By Gina Thackara
For Sunday Dispatch
PITTSTON — Behind the good men of the John F. Kennedy Knights Council 372 of Columbus in Pittston are about 143 good women. And they’ve been there for the past 50 years.
“The organization got started in 1965,” said current president Joan McFadden, of Pittston. “That was two years after President Kennedy’s assassination and that’s when the Knights of Columbus chapter took on the JFK name for the Catholic president. We became the ‘Jacquelines,’ named after his wife.”
And to celebrate those 50 years of service as a K of C auxiliary, the Jacquelines held a grand dinner Saturday, June 20 at the Fox Hill Country Club in Exeter. It was a couples’ dinner, with spouses and guests from the Knights of Columbus and Friendly Sons of St. Patrick mingling among the tables with the festively-dressed Jacquelines. It was also the annual meeting for installation of organization officers.
“I’ll be president again,” said McFadden, who has held that office since 2003. “But some of the other officers are switching places.”
Several of the officers keep it in the family, as well.
“I’ve been the vice president and my daughter, Melinda, was the secretary,” said Debby Murosky, of Pittston, who had held the office for a decade. “But Melinda complained that she was getting all of the work. So we’re swapping offices.”
The family doesn’t stop there. Both women posed for a photo with mom and grandmother, Ann Marie Conroy.
“And I’ve been here for the past 10 years – the girls got me into the Jacquelines,” Conroy said.
Some at the dinner were guests for the evening. But that didn’t last, either.
“I’m here with my son,” said Carolyn Toole, of Pittston. “He’s a fourth degree Knight. And I have my money ready to give to Joanie (McFadden) tonight for my membership.”
That was good news for membership secretary Mary Kay Ash, also of Pittston, who collected dues at the door and handed out membership cards.
“We welcome all here,” Ash said. “This is a warm, friendly group.”
The family theme carried the night, as it has for the past five decades. The golden anniversary celebration featured some family heirlooms, like the organization’s silver tea service that was originally a mainstay of the mother-daughter communion breakfast and tea and tea socials in the early days of the organization.
And McFadden wielded the “lady-sized” gavel, engraved with the year 1965, that has been used for the past 50 years to call meetings to order.
“Everyone’s family here,” said Winifred Serfass, of West Pittston, who held the office of president “back in the 90s.” Serfass got into the organization when her husband, Gregory, became a fourth-degree Knight and hasn’t looked back. “It’s a small organization; we all know each other. We all work together.”
The work includes monthly meetings at the Council home in Pittston, raffles, sponsoring a booth at the Pittston Tomato Festival and marching in the parade during the late-summer festivities. This year they also joined the Pittston St. Patrick’s Day parade.
And the goal of any money-raising that goes on – in addition to paying bills like those connected to things like this banquet – goes to the Home Association of the Knights Council. The funds help to sponsor some K of C events, but mostly goes to help with upkeep of the Council building.
This year, following the dinner and installation of officers in the capable hands of by-laws chairman Jean Gohan, the ladies presented a check to the Knights Council for $1,500.
“This shows what we can do when we all work together,” McFadden said. “And we do. It’s through two-way conversations, coming up with new ideas, everyone taking part.”
She added, “Here’s where we start on the next 50 years.”
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