College Knights Honored for Exemplary Service

By: Gary Merritt - Sun, Sep 20, 2020 2:56 PM

These young Knights received awards at the 2020 College Councils Conference. Houghton, Michigan is known for its harsh winters, averaging about 400 inches of snow per year. The winters are especially tough for the elderly, which is why the Knights of Columbus members at Michigan Technological University decided to chop firewood to help keep them warm.

In recognition of the Knights’ exemplary service and accomplishments last year, Michigan Technological University Council 17237 received the Outstanding College Council Award at the 55th College Councils Conference – the Knights of Columbus’ annual gathering for members of councils on college campuses.

This year’s conference – the first virtual College Councils Conference in the Order’s history – recognized not just these young Knights’ service to the elderly, but their work in helping to foster faith on campus. During the school’s Winter Carnival Celebration, the Knights built an ice chapel capable of holding up to 200 people. Throughout the weeklong festivities, more than 400 people attended Mass at the ice chapel. Also at the festival, the council helped build camaraderie with their classmates by serving more than 90 pounds of chicken wings.

It’s these examples of brotherhood and service – and many more – that has led to the council’s growth, and their recognition as this year’s Outstanding College Council. In total, the Knights at Michigan Technological University welcomed 22 new men to their council this past year alone.

This year’s runners-up for Outstanding College Council were Texas A&M University Council 10624 in College Station Texas and Vanderbilt University Council 15020 in Nashville, Tenn. The former led a group to fight against pornography, cleaned up the campus and hosted a pro-life dinner. The latter hosted a Valentine’s Day dinner and virtual fish fry during Lent.

Fostering brotherhood and serving those most in need is simply what Knights do. Members on college campuses across North America completed countless programs, and several were recognized at the College Councils Conference in the following program award categories:

Vivat Jesus, Jay Czerniak Charter Grand Knight (2019-2020) 


A year and a half ago on March 8th 2019, Council #17237 at Michigan Technological University received our charter and joined the Knights of Columbus Order as a new College Council. In fact, that charter is currently mounted on the wall behind me as I write. When looking at the names listed there, they are not some long forgotten brother Knights from years gone by, but rather men that I have had the immense privilege to walk with and grow closer to Christ with. All the men listed plus countless others have helped define what are council was this past year, who we are now, and are continuously laying the brick work for the future.

On the night of September 11th, we had the opportunity as a council to gather, albeit with masks, to watch the first ever Virtual College Council Conference hosted by supreme. The night turned out to be quite the night for us as awards for the previous fraternal year (2019-2020) were presented.

We were honored to receive recognition for having achieve 11 Stars for exceeding our membership quota for the Star Council Award. We were also grateful to be recognized for having the highest recruitment percentage of any college council with 92% or 22 new members that were recruited this past fraternal year adding on to our existing total of 24 brother Knights.

However, the largest honor came when we were awarded the Outstanding College Council Award. For those who may not know the Outstanding College Council Award is given to the college council that best exemplifies the mission and ideals of the Order and has, in a unique way, gone above and beyond to make a difference on campus and in the surrounding community. The fact that our council, in our first full fraternal year, brought home the most prestigious honor that can be bestowed to a college council is a true testament to the culture of our council and the culture of the community at St. Albert the Great Catholic University at Michigan Tech with whom we are affiliated.

This award means a great deal to the entirety of our council who strove to live by the pillars of the order, charity, unity, and fraternity this past year. We were proud to donate the $500.00 that accompanies the award to our local life outreach center. Michigan Tech is by far the smallest public university, with around 5,000 undergrad students, and the first in Michigan to ever win this award and we could not have done it without the support our local Knights of Columbus Councils in our district who helped us get started and gave us their full support since the beginning.

While this award is something to celebrate, I believe I speak for the whole council when I say that all glory goes to God. We are not in it for the awards but rather the opportunity to grow in fraternity with each other, strengthen our faith and serve our community and campus in the image of Christ. Moving forward we will not be resting on our laurels; we hope to seize the momentum that this award has presented us and continue to grow our council and live out the fraternal mission of the Knights of Columbus. We here at Council #17237 at Michigan Technological University hope that our story of growth and achievement in our year and half existence encourages all Knights to continue their faith journey.

Vivat Jesus, Jay Czerniak Charter Grand Knight (2019-2020) 

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