SERVICE, FORMATION AND SPIRITUALITY PROJECTS IN THE JACKSONVILLE REGION
The Jacksonville Florida Region remains active with a full listing of programs that address service to the sick and poor; local formation activities for our candidates in formation; and spirituality events that are either in person or via Zoom technology. The St. Francis Soup Kitchen was reopened within weeks of the original soup kitchen closing due to relocation of services by the Diocese. It is fully staffed by Knights and Dames of the Order on Friday and Saturday mornings at the City Rescue Mission in the inner city. This important work serves hundreds of homeless. The meals are prepared by the Knights and Dames and then served the following day. We work side by side with homeless who have been accepted in the Rescue Mission’s program serving others who come in from the streets for a meal. The Knights and Dames also work with Catholic Charities and Feeding Northeast Florida in food distribution from mobile or permanent food pantries located in poor areas of town. Most recently an event held on a Saturday at Guardian Catholic School provided bags of grocery staples and fresh produce and meat and filled the cars of over 100 families.
The San Jose Manor Project is ongoing and we appreciated a grant from the Federal Association in 2019 to replace a Gazebo and garden area where the elderly HUD housing residents can enjoy the outside and get a respite from their apartments. We hosted a dinner for them recently in memory of one of our deceased Knights, Pat Thornton, KM who had started our service there years ago. We will also host Thanksgiving Dinner for more than 200 residents of San Jose Manor and Bishop Hurley Manor this year. Both are low income housing projects for the elderly. Most of the residents have no family and are alone. The Prison Ministry will remain active once the restrictions for COVID-19 are relaxed.
In February, we host an Anointing Mass attended by faithful from all over the area and brought to them with the assistance of 8 or more priests. This is a beautiful time for us in service to our malades who live in our area.
The Jacksonville region designed and implemented two local sessions of formation for candidates that complemented the national formation activities on Zoom. Many Knights and Dames participated, and each took an important part of our works and our history to share with the new candidates in formation. Our history was written by the late and beloved Knight, Robert T. Shircliff, KM who began our region in the Federal Association after it was organized and before that as the Southern Association. The formation sessions were extremely effective, and we have been asked to keep this going year to year. In 2020, we initiated a Spirituality series that also was a Defense of the Faith activity with three sessions. It is called “Our Catholic Faith” Series. Our associate Chaplain, Father John Tetlow and two Knights, Ernie Bono and Sidney Simmons presented on these topics: The Catholic Catechism, The Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist and Catholic Social Teaching. All sessions were outstanding and well attended.
The Monthly Mass and Meeting has resumed and last year we added a half hour Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament before Mass. These meetings are always on the second Monday of the Month. In December, we host a Morning of Reflection and invite other regions that are close by to join us as well as our fellow Knights and Dames from the American Association. In the Spring we host the Florida Retreat. This year it is on March 6 for one day only and details will be sent to the Federal Association for posting on the website. Many Knights and Dames from other Regions usually join us and we hope they will again, if they are able to travel. Florida is beautiful that time of year.
We congratulate and thank Jerry Weedon, KM, who was elected to the Board of the Federal Association and begins his term at the beginning of 2021. Jerry is a past Hospitaller and leader for us in every way here in Jacksonville. He follows in the footsteps of Ernie Bono, KMOb who continues to support everything that is our mission in the Order. What a blessing our leaders have been to the Jacksonville Region.
Dr. John McKenzie