After feasting on a fabulous fish dinner at a KofC fish fry, the program area directors met in mid-March to review the submitted entries in all program areas and make their selections. We received 34 service entries, as well as 15 entries for Outstanding Catholic Laymen, Families, and Youth. It was very interesting to read about the many unique ways Knights provide service to their parishes, families, and communities. 


CHURCH 2016 (Santo Rosario Council #14449 in Indianapolis - DD#18: Mike Hill)

This year’s service award winner under the Church category, is a council project that addressed the catechetical knowledge of church members by sponsoring, promoting, and educating people about an Indulgence Walk at two historic cemeteries. Through their proper disposition and activities, the participants served the church by gaining indulgences for the Poor Souls in Purgatory during the 1st week of November. They also learned about the historical significance of some deceased Catholic individuals in Indianapolis. Let’s congratulate Event Chairman Bradley Williams, GK Lee Ashton, and any members present from Santo Rosario Council #14449 in Indianapolis as the Church Service Award winners for 2016.


COMMUNITY 2016 (St Clement Council #10257 in Boonville – DD#36: Ed Boudreau)

This next council put in over 350 man hours to provide a day of outdoor fun for individuals with special needs. The participants and chaperones were treated to a safe and enjoyable environment for food, sunshine, and activity on the shores of Lake Last Cast in their 16th annual Special Needs Fishing Tournament. 104 people caught 348 fish (2321inches) in 3 hours, and an awards ceremony recognized each participant. Please join me in congratulating Event Chairman Bob  Hildenbrand, GK Dennis McVey, and any members present from St Clement Council #10257 in Boonville as the Community Service Award winners.


COUNCIL 2016 (St Joseph the Carpenter Council #13968 in Lebanon – DD#21: Ted Shay)

This year’s winner of the Service Project award in the Council category brought Knights of Columbus and its partnership with Special Olympics directly into the public eye by participating in the town’s Fourth of July Parade. Safety rails were installed on a flatbed trailer and decorated with streamers, an identification banner, and U.S., Papal, and KofC flags. 20 Special Olympians joined Knights and family members riding or walking along the 2? mile route while distributing 15 cases of KofC tootsie rolls in this huge community event that is the peak of a week-long celebration. Let’s recognize Event Chairman Walt Peycha, GK Dave Doran, and any members of St Joseph the Carpenter Council #13968 in Lebanon as the 2016 Council award winners.


CULTURE OF LIFE 2016 (Nativity of Our Savior Council #9114 in Portage – DD#5: Richard Rajski)

In order to bring together youth, young adults, families, and others in unity to march in hope and love for all life, this next council coordinated a pilgrimage from Northwest Indiana to the March for Life in Chicago. They created more awareness and attracted more people by advertising in the Catholic newspaper, church bulletins, and sending mailings to Priests and the Pastoral Center. They also worked with multiple organizations to secure funds in order to supply complimentary transportation and lunches for each of the 132 participants. Please join me in congratulating Event Chairman Brian Huber, GK William Pritchard, and any members from Nativity of Our Savior Council #9114 in Portage as our Culture of Life Service Award winners for 2016.


FAMILY 2016 (St Pope John Paul II Council #16008 in Highland – DD#2 Jeff Gadbois)

Our next council wanted to address the needs of a young family upon the unexpected death of the father. Upon hearing of the passing of Police Officer Shawn Smith, this council organized a fundraiser to benefit his wife and two small children. The dinner and silent auction, which took place at their parish hall, was preceded by a lot of background work, advertisement, and solicitation of local businesses. Through their efforts, over 500 members of the community came together to honor this man and to support his family – both emotionally and financially – and a donation of over $15,000 was given to them. Let’s recognize Event Chairman Robert Mikuly, GK Robert Hornback, and any members of St Pope John Paul II Council #16008 in Highland on their outstanding Family Service Project.


YOUTH 2016 (Annunciation Council #5581 in Ireland – DD#32: Bernie Fallon)

Several years ago an individual, having experienced a terrible personal loss in his family, chose to respond with a positive action. In thinking about the needs of youth in situations similar to his own, he purchased and donated a teddy bear to provide comfort to someone he didn’t know, and that small action started a personal tradition that eventually grew into this year’s Outstanding Youth Service Project. This council has taken up Brother Jesse’s mission by raising and donating funds to provide teddy bears to the local ER, Urgent Care Centers, and other organizations, so children in frightening situations have something to hold onto. This year they also initiated a Remembrance Walk to honor loved ones in which 250 walkers raised over $3700 for the ongoing project. Please help me to congratulate Event Chairman & GK John Wilz, Jesse Bachman, and any members present from Annunciation Council #5581 in Ireland as this year’s winners for the Youth Service Project Award. 

Keep in mind that we received many excellent entries, and these are a small fraction of the 1150 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!


VOCATIONS AWARD  2016 (St Aloysius Council #13142  in Yoder – DD#15: Mark Michuda)

To continue to emphasize our awareness of the need for Religious Vocations, the Indiana State Council also recognizes the best Vocations Project each year. After contacting their Bishop to see how they could help in the Diocese, this council began a multi-year project to financially assist the Seminarians among the Franciscans Friars Minor in Ft Wayne. Each year since 2011, they have organized, promoted, and prepared a meal and prayer service to bring several councils and assemblies together with Friars, Priests, and their Bishop. This provides an opportunity to hear about the progress of the Seminarians (currently 5), the Friars Minor (grown from 9 to 30), and the Diocese in general. At this Bishop’s Leadership Meeting, those groups in attendance present checks representing their efforts in support of the Brothers in the seminary, as Diocesan funds can not used for this purpose. With over $16,000 raised this year, the combined effort totals over $90,000 over the past five years. Please help me in recognizing Event Chairman Tom Wyss, Grand Knight Alan Gunkel, and DD & PGK Mark Michuda from St Aloysius Council #13142  in Yoder as this year’s Fr McGivney Vocations Award winner.


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


       In addition to being an A+ honor student taking challenging courses and a member of several academic clubs and honor societies, our selected winner for the Outstanding Catholic Youth award and scholarship also demonstrates a quality character through her actions. Nominated by Fr Thomas J Kelly Council #6923, and present today with her parents and brother, Dinara Heidler is a senior at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers. One interesting aspect of her application form was the way she listed specific examples within the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy to illustrate how service to others is an integral part of her life. Dinara detailed multiple times that she helped to provide food, clothing, water, instruction, comfort, and counsel in school, parish, and individual situations. 

       In her parish, Dinara has helped with the weekly Religious Education classes and Vacation Bible School for younger children. While continuing to meet with the Lifeteen/Encounter youth group, she also helped found and now participates in the Daughters of Wisdom, a youth group specifically for high school girls. During her time as an officer, she re-invigorated the Riley Dance Marathon Club at her high school by working to improve awareness and morale while personally participating in fundraising activities and asking for donations. Through her leadership, the club raised over $18,000 last year to benefit Riley Hospital for Children and looks to do the same this year. She has witnesses to and demonstrates Catholic principles. Heading toward a career as a CPA to work in finance, please help me to congratulate Dinara Heidler as our 2016 Indiana KofC Outstanding Catholic Youth.



       Through the Timothy P Galvin Outstanding Catholic Layperson award, the State recognizes an individual’s contributions to the church and the community.  This year’s winner, SK David Rihm, is a retired CPA that comes from St Thomas More Council #7431 in Mooresville. Though nominees for this award are not required to be Knights,  Dave has been very active in his local council for many years. He has been the chairman for each of the “tootsie roll” drives, the citrus drives, & the newspaper recycling drives for over 3 decades, but he has been the council’s Financial Secretary for ONLY 29 years. An addition, he been the Treasurer of the Central Indiana Chapter and a Deputy Commander in his Assembly for many years. Dave has also served his community by taking active role of Treasurer in the Optimist Club, his homeowners association, and local youth soccer league. He has also worked as the Bulletin editor and Fund Raising Chairman for the Optimist Club for many years. Continuing to help his fellow man, Dave has donated 20+ gallons of blood.

       Dave Rihm’s service to the church doesn’t end with his local KofC council involvement. He has been an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion & Mass Coordinator in his parish for 36 years. He has been a member of 4 different building committees and, you guessed it, volunteer accountant for 20 years in the parish – assisting with festivals and the Scrip program. Dave has been a participant in Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration for 25 years, and has been a group leader and captain for 7 of those. He has also worked with fundraising for the local Catholic college, Marian University in Indianapolis, for 7 years. He is here today with his wife, Ruth, and other members of his family, so it is my pleasure and privilege to recognize SK David Rihm as the Indiana KofC Outstanding Catholic Layperson for 2016.


FAMILY OF THE YEAR 2016 – Jerry & Shari Mersch family

       Nominated by St Francis Council #1010 of Brookville, the Jerry & Shari Mersch family have faithfully persevered in the Pro-Life Movement for many years. They have made many trips to the March for Life in Washington DC as a family, as well as being chaperones with youth groups for different parishes. They have been involved in the Franklin County Right to Life for over 25 years, with Jerry currently serving as President. Jerry and Shari helped found and open the Gospel of Life Ministry Center, a Crisis Pregnancy Center and small Catholic library & bookstore in Brookville nearly 20 years ago, where Shari still serves as a counselor. Jerry has served as his local council’s Culture of Life chairman for over 10 years, and organized several events in the community. They have always included their children as a part of their pro-life work, and those children have continued that family tradition.

       The parents of 12 children, Jerry and Shari still consider raising & homeschooling their family to be their greatest pro-life accomplishment.  They are active members of SS Philomena & Cecelia Catholic Church in Oak Forest Indiana, where their boys, Rob 25, Jeremy 19 & Michael 17 are altar servers, and the children are involved in choir, boy’s club, and youth group.   Four of their oldest daughters, Michelle, Kristy, Emily and Julie have graduated from Steubenville University, Ave Maria College, and Christendom College.  Currently Jeremy and Jennifer are attending Christendom as well.  Michelle, Kristy & Amy are married and each has six children with Michelle & Kristy both expecting their 7th child this year.  Their daughter Lindsey 28, after graduating from Christendom College, joined a Carmelite order. The entire family made the trip last summer for her profession of final vows, since Sister Mary Joseph of Jesus now resides in California. Please join me in recognizing the Jerry & Shari Mersch family as the Indiana State Council Family of the Year for 2016.


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