Illinois Knights’ Newman Fund donates to area campus ministry

Photo Caption: Deacon Bob Sondag accepts a check for $60,098 from Jim Bednar of Pontiac, representing the Illinois Knights of Columbus, as Msgr. Paul Showalter and Herb Binghom, K. of C. state warden, look on.

One of the first charities established by the Illinois State Council of the Knights of Columbus was the Newman Apostolate Fund and they continue to make this ministry on college campuses around the state a priority.

This year the Knights of Columbus donated $185,000 to the Newman Apostolate Fund, with $60,098 earmarked for use in the Diocese of Peoria. The check was presented to Deacon Bob Sondag, vice chancellor of the diocese and director of Newman ministry, by Jim Bednar of Pontiac, immediate past state deputy, on July 19.

Also representing the Knights of Columbus was State Warden Herb Bingham of Peoria. Msgr. Paul Showalter, vicar general of the Diocese of Peoria, offered words of thanks on behalf of Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, who was in Danvers for the inaugural meeting of the Council of Farmers.

“Bishop Jenky is very proud of what the Knights of Columbus do in the diocese,” Msgr. Showalter said. “He is most appreciative of the support given to the Newman ministry and it is his desire to put the best and youngest priests of the diocese in this ministry.”

Bednar said the Knights of Columbus recognize that the Newman Centers are not only a significant source of vocations, but are also a wonderful way for young Catholics to stay connected to the church. He pointed to his own experience with Father Thomas Henseler at the St. Joseph Newman Center at Bradley University in Peoria.

“It only took 72 hours for me to be connected,” he recalled.

Thanking the Knights of Columbus for their “very generous gift,” Deacon Sondag said the funds will be distributed according to a formula based on student population that the fraternal organization has developed.

It was the Knights of Columbus from Chicago who spearheaded an effort nearly 90 years ago to raise the $126,000 needed to buy the land for St. John’s Catholic Chapel at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Newman ministry in the Diocese of Peoria also includes the John Paul II Catholic Newman Center, which serves students at Illinois State University and Heartland Community College in Normal and Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington; Salve Regina Newman Foundation at Eureka College; St. Catherine of Siena Newman Center at Knox College in Galesburg; St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Newman Center at Western Illinois University in Macomb; the Newman Club at Monmouth College; St. Joseph’s Newman Center at Bradley University; and the Catholic Campus Ministry Office at Augustana College in Rock Island.

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