August 25, 2017

Knights donate $13,600 to New Albany Deanery youths for NCYC

A congregation of about 300, including 136 youths of the New Albany Deanery bound for the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis in November, worship during a special Mass at St. Augustine Church in Jeffersonville on Aug. 13. Following the Mass, they attended a breakfast hosted by Knights of Columbus Council 1348, who donated $100 to each of the youths to help them attend NCYC. (Submitted photo)

A congregation of about 300, including 136 youths of the New Albany Deanery bound for the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis in November, worship during a special Mass at St. Augustine Church in Jeffersonville on Aug. 13. Following the Mass, they attended a breakfast hosted by Knights of Columbus Council 1348, who donated $100 to each of the youths to help them attend NCYC. (Submitted photo)

By Natalie Hoefer

The temperature may have been in the 90s, but for Father Douglas Marcotte it seemed like Christmas in August.

“It looked like Christmas Eve Mass,” says the pastor of St. Augustine Parish and Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, both in Jeffersonville. “We used every single chair we had at the Mass.”

He is referring to a special Mass celebrated at his church on Aug. 13 for any New Albany Deanery youth attending the upcoming National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis in November. Their parents were also invited.

Following the Mass was a breakfast hosted by Knights of Columbus Council 1348. The menu included an unusual, special treat for the 136 youths—$100 for each of them to help cover their costs to attend NCYC.

Pat Lilly, deputy grand knight of the council and a member of St. John Paul II Parish in Clark County, says “it all started” when “a gentleman from St. Anthony [of Padua Parish in Clarksville] approached us asking about possibly donating money for NCYC.”

Knowing that Council 1348 includes members from many parishes in the New Albany Deanery, Lilly says he suggested that, “since we have a more diverse membership, why don’t we spread the love more across the deanery? ”

The council approved $9,000 to be distributed evenly among any NCYC-bound youth who attended the Mass and breakfast.

“But if we had 200, people we would have given $20,000,” notes Lilly.

Father Marcotte, who serves as chaplain for Knights of Columbus Council 1348, says the group is “very generous. They gave $35,000 to Sacred Heart School [in Jeffersonville] for iPads last year.”

Lilly attributes the council’s ability to be generous to the Thursday and Sunday bingo nights they host.

“None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for members working bingos,” he says. “That’s a list of 60-some men and women. The members working the bingo is crucial, raising that money to give back.”

And by helping teens attend NCYC, Lilly says he feels like they’re both giving back and investing in the future.

“I went to NCYC back in my day,” says the 55-year-old deputy grand Knight. “It was huge for me. I think NCYC is great in engaging kids in leadership roles.”

Lilly is not alone in his praise for the biannual gathering. His 33-year‑old nephew, Ben Kraft, spoke at the breakfast about the impact NCYC had on him and his brother.

Father Marcotte calls the $13,600 donation a contribution to a “noble cause.”

“When we talk about how we [as a council] want to be charitable, what we want to use our charity donation for, that is a very noble cause, to help our kids in our deanery to experience the Church in a way they may never have experienced it before,” he says. “To come together with several thousand young Catholics is a very positive experience. We want to get our students there so they can have that experience.”

Holy Family Parish in New Albany had the largest turnout, with 31 youths and their parents participating in the Mass and breakfast.

Sara Raelson, youth minister of the parish for the past five years, says she felt “humbled” by the generosity of the Knights.

“I was humbled, really, that they want to invest in this experience,” she says. “I think it meant a lot to the kids. Sometimes they kind of feel that their involvement [in the Church] isn’t appreciated. … That these adults wanted to have this Mass and breakfast for them, and put themselves out there and say, ‘We value you, and we value what you’re going to bring to our Church and our faith,’ was really amazing.”

Raleson says the $100 per youth can affect whether or not a person is able to attend NCYC.

“We have a cost of about $550 per kid,” she explains. “They have to do fundraising. If they don’t reach that total, they won’t be able to go.

“This [donation] made the experience reachable for some of these kids. We have a couple sibling groups. One family is sending three kids. The cost can add up for some families. [The kids] were all really grateful.”

Lilly felt that gratitude—literally.

“I can’t tell you how many kids and parents thanked us,” he says. “Several of them as they were walking out made a special effort to come give me a hug saying, ‘Thank you so much for doing this for us.’

“It was too cool!” †

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