On February 25, 2012, State Deputy Christopher E. Kernan, together with Supreme Master Dennis J. Stoddard, held a town hall meeting for the districts and councils of the Diocese of St. Augustine. The meeting took place in Jacksonville. District Deputy #7 Devilllo “Chuck” M. Boll and Grand Knight John J. Morrissey of Bishop W. Thomas Larkin Council 4727 hosted the event. The meeting took place at the Christ the King Church Parish Hall, 742 Arlington Road, Jacksonville, FL 32211. The meeting convened at 9:00 AM and was concluded at Noon. Accompanying State Deputy Kernan was his wife Denise.
Members from districts and councils in the Diocese of St. Augustine were invited to participate. In attendance were thirty-six (36) representatives from eight (8) districts and twelve (12) councils. Among the attendees were District Deputies, District Wardens, Grand Knights, Financial Secretaries, Deputy Grand Knights, and members at large. Also in attendance were Reggie Dubay (Diocesan Squires/Youth Coordinator), Robert Wesselman (Diocesan Charities Coordinator), Vanoy “Dave” Counts (Diocesan Membership/Retention Coordinator), and Arturo V. Serrano (Diocesan Public Relations Coordinator).
State Deputy Kernan delivered a state membership report and stressed that recruitment has been good, but the net gain has been small due to deaths, suspensions, and withdrawals. He suggested that membership recruitment be made more personal and approached with the understanding that we are fulfilling the vision of Fr. Michael J. McGivney in “Providing for the Families” of our Brother Knights, mostly by making available our Insurance Program to our Members. Instead of merely asking someone if they would like to join the Order, they should instead say, “I would like to sponsor you into the Knights of Columbus”. This way you are taking a personal interest in the prospective member and people will respond to your commitment. Also, once recruited, follow-up on his progress through the Degrees and make every attempt to be present as well. Once recruited, the sponsor of a member should take responsibility for guiding the member and getting him involved in council programs and activities. An important aspect of recruitment is that the recruiter should be well informed as to what the Knights are all about and the benefits of membership. In this area he suggested that the Order’s Insurance Field Agents are a valuable resource since they are extremely knowledgeable of all aspect of the Knights of Columbus.
Supreme Master Dennis J. Stoddard reported on the membership recruitment status within the diocese including statistics on how councils are doing with respect to meeting their membership recruitment goals. To assist the local recruitment efforts, he stressed that both the Supreme and State Councils can, and will, provide staff assistance to local recruitment efforts upon request. Cost is not a factor for State membership staff support. Councils and Districts should take advantage of these resources. However, it is important that the requests be made with enough lead time so that Supreme and State representatives can make the necessary arrangements.
During the discussion, the subject of “lost” members, that is those that relocate without notifying the council, was raised as a problem. It was pointed out that there are a number of Internet search engines that can be used to track people. Although there is cost involved is minimal when compared to the per capita expense incurred by councils when these members cannot be reached for payment of dues. Councils, particularly those with many members, should consider subscribing to one of these services. Another source for finding “lost” members is the Field Agents as they routinely track insurance members.
The Supreme Council has a team of Financial Secretary trainers that are available. Jurisdictions should schedule training meetings and take advantage of this resource. In addition, the Supreme Council trainers can train local area trainers.
Several other topics were discussed which included:
- Proper processing of membership suspensions and withdrawals.
- The requirement that Internal Revenue Forms be submitted in a timely fashion to avoid the possibility of penalties since failure to do so can result in significant fines by the IRS and loss of council tax exempt status. Form 990 and tax forms must be filed annually.
- The Council’s By-Laws should be reviewed at least every five years, as there may be significant changes. This has been particularly true in the area of discretionary funds. Discretionary funds disbursement always needs approval by the council membership at a regular Business Meeting. Councils should update their bylaws to comply with any changes.
- Home Corporations were discussed with emphasis on understanding the financial and organizational relationship between the corporations and the councils.
- Protocol was discussed in the areas of proper conduct of meetings, invitations to state officers, and the proper way of hosting the wives of dignitaries. In addition, dignitaries should be properly informed as to what is expected of them. They need to know if they will be asked to speak, for how long, and on what topic. They should be informed if he will be a keynote speaker. They must be advised of the proper dress code for themselves and their spouse, and they should be offered assistance for lodging and transportation.
- Other topics were the importance of involvement of members’ families and specially Ladies Auxiliaries. The difference between Ladies Auxiliaries at the Council level and Columbiettes was explained.
- Many questions were asked by the attendees and these were addressed in depth.
From the State Deputy:
I would like to congratulate the Members and Officers of the Councils in the St. Augustine Diocese for their commitment and dedication to the Order. As I have repeatedly stressed this year, we are a family and we will succeed in making the Florida Jurisdiction the best in the Order again this year only by working together to achieve the goals set my Supreme and the vision of our Founder, Father Michael J. McGivney.
CHRISTOPHER E. KERNAN