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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

Bishop celebrates Mass in Northfield for homeschool families

NORTHFIELD—Homeschooling mother Fiona Lugo drove for an hour and 45 minutes Sept. 21 so she and her sons could attend a homeschool Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church celebrated by their bishop.
 
“I want faith to be an integral part of their classroom, and an opportunity like this greatly enriches their homeschooling experience,” said the parishioner of All Saints Church in Richford.
 
Her sons, James, 14, and John, 11, had been at a Mass with the bishop once before, but for James, it was a special occasion to have lunch with him after in the church hall. “Road trip, skip school and the Mass” were the three things John liked that day.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne reflected on Jesus as a physician of souls during his homily and encouraged the students, their parents and the other members of the congregation to reflect on how they become spiritually healthy or maintain spiritual health. For some that might mean letting go of anger or something sinful; for others it might mean adding works of charity or prayer to their lives.
 
“Thanks be to God we do have this physician of souls,” he said.
 
Theresa Quizon brought her 5-year-old son, Ethan, to the homeschool Mass. “It’s not often there is a statewide homeschool Mass, and it’s an honor to have the bishop here,” said the parishioner of Ascension Church in Georgia who drove for an hour and 15 minutes to Northfield.
 
She homeschools her son in kindergarten, and she appreciates opportunities for homeschool families to get together and build community, especially a faith community. “You don’t feel so isolated when you meet other people in the same state of life and with the same vocation. This was a wonderful event to bring us all together,” she said.
 
Bishop Coyne sat with the families at a large table in the church hall, eating the lunch he packed that included an egg salad sandwich. He answered the children’s questions – like “When is your birthday?” – and spoke with parents about social justice activities in parishes.
 
Mallory O’Brien of St. John the Evangelist Church in Northfield attended with her three children; the oldest is in first grade. It’s important for her that her children be familiar with the bishop because “he follows in the way of the apostles” and is “responsible to guide the local church.”
 
For her, being part of the community and of the parish is important too.
 
“It was wonderful to get together with homeschool families from around the state,” commented Phil Lawson, director of evangelization and catechesis for the Diocese of Burlington. “Pope Francis likes to use the word ‘accompany.’ Events like today’s Mass and picnic, bring us together from around the state, strengthen our faith and help us as a community to accompany each other in our journey toward our heavenly home. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!”
 
  • Published in Diocesan
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