mother who always encouraged her to grow in faith and academics. She has a brother and sister and additionally 3 half-sisters on her father’s side. In addition to being an A-student and in the National Honor Society, Sarah is involved in her church.  Her band director says she a strong student leader and is an exemplary role model who is always willing to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, whether she wants to do it or not.  She is respected academically and socially by her teachers and peers.  She has been a member of Full Orchestra, Jazz Band, and Pit Orchestra.  She is also involved in Pioneer Regiment, Concert Band, and Pep Band while being involved in the school’s orchestra.  She can play a total of 4 instruments - the Flute, Piccolo, mellophone, and Violin. The music coordinator at St. Thomas More let us know that Sarah was an altar server at an early age and served for several years. She helped with their Vacation Bible School for many years and was very good working with the younger children. She is a very fun-loving young woman with a bubbly, enthusiastic personality. Sarah has also volunteered over the years with her Church’s Annual Applefest Festival fundraiser and was a participant in the Homeland Mission with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.  She is a former member of Venture Scouts.  These were all great and humbling experiences for her that helped her grow in faith and in God. 

OUTSTANDING CATHOLIC LAYPERSON  – SK John Becker nominated by St. Vincent Council #11353 in Fort Wayne   (click HERE to view Full Entry)

Through the Timothy P. Galvin Outstanding Catholic Layperson award, the State recognizes an individual’s contributions to the church and the community. John’s occupation involves finance and insurance and he is the president of Advocate Financial.  Using his knowledge, over the years his charitable efforts include raising funds for the following:

  • Rebuilding a single mother’s home
  • a kidney transplant patient
  • the New American Youth Ballet
  • Catholic Redeemer Radio
  • University of Saint Francis Business School
  • a high school in Moshi, Tanzania
  • funding Seminarians in Tanzania, India and in Nigeria
  • St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital
  • as well as helping needy Fort Wayne families at Christmas

John Becker is also Founder & President of Worldwide Seminarian Support (WSS), a nonprofit foundation founded in 1993, which has funded 56 Catholic seminarians through to priesthood. WSS has raised over $1.4 million dollars towards Catholic seminarians education, school buildings, water wells, and other third world community needs as well as being instrumental in the construction of a seminary in Tanzania. Although the OCL award winner does not have to be a member of the KofC, John Becker is an active 4"' Degree Knight at St. Vincent's Catholic Church, and is a past Grand Knight in his Council. He is active with Rekindle the Fire men's group focusing on spiritual development of men. He is also a Committee member for Boy Scout Troop 2 in Ft. Wayne, IN.

FAMILY OF THE YEAR  Brett and Paula Striegel family was nominated by St. Thomas More Council #7431 of Mooresville   (click HERE to view Full Entry)

They have 3 children who all are active in various church programs. Brett is an EMS in the community, working with the Southwest Indy fire department, and is a teacher volunteer and volunteer lifeline pilot. His wife is an elementary teacher, and his children outside of church are involved in scouts, school activities, food drives, band, track, cheerleading, and choir. Brett has been an active member of the Knights of Columbus for 14 years.  He has held many offices from Warden to Grand Knight, council Trustee, Membership director, Special Olympics Ambassador, Family Chairman, and Chairman of the annual Fish Fry and working with the Tootsie roll drive.  Brett served on the parish Council at St. Thomas More for 4 years, and also was the monthly social chairman, breakfast chairman and cook for 4 years. Brett is currently a Eucharistic Minister, Usher, church door ambassador, and is an active participant in the church’s Adoration Chapel. His children are altar servers, they run the video display for Mass, and assist their parents in tasks that need to be done. Brett and his family have volunteered many years and have put in many hours at the church’s annual parish Applefest fundraiser: cooking, parking, security, setup, and tear down, just to name a few. Brett has also volunteered many hours to the Mooresville Community. Some of his activities include assisting at the Halloween Hike passing out candy, volunteering many hours at the Mooresville Old Settlers Fair which is a 3 day event, participating in their parade and helping in the K of C food tent and the Knights Tootsie roll drive.  Brett was also on the YMCA board of directors for 3 years. When the Striegel family is seen at church or in the community, they are always together, participating and working together. In a letter from a St. Thomas More priest, he says that when the Striegel family is seen in church, they have some assigned tasks, but the beauty is their versatility in picking up nearly any task and completing it. They are a family at church to serve, participate, each in their own way but all together as a family. When the church has festivals, cookouts, parade; if you see one Striegel, you will see them all. The Striegel family will be at most church socials. They don't walk in and sit, they ask what can be done; and if you don't give them an assignment, they will take it upon themselves to help.





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