The St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Knights of Columbus Council 14754 received its charter to operate as a Knight council in April 2009 about a year after our parish was formed in 2008. We began with 46 members listed on our council’s charter from the supreme council of the Knights in New Haven, CT. As of this writing there are exactly half of the original 46 charter members still on our roster. Today, with almost 190 members, we are both one of the largest and the newest Knights of Columbus councils in Kern and Inyo counties which is one of the 16 geographic segments, called chapters, of the California state council of the Knights. There are 17 active councils in our Kern/Inyo chapter currently with some 1,900 members. In California there are currently 720 councils with just over 79,000 members. World-wide there are some 2 million members of the Knights which is the world’s largest Catholic men’s fraternal organization.
As of this writing we are into our 13th year of operations. (We
operate on a fraternal year ending June 30.) For our first two years
of operations, we survived financially mainly on membership dues. In
years three thru six we had enough members to engage in our own
fundraising activities and raised almost $100,000, 30% of which went
to parish support and 70% going to over 20 community organizations
Our major fundraiser in those four years was a fireworks booth where many of us learned what sweat equity really meant! Our Pit Master chefs also honed their culinary skills by running food booths at events at CUSB and the Kern County fairgrounds, and handling our Friday Lenten fish dinners. The Pit Masters started their operations by preparing food for our first parish picnic. We owe a big salute to these Knights who also built and operate the three BBQ pits at our parish that were dedicated by Fr. Perry in 2017. Our council funded the material costs for the BBQ’s.
Starting in year seven our council, like all other parish organizations, ceased direct fundraising activities so we could focus on assisting the parish in its overall fundraising operations. We still manage the collections for our Coats For Kids program and our annual Thanksgiving and Christmas food drives, and our monthly food donation bin. All our food collections and Coats For Kids are currently donated to Catholic Charities here in Bakersfield.
We continue to raise some funds in our
annual Friday Lent fish dinners, but these funds are mostly donated
back to the parish and other local community organizations. Although
Lent fish dinners are popular among most parishes ours combine the
talents of both our parish Ladies Ministry Fellowship (LMF) and our
council members, and for the last few years have been followed by a
Stations of the Cross held in our church. Our parish youth group
usually kicks off the Stations with a special “shadow” Stations. That is why we display the logos of the LMF, the K of
C, and our SEAS parish on our Friday Lent dinner banners.
Our first Lent dinners started in 2011 and were held in a rented commercial building on Allen Road that we dubbed the Ministry Center. At this time our parish was still conducting its Sunday Masses at Frontier High School that we fondly called St. Frontier. Setting up and knocking down the Mass environment at St. Frontier was also a task taken on by many members of our council. Both the Lent dinners and St. Frontier Masses continued through 2015. In 2016 we ran our first Lent dinner out of our new parish kitchen facility and have done so ever since. Even in 2021, we were able to have off-campus outside fish dinners to keep the tradition running despite Covid restrictions.
Over the last eight consecutive years we have been recognized by the K of C supreme council in New Haven, Ct., for our Food For Families food drives. In a recent organizational review, we identified some 25 event activities spread over the Knight’s four service program areas of Faith, Family, Community, and Pro-Life that our council actively engages in.
With the Covid lock down experience under our belts we are even more aware of digital communications and the use of social media. We learned how to use Zoom, and our members were key persons in supporting our parish online Masses. We have adopted the Flocknote system for communication via email and text to all our members and intend to make this website another key tool in communicating with existing and prospective members.
Joining the Knights today can all be done online so we are not the Knights your fathers or grandfathers or great-grandfathers remember. Check out the HOW TO JOIN US link on this website for detailed information on contacting and joining us.
It has been my pleasure to assist in the formation of both our council and our parish over the last 13 years. I began my membership in the Knights in 2006 when my family was at Christ the King parish in Bakersfield because I saw that all the men who were active in the parish were Knights. That is also true for the members of our SEAS council. Our members constitute most of our parish ushers. Many are also extraordinary ministers, lectors, and sacristans. Some share their musical talents in our parish music programs. Today men are stepping forward with their talents in video production and social media to help our council and the parish. Many of our council members participated in our Phase 1 capital campaign, and the building planning committee to get the parish to where it is today.
I became the financial secretary at the Christ the King council and have held most of the officer positions at our SEAS council, including a two-year term as grand Knight (2010-11). In fact, this is the first fraternal year that I have not been on our officer roll. I’m 78 now so it is time to back off and let younger men carry on the works of charity and service that being a Knight entails.
Although we are a men’s’ organization I know and have worked with the spouses of our members and many of their children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren.Here is a photo of our first seven grand knights. From the left is Jim Dutton, Gary Rohr (now deceased), Jim Patten, Eric Menor, Mike Neal, Tony Urzanqui, and Vince Pagano. As a group, we are diverse in terms of age, occupations, not to mention sizes. We are all married, have children, and were working full-time when we were grand knights. See our Council Photo Album for photos of subsequent grand knights.
One of the projects that I started with follow knight Sam Duran was to write member profiles for our monthly council newsletter to get members to know one another better. As we put together more of these articles I am amazed at the diversity of our membership. We have doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants, farmers, electricians, plumbers, general contractors, law enforcement officers, financial planners, painters, college students, and members with advanced degrees, and that is just the short list. Somehow, we all work together and get things done in our four core areas of Faith, Community, Family, and Pro-Life. If you think about it, those who would tear down our society have no faith, either have no interest in or hate their community and country and have no respect for family or the right to life of unborn children and the sick and elderly.
One of the links we supply on this web page is the Knights of Columbus Museum. The more I learn about the K of C history, the more impressed I am about our organization. One of my mentors in the knights early on told me that what you get out of the knights is a function of what you put into the organization. You can take a passive route by just paying your annual dues, read the monthly Columbia magazine, use Knight resources on the web and keep informed about our parish and council activities thru emails we send all members. That is just fine because there are no minimum activity requirements for members, and even passive members become better informed Catholics. Those who do participate on a more active basis find that their efforts are well rewarded. Stated as a kind knight proverb, the more you give, the more you will receive!
Feel free to email me at email@example.com, but recruiting is a responsibility of every member so feel free to ask any of the men who wear a council name tag about membership in the knights.
One final point:
K of C councils are currently divided into 16 geographic regions and referred to as chapters. Below is a geographic listing of the 16 active councils in the Kern/Inyo chapter and their council numbers.
A) Five councils well outside Bakersfield (Bishop 8628, Ridgecrest 3199, Cal City 6705, Tehachapi 7821, Lake Isabella 9727)
B) Four councils near Bakersfield (Wasco 2938, Arvin 7930, Greenfield 11545, Lamont 13622)
C) Seven Bakersfield councils (St. Francis 977, St Joseph 8899, St. Philip 9530, Christ the King 12719, OLPH 12897, OLG 13925, SEAS14754)
Here are how the above three groups break down @ 5/21/2021 as to membership.
A) 440 total members
B) 291 total members
935 total members, or
56% of the total of 1,666 active members reported for the Kern/Inyo
Chapter. Our SEAS council had 178 of the 1,666 members. Almost 11%
of the total.
All new councils are assigned a sequential number when they are
chartered starting from number 1 (assigned in 1882) which is the
number of Fr. McGivney’s founding council in St. Mary’s church in
New Haven, CT where the supreme headquarters is still located. The
St Francis 977 council here in Bakersfield was formed around 1910
when the St. Francis church established its first real home. (Masses
were held in temporary locations for St. Francis parishioners
starting in 1881.) In 2021 council numbers are getting up to 18,000,
and according to official membership information at the 2021 annual
supreme convention there were 16,389 councils. That means that over
time some councils have had to cease operations, not unlike
situations where parishes must shut down. Up until 1968 when the St
Philip parish and the 9530 council were established, the St. Francis
977 council was the only K of C council in Bakersfield. From the
1940’s until about 2015, 977 had its own K of C Hall on Goodman near
the old Green Frog Market. Although one can still find Knight halls
all around the country, the supreme council is not supportive of
building any more. The supreme position is that
Knight councils should be an integral part of the parish in which
they operate and recruit men within their parishes. Our 14754
council is the eighth Knight council to be established in
Bakersfield since 1968, and although local area councils do
periodically compare notes as to best practices, most councils today
operate within the context of their parishes.
All new councils are assigned a sequential number when they are chartered starting from number 1 (assigned in 1882) which is the number of Fr. McGivney’s founding council in St. Mary’s church in New Haven, CT where the supreme headquarters is still located. The St Francis 977 council here in Bakersfield was formed around 1910 when the St. Francis church established its first real home. (Masses were held in temporary locations for St. Francis parishioners starting in 1881.) In 2021 council numbers are getting up to 18,000, and according to official membership information at the 2021 annual supreme convention there were 16,389 councils. That means that over time some councils have had to cease operations, not unlike situations where parishes must shut down. Up until 1968 when the St Philip parish and the 9530 council were established, the St. Francis 977 council was the only K of C council in Bakersfield. From the 1940’s until about 2015, 977 had its own K of C Hall on Goodman near the old Green Frog Market. Although one can still find Knight halls all around the country, the supreme council is not supportive of building any more. The supreme position is that Knight councils should be an integral part of the parish in which they operate and recruit men within their parishes. Our 14754 council is the eighth Knight council to be established in Bakersfield since 1968, and although local area councils do periodically compare notes as to best practices, most councils today operate within the context of their parishes.
Visiting remaining Knight halls is a trip down memory lane. Typically, like the 977 hall, they have a large banquet room with a stage and had a full-service kitchen. The other half of their hall contained a full bar, a TV lounge, and space for a full-size pool table and poker tables. In other words, a Knight man cave. The overhead of maintaining Knight halls forces them to conduct fundraising just to cover operating costs. I believe that supreme is correct in not allowing new Knight halls and encouraging councils to work on fundraising efforts within their parish. This is basically how our council currently operates.