Columbianism originally came to St. Rose of Lima parish back, in 1925 when Millburn Council #2575 was chartered. It flourished under the guidance of Chaplain and Pastor Rev. James T. Brown, but the depression took its’ toll and when the Council was unable to pay its’ insurance premiums the Charter was revoked. The Holy Name Society supplanted it and was a dominant organization for the spiritual and social aspects of parish life for the next thirty plus years.
Bishop John J. Dougherty, after decades as scriptural scholar and teacher at Darlington’s Immaculate Conception Seminary and Seton Hall College, was assigned as Pastor of St. Rose’s. The Bishop, a Fourth Degree Knight himself and N.J. State Chaplain, spoke from the pulpit of the benefits of having a KofC. council in the parish. He arranged to have then State Deputy Pat O’Reilly, State Advocate Joe Luciano, and District Deputy Carmine “Chick” Maccarone along with his Warden, Mike McDonnell come to St. Rose’s to speak to those interested in forming a council here. It took a few meetings but a nucleus was formed and a charter was issued in May of 1972. Our first Grand Knight was John Gilsenan ,a parishioner and a Third Degree Knight, who transferred from So. Orange Council. A parallel with the original council #2575 can be drawn as Thomas J. Dalton transferred from So. Orange in 1925 to become the G.K. in 1926. (Ray Heising was the first G.K.)
True to the basic principle of the Order, charity has always been our watchword. The good Lord in His infinite wisdom sees natural disasters as a means to provide opportunities for the masses to demonstrate their willingness to assist the unfortunate victims. We, along with many other N.J. councils, journeyed to Wilkesbarre and Kingston in Pa. In 1972 when the Susquehanna River went on a rampage. We took along a contingent from St. Rose’s C.Y.O., who worked right along with us, first removing inches go mud from the houses to which we were assigned; then washing and scrubbing until clean and later wielding paintbrushes. The memory of second story watermarks is still vivid as are the marks on the bridge from Wilkesbarre to Kingston. They were 5 to 6 ft. above the roadway which was approximately 25 ft. above the river in normal times. Hard to believe but as they say, truth is stranger than fiction.
We also responded to Hurricane Hugo’s victims in Charleston, S.C.; to victims of oppression in Croatia; to the poor and the homeless in Newark through St. Pat’s Pro-Cathedral and St. John’s on Mulberry St. and to many others during our 30 yr. History.
We’ve separated and packed clothing for the Annual Archbishop’s Clothing Drive many times. During the two year reign of GK Ed Downs(l975-76) we answered a call or rather responded to a need. He had heard that cloister of Carmelite nuns in Morristown would ring their Church bells when they had nothing to eat and neighbors upon hearing them would respond by bringing food to the gate. Ed picked up the banner and ran with it. Baskets of food and fruit were donated at Christmas. A friendship developed and a need for milk was cited. Since that time we have underwritten the cost of furnishing milk to the Cloister. in 1981 orange juice was added and has also been supplied to the present time.
In the beginning we held our meetings in the School basement but at the suggestion of Bishop John we switched to the Church basement. We built the kitchen there and during Msgr. Harrold A. Murray’s tenure as pastor we offered to do the basement over but Msgr. Declined the offer, stating that a parishioner wanted to do something in memory of Msgr. Ryan, who had rebuilt the Church to its’ present design, Hence the basement was renovated and Ryan Hall came into being.
The Knights, under the direction of PGK Charles Pisciotta, were responsible for the enclosure of the outside stairway to Ryan Hall. We also built the Ramp for handicapped access to the church between the Rectory and the Church proper. We replaced the cracked and crumbling front steps to the church. The garage in the rear of the parking lot was built to house equipment used in the cemetery and grounds maintenance, again by Charles “The Builder”. We purchased and donated a portable dance floor for use in Ryan Hall, plus a pair of “smoke eaters” to enhance the atmosphere there. We donated a color TV, a VCR and customized stand for classroom use to The CCD program. In 1995, a monument to the unborn was designed and installed by the Knights and dedicated by Msgr. Devine. With a contingent of Fourth Degree Color Corps enhancing the ceremony, it was a proper tribute to those denied the right to life.
Community involvement has also been a hallmark. We furnish the Grand Prize (a $100 bond) at the township’s annual Halloween Parade, which is sponsored by the Fire Dept. PGK and Battalion Chief Chas. Gosling had been in charge of the parade for several years. Another PGK, Gary Venturi, was quite taken with the work of the Summit Speech School. He arranged to have a spokesman from the school speak to the council. Result: we ran a raffle and made close to $2000 for the school. We’ve run other raffles, one to purchase a special wheelchair for a little angel that never lived long enough to use it Others have helped fund our scholarship program. We’ve had a scholarship program since the mid-seventies. We started with $300 grants, building to four such awards per year. Then, as times and tuitions changed, we upped the amount to $500 and at present give three $1000 grants to local residents graduating H.S.(local, private, or parochial) The program is open to anyone residing in Millburn Twp.; any parishioner of St. Rose of Lima Parish, which includes part of Springfield, or a progeny of a council member, many of whom live outside the twp. We also give $1000 in memory of Msgr. Ryan to the St. Andrews Seminary College at Seton Hall University. The Rector makes the choice and usually gives $500 to two seminarians.
Other community involvement includes food drives for the Red Cross and eyeglasses for New Eyes for the Needy. We also have many of our members donate their time to New Eyes. Jake Dalton, PGK is Operations Manager and a member of the Executive Board and works Mon. thru Thurs.
We’re worked four years with S.H.O.P.(Short Hills Outreach Program) by doing the St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen on the third Wednesday of each month. We plan the menu, purchase the food and supplies, cook the meal and make ready for transport on Wednesday morning. Frank Alexander, PGK and Chief Steward of the operation, has been involved from the start and until 2003, handled the fund-raising.
Our Youth Activities Committee has also been active over the years, holding spelling bees; bicycle inspections; essay contests; poster contests; and basketball free-throw contests. Incidentally, I believe that Jackie Holle is the only participant from St. Rose’s to go all the way to the State Finals and be crowned the Champion in her age class. (Brother Clark Holle fiished third in the State the same year).
Even our Christmas parties, basically social affairs for our council families, included the less fortunate. Toys were donated and taken to Children’s Hospital in Newark. Some years we worked with the Marine Corps in their “Toys for Tots” program. At the same time we encouraged our council family to decorate our tree with green, (the 5, 10, and 15 dollar type green) and donated same to St. John’s Soup Kitchen on Mulberry St. in Newark. The figure has been as low as $200. and as high as $600. Many years the tree itself was donated to St. John’s, so the homeless could enjoy a tree of their own.