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Council 971 History

Small image of Council Charter Our Council's Charter

For more on our Council's Charter including a larger image and a listing of our founding members, see The Council 971 Charter.

The following is a little insight into the past of Council 971. A listing of all the Grand Knights of our Council is also available.

A Brief History of Council 971

Santa Cruz Council 971 of the Knights of Columbus was chartered on Sunday, February 26, 1905. Since then this Council has had a long and distinguished history. In its issue of February 27, 1905, the Santa Cruz Evening Sentinel wrote that "the event was attended by 1,000 people from San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Vallejo and Watsonville." A thirteen car special train arrived at noon from San Francisco. Fifty members from the Los Angeles Degree Team was also in attendance. All three degrees were conferred on 52 chartered members: four of whom were already members from Los Angeles, 14 from San Jose and 34 from Santa Cruz. San Jose Council conferred the 1st Degree, San Francisco the 2nd, and the State Degree Team headed by State Deputy Joe Scott the 3rd. Thomas J. Leonard was the first Grand Knight.

Council 971 has been very fortunate to have had many Grand Knights of great ability and leadership. These leaders have ably guided the Council though these years providing both leadership and example in leading exemplary lives as outstanding citizens of the community. Beacause of limitations of time and space it is not possible to give a detailed account of their accomplishments. However, here are some which are worth mentioning.

Barely a year after receiving its Charter, the Council was faced with a serious challenge. In April 1906, Great Earthquake hit the City of San Francisco. This necessitated a call for help from far and near. Council 971 faced the challenge and proved equal to the task. Not only did it part with its precious meager funds in its entirety but members took to the streets of San Francisco providing relief and rescue of the victims.

KofC 1922 State Convention Beach
The 1922 State Convention on the Santa Cruz Beach.
(Click for larger image.)

1922 Program Cover Program of the 1922 California State Convention hosted in Santa Cruz by Council 971.

World War I and II saw many of its members not only helping in the sale of bonds to finance our country's defense and aid to our allies but many answered the call to active miltary service. But even with the strife and struggle gripping the world in both these periods of war, Council members continued with only a handful able to take off from their military or civilian duties to attend meetings and continue with their work of charity.

1954 Grand Knight Installation
1954 installation of Frank Gallagher (left) as Grand Knight.

Council 971 has been privileged and honored to host five State Conventions in Santa Cruz, the first of which took place in 1922 followed by Conventions in 1933, 1943, 1949 and lastly in 1971.

1962 officers installation
Installation of Officers in 1962
with Grand Knight Gary Phariss (center with robe).

Until it celebrated its Diamond Charter Anniversary, Council 971 held its meetings in various meeting halls in the city, such as the Masonic Hall, Neary Hall, Redmen's Hall, the Holy Cross Hall and the Native Son's Hall. In 1969, some of the members of the Council purchased a building located at Walk Circle and Graham Avenue for free use by the Council. Due to reasons of economy and the difficulty of maintaining the property, these members later wisely decided to sell the property in 1980 and consequently the Council moved its meeting site to the Star of the Sea Hall which it has occupied to the present time. It might be interesting to mention that for over forty years the Council met on Tuesdays before it was changed to Wednesdays.

This Council takes pride in the contributions it has made in the areas of religious, civic, educational, and social activities in the community. For a long period of time it provided scholarships to deserving high school students both from parochial and public schools; sponsored and supported the Scout movement, Cub Scounts, thereby providing the opportunity for young men to realize their obligations to God and country; the Little League, Camp Harmon and other activites for the young. Within the last few years some notable projects of the Council consisted of giving financial aid to: Project Scount, a senior outreach program; St. Claire's Retreat House; Parish of St. Vincent de Paul, Davenport; the City of Santa Cruz for the purchase of chemical suits for use of its Fire Department; California Homemakers Association; and the Easter Seal Society.

Officer Installation July 1999
Installation of Officers in 2000
with Grand Knight Tearlach Sinclair (seated).

It is also providing financial assistance on a continuing basis to the California Grey Bears, Birthright, the Bishop's Burse, Boys and Girls Club, and Hospice.

At present the Council is helping finance the study of a seminarian and has been sending monetary contributions to a minor seminary in the Philippines. In addition, members regularly donate their time and blood to the Blood Bank and a few of our members have been the recipients of awards for their donations. Religious activities and projects have likewise been high on the priority of activites of this Council. Council members are very active in their respective parishes joining parish organizations actively involved in parish work and lay ministry.

Once a month, the Council holds a social event usually consisting of a dinner for the members, families and friends. This provides an excellent opportunity for fellowship and camaraderie. During the month of November, the Council remembers its dead in a memorial service.

There will be more and greater challenges ahead of us. Just as our predecessors met these challenges so will we with the help and blessing of the Lord.

Also see Remembering Our Brothers, a few of our fallen brother knights from Council 971.

Knights of Columbus, Council 971 :: P.O. Box 971, Santa Cruz, CA 95061 ::