Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
May 7, 2001
Quebecer rises to top of Knights
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — In his early 20s, Jean Migneault was perhaps a typical member of the Knights of Columbus in small town Quebec.
"I didn't get involved right away. I was raising my family and working at two jobs," he told the WCR April 27.
But his council did its banking at the caisse populaire where Migneault worked. And soon the council's financial secretary asked the young man to become the council archivist.
Migneault got involved and quickly worked his way up the ranks, serving as Quebec's state deputy from 1983-85. With 120,000 members in the jurisdiction at that time, it was a heady position for the young banker from St-Basile-le-Grand, near Montreal.
But Migneault didn't stop there. In 1984, he was elected to the supreme board of the Knights. The order liked what it saw - especially since all the money raised by Canadian Knights is reinvested in the Canadian economy. Seeing Migneault's knowledge of the Canadian banking business, the supreme board made him assistant supreme treasurer in 1992.
Five years later, he became supreme treasurer and last fall, when the order got a new supreme knight, Migneault became the deputy supreme knight.
No Canadian has ever risen so high in the 1.6-million member Knights of Columbus. Migneault, now 59, recalled that Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said he wanted the Quebecer as his right-hand man "because I have faith in the Canadian potential."
Migneault notes that there are 1,800 K of C councils in Canada and 225,000 knights. For the last five years, in the Knights' annual survey of fraternal activities - a survey of the amount of charitable donations and volunteer hours by local councils and fourth degree assemblies - the top three jurisdictions have been Canadian.
"We're very proud of that."
Migneault came to Edmonton for a second and third degree initiation and to visit with Alberta officials.
"I'm bringing to my brother knights the message of a new administration," he said. That message is growth in membership and more new councils.
As more and more parishes across North America are being left without resident priests, Migneault said that should spur the establishment of new councils. "Because there is no priest, there should be a council: Keep that church open on Sunday."
In Quebec, when bishops closed parishes and tried to move the people elsewhere, it wasn't successful, he said. The Knights of Columbus helped keep churches open and kept people coming to church on Sunday.
"I'm telling knights to be creative. We have to think about new ways of meeting the needs of our Church and our Catholic people."
Migneault said today the average age of a man who joins the Knights is 38 to 40. These are typically married men with young children.
"We can't ask them to come to a council without their wife, without their kids. Not in today's world," he said. "We have to be more family oriented in our activities. If we're not doing that, we're going to lose those members."
Migneault said the Knights are planning a major activity at World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto. At least 10,000 young Canadian knights and other Catholics will attend an event with the pope where there will be some special recognition of the Knights.
As well, the Knights are concerned about the dissolution of the Catholic education system in Newfoundland and Quebec. They want to help local bishops continue to carry out the job of passing on the faith, by providing money or manpower.
"The Knights of Columbus doesn't want to be the organization that just gives out the money. It's so easy to give out the money and forget the rest."
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