The Burlington community and churches have been served by a Knights of Columbus council for more than 100 years, but Immaculate Conception St. Mary Church now has one of its own.

It’s something Mike Raboine, grand knight of the Monsignor Joseph Heim Council 15665, said was needed to meet the parish’s needs and the needs of its pastor, Fr. James Volkert.

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“We wanted to form a council that’s focused on spirituality and serving the church specifically, the church and the pastor, which is what Knights of Columbus was originally all about,” he said. “That’s what Fr. Michael J. McGivney wanted – a Knights council at every parish to serve the pastor, to be like his right arm.”

The council, named after Msgr. Heim, pastor at St. Mary from 1949-1976, received official approval to form, and began the charter process, in summer 2012.

However, conflicts with Fr. Volkert’s schedule and a few snowstorms pushed the charter date off, which Raboine said was “providential,” because the council had 19 new members and 19 transfers when it was chartered on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, the same day that Pope Francis celebrated his inaugural Mass.

“We decided to consecrate the council to St. Joseph, and then we consecrated ourselves, individually, too, to St. Joseph – to Jesus through St. Joseph,” Raboine said, noting that the council aims to foster devotion to St. Joseph in the parish community and be a strong spiritual asset for men. 

The council, comprised of 48 members, ages mid-20s to early 80s, plans to continue sponsoring spiritual and faith formation initiatives at the parish – its main focus, and to serve at the parish fish fries during Lent, serve food at the parish festival, sponsor quarterly – to be monthly in 2014 – parish breakfasts for people in need, organize food drives for local pantries, participate in the K of C Tootsie Roll and Life Savers for Life campaigns, sponsor a youth leadership program, and take on projects that might be on the back burner in terms of priorities for the parish, like raising money to purchase a memorial for the unborn.

Raboine said starting a council with the right focus is significant in the Year of Faith.

“The Knights of Columbus really live out the new evangelization in a sense that they’re operating spiritually healthy and a good balance of corporal and spiritual works of mercy…” he said. “There’s no better way to live out the new evangelization than be a member of a strong council like that.”