Thomas Connolly (left) and Blake Drinka at the Knights of Columbus booth at the recent Carthage College Winter Involvement Fair. (Photo by Karen Mahoney)

A chapter of a well-known Catholic fraternal group has begun at a local Lutheran college.

About a year ago, Dr. David Kreutz, Knights of Columbus District Warden 67 and Grand Knight for Council 973, came up with the idea to start a chapter at Carthage College in Kenosha.

At the Jan. 31 Winter Involvement Fair at Carthage College, a group of five men were all smiles as they introduced their new Knights of Columbus Round Table.

“After recruiting five Carthage students this past fall and filing the paperwork to start a new club on campus, as well as finding a co-advisor, we have received approval for the Knights of Columbus Council 973 Knights Round Table at Carthage,” Kreutz said.

The founding members of the organization are Thomas Connolly, Kevin Lagunas, Phil Rizzitano, Blake Drinka and Jacob Harvey, who are all third-degree Knights.

“My dad is a Knight … and he has developed lifelong friendships because of the organization,” said Connolly, a Carthage freshman. “I think it is a great way to grow your faith, make friends and do some good.”

According to Connolly, President of the Round Table, they have worked with Kreutz since the beginning of the year to get this started.

“We have had meetings with staff to form the new organization,” Connolly said. “We decided to file the form, and thankfully, we have a faculty advisor now, Dr. Joseph Anderson, a physics professor.”

Carthage is a private college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, with an enrollment of about 2,600.

For Connolly, who is majoring in business management and accounting, he said the group was blessed to receive Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki’s support.

“I was serving Mass with him at St. Elizabeth’s Parish in Kenosha for a priest’s funeral. We had a conversation about what we are doing here at Carthage,” Connolly said. “The archbishop even mentioned me in his homily that day. Through him, I have been in contact with Fr. Jim Lobacz and others at the archdiocese. We are excited about being in the Knights and hope we can do a lot of service.”

So far, the new organization has assisted with the St. Anthony Food Pantry and participated in a charity free-throw contest, said Rizzitano, Vice President of the Round Table.

The sophomore is majoring in economics and accounting and is excited to be part of the fraternal organization.

“We shagged balls for 9- to 12-year-old kids from All Saints School and St. Joseph Catholic Academy,” Rizzitano said.  “We also helped raise $2,000 for Special Olympics.”

A Knights of Columbus presence may be established in one of two ways: by the institution of a new council or by the establishment of the Round Table program. Through the Round Table, a council works closely with the pastor of each parish or, in the case of Carthage College, with the group’s advisor. Currently, the Carthage College Round Table is part of the St. John Neuman Council 973. After the organization reaches 20 members, they can form a new council.

Said Kreutz: “We are well on our way, as we were able to recruit six new Knights at the Fair, which brings the group to 11 members.”

Through membership in the Knights, the men will grow in their faith through prayer, the sacraments, retreats and small group discussions. The organization promotes lasting friendships and leadership in college and beyond. They learn the best ways to serve the Church and the community through charitable programs and community initiatives conducted by their council. If the men attend events such as the annual College Councils Conference, World Youth Day, mission trips and the March for Life, members can network with their peers.

Most importantly, the membership continues after graduation. The Knights of Columbus is a fraternity that can support each man as they move to new cities and explore new career opportunities.

Kreutz said he is proud of these men and said they are making history.

“Since Carthage College was established in Kenosha in 1962, there has not been an established global Catholic organization on the campus,” he said. “Carthage has 28 percent Catholics enrolled, but only two Catholic organizations. The other group is called Catholics at Carthage, and we are hoping to partner with them to grow both organizations.”

Jim Bucher, the President of Catholics at Carthage and a senior majoring in accounting, said his group has about a dozen members.

“I also just joined the Knights,” Bucher said. “Catholics at Carthage hosts a weekly Mass where we usually get around 30 attendees; we also have club meetings, trivia questions, and discussions about faith and current events.”

Connolly hopes to get many men to join the Knights and plans to continue spreading the word to others.

For more information on joining the Knights of Columbus 973 Round Table, contact Thomas Connolly at For more information on Catholics at Carthage, contact Jim Bucher at