LEXINGTON COUNCIL #293
KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS
124 Years of Columbianism in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
District Deputy – Frank DeVito, PGK, DD
Board of Officers 2021-2022
REV. Sebastian T. Augustine, CMI, CHAPLAIN
The History of Lexington Council
“Our Hats Off to the Past, Our Coats Off to the Future”
The four principles upon which the Order of the Knights of Columbus is founded are: Charity, Unity, Fraternity and Patriotism. April 19, 2010 marked the 235th Anniversary of the Battle of Lexington, which signaled both the start of the American Revolution and the dawn of the American dream. It is fitting that its founders chose to name this Council in commemoration of the heroic deeds performed by the early patriots of this fledgling nation. Members of Lexington Council would answer the call to arms throughout its history – in two World Wars, the Korean Conflict, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, the Global War on Terror, and in several nations to assist in Peacekeeping Missions. Lexington Council, from its inception, has truly personified the Principle of Patriotism.
In November 1897, a fraternal invitation to form a Knights of Columbus Council was circulated among a number of Catholic gentlemen in Greenpoint, and it resulted in the institution of Lexington Council #293, chartered on December 26th, 1897. An affectionate nickname for Lexington members at the turn of the century was “The Wheelers,” reflecting bicycles as the prevailing favorite form of transportation, particularly over a recently opened BrooklynBridge joining two of the five boroughs making up the newly incorporated City of New York, chartered during 1898.
The officers of the newly-formed Lexington Council had the honor of conferring the First Degrees at the institution of Colon Council #566. Many members of Lexington Council entered the armed forces at the outbreak of World War I. Four members were killed in action. Many members’ names would be added to the Council’s Honor Roll during World War II and Korea, with yet another Knight making the supreme sacrifice. To honor these brave men, five victory trees were planted on the side the club house on Lorimer Street, and five plaques with their names imprinted were embedded in the concrete. After the sale of the building, the plaques were moved and set in the concrete of the new building on the corner of Franklin and Calyer Streets.
Members of Lexington Council distinguished themselves in the Order, both locally and in the State. Among them are Francis D. Thorne, Jr., State Deputy 1903-1904; and John F. Kelly (1914-1915) and Patrick R. Gallagher (2006-2007), State Wardens. Brother Kelly was Warden of Lexington Council for 32 years and Captain of the Council’s Degree Team. He exemplified degrees throughout New York, New England, Maryland, Canada and Puerto Rico. Past Grand Knight Christopher J. Fardy, after serving several terms as District Deputy, was elected to the Office of State Secretary. Past Grand Knight Frank J. Nappi served the Long Island Chapter as Vice Chairman.
Past Grand Knight Francis Langan served as Chairman of the Charity Ball of 1907. Past Grand Knight Luke Kenny would do the same in 1966. Serving the State Council with distinction as District Deputies were Past Grand Knights Dr. Ignatius P.A. Byrne, Christopher J. Fardy, Bernard A. Galligan, Philip A. Carney, John O’Dowd, Sr., Patrick R. Gallagher, and Richard T. Kenney. Former Faithful Navigators of the Fourth Degree, Long Island Assembly, include James F. Morgan and Past Grand Knight Joseph E. Finley. Past Grand Knight Paddy Gallagher served as Kings County Conference Chairman, and both he and Past Grand Knight Rick Kenney brought pride to Lexington Council as New York State Pro-Life Chairman.
Past Grand Knights Luke Kenny and John McAvoy served with distinction as K of C volunteer workers at the Vatican Pavilion during the World’s Fair of 1964-1965. Brother McAvoy was also appointed the Chairman of “Design for ’69,” which required the highest qualifications as a Catholic Gentleman and Knight.
Members of Lexington Council have also distinguished themselves in local civic affairs and political office. Brothers John McCrate and Michael Gagliano were appointed Judges of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Former advocate Chester Straub was elected State Senator from the Greenpoint District. Former Advocates Edward F.G. Imperatore and Charles M. Merjave have served on the Greenpoint Civic Council. Many members through the years have served on committees for community betterment and participated in civic celebrations.
The building that became synonymous with “Lex” was built in 1919 and at the Silver Jubilee celebration the building was dedicated for Knights of Columbus purposes. James F. Walsh, Past Grand Knight for eight terms, presided. The Council funded its charitable endeavors through dinners, dances, bazaars and bingos held in the Grand Ballroom, with a capacity for 400 guests. Lazy weekend afternoons were spent in the card room, the lounge or the tap room, decorated with a mural of the Battle of Lexington, watching what is now considered classic sports events. The Green Room hosted Sunday afternoon entertainment or family events, such as wedding showers, christenings and birthdays. The Pine Room, with a complete kitchen facility, hosted weddings, reunions and Council Degrees. It also hosted a Stein Club in the early 1960’s, with each member’s name emblazoned on an individual, limited-edition, beer stein. Many a Knight from Brooklyn and Queens will recall taking their 3rd Degree in that venerable building!
The very size of the building proved to be its undoing in later years as membership decreased due to the flight to the suburbs and expenses for the aging building began to increase. It took the zealous efforts of a number of Grand Knights and Council Officers to meet recurring mortgage problems and retain the building through the 1980’s. It was inevitable that the building would have to be sold, and in 1987 Lexington vacated the building at 88 Meserole Avenue and moved to its newly-built, smaller quarters at 80 Franklin Street.
Lexington Council’s Columbiettes were chartered in 1947 and the first President was Regina Dailey Rattigan, who ultimately achieved the Office of Supreme President.
Several events during the fraternal year would become part of Lexington’s legacy. The Council’s Annual Communion and Breakfast was always well attended by members, relatives, civic leaders, and prominent guest speakers. An annual Memorial Mass, instituted by Past Grand Knight Bernie Galligan, was celebrated on Thanksgiving Morning for all deceased members, with relatives invited to participate in this offering for their loved ones. All deceased members were enrolled in a Purgatorial Society.
Over a span of 20 years, Lexington Council had its own Glee Club, under the guidance of Brother Joseph Daly, which performed at our Mass of Thanksgiving and presented a “Gay Nineties Revue” in full costume each year. In the late 1950’s, several members, organized by Brother Jerry Peters, began a Christmas Party for children of members, which soon became an eagerly awaited annual event.
Lexington has sponsored championship teams throughout the years in baseball, basket-ball, softball and the Wednesday Night Bowling League. An active insurance program provided for members’ families. The Fraternal Assistance Program came to the aid of members who were ill or unemployed. Bartending or janitorial jobs at the Council helped provide income for members during hard times. An active blood donors group has been called upon many times and brought credit to Lexington.
The Council maintained a Christmas Cheer Fund for hospitalized children, and “adopted” the Little Flower House of Providence at WadingRiver, Long Island for charitable support. In the field of religious education, medals have been awarded for proficiency. During both good and lean financial times, Lexington Council can proudly say that it has never turned down a request for a charitable donation!
The record would not be complete without recognition of the faith, moral guidance and apostolic example of our Council’s Chaplains. We have been blessed with the service and support of Monsignor John F. Cherry, Reverend Thomas A. Sheerin (a native son of Greenpoint, who as a child attended the school and Church of St. Anthony of Padua, of which he later became Pastor), Monsignor Anthony Passarella, its subsequent Pastor and, reflecting the recent shortage of Priests, Deacon Carlos Martinez, also from the same home parish, who would ultimately succumb to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!
Lexington Council has at all times endeavored to carry out the principles of the Catholic Faith and the Knights of Columbus. The contributions of so many members to the dignity, welfare and faith of their fellow man go unrecorded here due to limitations of space, but more so because they are “known but to God.”
Changes in society and current social behavior necessarily impacted on Lexington Council as entered a new millennium. At this point in history, membership in almost all organizations – religious, patriotic or fraternal – is viewed as passé and impractical in a busy world.
And yet, the membership of Lexington Council is growing and getting younger! At a meeting of Lexington Council in May, 2001 – months before the tragedy of 9/11/01 – a motion was made by Grand Knight Rick Kenney to sponsor a parade and “Massing of the Colors” to honor the dwindling numbers of World War II Veterans. A partnership with the St. Stanislaus Memorial Post #1771 of the American Legion was arranged by Past Grand Knight Jimmy Feith and Brother Ed Wizbicki, then Post Commander. Since 9/11, sixteen parades were held, featuring Sailors and Marines from visiting Fleet Week ships; local Veterans of several wars; and the Gold Star Mother of a Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient honored as Grand Marshals; Clergy from four Faiths, including a Muslim Imam, marching side-by-side; and Congressman Anthony Weiner and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of the City of New York in the line of march. Every parade has been led by members of the K of C Fourth Degree Color Corps of the Long Island Assembly. The parade marches to St. Anthony’s Church where a Mass for All Veterans, living and deceased, is offered and then returns to the Legion Post for a Flag-raising and playing of “Taps.”
Additional activities included sponsorship of a “Keep Christ in Christmas” billboard on busy McGuinness Boulevard; support of the Greenpoint Business Association’s Christmas Street Lighting; support of the Cathedral Prep Minor Seminary; introduction of an annual Pro-Life Liturgy, “A Holy Hour For Life!” at St. Anthony’s Church; participation in the Lions Club Neighborhood Bathtub Races; and conduct of the K of C Basketball Free-Throw competition. After a one year rental of a storefront on Manhattan Avenue, the Council has since been housed in the American Legion Post on Leonard Street, and has alternately met in the basement of the now-clustered and re-named St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus Church.
In the early years of this millennium, Lexington Council has continued its focus on pro-life activities with a dinner-dance that raised some $15,000 toward the purchase, with co-funding from the Supreme Council, of an ultrasound machine to be placed at a pregnancy center thus opening a window into the womb and demonstrating the humanity of the unborn to the doubting eyes of those who do not have regard for the sanctity of unborn human life.
Members of the Council have also regularly visited the Ronald McDonald House in Manhattan with gifts for the children at Easter, Halloween and Christmas, as well as serving a full dinner buffet to families residing there while children attend outpatient treatment in local hospitals.
The Council also financed, and arranged, construction of a new Christmas stable and provided a pro-life memorial headstone on the grounds of St. Anthony Church. Working with recent new members of the NYPD’s local 94th Precinct, the Council also funded backpacks of school supplies to needy returning schoolkids, Police Athletic League sporting events, and a fundraiser competition among local pizzerias. Lexington Council continues to support St. Francis Home for troubled youth and Faith in the Future Catholic School scholarships, both organizations headed by members of Lexington Council, Joe Campo and Bill Dobranski, respectively.
The fact that Lexington Council has even survived to witness the arrival of yet another century is a credit to the members whose support has made it possible. Lexington has, and will, adapt and adjust to the times. The current Officers and Members have pledged themselves to this task to protect and pass on the spirit both of Columbianism and of our members and Columbiettes who have gone before. Lexington Council is very much alive and well, and continues to support the Catholic Faith and the Community of Greenpoint, Brooklyn!
PAST GRAND KNIGHTS OF LEXINGTON COUNCIL
July 1897 – June 1898 Bernard Lamb*
July 1898 – June 1899 Charles O'Connor*
July 1899 – June 1900 William P. McGarry*
July 1900 – June 1901 Francis B. Langan*
July 1901 – June 1902 Francis D. Thorne*
July 1902 – June 1904 John J. Clair*
July 1904 – June 1905 John J. Darraugh*
July 1905 – June 1906 Francis B. Langan*
July 1906 – June 1907 John J. Darraugh*
July 1907 – June 1908 Richard J. McGuire*
July 1908 – June 1909 Hugh P. Norton*
July 1909 – June 1910 Thomas J. Taaffe*
July 1910 – June 1911 Ignatius P.A. Byrne*
July 1911 – June 1913 Edward P. Dailey*
July 1913 – June 1915 John F. Monaghan*
July 1915 – June 1917 James F. Colgan*
July 1917 – June 1920 Samuel J. Toomey*
July 1920 – June 1924 James F. Walsh*
July 1924 – June 1925 John F. McGowan*
July 1925 – June 1927 Charles W. Hogan*
July 1927 – June 1928 John J. Kelty*
July 1928 – June 1929 Ignatius P.A. Byrne*
July 1929 – June 1931 Anthony F. Grace*
July 1931 – June 1935 James F. Walsh*
July 1935 – June 1938 George F. Hudson*
July 1938 – June 1941 Arthur F. O'Brien*
July 1941 – June 1942 Michael Sheerin*
July 1942 – June 1943 William P. McGarry*
July 1943 – June 1946 William A. Colgan*
July 1946 – June 1947 Christopher J. Fardy*
July 1947 – June 1950 Bernard A. Galligan*
July 1950 – June 1952 Frank A. Bernat*
July 1952 – June 1954 John P. Quinn*
July 1954 – June 1957 William A. Colgan*
July 1957 – June 1959 Thomas F. Kelty
July 1959 – June 1961 Philip A. Carney*
July 1961 – June 1962 Thomas M. Dougherty*
July 1962 – June 1964 John J. McAvoy*
July 1964 – June 1966 Frank J. Nappi
July 1966 – June 1968 Luke V. Kenny*
July 1968 – June 1969 Joseph E. Finley*
July 1969 – July 1971 John J. O'Dowd, Sr.*
June 1971 – July 1973 William R. Dawson*
July 1973 – Dec 1974 James Lynch
Jan 1975 – June 1976 Alfred Harneit
July 1976 – June 1979 Donald Sullivan
July 1979 – June 1981 Patrick Gallagher
July 1981 – June 1983 Patrick Lynch
July 1983 – June 1984 John DeSena
July 1984 – June 1985 Patrick Gallagher
July 1985 – June 1988 Edward McDonald
June 1988 – July 1989 Bernard P. Myldy
July 1989 – June 1991 Michael J. McAllister*
July 1991 – June 1992 Dennis Mulvena
July 1992 – June 1998 William Bolan
July 1998 – Jan 1999 Patrick Gallagher
Feb 1999 – June 2001 Richard T. Kenney
July 2001 – June 2003 James Feith
July 2003 – June 2007 Anthony C. Hughes
July 2008 – June 2010 Patrick Gallagher
July 2010 –June 2012 Richard T. Kenney
July 2012 – June 2013 Louis Bascetta, Jr.
July 2013 – June 2019 Steven M. Cirone
June 2019- Patrick Gallagher