Supreme Knight Carl Anderson’s recent visit to Notre Dame commenced the week-long celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of Notre Dame Knights of Columbus Council 1477. Anderson and dozens of student Knights took part in a special Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart presided over by Rev. James Gallagher, C.S.C.
After Mass, a dinner and reception were held in the Knights of Columbus Hall where Mr. Anderson presented the students of Council 1477 with a replicated painting depicting Fr. Michael J. McGivney, the founder of the Order of the Knights of Columbus who was recently declared a Venerable Servant of God.
Immediately following the dinner, Anderson gave a presentation in DeBartolo Hall entitled, “Faith, Hope & Charity: Pope Benedict’s Prescription for Catholic Living,” which discussed the challenge modernism presents to Vatican II theology and Pope John Paul II’s new springtime for the Church. The Supreme Knight emphasized the importance of the current youth of the John Paul Generation in the renewal of the faith.
Early in the morning of April17, Todd Tucker, author of “Notre Dame vs. The Klan,” recounted the clash of students and Klansmen in the 1920’s. Notre Dame was quickly rising to national athletic prominence with the coaching of Knute Rockne. Led by a young, charismatic leader and agitated by a wave of anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic sentiment, the Ku Klux Klan was rapidly growing in Indiana, culminating in a two-day riot in South Bend. Notre Dame students, eager for their chance to clash with Klan members, stormed the Klan headquarters in downtown South Bend, chucking potatoes at a flaming cross (of lightbulbs) erected in the building’s window. The students returned again when the Klan mended the sacrilegious symbol, but ambushed by the Klan, the students were forced to retreat. Shortly afterward, University president Father Walsh appeared at the scene where he stood atop a memorial cannon in the midst of his riotous students and asked them to return to their dormitories out of love for Mary our Mother.
Following Tucker’s presentation, Professor John Cavadini reflected on the life of St. Joseph as a model for all men. Focusing on the humility and self-sacrifice of St. Joseph, Cavadini reminded those in attendance of the need to be both a paternalistic leader and to maintain the qualities embodied by St. Joseph.
Later that afternoon in the Knights of Columbus Hall, alumnus Rocco Galizio recounted the history of the Notre Dame Knights of Columbus. In 1910, students, priests and faculty, led by student John Tulley, founded the first Knights of Columbus College Council at Our Lady’s University. Times were not always easy. Clashes with the Klan followed by the Great Depression and World War II left their mark on the council.
The 1950s were a period of regrowth for the council as they ran the newly-formed Bengal Bouts for over a decade. In the late 1960s, the Notre Dame Knights finally received a building on campus thanks to the fundraising efforts of alumnus and trustee Eli Shaheen. The 1970s also saw the beginning of a Notre Dame Knights’ tradition, the selling of steak sandwiches on football game days, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local and national charities.
Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese joined students, faculty, religious and alumni in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart for a Mass which recognized the century of service to the ideal of “God, Country and Notre Dame” and the development of the men of the council.
After Mass, a banquet was held in South Dining Hall with keynote speaker and Past Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant. While congratulating the men of the Notre Dame Council, Dechant also reminded those in attendance that in times of trouble for the Church, we must stand with the Pope to defend, protect and renew the Church.
On behalf of Notre Dame Knights of Columbus Council 1477, Michael Bohnert would like to thank all students, faculty, staff, religious, and alumni that took part in the weekend celebrations. He can be reached at email@example.com.