It started four years ago with an idea from Sir Knight Robert Singer, Desoto Province District Master. The Military Order of the Purple Heart had started a program for returning from combat amputees. They were in military hospitals in Camp Lejeune and Ft. Bragg. Christmas was fast approaching and they were stuck in the hospital.
Spending Christmas on base was never a pleasant mission. Spending it on base as a recent amputee waiting to be released is absolutely heartbreaking. Bob Singer asked North Carolina Assemblies to help send them home by donating money which would then be matched dollar for dollar by the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
Our then Faithful Navigator, Lee Heavlin, came up with an idea to ask for a goodwill offering for amputees on Veterans Day after each mass. We have a Saturday mass and four on Sunday. Permission was granted to post knights in the narthex and a pulpit announcement was made.
The first year’s Veterans Day total collection was an astounding amount; $3,499. Each year we managed to maintain this level of giving, even with a tanking economy. The St. Thomas More Church members have always been generous and the church continues to support this special offering on Veterans Day weekend each year.
So, “How did we do this year? Well, true to tradition, the church collection was $3,992.66. We exceeded last year’s collection by $500. Wait, it gets better. Our Fourth Degree Knights in Durham did something extra special this year.
Holy Cross Church passed the collection plate after mass one Sunday. When the tally came in, Ron Patterson was amazed. “I thought we would get a few hundred, but then they told me it was $722.47! I was shocked.” Holy Cross has only been in its new building for three years, this week. They are not a wealthy church, but they have big hearts.
Next came St. Matthew Catholic Church in Durham. The Sir Knights of St. Matthew’s did not pass the plate. They held a pancake breakfast. All breakfasts were free, but there was a basket for donations, with proceeds to go to the amputees. After expenses, $680 was raised. Another small church with a big heart. In fact, St. Matthew’s is the smallest church in the Assembly.
Are you doing the math? Our total Assembly contribution this year is $4,672.66.
The groundswell of North Carolina Fourth Degree support for this annual project has spread to neighboring states of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Puerto Rico. Our province assemblies raised $65,000 last year. Bob Singer is now our Vice Supreme Master and the supporting knights are all part of the DeSoto Province.
When someone asks you what we do in the Fourth Degree, tell them this story. Then tell them any one of a hundred or more that make up the history of Divine Mercy Assembly 3005. We dare to make a difference by helping others, not ourselves.