Written by Peter G. Sánchez
Don Olbrich is nothing if not persistent.
Wherever he goes, he carries with him Form 100s, which are membership documents for the Knights of Columbus. Which is not surprising, as he is Grand Knight of his council, Liberty Council 1910 out of Bridgeton’s Parish of the Holy Cross.
“I took a Form 100 to my doctor’s office,” he says, but it wasn’t blank.
“I had already filled out his name and phone number, all I needed was his address,” he continues.
And then there was the time he tried to get his son, D.J., to join the council.
“He kept telling me no, so I told some of my brother Knights that if they could get him to sign up, I’d give them $100. It worked,” he says, laughing.
Olbrich’s methods have no doubt rubbed off on his brother Knights. From July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, his council gained 40 new members, 800% of their recruitment goal. The effort made Liberty Council 1910 second in the country in recruitment for any Knight’s council.
Today, the 101-year-old council is 113 men strong, in ages ranging from 19 years old to the mid-80s, Olbrich says.
“We set monthly membership goals,” he says in explaining how the council achieved the milestone.
His doggedness and determination speak to his love of the church where he has been a Knight for 10 years.
“It’s all about helping the parish,” he says.
The Liberty Council Knights are a constant presence around the Holy Cross community, be it cooking for the annual fall parish festival, organizing a donation drive of baby wipes and diapers for single mothers and their children, or repainting lines in the church parking lot.
Olbrich was thankful for the leadership and guidance of Holy Cross pastor, Father Matthew Weber, who has shown “tremendous support” for the council.
“The Knights have been a wonderful blessing,” says Father Weber, himself a Fourth Degree Knight.
In addition to “stepping up” to help the parish in whatever needs to be done, such as helping out with maintenance issues or being extra hands at parish events, the Knights of Columbus are “leading men to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, and with each other,” he says.
As well, he is pleased that the council reflects the diverse nature of his Bridgeton parish — a bilingual community with a faithful and collaborative mix of Anglo-Saxon and Hispanic members.
“The Knights have been a beautiful bridge” between these communities, he says,
“I’m glad this council has blossomed. These men are pillars of charity, fraternity, unity, and patriotism,” Father Weber said, echoing the Knights of Columbus’ mission.
Following the call from Supreme Director Carl Anderson to make the Knights more appealing, the Bridgeton Knights will hold a public initiation ceremony after the 4:30 p.m. Mass at Saint Mary Church, Rosenhayn on Saturday, Feb. 22, with a spaghetti dinner afterward. All are welcome.