As most of you may have heard by now, our Council has, for the second time this year, suffered another loss amongst our group. Brother Tony Vella departed from this life on June 27, 2015.
As Grand Knight, I had the chance to meet and speak with Brother Tony on many occasions during my tenure including the evening before his passing. For those who are not aware Brother Tony had a Great Uncle (St. George Preca) who was Canonized a Saint on June 3, 2007. One evening early this June, Brother Ray Smith and I sat down with Brother Tony to discuss his Nativity Project. As he spoke about his story and vision, I paused and asked, should I be so worthy to sit here with what I believe is yet another Saint! You see, God calls all of us to be Saints and worthy servants. Some may reach the glory of Canonization, yet there are those amongst us who just humbly carry out God’s will without ever being recognized. In my eyes these are the special ones. There are so many of our past and recently departed that fit in this category; I am truly grateful for having met and shared a small part of my life with each of them.
All Brother Tony asked of our Council was to consider taking on his vision with the Nativity Project. What was his vision? To sum it up from my perspective, it was to engage and evangelize communities by using education and art through the Nativity. Two days before Brother Tony passed, he shared with me his two concerns and worries. The first was his wife Connie. You see, he did not want her to worry about his well-being; it was, in fact, his concern for her own strength and health to get through God’s will. His second concern was the Nativity project. He feared that when he passed on, so too would the Nativity project die. What was inspiring to me was that at no point did he express concern for himself. You see, in some small way I believe he knew he was in good hands.
After sharing these worries with me, I took a moment to express to Brother Tony, firstly that we, his brother Knights, will, in fact, keep in touch with Connie. As with all our widows and widowers it is our duty to take care and be a support when needs arise, whatever that may entail. The second reassurance I gave him was that our Council will adopt the Nativity project and see it carry on and through time expand. His vision will play out as God wills it.
In closing, although Brother Tony’s passing was untimely and an initial shock for me, I pause to reflect on all our departed Brothers whom I have met through their illness. I think of Brother Don Doherty, Brother Mel Kealy and Brother Tim Culletin in particular. I can humbly and honestly say that spending time with each of them gave me a renewed strength and peace to carry on.
Brothers, as your Grand Knight, I am now asking that we take up the challenge of the Nativity Project. I am seeking a volunteer base and would ask that you contact me directly at 613-217-8220 or email@example.com to sign up for this worthy project. The work begins now!