Published: September 17, 2009
Stephen Smith, 61, a long-time parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Blairsville, helped spark a revival in youth ministry at his parish as a member of the Knights of Columbus.
For his efforts, Smith was recognized with the 2009 Georgia Knight of the Year award.
“My reaction was, very bluntly, they picked the wrong person. There are so many Catholic gentlemen in our organization that work so hard to serve the church and the flock. I’m a little embarrassed,” said Smith.
He is a retired public school educator. Two years ago, Smith joined the Knights Council 11746 to meet more men his age after spending a lifetime with young people.
With his background, he volunteered in 2007 to serve as a parish youth director when the group numbered about five teenagers. Today, there are some 75 teens involved.
Teens have really embraced service opportunities, he said. When a brother knight died with a large medical debt, the young people stepped up during a school break to restore his mobile home to be sold to lower the debt, he said.
Now, the group is looking into a mission trip of service next summer, he said.
In other Knights of Columbus news, Tom Schuler, newly elected grand knight at the council at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Kennesaw, threw down a challenge.
In July, he encouraged his fellow knights to raise $7,500 for an ultrasound machine for a local pregnancy center. According to a press release, more than 75 percent of “abortion-minded women” will opt to keep the baby if they see an ultrasound photo. And Schuler wanted the council to make a difference with this effort.
Two months later, the council has raised more than $24,000—enough for three ultrasound machines—and they are working on their fourth.
They did it with coffee sales, “Change to Change A Life” canisters, personal conversations and an appeal to the parishioners at St. Catherine.
Lights, camera, action! St. John the Evangelist School, Hapeville, had some time in the spotlight recently.
The school was profiled on the video section of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Web site to mark the beginning of the 2009-10 school year.
Principal Karen Vogtner is the narrator for a four-minute look at the award-winning school, where some 23 different nationalities are represented.
The video is titled “Teaching the Faith Is #1 Priority.” It can be found at www.usccb.org/video/.
St. Matthew Church in Winder hosted the Barrow County Mobile Food Pantry in late July to lend a hand to people in need.
Some 368 families were served in the morning visit. Clients began lining up by 8 a.m., two hours before the distribution started. Each household received about 50 pounds of food.
Proceeds from the Krewe of Knights Mardi Gras Ball paid for the food. The Krewe of Knights is made up of members of St. Matthew.
The Krewe of Knights has challenged ministries from the church to raise a minimum of $100 to sponsor another mobile food pantry delivery next March. The cost per truck is $800.
“We lived what we were called to do that morning, that is, to serve. I think many reflected on that and truly felt we were His hands. I am not sure who felt most blessed, the workers or those who received,” said Shelia Hawthorne, a member of the Krewe of Knights.
St. Pius X sophomore Kate Ward skipped school to chase after a ball.
OK, the ball happens to be a soccer ball. And the ball happens to be on a field in Taiwan. And Taiwan hosted the 21st Summer Deaflympic Games, with closing ceremony Sept. 15. And Ward happens to play for the U.S. National Deaf Women’s Soccer Team. So it kind of makes sense, but she is still skipping school.
And it paid off. The team brought home the gold medal, besting Germany 4-0 with a goal by Ward.
The Chamblee teen is the youngest member of the national team at 15. The majority of her teammates are collegiate or post-collegiate players. The team won gold during the 2005 Summer Deaflympics.
Ward attended tryouts for the soccer team in June in Pensacola, Fla.
“We were at a team dinner and Coach pulled me aside, offered me a spot, and announced it to the team, which was pretty exciting because they all applauded and individually welcomed me to the team,” she said.
St. Pius X High School’s Kate Ward kicks the ball downfield during the second round of the state soccer playoffs last April. Ward competed on the U.S. National Deaf Women’s Soccer Team that won gold in the 21st Summer Deaflympic Games, September 5-15 in Taiwan. (Photo by Michael Alexander)
Ward began playing soccer at the age of 4, and although she became deaf when she was 6 years old, she continued to play soccer. A cochlear implant allows her to hear and she is able to adapt to the field, players and the game. With her help as a freshman, the St. Pius X women’s varsity team won the AAA State Championship and topped the rankings of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America in May.
Some 5,000 athletes from around the world participated in the games, competing in 20 sports, from cycling and badminton to judo and table tennis, according to the Deaflympic Games’ Web site.
In order to compete, a player must have at least 55 dB hearing loss in their best ear. During the competition, all players must perform without hearing devices, making everyone on the field essentially deaf, including the game officials who use flags instead of whistles.
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