‘Night of Knights’ to honor eight in Pekin ceremonies April 11

PEKIN — Eight members of the Knights of Columbus from around the Diocese of Peoria will be honored at the 27th annual “Night of Knights” recognition dinner on Saturday, April 11, in ceremonies hosted by the Archbishop Schlarman Council No. 3507 here.

The event, sponsored by the Peoria Diocese Chapter of the Knights of Columbus, recognizes members for outstanding service to the organization, the Catholic Church, and their communities.

The evening will begin with a 5 p.m. Mass at St. Joseph Church, 303 S. Seventh St., in Pekin. A social period will follow Mass at the Archbishop Schlarman Council Clubhouse, 715 N. 11th St., Pekin, with dinner served at 7 p.m. The honors program will follow.

The 2015 honorees include two priests of the Diocese of Peoria, as well as lay Knights with years of membership ranging from 18 to 60 years and leadership on the local, district, and state levels.

Dinner tickets are $23 and must be purchased no later than April 4. There will be no tickets sold at the door. For ticket information, call Paul Flynn at (309) 694-4172 or Herb Bingham at (309) 691-8324.

Following are brief biographies offering some of the activities of the 2015 Night of Knights honorees:


Father John Boylan Jr. Council 15175, Merna

Fruin helped form Council 15175 and is a past grand knight of that council as well as of Father Thomas Carmody Council 6498 in Normal. During his 37 years in the Knights of Columbus, he has received the Rising Star Award and been recognized as Knight of the Year by Council 6498, where his service included co-chairing the Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities, leadership of the bingo program and Special Olympics support. At his present council he is a First Degree team member.
He is an active volunteer at St. Patrick Church of Merna, where he has assisted with the Irish Pumpkin Fest, the Annual Diocesan Appeal, church grounds clean-up, Bible school and youth ministry. In the community he has been active in the United Way, Special Olympics and Adopt-A-Highway.
He and his wife Cheryl have been married for 33 years and have three children.


St. George Council 3934, Canton

Henseler is the longest tenured Knight of this year’s honorees, having been a member for 60 years, including four decades as recording secretary. Other council activities he has assisted include the Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities, fish fries, and bingo. He is a Fourth Degree Knight who has held the offices of faithful comptroller and faithful purser and is known as a mentor to younger Knights.
At St. Mary Parish, he has been a lector for more than 30 years, is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, has served at funerals and morning Mass, and volunteers for the parish festival. He has been involved with the Christian Exchange Service, the Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, and American Legion. In 1980, he was named Canton’s Father of the Year and received the Diocese of Peoria’s Pere Marquette Award for outstanding service in 1998.
He and his late wife Regina were married for 63 years and are the parents of 11 children.


Father John Menco Council 6707, Washington

A past grand knight and current trustee of his council, Lee is a former district deputy and past faithful navigator. During his 37 years as a Knight, he has chaired council projects including the Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities, blood drive, Good Neighbor Days, and trivia nights. He has been recognized as his council’s Knight of the Year.
At St. Patrick Parish, Lee serves as an usher, hosts monthly senior potlucks, and volunteers at the annual parish picnic, Easter events, and Halloween parties. In 1993, he served as an usher at World Youth Day in Denver, chaperoning 20 youths from the parish.
A former Little League and softball coach, Lee was an active volunteer in his community’s tornado relief efforts, assists the local food pantry, and volunteers in fundraising efforts for a stroke survivor group and at St. Joseph’s Home in Lacon. He and his wife Carol have been married for 49 years and have four children.


Spalding Council 427, Peoria

A member of the Knights of Columbus for 36 years, Martin served his council as financial secretary from 2005 to 2014. He has represented the council on the Home Association, has worked on the monthly fish fry for years, and has volunteered in the club’s kitchen and bar for numerous events.
He is a member of St. Jude Parish where he has long served as an usher and is a past member of the parish council. Proud of his Irish heritage, Martin has been a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians for 25 years and is current state president. He has been both a board member and treasurer of the St. Patrick’s Society.
In the community, he served on the Peoria Civic Center Board and saw the project through its building phase and first years of operation. He was awarded the Peoria Park District’s Community Service Award in 2002. He and his wife JoAnn have been married for 39 years and they have two children.


Archbishop Schlarman Council 3507, Pekin

A 29-year member of the Knights of Columbus, Msgr. Nolan is chaplain for his council and Archbishop Schlarman Assembly No. 210. He has also served as council and Fourth Degree assembly chaplain in Champaign.
Msgr. Nolan is pastor of St. Mary Parish in Delavan and St. Joseph, Hopedale, and since 2012 has been episcopal vicar for the permanent diaconate. Ordained in 1992, he is a former diocesan spiritual director of Cursillo and Teens Encounter Christ. He is the former pastor of St. Joseph, Pekin, and Sacre Coeur, Creve Coeur, and is a former vicar of the Pekin vicariate.


Allouez Council 658, Rock Island

A member of St. Ambrose Parish in Milan, Dr. Phillis has been chairperson and a board member of the Allouez Holding Company, chair of the fundraising committee, and has served on many of the council’s program committees. He has been recognized as Knight of the Year and Senior Knight of the Year and is a former faithful navigator.
Dr. Phillis has long been active in Catholic and community service. He was the first board president of Jordan Catholic School and formerly served as president of the Sacred Heart School board. He founded Quad City Health Initiative and served as board chair for a decade. He is a board member and president of Alternatives for Older Adults, serves on the board of the Mississippi Valley Blood Center, and is active in Rotary Club and the Community Caring Conference.
Dr. Phillis has been frequently recognized for his dedicated service to the medical community. He and his wife Diane have been married for 56 years and have five children.


Archbishop Schlarman Council 3507, Pekin

A past grand knight, Weidner currently serves as financial secretary for his council and as trustee for the Fourth Degree assembly. In his 18th year as member of the Knights of Columbus, he is a fixture at the council’s fish fry serving window, is a location chaplain and money counter for the Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities, and is a bingo caller.
Weidner is a member of St. Joseph Parish, where he is a lector, member of the parish and resurrection choirs, and has co-chaired the fall bazaar with his wife Lori. He also chaired the Annual Diocesan Appeal while a member of St. Monica Parish, East Peoria. In his community, he is a parent volunteer and fundraiser for the marching band of Pekin Community High School, and earned the “Golden Handcuff Award” for his fundraising efforts for the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Lockup Drive.
He and Lori have been married for 20 years and have one child.

Msgr. E. L. Grzybowski Council 7580, East Peoria

Father Willard is pastor of St. Patrick, Washington, and St. Monica, East Peoria, and provides support to members of the Knights of Columbus in those two parishes. A 17-year member of the Knights, Father Willard guided his parishes through the tornado disaster that struck the region on Nov. 17, 2013.
He has already been recognized with the Bronze Pelican Emblem for his contribution to the spiritual development of youth in Scouting, and the 2010 Paideia Award from The High School of Saint Thomas More in Champaign for his passion for Catholic education and bringing young people closer to Christ.
Ordained in 1993, Father Willard is a former chaplain of Central Catholic High School in Bloomington and has also served as pastor of St. Mary, Downs; St. Thomas, Philo; Immaculate Conception, Bongard; St. Mary and St. Joseph, Pesotum; and Holy Cross, Champaign.

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