History of the Rev. Thomas F. Canty Council #3197 of the Knights of Columbus, Hillside, NJ

An institutional degree was conducted on January 21, 1949 for thirty-five candidates, and an additional degree on January 30, 1949 for thirty-five candidates and finally, after achieving necessary quotas of insurance and associate members our charter was granted by the Supreme Council on February 11, 1949.

Charter Members of the Council were: L. Andres, J>J> Bailie, J.T. Banna,Jr., D.W. Bataille, M.J. Bizon, V.R. Cantillon, J.J. Carragino, W.R. Carragino, A.A. Cirrito, T.R. Clark, W.E. Corris, R.E. Decker, Reverend P.G. DeWitt, A. Dill, W.F. Dillon, W.A. Donnelly Jr., W.J. Doyle, W.J. Enoch, A.R. Ferguson, J. Gillich, P.J. Gillich, B. Growney, J.J. Growney, J. Gurden, Jr., T. Heller, F.J. Hill, L. Hirsch, F.J. Intrabartolo, W. Jamititus, A. Karlick, N.J. Kelly, H.W. Kiley, W.J. Klass, Jr., W.N. Kobin, Dr. H.J. Kenzelman, H.R. Livingston, D.T. MacDonald, A.J. Mackemull, F.J. Mackemull Jr., V.F. Mason, W.L. Matlosz, M.A. Matteis, L.M. Mayer, J.J. McGuire, Jr., M.A. McGuire, T.E. Moran, R.E. Morrow, J. O’Brien, E.O. O’Lenick, L.A. Piascik, R.W. Price, J.G. Robinson, M. Rodrigues, J.E. Scheier, A.H. Schirmer, F.P. Seaton Jr., G.J. Sheridan, M. Silva, L.A. Specht, H.C. Spingler, H.L. Tomalo, J. Verba, J.V. Vsilauskas, J.A. Wallack, J.E. Wecsey, F.J. Weishapl Jr., C. Yankitus, J. Yowpa, F.W. Zimmerman.

Our council was named after the Rev. Thomas F. Canty, an active supporter of the Order of the Knights of Columbus. This holy priest was born in Elizabeth, NJ and received his early religious training at Holy Rosary Parochial School in Elizabeth and attended Seton Hall College, where he received a B.A. degree in 1904 and an M.A. in 1906. He was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on June 13, 1908.

Father Canty’s first assignment was that of assistant pastor of St. Joseph’s parish in Jersey City. On May 3, 1923, he was assigned as Pastor of St. Catherine’s parish in Hillside, where he celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his Ordination on June 13, 1933. During his pastorate the Mission of Christ the King was founded on October 4, 1931. Later after his death, it was established as a Parish in 1948.

Father Canty’s life was one of humility, charity, and of ceaseless effort to bring the presence of God and His Divine Grace into the hearts of those to whom he ministered. He was an inspiration to the many who followed his footsteps into the Holy Priesthood. His years of labor at St. Catherine’s brought forth abundant fruit. On December 6, 1934 having suffered from heart failure, he passed to eternal reward. He is buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Elizabeth.

The granting of our charter was no simple task. Then, even as today, neighboring councils are concerned when a new council is formed in their surrounding area. Ours came about after many meetings with the pastors of St. Catherine’s, Christ the King and St. Michaels of Union. Father Perry DeWitt of happy memory, was pastor of Christ the King and welcomed us with open arms and heart. The devoted priest of God gave our council guidance above and beyond the call of duty. He attended many of our meetings and affairs.

We started our meetings in the basement of Christ the King Church and when the school was built met in its cafeteria and Xavier Hall. We moved to the Hillside War Memorial Building in January 1959 and into our present home at 1220 Liberty Avenue in October 1961.

Our Columbian Club was formed in April 1951 and incorporated on May 11, 1951. It’s by-laws were adopted on July 12, 1951. The club immediately secured pledges for the hopeful purchase of a club house. In the first five years, the Club amassed the fortune of over six thousand dollars and looked at numerous properties without success. In 1958 we purchased a property on Vine Street for the sum of $8,300.00 – which was sold in 1959 for $21,000 – and in 1960 we purchased the location of our present home for $24,500. Our Council Home had its formal opening and blessing by Father

Tykes on October 22, 1961. We have had numerous additions and improvements since then, and much to the credit of all brothers who helped during our more than 60 years, there is no mortgage.

For more than fifty years, the council had the only Federal Credit Union in the New Jersey Knights of Columbus. Since our first year, we had our own blood bank – even before the NJ State Council of the K of C organized a blood bank. From April 14, 1958 – with formal installation by PGK John Berting on October 13, 1958 – through June 17, 1991 we had a Ladies Auxiliary, the ladies where helping the council long before and since they were organized as a formal Auxiliary. For a brief period, the council had a Columbian Squire Circle. The council also had its own Trust Fund to assist brothers who needed assistance due to heavy medical bills, and had issued small college scholarships to members and the children of members. The council hosted innumerable activities and leagues for our members who fished, played softball or bowled.

Fr. Canty Council has been successful in its charitable endeavors and has donated to many projects and have run walk-in dinners to raise funds for many worthwhile causes. Over the years, the council donated to St. Waliburga’s Orphanage, St. Peter’s Orphanage, the Pennsylvania flood victims, Benedictine Academy, assisted students at St. Elizabeth’s (Trinitas) School of Nursing, equipped the medical room at Christ the King School, donated the St. Joseph Altar at Christ the King, donated to the refurbishing of St. Catherine’s, donated to the building fund of Immaculate Conception and the building fund of San Alfonso Retreat House. We join the State Council annually with the Drive for People with Intellectual Disabilities, and have donated tens of thousands of dollars to worth charities through this effort. We have donated time and money to the Little League and had supported Pop Warner, and in early years had made Easter and Christmas donations to the Overseer of the Poor in Hillside. We regularly provide support to seminarians and postulants studying for the priesthood or religious life.

Fr. Canty Council had donated the crèche to the Township of Hillside, and once that became In need of repair, purchased a new crèche for display at the Hillside Municipal Complex each Christmas Season. This nativity set and stable is owned, installed, maintained and dismantled by our members.

Fr. Canty Council has long sustained its own First and Second Degree Ceremonial teams, which have imparted the lessons of our Order to thousands of new members of the Knights of Columbus from Hillside, the general Union County area, and beyond.

Our members have also served in other positions within the Knights of Columbus. PGK Michael McGuire, PGK Joseph Leonardis, PGK George Luppold, PGK Alderic Saulnier, PGK Dominick Martucci, PGK Joseph Michalik, PGK Rodulfo Manigsaca and PGK James Moran have served as District Deputies. Brother Leonard Andres, PGK Joseph Leonardis and PGK Alderic Saulnier served as directors of the Union County Federation. Brother Leonard Andres, PGK Harold Livingston, PGK John Gorman, Brother Martin Reiff, PGK Alderic Saulnier, Brother Matthew Mondok, PGK Joseph Mihalik and Brother Roger Fernandez each served as Faithful Navigator of the Fourth Degree.

We have come far since our inception almost 65 years ago – from 70 members in 1949 to over 500 members in 2013. While our membership peaked at over 900 members in the 1990’s, the Knights of Columbus remains the strongest civic/fraternal organization in the township and the only organization with its own clubhouse.

May God grant our organization many more years of service to our Church, community, families and members !