2001-06-16 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey


The Knights of Columbus and the Columbiettes held their 73rd annual communion breakfast. The event was a tremendous success because they were honoring two outstanding people: Msgr. William Burke and Richard Knott, Sr.

Monsignor William Burke has served as the spiritual leader and Chaplain to the Knights of Columbus for 53 years and has been attending these breakfasts since 1948.  He is celebrating the 58th anniversary of his ordination and he has spent 56 years of those years in St. Camillus and St. Francis de Sales. To this day his special love for the people of the Rockaways and Rockaway itself causes him to choose to live here. Monsignor Burke has dedicated his life to helping everyone but particularly children. He has worked diligently and effectively with the St. Camillus band and has made a tremendous difference. For many years he sponsored the band’s annual trip to the Orange Bowl in Florida. At half time, the St. Camillus band would be featured in this national event.

In addition, Monsignor Burke was in charge of all institutional services for the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens.  This was a very demanding and influential position in our Diocese. He is very intelligent, a skilled negotiator and has keen business acumen.  He used these talents in his position.

Monsignor Burke's wisdom, good judgement, sense of humor and charisma attract people of all faiths to seek his guidance. He is well loved and is held in high esteem by our entire community.

Fr. James Devine, the main speaker, came to the Rockaways as a little boy with his family in 1943. He immediately loved the bay and the beach. He and his family went claming in the bay and enjoyed the beach all year long.

He recalls that a Jewish family by the name of Schraeger advised his father to buy their house. He always appreciated this. He has found that the Catholic and Jewish people on the peninsula work together very well.  Fr. Devine noted that the Rockaways are a great place to raise a family.  Families have roots here. They have a strong sense of core values. Children need roots and values.

Fr. Devine noted that Monsignor William Burke as a young priest was an inspiration to him. He feels that his conversations and interactions with Monsignor Burke definitely positively influenced his own vocation to the priesthood.

Fr. Devine has served in many responsible capacities in the diocese including being the pastor of the diocesan CYO, a pastor at St. Rose of Lima
for 10 years and now as the Chaplain at JFK Airport at Our Lady of the Skies. They have a new chapel which opened on Mother's Day. The new chapel is located next to Aer Lingus. There will also be a New International Synagogue and a Protestant Chapel.

Richard Knott, Jr. served as the Master of Ceremonies for the breakfast. He did an excellent job. He is a very capable and responsible officer in the Knights of Columbus.  He and his family are assets in our community.

It is very fitting that a sign in the main room of the Rockaway Knights of Columbus be erected to memorialize the great contributions of his father Richard Knott, Sr.  Richard Knott, Sr. was a fixture in the Knights of Columbus and a very effective leader. He was deeply concerned for his family, his religious faith and the community. He had the ability to communicate effectively. He motivated others to work for a common goal to promote the mission of the Knights of Columbus. Richard Knott, Sr. is sorely missed by his family, his friends, his brothers and sisters in the Knights of Columbus and our entire community.

Congratulations to Monsignor Burke on this honor. We are fortunate to have such an articulate, motivated and enthusiastic religious leader. He has a long history of demonstrated competence, effectiveness and achievement as an outstanding spokesperson for the Catholic Church and for our community. Thanks to Monsignor Burke for dedicating his many talents to help us.

Best wishes to the family of Richard Knott, Sr. He touched each person who knew him in a special way. He will always be remembered.

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