Originally named "Upper Montgomery County Council", Knights of Columbus Council No. 6901 opened its first meeting on April 12, 1977, with its first call to service. Father George B. Reid, longtime Pastor of St. Mary's Church in Barnesville, asked the Council to help put a new roof on the parish pavilion where the Knights would hold their bi-weekly meetings for the next decade and beyond.
Officers were installed at Mother Seton Parish in Germantown, Maryland. This was certainly a sign that this new Council would serve not only the farmlands and scattered villages in the upper west end of the County, but the burgeoning bedroom communities being built around Germantown, shepherded by Consignor Leonard F. Hurley, the Council's first Chaplain. Members of St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin's parishes in Gaithersburg also joined, plus several Brothers from the Christian Brothers Manor in Beallsville.
Under the leadership of Grand Knight, Denny Raugh, Council No. 6901 plunged into the routine activities such as the State's Incentive Program, Tootsie Roll Drive for the mentally handicapped, Punt, Pass and Kick and Free-Throw Contest for the youngsters, Right to Life Marches for the unborn, and food baskets for the poor at Christmas, Easter and later, Thanksgiving too. Council members parked' cars, directed traffic and helped out in the kitchen on the last Saturdays of July and October when St. Mary's held their Annual Chicken and Turkey Dinners. The Council struggled with membership and attendance, but continued to hold family picnics and spaghetti dinners.
When the Crosier Fathers moved into Holy Cross Manor in Beallsville, the Council promoted their first Thursday 8:00 P.M. Holy Hour and received a real boost when Father Zylla, O.S.C., transferred in and became Co-Chaplain in January of 1979. Father Zylla remained active, not only in the Council, but also in the District and State by his devotion to the Knights of Columbus.
By the end of the 1970's, Council No. 6901 had $1,400 in the treasury and fifty members. The District's Fourth Degree held their annual picnic at St. Mary's, hosted by Council No. 6901, and kept coming back most of the next decade. Due to increasing demands of him by his blossoming parish, Father Hurley resigned and Father Zylla became Chaplain, stressing the role of the family in this, The Year of the Family.
The Council responded with Family of the Month Awards, Family Communion Breakfasts, caroling, baby shower gifts for members, Christmas parties, German dinners, CCD Coloring Books and Poster Contests, a Valentine's Dance, a wheel-chair for a member's nephew, new efforts for the Right to Life; and, last but not least, a beer and wine license for the Council.
Within a year, a Ladies' Auxiliary was formed and Jim Serritella began his anonymous, prize winning effort as Editor of the Broken Lance newsletter. Then came Clergy Night at which each of the four pastors was toasted and roasted.
In 1982, Brother Daniel Stang, O.S.C., a long time Officer of Council No. 6901, left to serve the church through mission work in Africa. Under Grand Knight, Bernie Moffett, a Building Fund was started for a new Council home, yet to be built. Father Emmett Zachman, O.S.C., became Chaplain, and a year later, it was Father Reid, with Denny Raugh beginning a long term as Treasurer and then Financial Secretary.
Father Zylla returned a year later as Associate Chaplain, and top Officers started to attend Knights of Columbus training seminars at Mt. St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg. Formal annual budgets became the rule, and Council No. 6901 was professionalized.
By 1985, the Council had one hundred members, nearly $20,000 in the treasury, Paul Prozialeck as Grand Knight and the Council's first Star Council.
Grand Knight successor, Peter Davio, spearheaded a drive in 1987 to have the Council's name changed to "Our Lady of Fatima" which was subsequently approved at the Supreme Convention in Vancouver in 1988. During his second year as Grand Knight, the Council set new records for funds collected for the State Incentive Program and the Tootsie Roll Program for the mentally handicapped.
Council Milestone - Monument to the Unborn
In April, 1993 a motion was made at a meeting at Our Lady of Fatima Council 6901 to have a monument to the unborn erected in the area. Concerned about how to draw interest to the monument in this rural area of the state, council Pro-Life Chairman Peter Davio suggested that it be made a community project instead. With council approval, Davio made presentations to the pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Barnesville, Father George Reid, the Ladies Sodality and the Holy Name Society, telling them of the campaign being conducted by Knights of Columbus across the country in the name of the unborn. Their support was solicited as well as their ideas on the size, shape, color, cut and design of the monument. Council funding initially paid for the monument and its installation in St. Mary’s Cemetery on Friday July 29th, 1994.
His Eminence Cardinal James Hickey of the Washington D.C. Archdiocese agreed to dedicate the monument as soon as his schedule would permit. He would consider a date after his return from a scheduled trip to Rome. Meanwhile the Sodality and Holy Name Society conducted fund raisers to pay a share of the monument expenses. One trip to Rome by the Cardinal stretched into two then three and then winter set in as the monument stood there unnoticed and undedicated. Finally, amid graduations, confirmations, and ordinations, Cardinal James Hickey, the pastors of St. Mary’s Church in Barnesville and Mother Seton Parish in Germantown, priests and brothers from the Monastery of the Eastern Rite, flanked by the Knights of Columbus Color Corps and accompanied by close to 100 friends and parishioners of the community of Barnesville and the surrounding area dedicated the monument to the unborn on Saturday, May 27, 1995. The monument stands in the area of the innocents, a section of the cemetery reserved for infant deaths.
Council Milestone - 20 year anniversary
April 6th, 1997 was a special day in the life of council 6901. On that day, we paid special tribute to the men who founded our council 20 years ago and more importantly stayed with it all through the ensuing two decades.
A 4 PM rosary at St. Mary’s Church in Barnesville, followed by a cocktail social then a dinner and a short program marked the day. Several examples of our past were on display including exhibits of our Grand Father Program started by charter member Harry Ganjian, a large collage of photos documenting council activities over the years, and a national map marking the locations of 52 councils in the Order bearing the name “Our Lady of Fatima”. Excerpts of letters of congratulations from many of those councils were read by PGK Peter Davio to the Brother Knights and their families in attendance.
MC Joe Murtha guided the program through the afternoon’s activities which also included a presentation of the Star Council Award to PGK Tom Briggs by Past State Deputy, John Glynn. followed by one of John’s typical energetic pep talks on the benefits of membership in our Order. Special thanks were given to the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Assembly for their fine job of catering the dinner. The food was well prepared, and more importantly to our hungry guests, presented on time.
Transfers: Msgr. Leonard Hurley, John Burns, Thomas Cassidy, Robert Deck, Don Kersey, Dennis Raugh, Richard Rosser, Robert Stack, John Staskus, Richard Twigger
Readmits: George Barr, Charles Carlton, Robert Hill, Richard Jurgena, Richard Mayeux, Allen MacCarrach, Murray Morgan, Raymond Regnier
New Members: Frank Austin, Robert Blum, Kenneth Brown, Gregory Clucas, Stanley Dahlman, Vito DeLorenzo, James Doonan, John Fiedler, Brian Ganjian, Harry Ganjian, Andrew Gerber Jr., Melvin Glover, Michael Hamilton, Michael Henchy, George Heverly, William Howard, Nicholas Johnson, Edwin Kapp, James Kelly, John Lucas, Barry Lewis, Thomas Madden, Thomas Mahoney, Kenneth Matula, Paul Maxwell, Richard Mechler, Bernard Moffet, James Parsley, David Perry, Lawrence Price III, Joseph Richard, Daniel Sandusky, Kevin Wade, Melvin Washington, Donald White