Although the pandemic has limited activities for many church groups with community outreach focuses, the Knights of Columbus Council 11241 of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Boca Raton has taken this challenging time as an opportunity to adapted to their community’s needs.
“We are a real working council,” said Joseph Garofalow, a council member present at Our Lady of Lourdes Church with fellow knights Jan. 30 and 31 distributing thousands of eight-ounce-bottles of hand sanitizer to those attending weekend Masses.
The January service project was one of several new initiatives the council has carried out over the past year to keep its members connected and steadfast in mission during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Garofalow and his fellow Knights donned gloves and facial coverings to distribute 7,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, a commodity that has become a critical staple in past months. At times, the product is impossible to find on store shelves and can be overpriced, making it an expense for those who have lost work due to business closures.
Marie George, a parishioner, expressed her surprise and thanks when she was given a bottle of the sanitizer as she walked up to the church. “Is it free,” she asked. “Thank you. God bless you.”
Product Management Group, a Boca Raton company, donated seven pallets of the sanitizer to Scott Decubellis, grand knight of the parish council. Decubellis explained that the sanitizer was part of a surplus, and the company wanted to give it to someone who could put it to good use.
“I thought about my brother Knights and how it could be used to serve the community,” said Decubellis.
Council 11241 has more than 220 members ready to serve but, some of the organization’s traditional works of service have been put on hold or planned with new safety protocols in mind. With the onset of the pandemic, the council increased their commitment to keeping parishioners safe by adding new activities to their agenda. When local churches reopened in May 2020, the men stepped up to help their pastor, Father Eduardo Medina, with reopening measures and with a mind for moving forward.
The Knights have kept a watchful eye out during Masses making sure everyone is wearing a mask and social distancing. Council members also took charge of sanitizing the church after Masses cleaning the pews, rails and door knobs to make the environment clean and virus free.
“As Knights of Columbus, our commitment is to the protection of our parish community,” said Decubellis. “We will continue to do so for as long as we are needed. We thank Father Medina for allowing us to assist in this important responsibility.”
The Knights have focused many of their efforts into parishioner engagement over the pandemic months through increased spiritual works and faith-based activities. Bible studies, a men’s retreat and several faith enrichment programs are planned for the Lenten season to help men better prepare for faith journeys leading up to Easter.
“We have had an amazing year,” said Decubellis. “I am so proud of individuals who have stepped up to the plate. Father medina is extremely supportive. He makes sure we have all the resources we need and is so good about helping us out.”
In December 2020, the council was ranked number two out of 400 local councils for their membership drive and recruitment efforts. Membership is once again on the rise with 26 new members this year. Honors of distinction include the “Star Award,” a prestigious recognition by the Florida State council for high performance in overall operations.
“The Knights of Columbus have been the front-runners in providing a safe environment in our church, in addition to strengthening parishioners’ faith and calling them to return to Sunday Mass,” said Father Medina in recognition of the Knights’ service and dedication.
To learn more about the Knights of Columbus Council 11241 of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Boca Raton, visit lourdeschurchboca.org or call 561-483-2440.