The right time to serve the church you love

Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus are pictured at Mass to celebrate World Day of Consecrated Life at Holy Family Parish, Sewell, on Feb. 2. The Knights have 15,900 councils and 1.9 million members throughout the world. Liberty Council 1910 out of Bridgeton’s Parish of the Holy Cross was the second most successful council in the United States for recruiting new members for the 2018-19 fiscal year. Photo by Debbie Troy
The 101 year-old Knights of Columbus Liberty Council 1910 was recently named second in the country for recruiting, with 113 men currently serving the community at Parish of the Holy Cross in Bridgeton. Above, members of the council outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington. Front row: Fred Arno, Grand Knight Don Olbrich and Sam Guidoni, Jr. Back row: Steve Smith, Rob Ternay, Ed Hilt and Lew DiPietro III.
Steve Smith and Steve Kutley, members of Knights of Columbus Liberty Council 1910, create crosses for the unborn to be placed on the lawn of Saint Michael Church, Cedarville.

Don Olbrich is nothing if not persistent.

Wherever he goes, he carries with him Form 100s, which are membership documents for the Knights of Columbus. Which is not surprising, as he is Grand Knight of his council, Liberty Council 1910 out of Bridgeton’s Parish of the Holy Cross.

“I took a Form 100 to my doctor’s office,” he says, but it wasn’t blank.

“I had already filled out his name and phone number, all I needed was his address,” he continues.

And then there was the time he tried to get his son, D.J., to join the council.

“He kept telling me no, so I told some of my brother Knights that if they could get him to sign up, I’d give them $100. It worked,” he says, laughing.

Olbrich’s methods have no doubt rubbed off on his brother Knights. From July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, his council gained 40 new members, 800% of their recruitment goal. The effort made Liberty Council 1910 second in the country in recruitment for any Knight’s council. 

Today, the 101-year-old council is 113 men strong, in ages ranging from 19 years old to the mid-80s, Olbrich says.

The Knights of Columbus Liberty Council 1910 provides a meal to faithful of Parish of the Holy Cross, Bridgeton. With Don Olbrich, Grand Knight, far left, are his brother Knights Byron Hitchner, Tom Perriotti and Jim Ryan.

“We set monthly membership goals,” he says in explaining how the council achieved the milestone. 

His doggedness and determination speak to his love of the church where he has been a Knight for 10 years.

“It’s all about helping the parish,” he says.

The Liberty Council Knights are a constant presence around the Holy Cross community, be it cooking for the annual fall parish festival, organizing a donation drive of baby wipes and diapers for single mothers and their children, or repainting lines in the church parking lot.

Olbrich was thankful for the leadership and guidance of Holy Cross pastor, Father Matthew Weber, who has shown “tremendous support” for the council.

“The Knights have been a wonderful blessing,” says Father Weber, himself a Fourth Degree Knight.

In addition to “stepping up” to help the parish in whatever needs to be done, such as helping out with maintenance issues or being extra hands at parish events, the Knights of Columbus are “leading men to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, and with each other,” he says.

As well, he is pleased that the council reflects the diverse nature of his Bridgeton parish — a bilingual community with a faithful and collaborative mix of Anglo-Saxon and Hispanic members.

“The Knights have been a beautiful bridge” between these communities, he says,

“I’m glad this council has blossomed. These men are pillars of charity, fraternity, unity, and patriotism,” Father Weber said, echoing the Knights of Columbus’ mission.

Following the call from Supreme Director Carl Anderson to make the Knights more appealing, the Bridgeton Knights will hold a public initiation ceremony after the 4:30 p.m. Mass at Saint Mary Church, Rosenhayn on Saturday, Feb. 22, with a spaghetti dinner afterward. All are welcome.