By Tim Lilley
The Message editor
Knights of Columbus councils from Dubois and Spencer counties held their 2023 Father Michael McGivney Vocations Dinner Oct. 24 at the Huntingburg Events Center. As noted on the cover of the program for the evening, the dinner is held “in appreciation of the priests, deacons and religious serving in the East Deanery of the Diocese of Evansville.”
With the exception of the shutdown prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced cancellation of dinners in 2020 and 2021, the event has been held annually since 2013. It continues to be quite popular, as a crowd of approximately 450 attended the dinner, which was catered by Tim Flick, owner of Oink Inc., Smokehouse and Catering in Jasper.
This year’s keynote speaker was Benedictine Father Kolbe Wolniakowski of St. Meinrad Archabbey. In addition to serving as spiritual director for those in the propadeutic year at St. Meinrad and School of Theology, Father Kolbe serves as Parochial Vicar of St. Mark and St. Paul parishes in Tell City.
Following the presentation and posting of the colors by the Msgr. Leonard Wernsing 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights, Benedictine Sister Anita Louise Lowe, Prioress of the Sisters of St. Benedict, offered the invocation for the dinner.
Father John Boeglin, Senior Priest of the Diocese of Evansville and Diocesan Vicar for Senior Priests, introduced Father Kolbe, who spoke after the meal. He titled his talk “Eucharist: The Heart of the Church.”
Noting that the Eucharist is a gift from God, he said, “No matter the vocation, it is a gift from God. At its heart, the Eucharist is a prayer of thanksgiving to God for all the gifts he has provided, including the gift of his son.”
Father Kolbe explained that he grew up in Pewamo, Michigan, a small town in west-central Michigan, in the Diocese of Grand Rapids. He said Pewamo was a Catholic town with St. Joseph Parish as the heart of community life. Like many young people, he drifted away from the Church after heading off to college. He said his sister’s discernment of a vocation to religious life helped bring him back and lead him to the priesthood.
He said, “It was always love that drew me in deeper (to the faith and the Church). Everyone I encountered who lived their vocation with love taught me how to love. My challenge to you is to live out the vocation you have now, and live it out with love.”
Father Kolbe’s remarks drew a standing ovation from the large crowd, which was followed by presentations of donations to the vocations office of the Diocese of Evansville, Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand and St. Meinrad. Father John introduced the Grand Knights of the Councils that work together annually on the dinner, and they remained near the podium for the presentations.
Knight Steve Luegers, Past Grand Knight of Council #1584 in Jasper, served as master of ceremonies for the evening. A group of young singers from Holy Trinity Catholic School in Dubois County performed during dinner. Steve asked attendees to save Oct. 29, 2024, the date of next year’s vocations dinner.
Knights of Columbus councils involved in the annual dinner include #1584 of Jasper, #11165 of Rockport, #13086 of Huntingburg, #13504 of Santa Claus, #13623 of Celestine and #15777 on St. Anthony.