Fort Calhoun council wins international award

A Knights of Columbus council from a small rural town received big recognition during the Knights’ 137th Supreme Convention Aug. 5-8 in Minneapolis.

Council 10305 from St. John the Baptist Parish in Fort Calhoun was selected from among hundreds of entries to receive an International Award in the “Life” category for its “Rebuilding the Cradle of Christianity” effort early in 2018.

Supreme Director Mike Conrad and past Grand Knight Jim Hubschman received the award on behalf of their council during an awards session Aug. 7. 

The project raised awareness of the plight of middle-East Christians, such as residents of Karamles, Iraq, who were persecuted by Islamic State militants and driven from their homes.

The town, which fell to ISIS in August 2014, was liberated in late 2016. Of the nearly 800 homes in Karamles, 464 were burned, 97 were destroyed by bombs and the rest were damaged or vandalized. 

“Rebuilding the Cradle of Christianity” included two events in Omaha – a public Syrian Rite Mass at St. Cecilia Cathedral with Syriac Bishop Yousif Behnam Habasha and a fundraising dinner and auction. The dinner event featured a successful Syrian farmer who left everything behind and moved to Nebraska where his daughter lived, narrowly escaping execution by ISIS for his refusal to convert to Islam.

The 2018 project raised more than $173,000 to help build 85 modest homes and allow Karamles residents to return to their community and rebuild their lives, Conrad said. It piggybacked on the national Knights’ Christian Refugee Relief Fund effort and its initiative to help resettle middle-East refugees.

In addition to the direct beneficiaries, council members also were blessed for their efforts, said Conrad.

“We are a small council around 160 members from a community of 950 and it has brought our members to a whole new spiritual level. I don’t think anyone had any idea of the impact this would produce.

“It also shows that no matter what size the council, it can do a project that makes a real difference in people’s lives,” he said.

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