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New Knights of Columbus Council in Bull Run

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The Oct. 1 gathering had all the hallmarks of a great fall festival — hamburgers and hot dogs, a moon bounce, pumpkins galore and a friendly visit from the local fire department. Without a building to call their own, St. Katharine Drexel Mission in Bull Run has few opportunities to gather socially, but more than 300 people came to the event hosted by the new Knights of Columbus Father Jon O’Brien Council. Helping foster community in the self-proclaimed “church without walls” is one of the goals of the 51-member men’s group.


Grand Knight Greg Murray was part of the All Saints Church George Brent Council in Manassas before he and other men founded the mission’s council, named after a Jesuit who taught at Georgetown University in Washington. Father O’Brien often offered Mass for the mission, now 1,200 strong, before his death in 2013. The community celebrates Sunday Mass at Bull Run Middle School in Gainesville. When it came time to choose a name, “it was a no-brainer,” said Murray. “He was so instrumental.”

Craig Radcliff, Knight’s Area 19 District deputy, began the recruiting effort to form the new council after talking it over with Father Christopher D. Murphy, pastor of both St. Stephen the Martyr Church in Middleburg and the mission. St. Stephen has no Knights council, but men from the parish are welcome to join the O’Brien Council, said Knight Dave Mart.

The charter group of 44 men was accepted into the Our Lady of the Rosary Council at Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville pending the official formation. The officer installation ceremony was held at All Saints Sept. 5, culminating eight months of effort.

Mart said the men founded the Knights council to build fraternity and get involved with charity work — “all of the stuff the Knights are known for,” he said. The Fall Festival was a first for the mission, and was hosted on a council member’s property. “It was fantastically received,” said Mart.

This winter, the men are selling Knights of Columbus “Keep Christ in Christmas” cards and are collaborating with Our Lady of the Rosary Council to sell Christmas trees. They recently held part one of a two-part food drive for the diocesan Catholic Charities’ St. Lucy’s Project. Murray said they also hope to have a bonfire cookout for the Knights and their wives, and a golf fundraiser in the spring.

Though the mission was founded in 2005, St. Katharine Drexel is still building up the community, and, hopefully, a physical church and gathering space, said Murray. “I love the parish,” he said. “It’s an exciting time.” 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017