Villanova Fall Fest: Pro-life Values in Action

By Bill McCann

Our Phillies and Eagles have been making news this fall and with good reason. But there is another group of PA athletes making big news too. They met at Villanova University over the first weekend in November this year for the thirty-fourth time in the Fall Fest of Special Olympics Pennsylvania.

I visited Fall Fest to learn more and to talk to some of the participants. As someone who is totally blind and who has participated in a range of recreational sports from swimming rock-climbing to water skiing, I feel a natural affinity to these athletes and their friends and families. My own wonderful parents gave their blind son a bicycle for his sixth Christmas and my dad taught me to ride it that spring.

On a warm and sunny November Saturday, Hailey Fuzak, Director of Marketing and Communications for Special Olympics Pennsylvania, welcomed me to Fall Fest 2022. Immediately on arrival at Villanova, I could feel the excitement and positive vibes in the air. There really was something special going on with all of the clapping, cheering and high-energy music surging. Over a thousand athletes, their friends, and families, plus some three thousand volunteers had taken over the campus and were clearly having a rollicking good time.

We went over to the Connolly Center where the crowd of spectators maintained a hush while each powerlifter had a turn and then erupted into enthusiastic applause after each display of strength. Ms. Fuzak introduced me to Coach Pete Wilson from Lebanon Valley and two of his star athletes, Kyale and Matt. Coach Wilson let me know that he expects Matt to take the gold medal for powerlifting after bench pressing 220 pounds and “dead lifting” 264 pounds.

Kyale, another powerlifter, shared how much he enjoys training with his coach regularly a couple of nights per week. Kyale especially enjoys the social aspects of these events which have become not only chances for competition but reunions with friends.

In fact, athletes compete in seven sports: Bocci, long distance running and walking, powerlifting, roller-skating, soccer and volleyball. And, for the first time this year at Fall Fest, athletes are competing in flag football. Fall Fest is the largest, student-run special Olympics event in the world. Villanova students actively plan for Fall Fest throughout the year and pitch in in great numbers to make it all come together.

Coach Wilson expressed his appreciation for the local and national Knights of Columbus support for Special Olympics. For years now members of our own Knights of Columbus Council 13716 have served as volunteers for this uplifting event.

Mr. Wilson decided to get directly involved as a coach after retiring a few years ago as a way to give back. His daughter has participated in the program as an athlete for the past fifteen years. Working with athletes with intellectual disabilities has taught him patience; patience with them and patience with himself.

Marketing Director, Hailey Fuzak, who has been with the organization for three years now, clearly just loves her job. I asked her how it has changed her. She replied that her experience has strengthened her own personal conviction that everyone matters. “We all have different talents and strengths and there is no reason why everyone can’t be included.” Special Olympics works to get that message out. They practiced what they preach, as she says, by letting the athletes lead the way.

Everyone involved in Special Olympics is echoing the words of Our Lord” “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” Fall Fest was all about celebrating life. Congratulations and commendations to all involved including our own brother Knights of the St. Isaac Jogues Council 13716.

Stockings for Soldiers: Mission Accomplished!

This year’s Stockings for Soldiers parish project, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, was a resounding success! Thanks to the generosity of St. Isaac Jogues parishioners, we were able to deliver more than 40 boxes of donated items to fill stockings this year!

Stocking for Soldiers is an organization that sews holiday stockings and fills them with special items for the troops. For many troops, this gift is all they receive for the holidays and a reminder they have not been forgotten.

Many thanks to all those who donated and especially to Mark Saylor and other Knights who pitched in and helped!

Celebrating a Beautifully Restored Prayer Garden

On October 15, our council held a wine and cheese social to celebrate a herculean accomplishment—the refurbishment of St. Isaac Jogues Prayer Garden!

The renewal of the garden was made possible with the excellent leadership of Jeff Dutka and the tireless efforts of Jeff and two dozen other volunteers (Knights and other parishioners). The effort took 17 days and an estimated 350 person hours and included:

  • Pulling weeds from between all paver stones and all shrub and flower beds.
  • Power washing all of the paver stones, rosary stepstones, entry sidewalk, statues, statue bases, and the sitting wall.
  • Spreading mulch on all interior and perimeter shrub beds.
  • Installing a new fountain pump and spray head.
  • Scraping and painting the fountain pool.
  • Installing solar powered pool lights.
  • Planting mums around pool perimeter.
  • Starting troubleshooting and identifying electrical circuit breakers.
  • Cutting down seven dead trees and performing major pruning of remaining trees.

It was a stunning transformation and finished, as planned, in time for our special 9/11 Memorial Mass.

Thank you to Jeff and all those who participated.

Cheers!

Honoring St. Joseph in Prayer

On October 8, Knights along with family members, and other parishioners, attended a special prayer service in the chapel, led by Deacon Dan. The service, honoring St. Joseph and part of the Knights of Columbus Pilgrim Icon Program, included reading of Sacred Scripture texts and short writings by the last three popes on St Joseph. Custom prayer booklets were also created specifically for the service.

About the program and the St. Joseph icon

Every few years, the Knights of Columbus selects an icon of a saint whose patronage is particularly inspiring to Knights and their communities. Chosen icons travel from council to council and serve as a centerpiece for prayer services in parishes throughout the Order. 

The St. Joseph icon, blessed by Pope Francis, is the latest icon to be part of the program. And it made a week-long stop at St. Isaac’s, during which time, dozens of Knights and other parishioners had an opportunity to view the icon.

The icon image shows St. Joseph standing with his eyes cast humbly down, but with a determined strength in his face. In his covered arm he bears the Child Jesus, whose own hand is raised, blessing the world. In his right arm, St. Joseph holds a flowering staff, a sign that he was chosen by God. The white lilies of the staff signify his purity and chastity.

Taken together, the icon provides a window into the life and mission of this courageous father, a man who was one of us and yet called to a mission of incomparable significance.

Finally, the Knights would like to extend a very sincere thank you to Deacon Dan for leading us in prayer! 

How Do Some Delicious Crab Cakes Sound?

Back by popular demand, our Capt’n Chucky Crabcake Sale is underway! Be sure to place your order soon for these wonderful crab cakes, a perfect year-end holiday menu item, or simply a nice way to treat yourself. Best of all, the proceeds from the sale will benefit St Isaac Jogues Knights of Columbus sponsored events and local charities.

Be crabby, order today

Please download and print the order form, fill it out, and return it, along with a check, to: Knights of Columbus, P.O. Box 1452, Southeastern, PA 19399. Or, if you prefer, you can drop off your form and payment at the parish office. 

Copies of the form are also available at Church entrances and at the parish office at 50 West Walker Road, Wayne, PA 19087. The last day orders will be accepted will Monday, December 5.* 

Questions? Call Tom Pietrocini at 610-585-7884. 

Thank you in advance for your support! 

*By 2 p.m., if you are dropping off at the parish office.

Supporting our Ukrainian brothers and sisters

Our council is raising funds to bring much needed shelter, food, medical supplies, clothing and religious goods to displaced communities in Poland and western Ukraine. Donate today

A local connection to a far away country

Ukraine may be thousands of miles from St Isaac Jogues’ parish, but one doesn’t have to look far to find someone with ties to the country. Frank Yanni, a long-time Knight and one of the founders of our council, is one such person. Frank’s grandson Andrew met, and later married, Olga, a Ukranian woman he met while working in Prague. The couple eventually came to the U.S. and stayed with Frank for over a year. They now live with their daughter Milana in Rochester, NY, a city with a thriving Ukrainian community.  

Knowing of Frank’s family ties to Ukraine, friends of Frank spontaneously started sending him charitable contributions. In the end, donations exceeded $5,000 and were wired overseas and paid the entire cost of a surgery for a Ukrainian baby. The surgery was a success and baby fully recovered after being transported post-op to a children’s hospital in Brussels.  

You too can make a difference

Whether or not you have a personal connection to someone from Ukraine, your financial support can go a long way in providing relief to those affected by the humanitarian crisis brought on by the war. If you’ve been thinking about donating to this cause, please consider using the link above to do so.   

School supply collection concludes

Thanks to everyone who responded to our call for school supply donations. We collected 40 bags of supplies, which were later delivered to Martha’s Choice Market, an organization serving the needs of hundreds of area families. This end of summer school supply collection has been a council event for four years, and Martha’s Choice Market always greatly appreciates the donations.  

Also, a very special thank you to Mike DiNatale and Tony Cucchi for their efforts organizing the collection and for delivering the donations to Martha’s Choice Market in Norristown!  

Enjoying a meal and living out Father McGivney’s mission

 

On Saturday, July 30, we held our summer BBQ for veterans at the Coatesville VA Medical Center. A group of 20 volunteers, comprised of Knights and family members, served a full barbecue lunch of hot dogs, cheeseburgers, baked beans, and salads to over 60 residents.  

This year we were blessed with picture-perfect weather. And, best of all, volunteers had the chance to serve and connect with the many veterans in attendance.

Our BBQ is a loved Saint Isaac’s Knights of Columbus Council tradition, and a very tangible way our council lives out the mission of our founder, Father Michael McGivney’s mission—to serve each other, our parish, and our community. 

Food and fellowship

Knights and their families enjoyed a wonderful meal and conversation at our potluck dinner on June 11. As part of this well-attended event, our council took time to give special recognition to two of our members, Jack Marchiano and Russ Hendrickson.

Jack, one of the founders of our council, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award—to honor his extraordinary achievements, in particular for serving as our Financial Secretary for many years. And Russ was recognized as Knight of the Year for all of his hard work, especially his efforts to attract new members.

Our council is extremely grateful to Russ and Jack for their years of service to the Knights of Columbus and to our country. 

Knights Sponsor Another Successful Blood Drive

On June 10, our council held a St Isaac Blood Drive—and it was a big success. We had over 50 donors come out and donate blood and platelets!

The Knights and The Red Cross wish to thank the generous parishioners of St Isaac Jogues and Father Moerman for their support of this important effort.

If you weren’t able to make it to this event, you can still help. To find a donation site, please visit redcrossblood.org or call 800-733-2767.