St. Bonaventure Knights of Columbus
Thomas Plassmann Council # 4908 (1960-1994)
the Knights of Columbus?
The Knights of Columbus was
founded in the United States in 1882 in honor of the explorer and navigator
Christopher Columbus. Reverend Michael J. McGivney founded the
Knights of Columbus organization in the state of Connecticut. With more than 1.8 million members in its 15,000
different councils, it is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service
organization. Besides religious, educational,
war-relief, and social welfare programs, they also run a successful life
insurance program. Today the organization is headquartered in New Haven,
Each degree of the Knights
of Columbus exemplifies one of the 4 Principles of the Order:
Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism. The first degree is
the “membership degree” and must be taken in order to be considered a
member of the Knights of Columbus. To reach full knighthood,
members must also take the second and third degrees. In order to
be elected to an official position, members must first be installed in
the third degree. The fourth degree is different in that it
functions at the regional level and not just within certain councils.
The fourth degree is separate and associated with colorful capes,
chapeaux, and sabers.
The Knights of Columbus Fr.
Thomas Plassmann Council at St. Bonaventure University first began meeting in
1960 under the leadership of Father Malachy Wall. The council was named
Father Thomas Plassman O.F.M.,
long-serving university president and Rector of Christ the King Seminary. Although the chapter allowed
an unlimited number of students to join, the officers formed “investigating
committees” to see if new applicants would be able to follow and live up to the
standards of the Knights of Columbus. Originally, the Bonaventure council
rented the Clubhouse Restaurant across from campus as a meeting place for their
council as well as the Knights of Columbus building on East Main Street in
Allegany, New York. This continued throughout the 1960s and early 1970s
a lack of space directly on campus. The council seems to have gone dormant
during a period of the 1970s because no surviving materials or meeting minute
books are currently in the university’s possession.
Two Knights pose for a picture
before donating Christmas presents to underprivileged children.
At the beginning of the new
school year in 1980, however, the council was revitalized when
Father Dan Hurley O.F.M.
became its Chaplain. The Fr. Plassmann Council was finally given their own
meeting room on campus in the basement of
Butler Gymnasium. Dubbed by
members as “The Prison Cell”, they were able to furnish this new room by
reaching out to Knights of Columbus councils within the local communities of
Olean and Allegany and asking for donations of furniture and a refrigerator.
The Fr. Thomas Plassmann Council continued to function throughout the 1980s and
early 1990s under Father Hurley. The Fr. Thomas Plassmann
Council flourish during the 1980s with over 200 members at some points. According to meeting
minutes from the 1990s, the council had begun to lose its steam and was only
meeting once or twice during the school year. College Council Membership
Reports show that by 1992 there were only 25 members left in the
council. The last recorded meeting of the council was February 15, 1994 and
there has been no apparent activity since then.
Plassmann Council Activities
The organization’s meetings
were divided between “officer’s meetings” and “general meetings” that met
monthly and sometimes bi-monthly around 7 or 8 PM. Attendance at the general
meetings varied from 15 to 45 Knights of Columbus members per meeting. The
meetings ranged from planning events and fundraisers to holding elections and
50/50 raffles. Each year there was at least one meeting that was mandatory for
all members to attend where they discussed their future goals and reflected on
past semester activities. In order to become an elected official within the
club, one had to reach his third degree of knighthood. If the Knight was an
officer and missed three consecutive meetings then his position became vacant
and another election was held.
Parents Weekend Hot Dog Sale
By far the biggest fundraiser
of the year for the Knights of Columbus was their annual Hot Dog sale at Parents'
Weekend. By selling hot dogs, soda, and beer the Knights were able to raise
several hundred dollars to spend throughout the year. Successful fundraising
was also accomplished through free throw contests and 50/50 raffles at the
Bonaventure men’s basketball games. On top of this, the council was allotted a
certain amount of money from the school’s Student Government Association.
The college council also allowed
members to take part in the insurance program, which provided members with life
insurance at reasonable prices only available to members of the organization.
The St. Bonaventure
council's activities and fundraisers were divided between community activities
and fraternal activities that were more specific to the university and the
Trips to Warming House
Trips to nursing homes
Mary Jean White
(Thanksgiving, Baskets of Cheer)
organizations (Columbian Squires, Great Valley Youth Camp, Camp New
Christmas party for
Parent's Weekend Hot Dog
Free throw contests
Cocktail parties and
Council happy hours,
brunches, dinners, and clambakes
Free Throw Contest at the
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Activities Home Page
This page was
designed by Alex Hennessy for History Internship Spring 2011 Semester.