Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 4, 2009
Knights elect Neil Gannon as state deputy
Former school administrator accepts archbishop's challenge to raise $1M for new St. Joseph Seminary
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
RED DEER — The Knights of Columbus of Alberta/Northwest Territories have chosen a seasoned Edmonton school administrator as their leader.
Neil Gannon, a retired school principal and superintendent, was elected state deputy at the Knights’ annual state convention here April 24-26.
More than 500 people, including delegates and guests, attended the convention at the Capri Hotel.
“I’m really honoured and privileged to have been elected and I am looking forward to the challenge,” Gannon, a member of Edmonton’s Good Shepherd Parish, said a day after the convention.
“There are very good people serving with me on the board and that will make the job much easier.”
Serving on the state board along with Gannon will be Gary Johnson of St. Albert, state secretary; William Smith of Calgary, state advocate; Ronald Schuster of Edmonton, state warden; and Philip Birch of Edmonton, state treasurer. They will all be installed July 1.
Gannon, 68, replaces Wally Streit in the state deputy position. Streit, the Knight’s top recruiter, will serve on the state board for the next two years as immediate past state deputy.
Father Henry Rosenbaum will continue serving as state chaplain and Archbishop Richard Smith as the honourary state chaplain.
Gannon also expects strong support from his wife Cecile, “a strong Knights of Columbus supporter.”
The couple has four married children and eight grandchildren in Edmonton.
“I think he is an excellent choice,” Streit said of his replacement. “He will do a good job for the jurisdiction. He has served on all board positions and has prepared himself well for the position (of state deputy).”
Gannon does not as yet have many specific goals in mind, although he said he “will strive to get better in all things we do.
“We will evaluate what we are doing and see where we can improve.”
One thing he is ready to tackle is a challenge from the archbishop to raise $1 million over five years to help build the new St. Joseph Seminary at 84th Street and 101st Avenue.
Smith placed the challenge at the convention, saying if the Knights raise $1 million, the archdiocese would name the seminary tower after the order’s founder Father Mike McGivney.
“The group at the convention agreed (with this fundraising project) and we are ready for the challenge,” Gannon said.
“It’s a very worthwhile project; the tower will be very visible from quite a ways away.”
A native of Vermilion, Gannon holds a master of education from the University of Alberta and a doctorate of education from Montana University.
He served as a principal in Viking and Fort Saskatchewan before becoming superintendent of the County of Beaver School District for three years and then the Leduc Public School District for 11 years.
Gannon also served as executive director of the College of Alberta Schools’ Superintendents before retiring some six years ago.
He has been a member of the Knights of Columbus for 35 years.
“The Knights of Columbus always impressed me,” he said. “My father was always active in Vermilion, so I always knew I would join and I’ve always stayed very active. It’s really a perfect organization for someone who wants to get involved.”
Several significant performance awards were presented at the convention. The Family of the Year Award went to the Kevin LaGrange family from Red Deer; the Knight of the Year Award went to Bruno Binassi from the Brother Anthony Council #10014 in St. Albert.
Nazareno Council #12904 of Edmonton was presented with the Council of the Year Award and Joe Novakowski from Council #3241 in Grande Prairie was named Grand Knight of the Year.
Raymond Khuller of Calgary was honoured as District Deputy of the Year.