Ordinary Catholic men in the Knights of Columbus can make a big impact in their communities and in people’s lives, and they are the focus of “Everyday Heroes,” a new online video series put out by the Catholic fraternal organization.
“This film series offers a glimpse into the many ‘ordinary’ ways in which the Knights serve those around them,” Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said April 3.
“‘Everyday Heroes’ are your brothers, friends and co-workers who quietly serve, often over many years,” Anderson added.
The Catholic fraternal service organization, founded in Connecticut in 1882 by the priest Ven. Michael J. McGivney, has nearly two million members in 15,000 councils around the world.
The series will talk about members from various ages and backgrounds. New videos will run each week from April 3 to May 29 at the website kofceverydayheroes.org.
The first man profiled in the series is Joe Reali, a 25-year-old from Long Island, New York.
“Joe really was a larger-than-life kid. He more than inspired anyone he met. And that didn’t matter who you were,” Reali’s father, Michael Reali, Sr., said in the video.
His athleticism, charisma and piety struck those who knew him as similar to the example of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati. Reali had been an altar server and at one time aspired to be a priest, attending the seminary for a short time.
“He’d invite people to Mass,” recounted his friend Father Michael Duffy. “He’d invite the football team in high school. If that’s not evangelization, then what is?”
Continuing his involvement in his parish, he signed himself and his brother Michael Reali Jr. up to join the Knights of Columbus, but died unexpectedly of an enlarged heart before he could be officially initiated.
His life had such an impact that thousands of people attended his funeral, filling his parish church for hours. A new Knights of Columbus council now bears his name: Joseph Mario Reali Council 16261 in Woodbury, N.Y. His brother, who had been reluctant to join the Knights, has served as the council’s head, the Knights of Columbus magazine Columbia reports.Reali’s example continues to inspire people to return to the sacraments and go to church. The council named for him has attracted members and raises funds for charity, including for the renovation of Reali’s parish church.
Another video focuses on the Knights of Columbus council at the University of Notre Dame, whose members link their activities to Fighting Irish football games. Before the game, they grill and sell steaks to raise money for pro-life causes and other charities.
Among the “everyday heroes” profiled in the series: former pro-baseball player Darren Miller and his son; James Wolf, who served and died in Iraq as a U.S. Army soldier; Chris Dooley, an athlete in several Special Olympics sports; and Jose Lebron-Sanabria, who served as a leader in Knights of Columbus relief efforts in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria last year.
Also featured are such “everyday heroes” as the “Singing Seminarians” supported by the Knights of Columbus; Canadian Knights who aid a Syrian refugee family; and men and women who take part in the Knights’ “Warriors to Lourdes” project which takes wounded veterans to the Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France.
The Knights of Columbus support many local, national and international charitable actions and groups. They collect coats for children in need, support the Special Olympics, and back relief efforts for Middle East Christians. They are major backers of the March for Life and the St. John Paul II National Shrine.
The organization’s members worked over 75.1 million hours of volunteer time and the organization gave over $177.5 million to charity.
photo: Joe Reali, www.KofCEveryday Heroes.org