Knights of Columbus appreciates local priests, religious leaders

For 19 years, the Cardinal Mindszenty Assembly 727 and Councils Dunkirk 929, Fredonia 7921, Gowanda 15113, Silver Creek 5356 and Westfield 3100 of the Knights of Columbus have sponsored an appreciation dinner for the priests, deacons, seminarians and sisters connected to the local area.

This year’s dinner was held on Sept. 17 in the social hall of Holy Trinity Church in Dunkirk. Chairperson of the event was Lou Sinare, a fourth degree Knight and past Faithful Navigator. Dan Ulmer, a seminarian at Christ the King whose home parish was St. Joseph in Gowanda, served as emcee for the event. A graduate of Canisius College in Buffalo, he attends Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora. He is on course to become an ordained priest in 2021.

“The purpose of the Knights of Columbus,” explained Sinare “is to support the church. The dinner is one way to recognize the work the religious do.”

He thanked Holy Trinity, Deacon Jones and his crew and his brother Knights for their help organizing the event. He especially credited Ulmer for his hard work planning for the event which members of the Knights of Columbus as well as other members of the laity attend.

Frank Taddio and Joe Granata, Jr. offered beer, wine and pop prior to the dinner. A cheese and pepperoni platter was also available. Dinner was served family style.

Father Andrew Lauricella, Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Buffalo, spoke to those present. Although Buffalo ranks second in population in New York State, Lauricella said, “In the Buffalo area, instead of the six degrees of separation, it is more like two degrees. How small Buffalo is!”

He recalled celebrating a wedding at St. Vincent de Paul parish in Niagara Falls and knowing the participants. “It is beautiful to see the close connections,” he said.

Lauricella said, “Thank you for the prayers and support for vocations.”

At the present time, Christ the King Seminary has 35 seminarians, and Lauricella indicated that prayers have been answered for the church in the area of vocations.

He said that Roman Catholics are a “Eucharistic people” who serve where they fit and are indispensable to the entire body of the Church. He concluded by saying he is “a phone call away” and offered to do anything he can to help with vocations.

Newly ordained priest, Rev. Martin Gallagher, also spoke to the group.

He said, “I am grateful for the work of the Knights of Columbus.” He called the organization “a group of men grounded in prayer and devotion, especially to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Gallagher explained a rosary given to him by his father some time ago was from the Knights of Columbus. That same style of rosary is still available.

The priests who attended the dinner introduced themselves briefly. Rev. Walter Werbicki, who has been a priest for 60 years, demonstrated that his sense of humor is still intact and drew laughter from the group when he stated, “I am a prison chaplain. I’ve been told I belong in prison.”

In addition to the priests recognized, Sister Corona from St. Columban’s on the Lake and Sister Mary Andrew from Blessed Mary Angela Parish were recognized. Seminarians Kevin Upendran, Joseph Franz, and Patryk Sobczak were also introduced.