Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 27, 2009
Calgary's University K of C ebbs and flows
The university council finds it must adapt to students' study cycle
PHOTO | VIRGINIA BATTISTE
These beaming faces represent the multinational quality of St. Mary's University's K of C.
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
CALGARY — Obtaining its charter in 2003, the St. Thérèse of Lisieux Campus Council #13285 at St. Mary’s University, Calgary, is the second campus council to be chartered in Alberta. The first is at St. Joseph’s College, Edmonton.
With charter members from other Calgary Knights of Columbus councils participating initially, the campus council is evolving to where it now depends on student members taking leadership in the council.
However, the ebb and flow of activities of a university campus Knights of Columbus council differs from a parish one. Depending as it does on the availability of its student members, the peak season for involvement drops off once campus activities come to an end early in the spring, says Ray Khuller, district deputy for District 28 of the Alberta and Northwest Territories Knights of Columbus.
STUDIES COME FIRST
“We don’t ask more of people than they can give. We understand that they are students and need to tend to those responsibilities first. In the fall, they pick things up again.”
He says there is a unique, international flavour to the council with students from outside of Canada belonging to it.
In his first year as grand knight, Peter Uko recognizes that full participation by members is challenging.
“Part of the nature of a student council is that membership can go up and down. Some students only attend classes part-time, so they come and go, or many students have jobs. And, of course, they graduate and move on.”
A DIFFERENT FLAVOUR
He says that gives a different flavour to the way the council operates.
“The process is ‘fast paced,’ as it were. As a college council, we are expected to catch up, and stabilize the council each year. But a good membership base helps do that.
“We look for members who are excited about community service, who are dedicated to spiritually helping their neighbour. They need to be people who are active, and go out and represent us properly.”
He adds that the campus council provides a smaller, closer community identity within the larger community of the university student body.
“I have served in the Church before, but this is a different way to serve. The experience here on campus is being a community within our council, and within the larger community of St. Mary’s. We are brothers together. It is a new experience for me to serve this way.”
Two charter members from other councils in Calgary, Leo Bunz and Peter Kostin, became involved with the campus council because of their association with St. Mary’s University. Among other activities, Bunz was a member of St. Mary’s University Foundation and volunteered with the Charity Golf Tournament. He thought it made sense to participate in the campus council. Rather than take on an executive role, he chose to offer the benefit of his 40 years experience with the Knights and be available to give counsel behind the scenes.
Kostin, on the other hand, the head of security for St. Mary’s University, chose to be involved in the leadership of the council. He is the warden and responsible for recruitment. With a total membership of just under 40, he has personally signed up 14 members this year. He has a special approach to recruitment.
“I attend the weekly Wednesday Mass and watch who is coming regularly. Then I approach the young men and ask if they are interested in joining.”
When the council was struggling a couple of years ago, Michael Isakeit, resigned as district deputy to become financial secretary for the St. Thérèse of Lisieux Council. He helped develop a succession plan and encourage being active on campus and with the district.
“Students will come if you give them something to do, so I helped them put a program together. Lots of the members don’t come to the meetings, but they show up for activities the council is involved with.”
SAVE A CHILD‘S HEART
As a fundraiser, they challenged the St. Mary’s women’s soccer team to a noon hour game. Funds raised went to Save a Child’s Heart, a charity based in Israel that takes care of children with heart problems, providing transplants and other medical attention.
The campus council also hosted the Right to Life Oratorical Contest last year, and is planning to host the event again this November.
Having the student members take “ownership” of the council ensures its longevity, Isakeit says. It also provides an opportunity for young men to develop leadership skills that can be put to use in other councils once their university experience is over.
“Letting them take responsibility for leadership gives them experience. They can transfer to another council wherever they go from here. When they go to a new council, they bring those leadership skills with them.”