Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 27, 2009
Wally Streit leaves a stellar legacy
Increased membership, good morale, greater charity support, stronger programs please this knight
WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
After two years leading the Knights of Columbus Alberta/Northwest territories, Wally Streit can look back on his yeoman efforts with pride of his many accomplishments.
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - After almost two years at the helm of the Knights of Columbus of Alberta/Northwest Territories, Wally Streit is leaving his post with the feeling of a job well done.
Membership in the order is up, donations to charities are up, councils are stronger, morale is good and programs have generally improved.
"I'm quite pleased with the progress we've made," Streit, a retired senior assistant vice president of the Canadian Western Bank, said in a recent interview.
"I'm satisfied that the jurisdiction is better than when I took it over."
The supreme council is satisfied as well. During Streit's first term, the Alberta-Northwest Territories jurisdiction was brought into the Supreme Circle of Honour for its achievements in the areas of recruitment, membership retention, and council development.
Streit received the circle of honour award, a crystal octagon, at the Knights' supreme convention in August 2008. The rare honour may be bestowed on the Alberta Knights again this year.
Streit, a member of the Father Bonner Council at Edmonton's St. Thomas More Parish, was elected state deputy at the Knights' convention in Calgary almost two years ago. He was re-elected last year at the Edmonton convention. His replacement will be picked at the Red Deer convention April 24-26.
Recruitment was one of Streit's priorities during his two terms in office. "That's because if we have more members then we can do more good works for the Church and the Church community," he said.
Since Streit became state deputy the Alberta Knights recruited over 1,500 members for a total of 16,550. A good number of these new members are Streit's own. He is the Knights' top recruiter, having brought in 1,070 men for the order over the last 10 years, when he started keeping track.
His recruitment strategy is straightforward. "I do it by asking men to become members of the Knights of Columbus," he explains.
"I do it one on one by talking to people and telling them being a member of the KC is good for them as individuals, good for the Church and good for the family." The Knights also recruit through parish campaigns and round tables.
"We exist to support the Church and as we recruit more members our voice supporting the Church becomes stronger," Streit explains. The Knights have 1.8 million members worldwide and more than a quarter million members across Canada.
"So when we need to speak up to support the Church on life or family issues our numbers are very important."
Streit also made it a goal to make the councils stronger. To accomplish that he appointed focus groups to work with individual councils that required assistance whether it be in the area of membership or programs.
"If we had a council that was struggling then I would appoint two or three people that would go in and help that council to do an assessment and see whether they need some help with their programs, help with membership or leadership support," he said.
"And then they not only go in and help that council initially; they follow through for a period of time to make sure the council is stronger again."
Streit has done this type of intervention in the councils at least a dozen times during his tenure. Once he spent three days in Yellowknife helping to rejuvenate that council.
"And we have done that right across the jurisdiction. It makes a big difference because you get new leadership and help them with the parish campaign."
REVITALIZED AND RESTORED
Last fall there was concern a council in Calgary was going to fold. "We went in there and did a focus group and a parish campaign, and a new election of officers and today the council is doing very well.
"It makes a difference when someone comes in and helps out."
Streit has been part of some of these focus groups and since last fall he has been in places like Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, High Level, Yellowknife, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and everything in between.
"I would say the councils are stronger because of these (interventions)," he said.
The order also established eight new councils this year, including a Vietnamese council in Calgary - the first of its kind in Canada.
There have been other successes as well. During Streit's first term, the Alberta Knights donated in excess of $2.5 million to charity, the equivalent of $160 per member. This amount is expected to be higher this year.
About 400 delegates from 166 councils across Alberta-Northwest Territories are expected to attend the three-day convention at the Capri Hotel.
At the convention banquet April 25, Archbishop Richard Smith and Bishop David Motiuk of the Ukrainian Eparchy will attend along with 600 delegates and guests.
Several resolutions will be debated, including one that calls for the donation of $20,000 from the Pennies for Heaven campaign to assist in the construction of St. Joseph's Seminary.
Another resolution submitted by the Hinton council requests the federal government to either dissolve or set tight limits on the powers of federal and provincial human rights commissions.
Among the reasons for the request is that the commissions are being used by special interest groups to attack the moral teachings of the Catholic faith and to besmirch the reputations of Catholic clergy.