The members of Knights of Columbus Nazareno Council No. 12904, the first Filipino council in Alberta — NWT, with their wives, gather inside the Knights of Columbus Museum in Hartford, Conn. (Photo by Sam Llamas)
EDMONTON — In August 2016 the first Filipino Knights of Columbus council in Alberta made a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the Knights of Columbus in Hartford, Conn.
The 51 pilgrims in their crimson red pilgrimage windbreaker jackets assembled at Edmonton International Airport on Aug. 11 to begin their journey to New York and Connecticut. The day after their arrival their pilgrimage started with a guided tour of the Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford, CT, a celebration of the holy eucharist and guided tours of Mark Twain Museum and Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.
The following day their visit to the Knights’ headquarters and chapel, the museum and St. Mary’s Church included guided tours for their full day’s activities. Inside the church they saw the tomb of the founder, Rev. Michael J. McGivney, sheltered in the corner of the church that has become the shrine for pilgrim knights. The historical church basement is where McGivney, a 29-year-old curate well-known “among the young go-ahead men of the city,” called his first meeting of 24 Catholic men in 1882 to discuss the formation of a fraternal benefit society. This meeting marked the foundation of what became the largest body of Catholic laymen in the world. Four months after this meeting, the group adopted the name “Knights of Columbus.”
To make it a memorable visit to St. Mary’s Church, the newly elected council officers for fraternal year 2016- 2017 were installed.
The newly installed council officers (proxies included) for Columbian Year 2016 - 2017 are: Rolando T. Marcos, Grand Knight; DGK Rodolfo Arcilla (proxy for Armand Bernabe); Chancellor Joel Gonzales (proxy for Robert Croteau); FS Ferdinand Maingat; Recorder Mario Banana; Treasurer Orlando Damaso; Advocate Restituto Cabalo ( proxy for Carlo Capito); Lecturer Pedro (Bong) Estoque Jr.; Warden Jose Sindayen; Trustees Leogardo Guevarra, Antonio Briones, Samuel Llamas, Guards Ladislao Celemin and Rodolfo Valencia (proxy for Carlos Bernal).
A mass was celebrated at the main altar led by Rev. John Paul Walker, OP, rector of the church and a member of the local Venerable Father Michael McGivney Council No. 10705. He introduced the group to the audience to be the first council of pilgrim knights and their ladies to come from Canada to St. Mary’s Church.
Other activities for the group included being invited to an evening of Filipino entertainment and festivals at a nearby New Jersey Convention Center, a trip to Manhattan, a tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, seeing the lights of the Times Square area in the evening, a tour of the 9-11 Memorial Museum, Central Park, and a mass at St. Patrick Cathedral.
This tour was dubbed as the council’s “Pilgrimage 2016” in celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy as proclaimed by Pope Francis and celebrating the council’s 15th Charter Council anniversary.
Pilgrimage 2016 meant many things to many pilgrims. Most of the pilgrims experienced feelings of spiritual reawakening, reinvigorated their cultural and literary interests, learned a lot about the Knights of Columbus from the museum displays.
Tony Briones, a pilgrim knight, wrote, “My journey with the Knights started at my prime age in the Philippines and now the pilgrimage to St. Mary’s Church, the birthplace of the Knights of Columbus, was not only a historical experience but it also enriched knowledge about my faith.”
Sam Llamas, the official group photographer, called the pilgrimage “the supreme experience in my life as a knight.”
Nazareno Council No. 12904, the first Filipino council in Alberta — NWT, was formed within 51 days from Feb. 19, 2001 to April 8, 2001. From then on, this council has become an active, vibrant, and creative council in Edmonton and area. With its active membership supported by their wives, it sponsors activities like Thanksgiving Community dinners, traditional Filipino religious celebrations like Simbang Gabi (nine evening masses before Christmas), Lenten Pabasa (chanting of the Passion of Christ), Novena & Fiesta of Nazareno (Jan. 9), and hosting annual golf tournaments to raise funds for charities in Edmonton and area to mention a few. It has received numerous recognitions from Supreme and State Councils for its programs year after year.