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Yk knights love to do good deeds

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 19/04) - Modern day knights are at work in Yellowknife -- but you won't find them jousting or rescuing damsels in distress.

The Knights of Columbus are more likely to be shovelling driveways or cooking pancakes.

"We invite all Catholic gentlemen to join," said Ponchit Santos, Grand Knight of the Yellowknife Assembly. "It's basically to support the family, the church and the community as a whole."

The Knights of Columbus (KOC) have 60 members in Yellowknife, with about 40 active members.

There are about 150 knights in the NWT -- in Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Smith and Inuvik.

There have been knights in Yellowknife since 1981. They are affiliated with St. Patrick's Catholic Church.

"It's a very rewarding experience to be a member of the Knights, both spiritually and through being able to help others in need," said Santos.

He said a commitment to volunteer work is part of being a knight. He estimates that KOC members in Yellowknife do about 3,000 hours of volunteer work each year.

"We visit the sick and the bereaved," he said. "We go into the prison and bring the eucharistic service to the inmates."

The KOC also organizes a parish picnic, pancake breakfasts and prayer vigils.

"This year we will be creating projects for the seniors," he said.

That could mean shovelling sidewalks or going to pick up groceries for elderly people.

There are four membership degrees in the KOC focusing on charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.

"The fourth degree knights are the ones that you see with capes and swords and plumed hats," said Santos. "Most of the members would aim to be fourth degree."

Fourth degree members are called Faithful Navigators and can be addressed as Sir Knight. Santos is a fourth degree knight and so is Yellowknife Mayor Gordon Van Tighem. Members have to complete devotional exercises and commit to more volunteer hours to move up a degree.

Santos said over the past few years membership declined, but it's come back up.

"We're just trying to get back into activity," he said.

The Knights of Columbus were founded in 1882 by Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut.