60 year history from 1955 to 2015
Abbot Pennings Council was chartered on January 21, 1955 after a one year planning and recruitment effort under the leadership of our first Grand Knight Louis De Broux. During the first ten years our Council held many social programs to develop the fraternal aspect of our Council which still exists to this day. It must have paid off as the membership increased to 200 by the late 1950’s. At the same time we promoted many religious programs such as clergy nights and sponsoring the radio family rosary. In the 1960’s we started to develop fund raising events to implement the charitable aspect of the Knights of Columbus. It began with the Packer Ticket Raffle, selling programs at the Bishop’s Charity Game in the early 60’s and selling Christmas Trees and running softball tournaments by the end of the decade.
During the 1970’s we continued our many fraternal events highlighted by corporate communions, fish fry’s, booyahs, Landing Day Banquets and Tom & Jerry parties. To better fund community needs we expanded our softball tournament program, started our bingo operation in 1974, and began participating in Wisconsin KC “Tootsie Roll” program. The bingo program was the backbone of our charity funds for the next twenty years and the “Tootsie Roll” promotion is still going strong to this day and funds our De Pere KC Special Peoples Program directed by Gen Cieslewicz. In keeping with our Order’s mandate to enhance Christianity, we promoted days of recollection, Lenten services, memorial Masses and continued to support Catholic education thru donations to the Catholic Schools in De Pere. In 1979 our Council hosted the Wisconsin State Knights of Columbus Convention at St. Norbert College.
During the early years of the 80’s our membership had increased to 320. Along with the VFW we renovated our clubhouse in 1982. Our softball tournaments were becoming more successful as was the bingo program which enabled us to increase our charitable giving. In 1985 we started holding the popular “Liver Frys” which continued until 1997. At this same time we continued to conduct the many youth programs in the community which were started the previous decade such as: Punt Pass & Kick, Christmas Poster Contest, Knowledge Contest, Free Throw Contest and a new event called the Kids Halloween Party. It was during this decade that the Christmas Tree Sale began to become popular and sales greatly increased.
By the 90’s our membership had grown to almost 400. In 1990 we reinstituted the Clergy Night which continues to this day. Our charitable giving was ever increasing due to our involvement in the Pink Flamingo Tourney, the Christmas tree sale, continued bingo profits, the State Charity Raffle, The Old-timers Softball Tourney and many other fund raisers. In 1993 we hosted the State KC Bowling Tourney which was very successful and generated a $26,000 profit. Our youth programs continued to grow with the addition of a very successful Hunter Safety Program. In 1996 we started to participate in the Postal Carrier’s Food Drive which is still ongoing. Our community involvement increased with the refurbishing of the homes of two needy families, doing landscape work at the Bridge Between Retreat House and painting classrooms at Our Lady Of Lourdes School.
During the first decade of the 21st century, our Council’s charity giving really exploded with the increase in revenue from the ever expanding Christmas Tree Sale, participation at Lambeau Field concession stands, the Resch Center Project, very successful “Tootsie Roll” promotions and working at the Brown County fair for several years. We started to participate in the Habitat For Humanity Program. Again, our youth programs were flourishing and we added our now popular “Teen Brat Fry” program. Our “Roses For Life” program, which started in the early 90’s, continued at OLOL, St. Francis and St. Mary’s parishes raising money for local Pro-Life Organizations. Our Booyah crews continued cooking many booyahs raising money for charity including the OLOL Parish picnic and the elderly at Nicolet Terrace. We began participating in the “40 Days For Life” march in 2008 and this continues to date. As part of our continued support for those with intellectual disabilities we began cooking a booyah at Syble Hopp School and helped sponsor the Miracle Baseball League. Our Clergy Night continued to be a popular event as is our Appreciation Night reinstituted in 2001. In 2005 we celebrated our 50th Anniversary.
In the past five years, we have much to be proud of. Our youth programs have more participants than ever before. In the last two years our Council Free Throw Contests have had over 600 participants each year with our Knowledge Contests having over 500 participants. Our donations to charity have never been higher due to our involvement at Lambeau Field, the Resch Center, the Christmas Tree Sales, brat frys, increased response to our “Tootsie Roll” promotion, the “Roses For Life” promotion and the many booyahs Ed Castelic and his crew cook for charity. We continue with our involvement with Habitat For Humanity. To continue our dedication to fraternity, we have had a summer picnic for the past 15 years with the past six years at the Brown County Fair. In 2013 we started the Family Fun Day at Bay Beach which has been very successful. Our membership now stands at 482 with over 300 Brother Knights actively involved in our projects.
From reading this 60 year history of Abbot Pennings Council one can only be impressed with what has been accomplished since the 11 men met in 1954 with the intent of starting a KC Council in De Pere. We have been helping the youth of De Pere and have shown compassion for those with intellectual disabilities. True to our mission to foster the belief in our Catholic faith, we have supported Catholic education and financially aided Seminarians and Religious over the years. During this time we have helped the elderly, the needy and those suffering from illness or traumatized by an accident. Finally, all that can be said to encompass all the many acts of kindness mentioned, and the hundreds not mentioned, is that God gave us the will to do these things and we gave it our best shot.
Christmas Tree Sales 1968 $375 2014 $17,373
Tootsie Roll Promotion 1974 $281 2015 $13,288
Youth Programs Years Past 400—500 2014 1300
Membership 1955 85 2015 482
2nd Degree team has advanced over 2400 Knights to the 3rd Degree since 1987
Charitable Donation over the past 60 years are over $1,000,000