James Casey of Rock Island named Illinois Knight of the Year

ROCK ISLAND — James Casey admits to being surprised and humbled when he was named the Illinois State Knight of the Year for 2009.

Yes, he has been a member of the Knights of Columbus for 50 years.

Yes, he has held just about every office in Allouez Council No. 658 and Father Edward J. Bader Assembly No. 1922 and he continues to serve as a trustee of the council and faithful comptroller of the assembly.

Yes, he was elected president of the holding corporation that was formed to build a clubhouse for the Knights of Columbus in Rock Island.

Yes, he edits Allouez Abstracts, the council’s monthly newsletter, with his wife of 38 years, Beverly.

Yes, he has been involved at St. Pius X Parish in a variety of ways, most recently as a member of the parish council and as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion.

Casey, 79, said he’s just following some good advice he received when he joined the Knights of Columbus.

“MY MOTHER told me that if you join an organization, you should be active. Don’t just sit on the sidelines and watch the world go by,” he told The Catholic Post.

“I went to the meetings and met the people. When you do that, you get involved,” Casey said. “The more you get to know them, the more you like them and respect them. And you do get involved in the activities.”

That lesson in service started during his childhood in the Depression, when he saw firsthand how people helped each other. It was reinforced when he participated in Christ Renews His Parish at St. Pius X.

“We read from James 2. It talks about what good does it do to say ‘God bless you’ unless you actually help your neighbor,” Casey recalled.
“You can’t just say you’re a Christian. You have to show you’re a Christian by your actions. That’s what I try to do.”

The Knights of Columbus, a fraternal organization founded by Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Conn., in 1882, encourages that among its members, according to Casey.

“The primary goals of the Knights of Columbus are charity, fraternity and patriotism. All of these things I think you’ll find in our council,” he said. “It’s easy to do and satisfying, too.”

His efforts at his parish, in his community, and with the Knights have not gone unnoticed. He has been honored as Knight of the Year of the Allouez Council more than once, as Sir Knight of the Year by the Father Bader Assembly, and as one of those feted at the annual Night of Knights Recognition Dinner sponsored by the Diocese of Peoria Chapter of the Knights of Columbus.

In addition, he received the Pere Marquette Award from the Diocese of Peoria in 2002. It is given for “effective leadership and tireless work” on behalf of the church in central Illinois.

Casey still isn’t comfortable with the limelight that goes along with being chosen from among 71,000 people to be the Illinois State Knight of Year, however.

“I guess I feel humble. I know I’m not really the best,” he told The Post. “I accept the honor for all of the people I work with now or who are deceased who have brought me to this point.”

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