Tempus Fugit, Memento Mori

Brother Knights,

Tempus Fugit, Memento Mori. Time Flies, Remember Death. These are the watchwords of our order and since my last article they have featured prominently in our council and in my life. Brother’s Gerrard Tuepah, Val Dumais, Tim Seitz, and Gerry Steenburgh have all passed from this life into the eternal light of our Lord since the beginning of this year. And at the time of writing, my last week has really shown me that time can fly by in an instant. The wife of my cousin Jason Bolton, Lisa, at just 49 years old went to see the doctor because something didn’t feel right on Monday, was taken in for emergency double bypass surgery where something went tragically wrong, and she passed away early the Tuesday morning.

Brothers, we all prepare ourselves in one way or another for the loss of a loved one or friend and as hard as it is to lose someone in old age or due to illness, we often have time to mentally prepare ourselves, but too often we look at death as something that can only take the old and the sick and that the young have their whole lives ahead of them. But we do not know God’s plan. The end of the week found me attending 3 funerals in 3 days. Brother Gerry Steenburgh, Thursday, Father Peter Murphy, Friday, and Lisa’s on Saturday. Br. Gerry had been sick for some time, Father Murphy was in his 90’s, but Lisa was in her 40’s and not expected. It was after I got home Saturday that it really hit me. Thinking about when I gave Jason and Lisa’s 11 year old daughter Emma a rosary and told her to keep it with her, if she feels frustrated, hold it, if she feels angry hold it, if she feels sad, hold it, touch the beads and Our Lady will comfort you, just before her mother’s funeral, and that if she would like to learn to pray it that her grandmother, my aunt Karen or I would help her learn and pray with her.

Remember we know not the time nor the place in which our Lord will call us from this life. Please pray for all these families and for one another. If you have the time, please say the rosary for the deceased and their families.

Tempus Fugit, Memento Mori.

Vivat Jesus!

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

Quickly we will find ourselves approaching the season of Lent again. We seem to move rather quickly from celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour to His death on the cross.

For me personally I find that at the beginning of Advent I have an opportunity to refocus on my faith and to try to do something to build on it, and the beginning of Lent gives me the opportunity to fix, adjust, or add to what I began at Advent and maybe fell behind on, or to get a better understanding of, or add something new all together.

A few years back it was taking up praying the rosary daily and that has become an essential part of my life that makes me who I am. Over the years I have tried and failed but have taken the opportunity each year to at Advent and/or Lent to increase my faith. For Avent 2023 I began praying the liturgy of the hours. This was one of the things that I had failed at in years past, but I had to try it again. I started praying one per day to work on getting an understanding but within a week I was praying two per day which is what is recommended for laymen. I find some days I will pray 3 or 4 and the odd busy day 1, but I’ve managed to stick with it through the month.

I would like to challenge each of you to take the opportunity at lent this year to start something to build your faith, it could be new or something old you’ve stopped and feel the urge to start again or join a faith development program. Even if you just spend a couple extra moments pondering the daily readings, I encourage you to take this opportunity to build on and increase your faith.

God bless you,

Vivat Jesus!

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

Carry the torch into the future

Brother Knights,

I would like to thank everyone for the successes of the last few months with our council. There were many things that we were involved in within our community. We had Brother Knights help at St Marguerite Bourgeoys with their welcome back event, a barbeque at St. Teresa of Calcutta school, a barbeque at Newman House on Queen’s University Campus in support to Catholic Christian Outreach, a Parish Spaghetti Supper which was both a welcome for Father Michel and a birthday party for Father John, a Parish Fish Fry, a couple First Friday Eucharistic Adoration events and the continuation of the ASK program. To say September and October have been busy is an understatement. Brother’s, you have made this all possible with your generous ability to jump in and help out when needed. We have no problem with volunteers on the day of the event, however, finding people to help organize these events has become a bit of a sore spot for our council. We need your help prior to these events. Most of them don’t take much time in committee, and we have seasoned veterans willing to pass on their knowledge. Please take advantage of these opportunities while they are available to learn from these dedicated brothers who have committed so much time and effort over the years to make these events of all types happen. We owe them our thanks for what they have accomplished and there is no better way to do that then to learn as much as we can from them and carry the torch into the future.

Thank you for all of your hard work and may God bless you always.

Vivat Jesus!

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

Embrace change as it happens

Brother Knights,

I was recently reminded of something that I do not always think about – changes in assignments within our own clergy. Our parish recently underwent some changes with our Associate Pastor Father Paul Mawalla being reassigned to Perth and Father Michel Quenneville returning to our parish for the first time since being ordained a Priest. This move shows us that we must embrace change as it happens. It’s not just those moving that are affected, but also those Priests who remain.

I was recently in a small farming town parish near Lake Huron for Mass while we were visiting my wife’s family and they too had a new priest, Father Ray Lawhead, who was given exactly one week’s notice to move from Lasalle, near Windsor, to Petrolia, near Sarnia, an assignment with 4 parishes. Speaking with him after Mass that Sunday emphasized something that Fr Michel mentioned at our last general meeting, that there is a state of mourning that priests go through when leaving one parish to go to a new one. This is a change with moving away from friends and parishioners that you have become close to, your parish family.

I consider us very fortunate to have had time to plan and hold a farewell party for Father Paul. Father Ray in Petrolia will have to wait to go back to Lasalle for a visit when his time will allow. These men that we are lucky enough to call Father have hardships like the rest of us. They live a life of service, and we should do whatever we can to assist them, and we must always keep them in our prayers.

For all of our Priests, Deacons, and Religious, thank you for everything that you do, and know that we are here for you as Knights, men, and faithful Catholics. May God continue to bless your ministries.

Vivat Jesus!

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

Be Charitable

Brothers,

I would like to thank all of you for your support in my first year as Grand Knight. I have learned a lot in this last year.

Just before I took on this role, our council had experimented with our first “event” in a few years, an after-mass coffee social, to knock the rust off. In the year since I took office, we have held 2 golf tournaments, several back-to-school BBQ’s, Newman House BBQ, Fish Fry, Degree Team exemplification at St Mary’s Cathedral, First Communion Rosary presentations, several end of year BBQ’s, school awards at 5 schools, and a Multi-Cultural Food Festival. And I’m probably missing things too.

There is a great amount of planning that goes into each of these events, some more than others, and getting back on track after years of lockdown has not been easy. Everything we’ve done has essentially been a new event. We could not gauge the numbers that we would see as it has been so long since the last time, we held similar events, and we also didn’t know how people would react. Would they keep 6 ft distances, would they wear masks, would they even come? Well, they came! And without your help in these events, they would not have happened.

This coming fraternal year we need you more than ever. We have events lined up but will need help organizing and staffing them. The groundwork is largely laid out now, so that makes things a bit easier, but we need members who have not been out in a while to come back into the fold. Your help is always welcome and ap-appreciated. It has been a very busy year and it is only going to continue to stay busy.

Remember that we are an order based on Charity, Unity, and Fraternity. Our foremost principal is Charity. So please be charitable with your time and abilities assisting your council and parish where help is needed. Thank you to everyone who helped throughout the year in any capacity — you have made this council a tremendous success. And thank you for supporting me. I am still learning and will make mistakes, so I ask that you please keep me in your prayers.

God bless you all.

Vivat Jesus!

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

Acknowledgement

Brothers,

I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work over the last months with regards to our involvement within the schools of our parish, Mother Theresa, Archbishop O’Sullivan, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, and St. John XXIII.

In January we got underway with the annual Basketball Free Throw competition at all four of these schools with the assistance of many brother Knights from council. Then last month we held judging of the Substance Abuse Posters by a group of Knights who judged posters that were submitted by the schools of our parish as well. In both of these school projects that we support as Knights, the children and teachers took on these tasks and treated them as though they were part of the curriculum.

For those of us lucky enough to take part in the BBFT in particular, the energy and enjoyment that we saw in the kids is what makes this all worthwhile. Recently I have had the honour of attending the school masses of each of these parish schools to hand out awards to those who have won in their age group. This has been an outstanding way to recognize these achievement’s from within the parish that we call home and for the kids and staff to associate us visually as a part of this parish.

The one thing I keep hearing from teachers and principals is how great and fitting it is to do these presentations when the whole school is gathered together for Mass and to see that those of us that the kids have seen in their schools are active members of St. Paul’s. Our group of faithful men we call Knights are being seen and are being associated with being active faithful members of our faith by the children, the future of our faith, and their teachers who guide them.

Let us continue to be a shining example of a Catholic lifestyle to strive for. Thank you to all brother Knights who have helped in these two projects and a huge thank you to Br. Shaun Tymchuk for your leadership and organization of both the BBFT and Substance Abuse Awareness Poster contest.

Vivat Jesus!

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

Navigating Our Way

Brother Knights,

I would like to wholeheartedly thank you for your support over this past year as we have navigated our way out of full restrictions and continue to ease back into the ways that we did things prior to COVID-19. This is still an ongoing process where we hit roadblocks, such as caterers we once used closing down, facilities not being available when we would have liked them, to event chairs health conditions or age preventing them from running an event that they had run for many years prior to the lockdown.

We have been blessed however that we have a dedicated core group of Brother Knights who come together to pull off the events that we have hosted and events that are currently in the works, and I want to thank them all for their hard work and dedication in getting our council back up and running and keeping it going.

With that being said, I would also like to reach out to everyone who reads this and express that we need your help. We must not burn them out. Many hands make light work. The committee’s, events, and even meetings that we have are a great opportunity for fraternal bonding, and coming out of a pandemic that involved lockdowns, fraternity is a vital element to our nature as men and as men of faith.

I understand that having the time for this is low on the priority list, but you may find it to be good for your mental health and stress levels alongside bringing you closer to Christ through charity, as well as being beneficial to your family. Remember that we are brother’s, sometimes brothers may be driven away for a time for one reason or another, but as family you are always welcome at the table when you are ready to come home. God bless you.

Vivat Jesus!

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

A Father and Son Journey in Faith

Brother Knights,

At the time that I am writing this I have been working with my youngest son Liam on his preparation for his first Communion and Reconciliation. I recently purchased a book to help him and me through this process and am finding that this time in his life serves as a reminder to me of those things that many of us learned early in our lives in catechism as children and just how different my understanding is now as opposed to as a child. Not only that, but the insight of children with their understanding can be very enlightening. In a world where you hear more and more of people refusing to or, not believing, to hear an 8-year-old explain why he believes in, and loves God is showing me that there may yet still be hope for the survival of our faith.

I recently took him out of class to witness the Mass of the Immaculate Conception at St. Mary’s, where he was able to experience the organ, incense, Archbishop, and most of the Priests of our Archdiocese in the largest Mass he’s ever attended. We got to be present with a holy relic at that time as well.

I’ve been lucky enough as well to have access to the Vella collection while it was set up, to take him and his sister through some of the nativities. He enjoyed finding the differences from the different cultures and getting an understanding as to the history of why. When we were in southwestern Ontario, he was able to see the nativity at the church that his mother was baptized at. Unfortunately, the church was closed while we were there so we couldn’t go inside this time.

I have noticed for the last two years he has been paying very close attention to Mass and the readings each week. He asks questions which make me think as well. Liam has pushed me to continue to explore my faith further and has deepened my love of Christ. We look forward to continuing our faith journey together as we prepare for his first communion this year. I find that this journey with my son has been educational for me more than anyone and I wouldn’t trade this time for the world. To see the level of understanding and faith within my child is the most uplifting feeling. Please pray for us.

Vivat Jesus!

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

Honour, Advent and Christmas

Brother Knights,

At the time of writing this we are preparing for our annual memorial mass on November 15th and in preparation for this mass I find myself reflecting on the significance of the month of November. November is traditionally a month that we remember those who came before us and reflect on their contributions to our lives and to our society as a whole. It is not only significant among us Catholics, but also to our society, as November 11th is Remembrance Day, which is used as the one day each year that our country remember those soldiers, sailors, and airmen that laid down their lives. As a council we traditionally come together each November to celebrate the lives of those Brother Knights of our council who have gone to meet our Lord and Saviour. It is always important to honour the lives of those who have gone before us.

At the end of the month, we turn our attention to preparing the way for the birth of our Lord. Advent gives us time to reconcile with God and prepare our hearts and souls for the arrival of His Son Jesus Christ at Christmas. For many of us this time of year can be incredibly stressful. Instead of focusing on everything that the modern world throws at you this time of year, focus on what this season is really about and why it exists, the “reason of the season”, the birth of Christ our Lord. Too many people these days focus on material things this time of year. We should pray for them and pray for each other. This season, take time to reflect on the Nativity when you pray. When you may feel stressed, turn to prayer, and take the time to pray your rosary daily. God bless you all.

Vivat Jesus!

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

Pray the Rosary Daily

Brother Knights,

This being the September October Newsletter gives me an opportunity to reflect on a personal journey of mine. October 2nd marks Crystal and my anniversary, but that day marks another anniversary for me as well. It was October 2nd two years ago that I committed myself to praying the rosary daily. As a kid I didn’t know much about the rosary my parents weren’t big on going to church and I only knew of two people in my life then that I saw pray it regularly, and that was my great grandmother, Helen Quinn and my great aunt, Marion Waitson. So as a kid I thought of it as more of a girl thing rather than something that we all should pray. It wasn’t until I joined the Knights of Columbus, and the emphasis put upon the rosary that I realized the importance of it.

After becoming a Knight, I committed to praying the rosary daily during lent, but in September of 2020 I decided that beginning October 1st I would pray my rosary daily. If you noticed at the beginning, the date was not October 1st. So, needless to say I screwed it up right off the bat. In typical fashion I missed the first day. So, the next day, on my anniversary I started a journey. I now pray it daily and always finish by asking for Blessed Fr. McGivney and Our Lady of Fatima to pray for me.

Now this is a personal story that I have not shared with many people, and it tends to make me a tad emotional. As many of you are aware, my oldest daughter Aunna was diagnosed with cancer last spring, but what you may not know is the path that we took to finding it. About one month after I began praying the rosary daily, Aunna began having issues that were of no relation to the cancer diagnosis she would later receive. It was a long, complicated process of many hospital stays and much testing. It’s this testing that in the spring of 2021 discovered her cancer and just two weeks after diagnosis resulted in the surgical removal of her entire thyroid where they found cancer in two places.

We still do not know what the initial cause of the illness was. The doctors all said that if it wasn’t for the imaging done for her unexplained illness it likely would have spread further before she would have even started to notice anything wrong. I truly believe that there is no coincidence in the timing. Our Lady interceded and saved my daughter’s life. Praise be to God.

If there is one thing that I can strongly recommend to all my brother Knights and all my friends, it is simply to do what Our Lady of Fatima asked of us and pray the rosary daily. It may just change your life as it has mine.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

Blessed Father Michael McGivney, pray for us.

Vivat Jesus!

Ryan Polywkan
Grand Knight

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