Pillars of Faith, Family, Community and Life
Supreme Knight’s Awards Session recognizes outstanding Knights and council programs that put faith into action
“The Supreme Convention is so important to the life of the Knights of Columbus,” Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said July 31 as he welcomed more than 2,000 Knights, priests, bishops and special guests to the 141st Supreme Convention in Orlando, Florida. “It’s a time to come together with family and friends and celebrate the great mission that Father McGivney started.”
That celebration began in earnest Monday evening with the Supreme Knight’s Award Session, an annual event that honors exemplary Knights and councils. The supreme knight recognized the accomplishments of past state deputies and top-performing K of C insurance agents before presenting awards in each of the Faith in Action program categories: faith, family, community and life. He also introduced the International Family of the Year, the Cabrera family of Mooresville, Indiana, and presented the Blessed Michael McGivney Medal, which honors exemplary K of C chaplains, to Augustinian Father John Grace.
Last to take the stage was the popular folk rock band Scythian, who gave an energetic performance of Celtic tunes, Ukrainian ballads and original songs. Founded by brothers Alexander and Danylo Fedoryka — first-generation Ukrainian Americans and members of John Carrell Jenkins Council 7771 in Front Royal, Virginia — Scythian has donated digital album sales to the Knights of Columbus Ukraine Solidarity Fund. The band has also encouraged its many fans to pray for peace in Ukraine and assist refugees by donating to the fund.
More information, including videos, about the International Program Award winners, the Family of the Year and Blessed Michael McGivney Medal recipient can be found below.
Community Program of the Year
Members of Sts. Borys and Hlib Council 17740 in Fastiv, Ukraine, have transported several tons of relief supplies to aid victims of war, particularly those in areas once occupied by the Russian army. Together with their chaplain, the Knights collected food and other essential items from parishioners and delivered them to Bucha, Irpin and Makariv after Russia’s retreat from the Kyiv region in late March 2022. Council 17740 also was one of the first councils to deliver food boxes from the Polish Knights to the Kharkiv region after it was liberated in September.
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Council 17248 in Sławno, Poland, organized the town’s second annual Week of Christian Culture in October 2022, bringing local cultural institutions, civic authorities and the Catholic Church together to promote Christian values through words, music and images. The festival’s diverse events aim to reach a broad audience, including people not associated with daily Church life. In addition to a Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Krzysztof Zadarka of Koszalin-Kołobrzeg, the program featured concerts, an art exhibit, sports events, a blood drive and fundraising initiatives for the Work of the New Millennium Foundation, which helps talented youth in the poorer areas of Poland.
Family Programs of the Year (Tie)
In keeping with Blessed Michael McGivney’s mission to care for widows and orphans, St. Pius X Council 14574 in Rochester, Minnesota, developed a program called “Adopt a Widow” to support the spouses of deceased members. When a member of the council passes away, another Knight “adopts” his widow, offering important social contact and help, such as transportation or manual labor. The Knights currently serves 16 widows, who have developed close relationships with the council over the last two years.
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Council 17501 in Charlotte, North Carolina, helped rebuild a brother Knight’s house after it was destroyed in a fire. Oscar Garcia lost his son when the house burned down, and shortly after he died from COVID-19. Along with the parish, the council started fundraising to rebuild the family’s home, bringing in a total of $40,000 through a wide variety of business and personal donations. From April 2021 through January 2022, a group of 45 Knights and other volunteers worked more than 1,000 hours to complete the rebuilding of the house.
Life Program of the Year
The Michigan Knights of Columbus have doubled down on their commitment to life and their service to mothers in need following the historic repeal of Roe v. Wade in 2022. More than 150 Michigan councils have participated in the Order’s ASAP (Aid and Support After Pregnancy) program — more than any other jurisdiction. Together, they have donated in excess of $400,000 to more than 75 pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes throughout the state. They also continue to support the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative and currently have placed nearly 90 lifesaving machines in pregnancy centers and clinics. To give just one example of the Knights’ pro-life teamwork, councils in the Diocese of Lansing, led by Father John R. Day Council 2659 in Howell, helped raise $170,000 for a new mobile medical unit for Pregnancy Help Clinic. The mobile unit will travel between the campuses of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, as well as other areas, bringing essential care and services to women in crisis pregnancies.
International Family of the Year
The Cabrera family — Daniel and his wife, Maria, along with their children Sara (16), Daniel (11), David (10), Gianna (9), Joseph (6) and Fatima Lucia (2) — is an outstanding example of what it means to be a truly Catholic family.
Daniel is a member of St. Thomas More Council 7431 in Mooresville, Indiana, and the entire Cabrera family participates actively in council activities such as its weekly Sunday social event, monthly rosary and parish breakfast. The family helps clean the council meeting place after social events, and Maria often takes photos for the council.
Last year, the Cabreras helped organize a celebration for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which included a flower procession, traditional Mexican garb for kids in attendance and a lunch.
Members of the Cabrera family are also active parishioners at St. Thomas More Catholic Church. The children attend faith formation classes every Sunday. Sara, the eldest, belongs to the parish choir and participates in numerous parish groups. Eleven-year-old Daniel is an altar server, and David looks forward to someday following in his big brother’s footsteps.
In 2014, Daniel and Maria created an online ministry called “Daniel and Maria Online” to reach people nationally and internationally with articles, videos and interviews about the faith. They also conduct faith-based counseling through their website, which promotes life, marriage preparation and natural family planning. Daniel and Maria have been interviewed several times by EWTN en Español and EWTN Radio Católica Mundial about their efforts and featured in the show Nuestra Fe en Vivo. They also regularly organize Catholic conferences for the Spanish-speaking community.
Along with these efforts, the Cabreras are deeply involved in pro-life advocacy: They staff pro-life display tables at various Hispanic Catholic events, serve as facilitators of Rachel’s Vineyard retreats, and attend and collaborate with 40 Days for Life vigils. Daniel and Maria are spokespersons for Safe Haven Baby Boxes, and they worked with their children to create a pro-life club for young people.
In his letter nominating the Cabreras for International Family of the Year, Father Jude Meril Sahayam of St. Thomas More Parish praised “the Cabrera family’s faithful contributions, willingness to be involved, and tireless volunteer hours to our parish and community.”
Blessed Michael McGivney Medal
nstituted last year by Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly and the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors, the Blessed Michael McGivney Medal is annually awarded to a Knights of Columbus chaplain whose priestly zeal and exemplary service are in the finest traditions of the Order’s founder, Blessed Michael McGivney.
The 2023 recipient of the Blessed Michael McGivney Medal is Augustinian Father John Grace.
Father Grace, a member of St. Augustine of San Diego (California) Council 16237, has been a Knights of Columbus chaplain for 23 years. Born in Ireland, he was ordained in 1962 and worked as a missionary in Africa for 14 years and South America for 18 years before relocating to the United States in 2000.
In California, Father Grace began his legacy as a “Knights priest,” serving as chaplain to numerous councils, chapters and eventually the entire jurisdiction. Along the way, Father Grace encouraged California Knights in their charitable work and acted as guide and mentor to strengthen their faith. He actively promoted the growth of the Order, and his “membership prayer” is still recited through the state.
Father Grace became the Order’s first director of chaplains in 2009; for the next four years, he worked closely with Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori to develop the responsibilities of state and council chaplains. In 2010, he led a pilgrimage of state chaplains to Rome for the Year for Priests.
Supreme Knight Kelly also bestowed the Knights of Columbus’ St. Michael Award on Father Grace in November 2021 in recognition of his many years of exemplary service to the Order.