KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS
Fr. William A. Daly, S.J.
In March of 1920, forty eight men, recruited by Fr. PJ Rogers, pastor of St. Aloysius Chursch petitioned the Knights of Columbus Supreme Headquarters for a council to serve the parishes of St. Aloysius, St. Mary’s and St. Anastasia. With the assistance of District Deputy, SP Lakey along with the officers & members of Olympia Council #394 in Flushing, the Great Neck Council #2122 was granted a Charter in April 1920.
The installation of the first officers took place on May 10th, 1920 with Leo M. Oates as our first Grand Knight. The council flourished immediately, and settled into new quarters at what was then the NW Corner of Breuer Avenue and Church Street, now part of the St. Aloysius playground and parking lot.
In 1926, Fr. Rogers offered the premises at #2 Breuer Ave, formerly a convent to the council. The council occupied this building until 1953 when a vote was taken to become more centrally located as the council was still serving St. Anastasia’s in Little Neck and St. Mary’s in Manhasset along with St. Aloysius in Great Neck.
Since 1953, the council has had many homes. The VFW Hall (destroyed by fire in 1961), 536 Middle Neck Rd, The American Legion Hall in Great Neck, 488 Great Neck Rd, the Elks Club on Grace Ave. With the sale of the Elks Club in the early 80s and the decline of members from Great Neck, the council moved to Manhasset. The council used the American Legion Post in Manhasset for a few years before using Inisfada as it’s home through 2005. With renovations at St. Mary’s completed, the council moved into the Marion Room in the basement of the church, which serves the council to this day.
On October 14, 1956 the council was renamed Father William A. Daly, SJ Council, both to reflect the growth of membership beyond Great Neck and to pay honor to a beloved deceased member, “Bill Daly.”
The VFW fire in 1961 destroyed many of the council log books, so the history is through memories of the old timers. They tell of entertainment by Sophie Tucker and other Broadway Stars thanks to member Gene Buck. They tell of championship baseball and basketball teams and we have some of the trophies to prove it. We will highlight the next 50 years by the decades.
Communion Breakfast was held at the US Merchant Marine Academy, attended by over 450. Bishop Cuthbert O’Gara, recently released from internment in Red China was the guest speaker. Proceeds were donated to the Academy Chapel Building Fund.
Vincent Dwyer became GK in 1960, after serving for two years, he helped form the new council in Little Neck (St. Anastasia Council) and became their first Grand Knight, He later served as a District Deputy in Queens.
A youth movement was started in the early sixties along with an Annual Scholarship Award. The council sponsored in 1965, The Little Singers of Cordoba from South America, in a concert tour of the North Shore.
George Raplee became GK in 1967 and established the councils annual pilgrimage to St. Christopher Children’s Home in Sea Cliff. George later went on to become a District Deputy, Faithful Navigator, Chapter President, and held many NY State Council positions.
A young man named Ken O’Shea (a bachelor) took the reigns in 1971 and the council began going as a group to ballgames at Shea Stadium and a Night at the Races at Roosevelt Raceway.
1972 saw our initial sponsorship of a youth for the AHRC’s Summer Camp program.
The Communion Breakfast in 1973, the guest speaker was Supreme Director James Foley, and he presented the council with the Star Council award.
1975 saw the election of Henry (Hank) Cavaliere as Grand Knight. He too earned the StarCouncil award and the very first Polish Night was very successful.
William Santoro took over the council in 76, again the council was awarded Star Council and saw the inaugural German Nite party.
Richard (Tony) Saunders was elected Grand Knight in 1977 and we witnessed an epic softball game between the Daly Council and the challengers from Norton Council in Glen Cove. Final score was 26-25 Daly with the final putout at home plate by the GK with the assist from the center fielder (newest member) Kevin Ondrey. The council joined a group of other councils the following year to form the KofC North Shore Softball League comprised of four teams. A few years later the league expanded to eight teams playing doubleheaders once a week. A new Youth movement had begun.
1978 saw transfer from Port Washington, Bob Judge take over. Bob was very involved with the 4th degree, a member of the Color Corp. and dedicated to “Patriotism” the fourth principle of the order.
A transformation of the council happened in the early 80s, an influx of new members bothyoung and older gentlemen blended with & invigorated the council. Led by Grand Knights Al Brown, Vinny Balducci, Kevin Ondrey (our youngest GK at 24 years) and followed by his father, Emil Ondrey the council flourished with old and new programs.
The annual picnics held at Kings Park drew over 300 each year with members workingtirelessly from dawn to dusk. The softball team competed each week attracting young and old.
The council boasted three bowling teams competing every Thursday night at the Great Neck Bowl.
The development of the “Gift of Life” program proved doubly fruitful. Through the program in conjunction with St. Francis Hospital a child from Ireland in need of a heart operation wouldbe brought to America to be given the operation. Transportation cost would be borne by the council with the doctors donating their time. The child was brought to the hospital in Dublin and after examination was deemed not to need an operation here. The child was cured there. In the meantime, a young Irish girl living in a rectory in the Bronx was found to have a defective heart condition and was in desperate need of an operation. She was brought to St. Francis where the operation was a great success. Two children saved !!
Through the efforts of our next Grand Knight, John Wroblewski funding continued to be raised by his creation of “The Flower Hill Spring Sprint” a 5K race originating & finishing at St. Francis Hospital and winding its way through the streets of the village of Flower Hill each spring. Many members were involved in the massive undertaking and participants at the peak popularity of the race numbered over 500.
On November 22, 1986 our beloved Chaplain the Very Rev. Monsignor John J. Rudden passed away. Msgr. John was raised in Great Neck and was known to play golf and handball frequently with his fellow knights. He was Council Chaplain from 1952 to his passing in 1986 and he rarely missed a meeting despite having his own congregation at Our Lady of Fatima in Jackson Heights, Queens.
A golf tournament was held the following year in his honor and the proceeds were donated to St. Francis Hospital where a room is dedicated in his name.
As the softball team competed in league games, they also found time to play NY Radio Station WNEW102.7FM each year against the radio stations DJ’s to raise money for various causes.
With the sale of the Elks Club for condominiums the council moved to the American Legion in Manhasset. Prosperity continued for the council under the guidance of Grand Knights Charlie Schnurr, John “Jack” McManus, and John “Jack” Kennedy. Jack Kennedy went on to become a District Deputy and eventually the Faithful Navigator of the 4th Degree Assembly.
Changes were abundant in the 1990’s. With the closing of the Great Neck Bowl, the bowlingteams disbanded and the North Shore Softball league which had grown to eight teams also vanished as the younger players moved on and started families. But support for community activities never ceased. Now the members were coaching their own kids and the council was sponsoring several Little League teams every year. Sponsorship of the Manhasset Little League continues to this day.
Under the leadership of Grand Knights, Zankel, Cavaliere, McKeown & Annis the councilcontinued to flourish. The annual Free-Throw Contest attracts sharp shooters to this day and several council winners have gone on to win State Championships.
As the 90’s drew to a close, the council sought better meeting space, and under GK Tom Thornton the council secured a deal at Inisfada (St. Ignatius Retreat House). This afforded the council not only meeting rooms but also a place to hold various events from Communion Breakfast, Installations, Degrees, and even masses & retreats in a single location.
The Grand Knights now were starting to serve multiple terms with Joseph Caldwell servingfrom 1998 to 2001.
Brian Vincent took the reigns as Grand Knight in 2001 but an illness cut short his 2nd term and his DGK Jim Cunningham filled in admirably. Jim was subsequently elected to three more years as Grand Knight.
When the rehab of St. Mary’s Church was completed during this period, along with meeting rooms and storage and the fact that St. Ignatius was demanding exhorbitant rent increases, the move to St. Mary’s was inevitable.
The highlight of our year was quickly becoming the annual Christmas Party held at the Swan Club. At the Christmas parties we would honor the prior years Grand Knight and the Grand Knight would present one of the members with a “Knight of the Year” award. On two other occasions we have also honored a member with a “Lifetime Achievement” the first of which went to PGK George Raplee in 2011 for his dedication to the council and the KofC. Special thanks to John Cifichiello who chaired this event for many years.
The new quarters at St. Mary’s afforded the convenience of having the congregation attendCommunion Breakfast following masses along with hosting the 4th Degree meetings, Chapter meetings, District meetings and District Degrees. George Raplee spearheaded the re-certification of the council’s 1st Degree team.
In the late 00’s PGK Jim Cunningham wanted to develop a scholarship based not only on merit but also need. He said he “wanted to make a difference in one persons life.” He wanted to help a student that wanted to go to a Catholic High School but the family perhaps couldn’t afford it. But how to fund this scholarship ? Jim started selling “Keep Christ in Christmas” car magnets out of his garage and we were able to set aside in the first year of sales to partially pay for a for a young mans education for his four years at Chaminade High School.
Our Keep Christ in Christmas program continues to this day with over 500,000 car magnets & decals sold. Now instead of sponsoring one child only, through St. Mary’s Tuition Assistance Program that the council contributes annually we support many students that may not be able afford to stay in Catholic school due to unforeseen circumstances.
John M. Lokay, Jr. served the council from 2006-2009 and through his leadership continued the success of the council. We became a force at the Manhasset Memorial Day parade, raised our visibility at the parish through semi-annual Communion Breakfast, Breakfast with Santa, Nativity Lighting (which the council donated to St. Mary’s), support for our seminarians and clothing and blood drives.
Ted Newkirk (2009-2011) joined the council in 2005 and immediately became involved in allaspects of the council and bringing back the annual picnic, currently our annual barbecue and the force behind our now annual Oktoberfest, Italian Nite and our St. Patrick’s Day parties. Ted continues to serve as a Trustee and Delegate to this day and most recently served two years as the President of the Nassau Chapter.
Next up was Pierenzo Calosso (2011-2013) who still holds the council record for the amount of C&B books ever sold by the council in one year !! Going to be a tough record to break. Pierenzo went on to become the NY State Chairman for C&B. During Pierenzo’s term, we were hit with Hurricane Sandy, Pierenzo mobilized the council into action and they spent many hours and days in Island Park helping out the parish of Sacred Heart which was devastated.
Thomas Mayerhauser (2013-2015) served the council well. During his term he re-instituted the Don Bosco Squires Circle #548 which continues to this day under the auspices of Frank Delucia. Tom went on to serve as District Deputy for the 16th District for four years and continues to serve the council in many capacities.
John Lokay returned for another term (2015-2016) while our DGK served his term as Faithful Navigator with the 4th Degree Assembly. John continues to serve as a Trustee.
Matthew Buttaro (2016-2017) came fresh off his term serving as Faithful Navigator to theBishop Kellenberg Assembly and continued the success of his predecessors.
Finally, Matthew A. Falcone, (2017-2020) was a transfer from Port Washington Council where he had served as Grand Knight back in the 70s but he was a Manhasset resident and St. Mary’s parishioner. How lucky to have had Matty for these past three years. He brings his own style to the council and he gets things done. With Matt in charge there is never a lack of volunteers.
DGK Bruce Marsanico was elected to follow Matt Falcone in June of 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. While most of our events and in-person meetings had to be cancelled, the council carried on through Zoom meetings and continued their charitable works. The GK reinstituted our annual Memorial Mass in November of 2020 where we remembered our most recently deceased including PGK Matt Falcone who succumbed to the Covid. Our 100th Anniversary Celebration also had to be postponed and is now scheduled for April 24, 2022.
The highlight of 2022 was our 100th Anniversary Celebration that was finally able to be held after 2 years of postments. Nearly 160 attended the event on Sunday April 24th at Leonards Palazzo in Great Neck. Guest were entertained by the Cold Spring Harbor Band. We were joined by our Pastor Fr. Bob, our Chaplain Fr. Dominik and our Town of North Hempstead Supervisor, Jen Desena. We were also joined by the St. Mary's Rosary Society, The Daly Council Columbiettes, The Port Washington KofC, The Norton Council KofC in Glen Cove, The Kiwanis of Manhasset & Port Washington, The Nassau Chapter & Nassau Conference KofC. A souviner Journal was also presented to each guest and each sponsor.
In June of 2022, Mark Sauvigne was elected as our new Grand Knight. in July our Annual BBQ returned after a two year absence and our Annual Christmas Party was held at the SVCC where we honored our immediate PGK Bruce Marsanico and honored two deserving Knights of the Year. Our Keep Christ in Christmas Magnet Program again sold out by the first week in November for a total of 15,000 sold.