By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
The 50th anniversary of the Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation was celebrated with a gala event Nov. 16 that included recognition of several significant donations, and a message of faith and reconciliation from keynote speaker Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas.
Representatives gathered from across the province for the celebration, which began with Mass celebrated at St. Peter Cathedral at Muenster, SK, celebrated by K of C Charitable Foundation Chaplain Fr. Tonny Dizy, Archbishop Chatlain, Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSU, Fr. Paul Paproski, OSU, Fr. Edward Gibney, and Fr. Denis Phaneuf. The Memorial Mass included a candle-lighting prayer ceremony, with Charitable Foundation board members reading the names of Foundation members and benefactors who have died in the past two years.
A banquet and program followed at St. Augustine Parish Hall in Humboldt, SK., with K of C Charitable Foundation Vice-President Mervyn Welter as MC. Past State Deputy and Associate State Chaplain Fr. Edward Gibney provided the opening prayer.
State Deputy Chris Bencharski brought greetings, expressing appreciation to all past and present Foundation board members for “your commitment and dedication and for all that you do – or have done – to promote the first important and most important principal of our order: charity.”
As the funding arm of the Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus State Council, the Charitable Foundation has made a difference in thousands of lives over the past 50 years, Bencharski said.
“Since 1969, the Foundation has dedicated its efforts to the core values of respect, integrity, compassion, hospitality and stewardship, and have provided help and given hope,” he said. “In the last 50 years, the Charitable Foundation’s programs and services have helped the poor, the sick, our youth, our bishops and priests, and the elderly.”
Bencharski also encouraged all Knights of Columbus in Saskatchewan to work together to reach the $1 million goal for a Vocation Education Endowment Fund established last year by the Foundation. A provincial fund-raising appeal for the fund will be held in February, he noted, encouraging all to assist and support in that campaign. “This will be our 50-year anniversary legacy for the Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation: to reach $1 million for the Vocation Endowment Fund in just two years,” he said.
On behalf of the State Council, Bencharski presented a plaque of appreciation to the Charitable Foundation, accepted by Foundation President and CEO Harvey Granatier, the first of several presentations and prize awards during the evening.
Address by Archbishop Murray Chatlain
Past State Deputy Martin Schneider of Saskatoon introduced the speaker for the gala evening, Archbishop Murray Chatlain, who described the beauty of the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas, and the culture and the devout faith of the people, as well as the challenges of geography, climate, poverty, healing and reconciliation in the northern diocese that stretches across 450,000 square kilometres across the northern half of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Archbishop Chatlain also reflected on the need to work toward reconciliation in Canada, especially in relationship with Indigenous peoples. Stressing the need for humility and conversion, he shared a quote from Carl Jung – “knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people” – and observed that the healing journey is a mutual one for all those involved.
“We have really recognized that reconciliation is a big thing. It is not going to happen easily or quickly,” he said, adding that there are no easy answers, and that our understanding will always be incomplete. “I applaud and encourage every way that you have walked in the settler world and in the Indigenous world together,” he said, urging his listeners to build bridges, and to take steps of reconciliation, respect and understanding.
“Another part of reconciliation is that there is going to be some anger, there is going to be some emotion, there is going to be some tension … but do not let that shut you down. Try to stay in the conversation.” He pointed to programs like Returning to Spirit that bring together Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people in a journey of healing as excellent vehicles to assist in reconciliation. “And the most important thing about reconciliation is to keep God in the heart of it. It is God’s work.”
The evening continued with presentations of appreciation by K of C Charitable Foundation CEO Harvey Granatier to family representatives and donors that have established endowment funds and grants through the Foundation, including to Stan Lewans, whose late brother George is remembered through the George J. Lewans Memorial Endowment Fund; to Alex Schamber and his late wife Marianne for the Alex and Marianne Schamber Endowment Fund for pro-life initiatives and the protection of the unborn; and to James Meier, who in memory of his late brother established the James and Lawrence Meier Grant, which is focused on providing an annual grant to projects that offer “food and nourishment for the less fortunate.”
“Thank you for coming out tonight and helping to celebrate with us,” said Granatier. He also thanked Mervyn Welter and his wife Adrienne for compiling a history of the Charitable Foundation from 1969 to 2019.
The evening concluded with a prayer led by Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB, of St. Peter’s Abbey.
The present Saskatchewan K of C Charitable Foundation Board of Directors include: President and CEO Harvey Granatier, Vice-President Mervyn Welter, Chaplain Fr. Tonny Dizy, Secretary Brad Lefebvre, Treasurer Garth Herbert, and members Marvin DeSchryver, Chris Bencharski, Ron Saretsky, Brian Schatz, Joe Riffel, Shawn Scherr, as well as Executive Director Gerry Gieni and Website Director Peter Folk.