Who are the Knights of Columbus?
Supreme Knight Kelly thanked Past Supreme Knight Carl Anderson for his 20 years of faithful leadership, during which time the Order grew dramatically in every measurable way: “Our charitable donations soared by more than 60%. Insurance in force nearly tripled. Membership rose by nearly 400,000 and surpassed 2 million. And the Order expanded internationally for the first time in a century, to Europe and mainland Asia.”
In 2020, the supreme knight reported, the Knights of Columbus donated more than $150 million and volunteered more than 47 million hours to serve their communities, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Under the banner of the Leave No Neighbor Behind initiative, Knights donated nearly $7.7 million to community and parish projects, as well as 1.2 million pounds of food and almost a quarter million pints of blood. They supported nearly 300,000 struggling parishioners and brother Knights, with a special focus on Indigenous families across the continent.
Those charitable efforts were completed alongside the Knights’ ongoing activities, including these highlights from 2020:
$3.2 million and nearly half a million volunteer hours for the Special Olympics
$1.5 million for disaster relief programs
More than 100,000 coats given to children in need throughout the U.S. and Canada, resulting in 800,000+ “Coats for Kids” over the past 12 years
Milestone of 100,000+ wheelchairs donated around the world over the past 18 years, in partnership with the Global Wheelchair Mission
$4.4 million for persecuted Christians in the Middle East, with total Middle East relief efforts standing at more than $30 million, and new efforts focused on Nigeria
Spearheading the campaign to organize a Council was a member by the name of Louis Visnack. Working closely with him was District Deputy (DD) John Downs who had been assigned by State Deputy Dr. John T. Murphy to oversee the creation of the council. Their vision became reality, when on June 21, 1952 one hundred members signed the roster to institute and eventually a Charter was issued by the Supreme office to Lansing Council #3540. John Downs was appointed the first DD for the Lansing Council.
Once the rolls were signed, and new members initiated, an election of officers for the new Council was held. Because of his extreme interest in forming the Council, Louis Visnack was elected the Charter Grand Knight. Other elected council officers were;
Benjamin Cannon, Deputy Grand Knight
Walter Trock, Jr. Chancellor
Irvin H. Neltner, Recorder
Stanley Rzonca, Treasurer
Edward Sullivan, Advocate
Julius Schoettle, Warden
C. Christian, Inside Guard
George Hawley, Outside Guard
J. Carroll, Thad Ludwa and Vincent Koefelda, Trustees
John Wozny, Lecturer
Fr. Bellerive was appointed Council Chaplain
Richard Mauch, Financial Secretary.
The Solid foundation laid by those who were instrumental in founding the Council has continued through 46 Grand Knights and the Council Officers through these sixty years have made Lansing Council what it is today. The Lansing Council has seen a steady growth in membership to where it numbers in excel of 480 members. While space does not permit listing all of the Charter members, many of their names are included in the roster of past Grand Knights. Their interest and service to this council has earned our lasting gratitude.
In the early years of the council, the officers and members witnessed an expanding population and development of the community. They visualized some of the problems that would arise, especially in the area of recreational facilities for the Youth of Lansing. With the same zeal that inspired these men to form the Council, they began to lay plans to develop a recreational area. To best accomplish this project, a K C Youth Foundation was formed and chartered by the State of Illinois on October 6, 1954.
Once chartered, the officers and members purchased 22 acres of land with a lake, but that was only the beginning. The recreational facilities had to be developed, and much work had to be done. Again these members met the challenge with the same driving spirit. Work progressed and they saw their dream become reality with the Grand Opening of the Lansing K C Youth foundation building on April 26, 1958.
This was only the beginning and work continued with the planting of; grass, trees, the laying out of baseball and football fields, erection of a picnic pavilion and the stocking of the lake of fish. Each of these projects took time, but the members never lost sight of looking for ways to improve and beautify their facilities.
Over the years two additions have been made to enlarge the K C Youth Foundation Building. In 1961, an addition was added to the south side of the building which included the Walnut room. In 1976 an addition was made on the west side. This addition increased the size of the Walnut room, with an office, new washrooms, a new entrance, and a storage room (which eventually turned into the current Lounge). The name of the Walnut room was changed to the Columbian Room.
Today our spacious grounds and beauty are most visiting council’s envy. It is no wonder that Brother Knights from other councils have referred to the Lansing Council as the “Country Club Council”. This is certainly a tribute to those dedicated members who shared their dreams, ideas, plans and hard work to make the Lansing Council a living memorial for our Council, our order and our Community. This is just one example of what can be done by a dedicated organization founded on the principles of CHARITY, UNITY, FRATERNITY and PATRIOTISM. To these dedicated men, we give our sincere gratitude.
The fourth Degree has always been an integral part of the Council. These members having received the highest degree of the Order have not only chaired various committees but have always been ready to serve in the Honor Guard for the Hierarchy of the Church and at religious functions. They are also on call to appear in Civic parades and to stand guard at wakes for a Sir Knights who has passed away. As a fitting tribute to one of their fallen members, a chalice in his name is presented to a Priest or parish to be used in offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Many Council members’ wives became interested in the work that their husbands were doing for the Council and the Youth Foundation. These ladies decided to form their own organization in 1963 and are known as the Columbian Ladies. Their objective is to promote social ability among their members and to assist in promoting the welfare of the Council. As a council, we are thankful for untiring efforts, dedication and continued assistance, in the establishment of the Columbian ladies.
Over the past sixty years, two new youth organizations were formed; for the young Catholic Men a Squire Circle known as Lansing Circle #2595 and chartered in April, 1976. In September, 1976, the Squirettes were formed for the Young Women. Both of these groups are under the guidance of counselors appointed by the Grand Knight for the squires and by the President of the Columbian Ladies for the Squirettes. Unfortunately due to the lack of interest of the youth, both organizations were disbanded in 1986.
Due to severe economic shortfalls which faced the council in the 1990's, the officers and members decided in March, 2005 to sell a majority of our existing 22 acres of land including the lake to the current owners Gardant Management company/dba St. Anthony of Lansing Assisted living.
As changes have taken place in our society and in the world has so has the order. With the passage of the 2014 Supreme Resolution # 340, the Supreme Knight at that time has asked every council using facilities owned by a home corporation to, "....undertake a serious assessment of how that relationship supports the council in its fulfillment of the core mission of the Knights of Columbus."
The Supreme Knight further explained, "Each and every council using facilities owned by a home association should, as soon as practicable, enter into the contractual agreements required in a resolution adopted by the Supreme Council as listed above."
This resolution which is now in effect requires that all councils with home corporations to have a new Charitable Use Distribution agreement. The Lansing council # 3540 in 2016 now has an executed agreement in place with the Columbian Club of Lansing, to keep the council meetings here at Kasey's for decades to come.
In our Sixty-Ninth year of existence, we cannot have made it this far without the help of the following Past Grand Knights:
1952-53 Louis Visnack
1953-54 Benjamin Cannon
1954-57 Chester W. Martin
1957-58 Dr. Joseph Murphy
1958-60 Stanley W. Lennon
1960-61 George L. McNamara
1961-62 Joseph E. Zmija
1962-63 Paul Suter and Chester W. Martin
1963-64 Clem Gargula
1964-65 John J. Gulotta
1965-66 Emil Sterbenc
1966-67 William E. McCarthy
1967-68 Chester J. Simmons
1968-69 Robert L. Knoerzer
1969-70 John A. Haney
1970-71 William A. Becker
1971-73 Charles D. Yates
1973-74 Edward M. Olejnik
1974-76 John Barran
1976-78 Edward R. Rosinski
1978-79 Edward F. Prystalski
1979-80 Frank Bukowski
1980-81 Walter G. Jonassen
1981-82 James T. Fill
1982-83 Joseph M. Kopf
1983-84 Al Mitchell
1984-85 Peter Briscoe
1985-86 Michael Melko
1986-87 John Calcitrai
1987-88 Joseph Matlon
1988-89 Al Torres
1989-90 Dan Bukowski
1990-91 Jerome Wayman
1991-93 Robert P. Blake
1993-95 James Bender
1995-96 Don Szala
1996-97 Joseph S. Blake
1997-99 William Linz
1999-00 Robert Fredrick
2000-02 Ken Cuprisin
2002-03 Howard Morrison
2003-05 Peter Marx
2005-07 Michael Murphy
2007-09 Rich Czarnecki
2009-11 Brian Fisher
2011-12 Bob Layne
2013-14 Michael Wysocki
2014-15 Dom Ramierz
2015-17 Matthew Martinez
2017-19 Chris Siatta
2019-21 Michael Kabala
2021 Roger Tyderek, Jr.,