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Knights of Columbus from Norwich University find fraternity, opportunities for service

NORTHFIELD—Norwich University sophomore Brian Stringer is a busy young man: The cadet corporal is majoring in computer security and information assurance with a minor in criminal justice and serves as a college chaplains’ assistant. He’s also a bagpiper in the school’s pipe and drum band.
But he’s not too busy to be a Knight of Columbus.
He is the chancellor of the Msgr. Edward Sutfin Council #9146.
There are about 20 active Knights from the university with another 40 on the roster.
“We have unity in the corps” at the oldest private military college in the United States. “But we have brotherhood in the Knights,” Stringer said.
The Knights undertake a variety of projects including helping at parish dinners at St. John the Evangelist Church in Northfield -- where they have their degree ceremonies -- and assisting other councils with fundraisers, parades and recruitment.
“We’re trying to increase Knights’ participation in civic engagement projects,” said Grand Knight Alexander Derosa, a junior from Revere, Mass., majoring in business management.
The council also shares funds from its treasury for the education of seminarians for the Diocese of Burlington.
Members of the student Knights of Columbus council pay $15 in dues their first year and $12 for subsequent years.
Michael Carrara, a senior construction management major from Ocean, N.J., is past grand Knight and past worthy chaplain of the council. His paternal great grandfather passed on to him his Knights of Columbus ceremonial sword, and that drew him to join the organization before coming to Norwich University, where he helped reinvigorate the council his freshman year.
Derosa decided during his freshman year that he wanted to “get deeper” into his Catholic faith, and when he heard of the Knights’ council decided to “jump right in.”
A former deputy grand Knight, he said the fraternal organization is a place he can share his faith. “When you experience something as deep as your faith with a group, you get something deeper out of it,” he said.
Carrara appreciates having a place to express his faith and be a spiritual leader: “To teach is to learn again,” he said.
He recalled one evening when about 15 cadets in uniform walked together to St. John’s for a degree ceremony; they prayed the rosary together then still had time for camaraderie before they got to the church.
Derosa hopes to get members to the highest Knights of Columbus degree possible before they graduate and then see them participate in other councils. Asked if they would continue to be Knights after college, the three men enthusiastically said they would. “Yes!” “Absolutely!” and “Yes ma’am!” they replied to the query.
Stringer, of Jackson, N.J., a former council recorder, plans to go into the Air Force Officer Training School. Carrera will be commissioned in December for the Army, and Derosa expects to be commissioned in the Army in 2018. They are all in The Reserve Officers' Training Corps.
They understand the seriousness of their commitment and have struggled with the idea of war. “Our goal is to protect,” said Derosa who is a confidential advocate for victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse and rape and a volunteer at a soup kitchen in Barre. He is also in charge of supplies and logistics for the Norwich University Corps of Cadets.
Carrara is an emergency medical technician with the Northfield and Norwich University emergency medical services, participates in the Mountain and Cold Weather Company (military mountaineering) and is a resident advisor.
“An important part of being Catholic is not being an a la carte Catholic,” said Stringer, an altar server and lector at campus Masses who helps at St. John’s as needed. “Your life needs to reflect your faith.”
The Knights of Columbus, he said, “are a close-knit group of guys that wants to help each other and others.”
Father James C. Dodson, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Northfield and St. Edward Church in Williamstown, said the Knights of Columbus from the university “have done and continue to do a lot of work in the parish and in the community at large,” and he encourages more Catholic young men to get involved with that “wonderful organization.”
  • Published in Diocesan
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