by Dennis Dalman
Members of the St. Joseph Catholic Parish, thanks to the Knights of Columbus, raised and donated nearly $3,000 to help repair a school in Puerto Rico that was devastated by Hurricane Maria last fall.
Funds for the school were raised mainly at a Knights of Columbus breakfast in January.
The school has a connection to the Sisters of St. Benedict in St. Joseph because the nuns there helped set up a monastery in Puerto Rico that founded the school (grades K-9), which is named Colegio San Benito. It is in the city of Humacao on the east side of the island of Puerto Rico, an area hit especially hard by Hurricane Maria.
The Humacao monastery the Sisters of St. Benedict founded is known as the Monasterio Santa Escolastica. It administers the Colegio San Benito for its students.
Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island and a territory of the United States.
David Thomas, a St. Joseph resident and long-time member of the St. Joseph Knights of Columbus, suggested a fundraiser for the school after he heard about its plight. Although the school’s structure is still intact, the interior was ravaged by the hurricane, and a total lack of water and electricity crippled the school for months. After Christmas, students were encouraged to return, but school could only be open for limited hours of the day because of limited water and electricity.
When Thomas suggested a fundraiser, his fellow Knights were enthusiastic. Some of them met with the Sisters of St. Benedict, including the prioress, and they too approved of the idea.
The project to donate to Colegio San Benito is dear to Thomas’ heart, partly because he is a Catholic with strong faith in the Sisters of St. Benedict and their mission projects and partly because his daughter Tamara Thomas took her Benedictine vows last July.
The Knights of Columbus sponsor nine breakfasts annually to raise funds for good causes. The one for Colegio San Benito involved two dozen Benedictine Sisters, and five of them quickly busied themselves with hands-on help: Dorothy Manuel, Cecilia Prokosch, Karen Rose, Pat Ruether and Mary Weidner.
More than 400 people were served at the Knights of Columbus fundraiser. There are about 200 members in the Knights of Columbus Council 7057 of St. Joseph. They are all looking forward to more good breakfasts, more good deeds.