.- The Knights of Columbus awarded a family from Kentucky for their commitment to the Catholic faith, as well as members from around the world who have shown a commitment to serving the needy in their communities.
“I love being a Knight of Columbus,” said Donald Gilbert, whose family was chosen as the organization’s 2012 International Family of the Year.
He described the organization as “a brotherhood dedicated to our families and serving in our communities.”
“It’s truly amazing what the Knights have accomplished and continue to accomplish in their local communities and across the world,” he said.
Gilbert was honored at an August 8th award ceremony during the organization’s 130th Supreme Convention in Anaheim, Calif.
Gilbert, who lives in Campbellsville, Ky., regularly volunteers for Church and school maintenance projects, runs the council’s coat drive and assists at various functions. In addition, he often works with the parish youth group and has helped teach sacrament preparation classes.
Gilbert's wife, Marcia, has homeschooled all of the family’s seven children, directs the local crisis pregnancy center and regularly gives talks about building the culture of life.
The couple’s children are also deeply involved in their faith, participating in a variety of activities ranging from altar serving and the parish choir to youth group and teaching religious education classes.
Sarah, the oldest daughter in the family, has become a novice with the Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker, and is now Sister Cecilia. Daniel, the oldest son, is currently a seminarian for the Louisville archdiocese.
The grand knight that nominated the family said that he believes “that the Catholic Faith is much better off for this family’s sacrifices and good works.”
The Knights of Columbus also presented a series of international service awards recognizing councils that have responded with excellence to the needs of their local parishes and communities, as well as families, youth and the unborn.
The International Community Activities Award was presented to a Filipino council for organizing and equipping Knights of Columbus Disaster Response Teams, offering training in disaster search, rescue and recovery through local organizations.
The program was intended to “provide compassionate and efficient disaster response to save lives, to ease suffering and to minimize damage during disasters,” the Knights said in a statement announcing the award.
The community activities award was also given to a Joplin, Mo., council for its response to a devastating May 2011 tornado. The group assisted in search-and-rescue efforts and helped with food, transportation, shelter and donation coordination for those in need.
The Archbishop Duke Council from Richmond, British Columbia, was awarded for its work to promote the culture of life. The group helped organize a local “40 Days of Life” campaign by coordinating two 24-hour prayer vigils in front of a local abortion clinic.
A statement by the Knights explained that the council’s pro-life chairs “spearheaded the effort to promote the campaign and sign-up parishioners and brother Knights.”
Ninety council members participated in the effort, teaming with other pro-life groups in the parish. Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver also joined members of the council in their public demonstration for life.
The Youth Activity Award was given to the St. Louis Guanella Council in Chelsea, Mich., for its work with the Children’s Peace Project, which aims to “foster unity in Christ among Middle East and Western Christians.”
Members worked with the Holy Land Ecumenical Foundation to host high school students from the Holy Land. The council conducted fundraisers to pay for the students’ trips, and council families hosted them during their stay.
Council members also sponsored “the education of a student at a Holy Land Christian school” and held “ongoing gift sales” to support Christians in the Holy Land, the Knights said.
In addition to the annual awards given at the ceremony, the Knights issued religious freedom awards for the first time this year.
The organization presented a religious freedom award to a council in Kalispell, Mont. that has worked to defend a statue of Christ that serves as a war memorial on Big Mountain. The statue has been targeted by an anti-religious group which is demanding its removal.
The religious freedom award was also given to a council in Pitman, N.J., which has launched a grassroots campaign to protect a “Keep Christ in Christmas” banner from similar attacks.
Members of the council worked with residents, small business owners, media, parishes and government officials in the effort, which “offered a powerful public witness,” the Knights said.
Updated on August 13th, 2012 at 10:55 a.m. MST. Corrects the last name of the Family of the Year to "Gilbert," instead of "Paul." Changes status of Daniel Gilbert to being a current seminarian.