A total of 27 knights from seven different Knights of Columbus councils in Polk County advanced through the ranks of knighthood by participating in a Second Degree Exemplification on Saturday, January 28 in the meeting hall of Dr. Lawrence J. O’Rourke Council 4726 in Winter Haven. The host Council 4726, which serves the St. Joseph Catholic Church community in Winter Haven, had four of its members advance to the second degree. They were Anthony Hammen, John Bugiada, David Lugo and Gary Loser.
Among the four members of Council 11651 of St. Anthony Church in Lakeland who continued their journey through knighthood was Justice Whitter, grandson of Past Faithful Navigator Arnold Saunders of the Frank J. Durbin Fourth Degree Assembly 2608, the patriotic/ceremonial arm of Council 11651. Other knights from Council 11651 who achieved second degree status were Gerardo DeJesus, Alberto Pasdal and Charles Barnhill.
Father Phillip Carriere Council 10484, which is affiliated with St. Ann Church in Haines City, led all councils with eight of its members making their second degree. They were Edward Phillips, Ed Leo, Gerardo DeJesus, Philip Ryan, Sean O’Donnell, Alberto Santiago, Thomas Hines and Michael Long.
Four members of the Monsignor Walter J. Grill Council 5643 of Holy Spirit Church in Lake Wales — Ed Groleske, Joseph Varner, Jose Joglar and Maurice Ramirez — participated in the ceremony, while the San Juan Diego Council 14975 of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Wahneta also had a quartet consisting of Antonio Vega, Jose Castro and the father/son duo of Isidro Ramirez, Sr. and Isidro Ramirez, Jr.
Rounding out the list of knights who moved up the ranks were Rafael Bedriguez and Miguel Anaya, both of the Father Charles Peterman Council 12314 of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Bartow and David Faber of Council 7091 of Cypress Gardens, which is associated with St. Matthew Church in Winter Haven. The ceremony was orchestrated by a Second Degree team from Pope Pius XXIII Council 5441 in Sebring with assistance from top ranking officials selected from the participating Polk County councils. Father Alfonso Cely, parochial vicar of the St. Ann Catholic community in Haines City, served as chaplain. Florida K of C District 48 Warden Robert Higgins of Haines City coordinated the event on behalf of District Deputy Terry Gallardo.
All of the newly-advanced knights, as well as members of the degree team and visiting K of C dignitaries, including district deputies and grand knights and officers from the participating councils, enjoyed a lunch prepared and served by the host council at the conclusion of the hour-long ceremony. Deputy Grand Knight William J. Clark, Sr. of Council 4726 served as the official host in the absence of Grand Knight Brian Hartpence.