Archbishop Michael J. Curley Assembly No. 383 of the Knights of Columbus Patriotic Degree has raised $10,083.49 for the Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA’s (AMS), Military Chaplain’s Scholarship Fund. The Assembly, comprised of Knights from nine Councils in Eastern Montgomery and Northern Prince George’s counties, raised the money through its “Pass the Helmet” Campaign, which started on October 9, 2016, and concluded on June 4, 2017.

Pass the Helmet 9 a.m. Mass teamLady Sarah Patishnock and Sir Knights Jimmy Williams, Arnie Rausch, Dave Knitowski and Pete Monti (left to right) collected donations following the 9 a.m. Mass at St. Mary of the Mills in Laurel, Md. on Sunday, October 30, 2016.Faced with a critical shortage of priests serving the Catholic men and women of the United States military, AMS and the Knights of Columbus established the Military Chaplain’s Scholarship Fund in an effort to increase the number of Catholic military chaplains. The Knights of Columbus committed to raising $1.4 million for the Fund by June 30, 2017. The funds will be used to provide scholarships through AMS’ “Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program,” which funds 50 percent of the cost of a seminarian’s five-year education, or about $12,500 per year, for seminarians who commit to serving as military chaplains following their ordinations and three years of service at a parish.

“This was just a truly amazing effort, from the Sir Knights and Ladies who gave more than 125 hours of their time to make this campaign possible to the incredible generosity of those who donated,” said Sir Knight Jimmy Williams, Faithful Navigator of Curley Assembly. “When we started out, we had no idea this campaign would be so successful. We just wanted to support our seminarians and Catholic men and women in uniform and knew whatever amount of money we raised would make a difference. The end result blew us all away.”

Pass the Helmet Jimmy receiving a donation 2Sir Knight Jimmy Williams, Faithful Navigator of Curley Assembly, receives a donation from a parishioner after Mass at St. Mary of the Mills in Laurel, Md., on Sunday, October 30, 2016.Throughout the campaign, the Assembly coordinated collections after Masses at five of the parishes it supports. To promote the collections, the Assembly ran bulletin announcements and made announcements about the collection during Mass. A feeder Council contributed to the effort through a collection during one of its meetings and the seniors club at another feeder Council also contributed.

Pass the Helmet Church of the Resurrection An Army helmet, Air Force cover and Marine cover on display during Curley Assembly's Pass the Helmet Campaign visit to Church of the Resurrection in Burtonsville, Md. on Sunday, March 12, 2017. The Assembly used the helmet and covers to collect donations from parishioners as they exited Mass.“The Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus, known as the Patriotic Degree, strives to perform activities that exemplify the virtue of Patriotism. Curley Assembly has done just that through their ‘Pass the Helmet’ Campaign,” said Sir Knight Micheal Thumm, Master of the Archdiocese of Washington District of the Patriotic Degree. “It is my opinion that through their actions in this campaign, they have also demonstrated the other virtues of a complete Knight of Columbus: Charity, United and Fraternity. It is a fantastic deed that the Sir Knights of this Assembly have accomplished!”

According to information received from Sir Knight Dennis Stoddard, Supreme Master of the Patriotic Degree, as of February 2017, AMS had just 210 active duty priests serving. It is estimated 800 are needed to fully serve all Catholics in the United States armed forces. As of June 2017, seven priests have been ordained through the AMS program, with another 35 seminarians enrolled. While there is still a long way to go to adequately serve all Catholics in the military, the funds raised for the Military Chaplain’s Scholarship Fund are making a difference.