Below are histories of the Knights of Columbus organization and our Council as well as a brief biography on our namesake Fr. Maruskin.
The Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney proposed the establishment of the Knights of Columbus. This lay organization, the goals of which were to prevent Catholic men from entering secret societies hostile to Church teaching, to unite men of Catholic faith and to provide for the families of deceased members. The Knights of Columbus elected the first officers in February 1882 and officially assumed corporate status on March 29, 1882 in New Haven, Connecticut. As a symbol that allegiance to their country did not conflict with allegiance to their faith, the Knights selected Christopher Columbus as their patron as he was recognized as a Catholic and universally honored as the discoverer of America.
The three basic principles of the Knights at its inception were charity, unity and fraternity. Later, a 4th principle of patriotism was added. The 1st Fourth Degree exemplification took place on February 22, 1900.
The Knights of Columbus launched a campaign in 1951 to have the phrase “under God” added to the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. In 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a law that officially added these words to the pledge.
The current head of the Knights of Columbus is Supreme Knight, Carl A. Anderson. He was installed as the 13th Supreme Knight on October 1, 2000.
The Knights have grown from the original council in New Haven, Connecticut to over 14,000 councils and 1.8 million members throughout the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam and Saipan.
The Knights of Columbus insurance program has grown along with the rest of the organization. In 2015 the Knights surpassed $100 billion in insurance in force. Our insurance has a rating of “A++ (Superior) from A.M. Best. There is no more highly rated life insurer in North America.
A more detailed history of the Knights of Columbus along with a great deal of additional information can be found on the national website of the organization. You are encouraged to explore this website at: http://www.kofc.org
Fr. Maruskin was born June 18, 1013 in Campbell, Ohio. He completed his Bachelor's degree in Greek from St. Procopius College in Lisle, Illinois and then entered the monastery. He professed first vows in 1937 and began teaching at Benedictine High School as a seminarian in 1938. He was a member of the largest ordination class in our community when he and six conferees received Holy Orders from Bishop McFadden in 1942. With the exception of his four years (1962--66) at St. Michael's Parish in Chicago, Father Maruskin served as a teacher from 1938--1974. He also served as a coach, athletic director, cafeteria manager, and bookstore manager. Fr. Maruskin's interest in youth work led him to pursue graduate studies in sociology. Early in his priesthood, he began a ministry to delinquent adolescents at the Cleveland Youth Developmental Center in Hudson, which became his second home for nearly 40 years. In his later years, Fr. Maruskin became highly involved in the Knights of Columbus. The Ohio State Council named him "Chaplain of the Month" for December 1990. He passed away on January 26, 1991. With his trademark quick punch to the chest and simultaneous wink of his eye, Fr. Maruskin reflected the dual nature of the troubled youth he served for so many years. He stirred the emotions of many with his sympathetic heart... a heart that brought renewed courage to the disadvantaged and all who knew him.
On July 15, 1992 the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus granted a charter for Council # 10936 which was established under the name of the Fr. Maruskin Council. Less formally, the council has come to be known as the “Stow Knights of Columbus”. At its inception there were 35 charter members of which 14 remain as active members today. The first Grand Knight of our council was Paul Murphy. The council met twice a month at the Hudson Barlow Community Center on Oviatt Street and it cost $25 per meeting to use the center. In 1999 council meetings were reduced to once a month, supplemented by a monthly officer’s meeting. The meetings for the council moved to Holy Family Parish in 2004, where we continue to meet to the present day. The council steadily grew in membership and by late 1999 there were 84 members. Membership eventually hit the century mark in 2010 and today it stands at 118 members. When the council was created, dues were $25 per year and remained at this level until they were increased to $30 several years ago.
From its inception, the council became involved in many programs and activities. In the fall of 1992, the council completed its first Charity Raffle campaign that netted the council almost $1000. Back then, the Charity Raffle campaign took place between August and November. The first “Knight of the Year” was awarded to Norm Siroki in 1994. A 1st Degree Team was established and their first ceremony took place on February 9, 1994. The annual Measure-Up campaign was conducted by the council beginning in 1994 under the leadership of Al Bugaj who continued to chair this for 20 years until he passed away. From its early days, the council embraced pro-life activities such as Rosaries for the Unborn and a Fast & Prayer Vigil in remembrance of the lives lost due to abortion – the latter took place at Holy Family on January 20 and 21, 1995. The long-standing tradition of K of C fish fries began as early as 1996 when 3 fish fries were conducted. By 1998 the council was conducting 6 fish fries that resulted in a total profit of $2,586 for that year. In the intervening years, the number of fish fries conducted annually has varied between 4 and 6. In 1998, the total income for the council from all sources was $13,983.
The fraternal aspect of the Knights was emphasized from the beginning. Annual Christmas parties, family picnics, potluck dinners and outings to the Akron Aeros and Golf tournaments were popular and well attended by the members and their families.
However, there were some rocky times for the council as well. In 1999 the Grand Knight sent out a letter to the membership lamenting a lack of attendance at the meetings and voicing the fear that there might not be enough members interested in filling all the officers’ positions for the coming election. The council overcame this downturn and made some changes such as the previously mentioned decision to reduce the monthly meetings from two to one. With strong leadership and a dedicated core of active Knights, the council has grown even stronger and more vibrant. The health of the council is well illustrated by the following three events in recent years. In 2010 a “baby bottle blitz” at Holy Family Parish netted $4000 that was earmarked for pro-life activities. Part of the money earned help to purchase an ultrasound machine for a local pregnancy center that has helped to save unborn babies. In 2012 the Knights partnered with some local parishioners to help raise over $56,000 to help a Knight’s family dealing with a deadly disease that afflicted their infant daughter. In 2013 a reverse raffle raised over $16,500 to assist a Knight and his family with medical and daily living expenses.
The 21st century has brought changes to the Grand Knight position. Jim Placko and Ron Crock both served as Grand Knight for 3 consecutive years. Prior to this the tradition was for the Grand Knight to serve a single, one-year term. Since then, two, one-year terms have been the norm. Council programs and activities have seen tremendous growth. In 2012 the council was involved in a total of 40 programs and activities spread out among the various themes of Church, Community, Council, Family, Youth, Pro-Life and Membership. Included were the council’s five major fundraisers: fish fries, charity raffle, football frenzy, donut sales and Easter ham sales. A reflection of this increased involvement can be seen in the following snap-shot for 2014: Total gross income for the year was $46,259. Fish fry profits were almost $5,200. The charity raffle ticket sales netted $8,382 to help fund the council’s charitable activities. Ultimately, the Knights and our council are not defined by how much money was earned or raised for a particular event, rather, these are just a reflection of our membership’s desire to express and live out the principles set forth by Father Michael J. McGivney – Charity, Unity, Fraternity and Patriotism.