100 years of help­ing oth­ers

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL News Staff

The Che­va­liers de Colomb (Knights of Colum­bus) Con­seil 1919 d’Alexan­dria re­cently cel­e­brated its cen­ten­nial.

And while the Con­seil has seen a num­ber of de­mo­graphic and or­ga­ni­za­tional changes over the past cen­tury, one thing has re­mained con­stant.

“For 100 years, the Knights have been do­ing char­i­ta­ble deeds in the com­mu­nity,” Con­seil pres­i­dent Jean Le­compte told The News, adding that a 23-item list of lo­cal en­deav­ours in­cluded in a pro­gram for the Novem­ber 3 cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tion event at Paroisse Sacré-Coeur “prob­a­bly could have been longer” if space had per­mit­ted.

A small sam­ple-size of the Con­seil’s com­mu­nity con­tri­bu­tions: dis­tribut­ing tur­keys to lo­cal res­i­dents and fam­i­lies in need at Christ­mas­time; fundrais­ing for L'Hôpi­tal Glen­garry Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal and the Corn­wall Com­mu­nity Hos­pi­tal; mak­ing dona­tions to CHEO, the Chil­dren’s Treat­ment Cen­treCorn­wall, and St. Vin­cent de Paul Food Bank; and pro­vid­ing bur­saries to wor­thy Le Re­lais stu­dents.

Mr. Le­compte , a Con­seil 1919 mem­ber for al­most 40 years, and its sec­re­tary, Archie Roussin, ex­plained that an edict from the Alexan­dri­aCorn­wall dio­cese in the early 1990s forced an or­ga­ni­za­tional re­struc­tur­ing of the Con­seil, cre­at­ing two sep­a­rate groups – Con­seil 1919, af­fil­i­ated with Sacré-Coeur church, and Alexan­dria Coun­cil 10640, of St. Fin­nan’s Cathe­dral, es­tab­lished in June 1991.

“I know that the Knights of Colum­bus started with the Scot­tish com­mu­nity be­cause they came here to Glen­garry first, and I’d say for half of the 100 years, it was run mostly by the Scot­tish,” said Mr. Le­compte.

“Then we, the French-Cana­di­ans joined in with them. But even­tu­ally, the bishop (Eugène LaRocque) had us sep­a­rated be­cause he asked that ev­ery parish have its own Knights of Colum­bus (coun­cil/con­seil).”

Mr. Roussin, a mem­ber of Con­seil 1919 for the past 53 years, re­called that it was an am­i­ca­ble split.

“They (the pre­dom­i­nantly English-speak­ing Knights who later be­came Coun­cil 10640) did not leave be­cause they wanted to,” he said. “It was kind of im­posed by the Church. They left in good will.”

In that vein, Mr. Le­compte pointed out that the Novem­ber 3 cen­ten­nial com­mem­o­ra­tion, billed as a “célébra­tion de 100 ans de ser­vice à l’église, la famille et la com­mu­nauté” for Con­seil 1919, also hon­oured the other town chap­ter.

“When we made plans to cel­e­brate, we said that we had to in­clude the Knights from St. Fin­nan’s too be­cause, re­ally, they were the first ones here,” he said.

The News’ archives bears wit­ness to the Con­seil’s pre­dom­i­nantly Celtic roots.

A story on the front page of the Sept. 6, 1918 edi­tion, chron­i­cling the of­fi­cial “in­sti­tu­tion” of the-then Glen­garry Coun­cil of the Knights of Colum­bus four days prior (Labour Day), states that the day’s pro­gram opened with a Solemn High Mass in St. Fin­nan’s Cathe­dral, “with Rev. J.J. Mac­donell of Lan­caster, as cel­e­brant, Rev. J. A. Mac­donell of Crysler, Dea­con, Rev. A.L. Cameron, sub-dea­con and Rev. A.L. Macdon­ald, Glen Robert­son, Mas­ter of Cer­e­monies.”

It also noted that the “pul­pit for the oc­ca­sion, was oc­cu­pied” by Rev. Fa­ther Hol­land of Massena Springs, N.Y.

How­ever, by the time the Coun­cil cel­e­brated its 60th an­niver­sary in 1978, it had a much more prom­i­nent fran­co­phone pres­ence.

The Coun­cil’s slate of of­fi­cers, pub­lished in the Aug. 30, 1978 edi­tion of The News, was over­whelm­ingly fran­co­phone, with Past Grand Knight Michael Gibbs Jr. the only English name among the dozen listed.

That year, the Alexan­dria coun­cil boasted 475 mem­bers.

Four decades later, those num­bers have dropped by al­most 75 per cent, to about 125, re­flec­tive of the times, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Le­compte.

“Like with all or­ga­ni­za­tions these days peo­ple are sort of be­com­ing more pas­sive. And the young peo­ple are not as in­ter­ested as we were,” he ex­plained.

De­spite the de­cline in mem­ber­ship over the past 40 years, Con­seil 1919 con­tin­ues to be a strong con­trib­u­tor to the com­mu­nity’s so­cial and spir­i­tual fab­ric – as it has since its found­ing a cen­tury ago.

“It’s not ev­ery or­ga­ni­za­tion that can cel­e­brate 100 years of help­ing oth­ers,” said Mr. Le­compte.

Con­seil 1919 con­tin­ues to con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.