The History of Holy Face Council #3849
On March 19, 1997, Holy Face Council officially became the most junior council in the Maryland State Council of the Knights of Columbus; however, the affiliation of the Knights with Holy Face parish had been established decades before. On May 7, 1954, a group of 72 men in the parish formed the Marion Council, which was given the number 3849. Initially, the council was very successful but membership in the Marion Council fluctuated over the years. With only a small base of local residents and a significant component of Navy men who were subject to frequent reassignment, the transient nature of the membership proved more than the council could endure and it was officially deactivated.
In late 1996, another group of men, led by Vince Zacardi and District Deputy Reinaldo “Ron” Garcia (District 8) approached Fr. John Myzlinski, then Pastor of Holy Face, to request permission to begin organizing a new council in the parish. With Father’s approval, the men began promoting the idea at Mass and other parish events and recruiting Catholic men for the new council. By February of 1997, enough men had committed to joining that they scheduled an official organizational meeting, the final step in the process of creating a new council.
At 7:15pm on February 27th, the prospective members of the council and the organizers gathered in the Little Flower School cafeteria because the parish hall was undergoing a major renovation. District Deputy Garcia opened the organizational meeting with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. District Deputy Tony Meyer, from neighboring District 12 in Calvert County, attended and offered his help and support. Discussion began and several critical issues were resolved:
• The name of the council would be “Holy Face Council.” The prospective members especially appreciated the uniqueness of the name. As of this writing, it is the only “Holy Face Council” in the worldwide Knights of Columbus organization.
• Dues were set at $20 with a one-time initiation fee set at $10.
• Men were nominated to fill the five Chair Officer positions, the Guard and Trustee positions, as well as delegates and alternate delegates to the State Convention.
• The date of the council’s Institution was set.
District Deputy Garcia explained that if his request was approved the new council would carry the number of the old Marion Council and explained the significance and the privilege of being identified in this manner. Even though new councils at that time were receiving numbers in the 11-12,000 range, our council would be identified among those with long and distinguished histories and would forever be linked with our Marion Council predecessors. In March, Supreme Council Secretary, Charles Riesbeck Jr. approved the request thus clearing the way for the Council’s reinstitution.
Although a few of the prospective members were active Knights who transferred from other councils in the county, the majority had no previous experience with the Knights, including all but one of the original officers. A First Degree ceremony, the first step in the journey to full knighthood in the Order, was conducted following the meeting. Membership in the First Degree is the minimum requirement to participate in the general activities of the Knights.
The Council Institution ceremony was conducted on March 14, 1997. Another First Degree ceremony was conducted prior to the Institution ceremony to welcome the remaining new recruits into the Order. During the Institution ceremony, each of the details previously decided at the organizational meeting is formally accepted by vote of the council, including its new officers. As each position was announced, the name of the candidate chosen at the organizational meeting was placed in nomination and the floor was opened for other nominations. Each of the candidates was unopposed and all elections were unanimous. The Charter Officers of Holy Face Council #3849 were:
• Grand Knight - John Bergin
• Deputy Grand Knight - Robert Bollard
• Chancellor - William Zimmerman
• Recorder - Brendan Beary
• Financial Secretary - Kevin Ransford
• Treasurer - Mark Mutschler
• Advocate - William Johnson
• Warden - John Ryan
• Inside Guard - Patrick Rogers
• Outside Guard - Arthur Kish
• Trustee (One Year) - Vincent Zaccardi
• Trustee (Two Years) - James Kelly
• Trustee (Three Years) - Frank Crea
Upon the unanimous consent of the council, Father John Myzlinski was asked to be the council’s first Chaplain, a role that he graciously accepted. Upon application to the Supreme Council, he was officially appointed to the office. Likewise, the Financial Secretary was nominated by the council, but the Constitution and Laws of the Knights require that he be appointed by the Supreme Council.
Election of Officers is held each year during the council’s first business meeting between May 15th and June 15th. Since the Holy Face officers would have served only three months before having to be reelected, the council voted to extend the terms of all elected officers through the 1997-98 Fraternal Year. This created the unusual situation of officers serving a 15-month term. Bill Johnson was the lone exception, having transferred to Immaculate Heart of Mary Council to serve as Grand Knight. Raymond Birch was elected to replace Johnson as council Advocate. These events took place during the April 15th business meeting. One other memorable event occurred at this meeting: Dick Effler, the last surviving local member of the original Marion Council, spoke to the members, recalling the significant events and accomplishments that were to become the Holy Face Council legacy.
The following month, on Sunday, April 27th, the council conducted its first Investiture of Council Officers following the 11:30am Mass. In this impressive formal ceremony, the Maryland State Council formally empowered these men to conduct the business of Holy Face Council. District Deputy Garcia conducted the ceremony, which was attended by State Deputy John Albright. The Color Corps of the Father Andrew White Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Fourth Degree, participated in both the Mass and the ceremony, further enhancing the pomp, pageantry, and patriotism of the event. A reception and pot-luck dinner followed in the parish hall immediately after the Investiture.
There was yet one more ceremony to complete the establishment of the new council: The presentation of the Council Charter was held during the council business meeting on July 15, 1997. Though not a formal ceremony like the Investiture of Officers, it is an important and cherished milestone in the history of a council. District Deputy Garcia introduced State Deputy John Albright, who presented the Council with the official Charter. As of this writing, that document is prominently displayed in the parish hall. On it, the names of the 31 charter members of Holy Face Council are inscribed along with the 72 charter members of the original Marion Council. Both the parish hall and Little Flower School were undergoing extensive renovation and the only place left to meet was the school library; a very small room for so large a group. The school has no air conditioning and it was a warm summer evening when the men crowded into the room. Despite the heat, perhaps in part because of it, the occasion was among the most memorable of that first year.
The Charter Officers served from the Institution of the council to the end of the first full Fraternal year, which begins in June and ends in May. The first three months were particularly challenging as the council leaders learned their respective duties and learned to work together as a team. The next twelve months were both busy and productive for the young council as they worked to fulfill all the program requirements of an active council. Their work was rewarded with the Star Council award, the highest honor a council can receive.
There were some very difficult times in that first year, as well. Deputy Grand Knight Bob Bollard and Trustee Jim Kelly passed away just a few weeks apart in early 1998. These sad events and the reassignment and departure of Trustee Vince Zaccardi led to several changes in the council leadership. Ray Birch was elected to the Deputy Grand Knight position. Rich Klein and Jim Hillenmayer stepped up to fill the vacant slots and finish out the year.
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the members, Holy Face Council completed its first full year with a full slate of accomplishments. These include: donation of $1,000 in scholarships to Little Flower School students and a total of $4,600 to worthy causes; several hundred hours of voluntary service to projects such as Adopt-a-Highway, the Spring Festival, the Parish Picnic, First Communion and Confirmation Retreat preparation, and numerous other parish activities; youth events such as the Soccer Shootout and Basketball Free Throw; and religious activities including a Living Rosary and the Marian Hour of Prayer.
The Council has since undergone many changes and accomplished so much more. In May 1998, Ray Birch became the second Grand Knight. He was followed by Tom Bloomer (1999), Mark Mutschler (2000), Jim Moderski (2001), Ed Kaleta (2002), and Dave Albright (2002-2003). Ed Kaleta, although elected in May 2002, was unable to serve due to illness and stepped down in August 2002. Tragically, he passed away soon after. Dave Albright was elected to complete Ed’s term and was subsequently elected for a full term the next year.
The Council earned a second Star Council Award under Ray Birch in Fraternal year 1998-1999. Over the years the council has earned many other awards including the Columbian Award in Fraternal years 2000-2001 and 2002-2003, the McGivney Award in 2001-2002, and others such as the Participation Award, Insurance, and Lecturer’s Award.
Today, Holy Face Council #3849 continues its service to Church and community under the leadership of Grand Knight Mark Sweet and the men still meet every third Tuesday in the parish hall. And they are still welcoming new members because there is still so much to be done.
*Provided by: Sir Knight John Bergin. Last paragraph updated to reflect newest elected Grand Knight.