By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Holy Trinity Knights of Columbus Council 8253 were recently recognized by the KC’s Supreme Council for their 25 years of service to the community.
In that time, the KCs have proven themselves to be knights in shining armor numerous times, but never more then when they have come to the aid of area farmers unable to do their own field work because of illness or injury.
“When I was grand knight, Doug Cantin died. We went out there that fall and picked all of his corn,” KC member Jerome Thiemann said. “Chopped his corn stalks and plowed all of his ground, all in one day.”
When Charles Weber of Howard Lake required heart surgery, 22 tractors, pulling 96 bottoms, blackened 140 feet of ground every round, according to the Howard Lake Herald Journal Oct. 10, 1975.
“We organized the work, but there were guys like Jim Baird and Gutzmanns that were there helping. You would get all of the neighbors,” KC member Fran Schommer said.
Don Schlagel of Howard Lake had a stroke in 1994, and another harvest bee was planned.
At Schlagel’s farm “Farm Horizons” reported 20 tractors, nine manure spreaders, three choppers, numerous wagons, two Cat tractors, four loaders, and about 50 neighbor farmers from around the area.
“The farmers didn’t get paid,” Grand Knight Jean Kappel said. “They used their own gas and tractors.”
Helping out the farmers is an easy way to see the KCs as knights in shining armor, but a lot of their work is done quietly, with little credit many projects most people would consider too much work.
One good example was an unusual assignment given to them in 1989, when 464 folding chairs, used in the social hall and the school, were considered in need of major repair.
The chairs were taken to Henry Hausladen’s in Lester Prairie, where they were welded and dipped in paint, restoring the chairs to like-new condition.
Another creative project took place out at the Bob Otto farm. This one revealed not only knights in shining armor but knights that were resourceful and clever.
An old trailer was donated by Jerome Thiemann and rebuilt to accommodate 15 commercial deep fryers. The trailer was a convenient way to haul the deep fryers, with a total of 30 baskets, for use at KC fish fries. Later, the fryers became indispensable equipment at Winstock.
Besides the use of their equipment, the knights have been called on to help out at the country music festival, donating many hours of service in a number of areas and assisting with visitor parking.
Maintaining Holy Trinity Church and its grounds is a big part of the knights’ duties.
They have restored the grotto area and Stations of the Cross, added the handicap ramp and railing on the north side of the Church, and continue to maintain the structure.
In 26 years, the Knights of Columbus have accomplished so many projects there are justtoo many to list all of them.
Skipping ahead to the council’s most up-to-date “knights in shining armor” project, all of the ceiling tile in the entryway, hallway, and cafeteria of Holy Trinity High School was paid for and installed by the knights.
The Holy Trinity Knights of Columbus were originally part of the Silver Lake and Waverly KCs, but in 1982, the state council asked to have a new council set up in Winsted. At that time, Hutchinson and Glencoe also split off from Silver Lake.
The first officers were Grand Knight Bryan Cafferty, Deputy Grand Knight Charles Weber, Recorder Francis Schommer, and Treasurer Ed Fasching (who is still treasurer to this day).
From the 50 members the council had in January of 1983, it grew to 169 by June of 1984. Today, there are more than 280 members, and the council continues to recruit new members.
“Being on the council was a good way to get our family involved in the community,” Kappel said. “And I think one thing we need to remind people of, is it is not just a men’s group, it is a family organization.”
The KCs took on two major fundraisers its first year which they continue to support today.
The Marathon for Nonpublic Education has made it possible for Holy Trinity students to raise thousands of dollars each year for their school.
While the students go out to get marathon pledges, the knights plan safe marathon routes for the students and their families, and then patrol the routes during the marathon. A luncheon is also provided by the knights for everyone attending.
The second fundraiser is the annual KC fish fry, which now serves approximately 3,000 people, many who drive a long distance because word has gotten out about the great meal served.
All of the dollars used for the Knights of Columbus projects have been funds raised by the knights.
“We like to help the parish and the community when they need something,” Kappel said. “But we want to be involved in making the decisions on how the money is doled out for the projects throughout the year.”
“We don’t keep any of the money. It is there to be used for charitable work,” Schommer said.
KCs is worldwide
The Knights of Columbus began in the basement of St. Mary’s church in New Haven, CT, in 1882, when Fr. Michael J. McGivney called together a small group of pioneering Catholic laymen and founded a society designed to provide financial assistance for the widows and orphans of its members.
Fr. McGivney’s original idea grew quickly into an organization of Catholic men and their families dedicated to promoting the concepts of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism.
Today, there are nearly 1.7 million members in 13,000 local units, called councils, in the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Panama, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and Saipan.
It is one of the largest Catholic lay organizations in the world.