Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 25, 2005
Michael Anctil prince of a guy
Grand Knight of the Year turns applause towards his council
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Michael Anctil is a modest knight, even though he is a real winner. At last year's state convention he received the Grand Knight of the Year award in recognition of his good work leading the Father Joe McKenna Council.
But as far as Anctil is concerned, the award belongs to the whole council.
"We just have a really exceptional young council that's very, very active and all I really had to do last year was a lot of the organizing," he said.
"There was always lots of people to come out to do the work; we were never short of people.
"I would like to think of it as more of a council award because no matter how good you are, if you don't have your council willing to do the work, it's just not going to work out."
Anctil is a popular figure in Medicine Hat. In addition to volunteering with the Knights, he serves on the executive of the Southeast Alberta Gymnastic Club and of Camp McCoy, a Catholic youth camp in Elkwater Provincial Park.
He runs his own business, Medicine Hat Monumental, a manufacturer of headstones and grave markers.
Anctil and his wife Wanda have three teenage daughters and the five of them participate in Knight activities as a family. He led the 249-member Joe McKenna Council from July 2002 to July 2004.
"We are a very young and active council so whatever the parish asked us to do we were able to supply," he said in a telephone interview.
"If there was ever any help needed for anything, we are able to find people quickly and we do a lot of stuff for the community too."
During his tenure, the Joe McKenna Council helped a lot of individual groups both financially and with labour.
"We did some work down at the women's shelter building some cupboards." Members of the council also cooked meals for the food bank quite a few times.
"He does a lot but he really is very self-effacing; he is really quite embarrassed whenever anybody recognizes him."
- Gordon Pollock
One of the members once cooked barbeque chicken for the food bank, giving the needy something different to eat for a change.
"There again it looks good for the grand knight but it is somebody else doing a lot of the work," Anctil laughed.
"That's why I always like to look at the grand knight of the year award as a council award because there is no way I could have done it alone."
Anctil said the Joe McKenna Council donated over $85,000 last year to various groups and did about 20,000 hours of volunteer service. "And we helped lots at the church (cleaning, painting, moving and doing social activities)."
Money from the council went to Camp McCoy, the Catholic school system, the women's shelter, Operation Eyesight, an organization that does eye surgery in the underdeveloped world, the church building fund and assistance for young people who attended World Youth Day in Toronto.ing fund andto assist young people who attended World Youth Day in Toronto.
The council also donated money for vocations, to the local hospital, to pro-life activities, the United Way and the Santa Claus Fund. The also sponsored a drug awareness program in the schools and several sports teams.
Anctil also put out five council newsletters a year while he was grand knight and still does it.
"Michael is just one of those guys that gets lots done," said district deputy Mike Lewans. "He is the kind of guy who gets involved in everything and puts a 110 per cent into it. Even when he was our grand knight, he was president of the gymnastic club and numerous things all at once.
"I think it is only a matter of a few years before he is district deputy and maybe even state deputy. I know that no matter what he gets into he puts in the effort and he takes the time to do things right."
Anctil was certainly a busy guy when he was grand knight, noted Gordon Pollock, Father Joe McKenna Council's current grand knight.
"Our council is one of the largest councils in the jurisdiction and Michael was very, very instrumental in leading it and in a lot of the success that the council has had over the past two years," he said.
"He is a very hard worker, he is really well organized and that's probably part of his success. He brought a lot of organization to the whole administration of the council.
"He streamlined our meetings, implemented a few changes to sort of shorten up the meetings so they are a little more attractive to the guys and (came up with) a lot of new projects too."
Anctil implemented the VIP program, or volunteer incentive program, to encourage more participation among members. "Every time a knight worked at a church function or a council function we threw his name in a hat and at the end of the year we had a draw for a Knight of Columbus wrist watch. That was very well received by the members," Pollock explained. "And it did make it quite a bit easier to get volunteer workers for projects."
Anctil was grand knight through a rocky period for the knights of the Joe McKenna Council. The Church in Medicine Hat was in the process of merging three parishes and building the new Holy Family Church, leaving the council without a home. St. Mary's Church, the council's original parish, was sold and the council was temporarily moved to Christ the King Church.
Running the council in loaned premises wasn't easy.
"Just managing to keep the council functioning and keeping all our projects going, our pancake breakfasts at the church hall and things like that was probably an accomplishment in itself," recalled Pollock.
"One thing that Michael did as a knight is he voluntarily stored for a year and a half all of the Knights, CWL and church equipment and furniture and everything else, free of charge and most people are not even aware of that," he said.
"I think that's just the kind of guy that he is. He moved all of the furniture out of the church, put it into storage in one of his warehouse buildings, kept it there for a year and a half and then he and his employees moved it all into the new church. He did it all free of charge and doesn't even seek any recognition for his contribution."
According to Pollock, Anctil "was involved in everything" during his tenure. "He never missed a project and if he did, either his wife or his daughters were involved." Sometimes his wife or his mom and dad would watch his business while he was busy going out on the Knights' projects.
A very busy guy
"So he is a very busy guy who epitomizes that old adage which says, 'If you need something done, give it to a busy guy,'" Pollock commented. "As president of the gymnastic club, he spearheaded the purchase and expansion of a big building so (local gymnasts, including his daughters) would have their own gymnasium and training area.
"He does a lot but he really is very self-effacing; he is really quite embarrassed whenever anybody recognizes him. He just doesn't want any part of that. He just doesn't do it for self-recognition."
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.