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President-elect Fr. Malachi joins university Knights of Columbus

April 7, 2014

The Saint Francis University Knights of Columbus, Council No. 8222 conducted a 1st Degree ceremony for five new inductees, including the university’s President-elect Fr. Malachi Van Tassell, T.O.R.

Knights of Columbus SFU logo


 After having been dormant on campus for about 20 years, the Knights of Columbus is once again thriving at Saint Francis University. On Sunday, March 30, The Saint Francis University Knights of Columbus, Council No. 8222 conducted its eighth 1st Degree ceremony since the council was established in October 2012 and officially rechartered in February 2013. This particular 1st Degree ceremony recognized five new inductees, including the university’s President-elect Fr. Malachi Van Tassell, T.O.R.

"We are very excited to welcome Fr. Malachi to our council and to the international order of the Knights of Columbus. We are looking forward to supporting Fr. Malachi as he transitions into the presidency and supporting his vision for the University. As Knights of Columbus we stand in solidarity with our priests and other religious and being a college council, this very personal link to our newly elected leader is very encouraging for our future growth, sustainability, and impact to both the campus and community," said Bobby Anderson, Director of Student Engagement & Leadership Development at the University and Grand Knight of Saint Francis University's Council.

This move by Fr. Malachi to join the University's council is a sign of his commitment to upholding the traditional Catholic faith of the institution. “I am honored to have been inducted into our campus Council of the Knights of Columbus. The Knights are a fine group of men who have placed themselves at the service of the Church and our campus community. As President and pastor of the university, I am pleased to have the Knights as co-workers in the vineyard. Their presence is a vital part of the Catholic and Franciscan identity of our campus,” Fr. Malachi shared.

The timing of the ceremony dove-tailed nicely with the airing of a segment on Proclaim! that same day in which Fr. Malachi was interviewed by Bishop Mark Bartchak of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. In the segment Fr. Malachi shared his vision for a strengthening of the University's Catholic identity.

Following Sunday's ceremony, as is customary for the council, the members attended student mass in the Immaculate Conception Chapel on campus where Fr. Malachi was already scheduled as the celebrant. During the mass he publicly recognized the Knights and his new membership within the order.

Membership in the Knights is restricted to practicing Catholic men, age 18 and over. Initiation in the 1st Degree is only the beginning level of membership. There are a total of four degrees within the order, each one advancing the members to higher levels of responsibility within their respective councils, their communities, and to the Catholic faith and its global mission.

Sunday's ceremony was conducted by the 1st Degree Team of the St. Anne's council, No. 4259 in Cresson, PA. The members and officers of the Cresson council have been working alongside the newly re-established SFU council since the initial conversations of re-establishment began back in the spring of 2012. The members of the Cresson council have provided much assistance and guidance to the young college council as they have worked to become better acclimated to the functions and procedures of operating a Knights of Columbus council.

To date, since re-establishing in October 2012, the college council has grown to an impressive 76 members, a majority of whom are SFU students, in addition to members of the University's staff, faculty, and administration as well as alumni, fathers of current students, and even members from the larger community. This unprecedented growth has captured the attention of the Pennsylvania State Council of the Knights of Columbus to where the SFU Knights have received recognition for their success in membership and have received multiple awards from both the State Council and the Supreme Council which oversees the entire international order.

 "I believe, in today's society, there is a hunger in young Catholic men to gather in fellowship and to express their faith through prayer and service. Having grown up in a small town and attending a parish where the Knights of Columbus were very active I felt confident that this Catholic men’s fraternal organization could benefit the men here at Saint Francis University," said Paul Girardi, the Council's Financial and Corresponding Secretary who established the council on campus.

The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest lay Catholic organization and since its founding in 1882 boasts nearly 2 million members in nearly 15,000 councils world-wide. Past popes and other key figures in the Catholic faith, including Pope John Paul II (set to be canonized later this month) and Mother Theresa have praised the Catholic men's fraternal order for its commitment to supporting Catholic teaching, and for its immense financial support to various charities and disaster relief efforts, even so far as referring to the order as "the strong right arm of the Church."

While the international order was established as a benefit society to help support the widowed women and children of Irish, Catholic immigrants in the late 19th century, today the order is most commonly recognized for the incredible amount of community service and fundraising for charitable causes all over the globe. The Knights of Columbus was recently recognized by the Ethisphere Institute, an independent center of research promoting best practices in corporate ethics and governance, as a 2014 World’s Most Ethical Company.

For additional information about the SFU Knights and opportunities for membership, please visit at www.francis.edu/knights or email the council at knights@francis.edu. For additional information on the Knights of Columbus, please visit www.kofc.org.