Thursday, September 10, 2015

September 2015 Bulletin:
A Reflection on Family

Lead article from the September 2015 bulletin, online now.

The past couple weeks have been both difficult and joyous. I had to experience both death and marriage, and it's amazing how they both affect you so similarly when you start to reflect on them.

We laid my grandmother to rest this month. This was not unexpected; in fact it was somewhat of a joyous occasion. We all knew she had been suffering greatly the last several years and was really looking forward to being reunited with her husband and children in heaven. What makes this difficult for me is two things. First of all, between my wife and me, she was the last grandparent we had left. You don't realize how much your grandparents mold your life as a child. What I wouldn't give to have a couple hours with those that already passed on, just to ask questions about their lives and the history of our families. Grandparents hold such a wealth of information that cannot be fully appreciated until we are adults and have our own families.

The second reason this is difficult in that you don't always fully appreciate someone's life until they are gone. I want to share a little bit of information from her obituary that never hit me until someone put it in writing. She had 17 children, 33 grandchildren, and 55 great grandchildren. This is so amazing to me that this one man and one woman created this huge family that just continues to grow even after they are gone. That is 105 lives created due to two people choosing to say yes to each other in marriage and start a family. Then later in the obituary we get to this: She was preceded in death by five of her children. Yes she lost five children, four before they reached their first birthday. I cannot imagine losing a single child, and she had to experience that horrible loss five times. This woman didn't spend her early parenting years running kids from activity to activity or figuring out what smartphone or gadget she should buy them for Christmas. No, she spent her years figuring out how to feed these children and hoping that there would be a little bit of money to put something/anything under the Christmas tree. But regardless of all that, I heard over and over again throughout that weekend about how generous she was and how faithful of a woman she was. Through all her hardship and struggles she never gave up hope and never let it interfere with her love of her Catholic faith. She must have had thousands of opportunities to turn her head to her faith but instead she chose to lean on God in those hard times. The priest talked about how she was always at the church praying and helping out in whatever capacity she could. I never knew she was as faithful as she was, I chalk this up as another lost opportunity to ask a ton of questions. Let us embrace our families while we can and not let the trials of life interfere with what's truly important.

Now let’s jump to a more joyous topic. I had the honor of attending my sister-in-law’s wedding this last weekend in Ossian, Iowa. I wouldn't expect that you heard of it; this is a stereotypical small town in Iowa surrounded by farms and corn fields as far as you can see. What makes this so special is the family that I had the honor of experiencing while I was there. My now brother-in-law's family was so unbelievably welcoming and joyous about this occasion. I heard stories and got to see reunions between people that hadn't seen each other in years. I got to see a proud father share his son's wedding with an entire community. It was truly amazing. My wife commented several times on how she didn't run into a single person that wasn't super welcoming. That family welcomed everyone near and far into their arms this weekend. It pains me to know that my new brother-in-law has no interest in his family farm or moving back to that little community down in Iowa that cares so much about him. But I also realize that people change but our families never do. Regardless of where his life leads him and his new family, that family down in Iowa could not be prouder of him.

It's interesting how a funeral and a wedding can generate such similar emotions and reflections. But unfortunately it takes a major occasion for us to make the time to get together with our families and share those stories that molded us into the people we are today. Don't wait until it's too late to ask questions or share stories with your family. Those are the things that carry on long after you do. What will your legacy be?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

2015 KC Soccer Challenge Set for Friday, Sept. 11

The Knights of Columbus Soccer Challenge is returning to St. Michael! All boys and girls ages 9-14 are invited to participate in the local level of competition for the 2015 Knights of Columbus Soccer Challenge. The event will be held on Friday September 11 at the STMA Middle School East soccer fields.

This competition is designed for players to demonstrate the most basic of soccer skills – the penalty kick. Each player will be take 15 shots at the goal from the penalty line that is 12 yards back. The goal is divided into 5 scoring zones with ropes as you can see in the image below. The upper corners are worth 20 points, the lower corners are worth 10 points, and the center is worth 5 points. The participant in each age category with the highest point total will be declared the winner.

 For more information, check out our flyer. If you are a brother Knight able to volunteer for this event, please sign up online.

Monday, July 27, 2015

August 2015 Bulletin:
It's Not About Time

Lead article from the August 2015 bulletin, online now.

I sit here looking at my one week old son Micah thinking “Is this really such a good time to be taking on the role of Grand Knight?”  I remember this time last summer when Jim was deciding if he was going to serve a second year.  At the time, my wife Shawna, was finishing up her last year of college and I thought to myself: “Please Jim, just one more year and I will have more time to focus on the role.”  Three years ago, when I was asked to become Chancellor of this council, I had another new baby at home.  I accepted the role thinking “I won’t be Grand Knight for at least a couple more years.  Things will settle down by then and I will have more time to focus on it.”  It’s now 2015 and I’m a father of 7 children ages: 15,12,9,7,3,2 and 1 week.  If you look at those ages you will realize that 3 of those kids have been born since 2012 when I was asked to be Chancellor.  I have plenty of reasons to say no at this point in my life.  I can continue to fool myself into thinking I will have more free time in the future.  But let’s not kid ourselves.  Kids get older and they don’t consume less of our time, they just consume our time in different ways.  I don’t see how that will ever change.  Sure they may move out some day but then they will start having kids of their own and I kind of want to be a big part of their lives too.  So tell me when is a good time to do this?

I’ve realized that this isn’t about time at all.  I can convince myself that I don’t have time to do this but I can also convince myself to spend a whole evening sitting on the couch in front of the TV.  This isn’t about time, this is about commitment and charity.  I’m doing this because it’s my way of giving back to my church and my community.  The same church that welcomed us via RCIA in 2008 and has made such a wonderful impact on our lives since then.  I dedicate time as a baseball coach and swimming official to show my kids that I support them in their activities and want to be involved in their lives.  I dedicate time to the KC’s because I want to show my church, my community, and most importantly the Lord that I support them and I appreciate the impact they have on my life.

See where I’m going with this?  We never have enough time but we always have some time.  Don’t let the fear of a time commitment scare you away from getting involved.  If I asked you to commit 2 hours this year to the KC’s would that scare you off?  You may think that 2 hours isn’t enough to make a difference so why bother.  What if I said that a single 2 hour shift at the tree lot might let that brother knight who has spent the previous 4 hours working the lot go home and eat dinner with his family?  It’s unfortunate but it does happen.  We have well over 400 members in this council, there is no reason any one of us should have to make sacrifices like that.  So yes, your 2 hours a year are important even if it’s not immediately obvious.

I am very proud to be a Knight.  We do so many wonderful things for our church and our community.  I am in this role because it’s how I was called to serve at this point in my life.  How are you being asked to serve?  I ask that you think about this and make one commitment to take action this year.  No matter how big or small that commitment is.  It could be signing up for a shift at the tree lot, attending your first business meeting, or helping us coordinate one of our events.  Everything we do as KC’s is important and it makes us who we are.  Without each and every one of you we wouldn’t be Council 4174.

God Bless,
Joe VanHoorik
Grand Knight