The Prayer Lines Behind the Bylines
O! What a Knight!
a teenaged Rotary International exchange student in Denmark, I sometimes sat on
the hillside of a medieval castle daydreaming about what life had been like in
the days when knights in shining armor galloped past on their noble steeds. But
it wasn’t until four decades later that I actually met a living, breathing
knight. In fact, he held the official title of Grand Knight.
Okay so he wasn’t exactly wearing a suit of armor when we first met in a local
Internet café in 2008, but Rich Gorman exuded the qualities one would typically
associate with a knight. In addition to being gallant (I knew chivalry was not
dead when he offered to refill my coffee cup), Rich would over the next five
years demonstrate he possessed a brave and honorable spirit as he performed good
deeds on behalf of the Saratoga Knights of Columbus.
Although our first meeting centered on Rich’s boyhood memories of a now gone
landmark called the Hides-Franklin Spring and Bottling Plant (which photos show
resembled a stone castle), we subsequently met to discuss other subjects linked
to the local history book titled Ballston Spa: Legacies Unlimited that I was
then in the process of researching and writing.
Typically joining us at our decidedly not round table inside of The Coffee
Planet at the corner of Milton and Malta Avenues were the Rev. Christopher
Mickel, Police Officer Bob Bush and Louie David, who was affectionately
nicknamed the Honorary Mayor of Ballston Spa. (Robin Hood and His Merry Men had
nothing on our entourage!)
There was, however, a rare occasion in 2009 when I sat down for a one-on-one
with Rich. The reason for the tete-a-tete was that Rich had just been named
Grand Knight of the 400 members strong area council of an organization that
numbers 1.6-million worldwide. As Grand Knight of the Saratoga Knights of
Columbus, Rich had sworn to uphold the K of C’s four founding principles of
charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.
This the lifelong village resident would do by word and deed, aided by a
fortress-like faith foundation and a powerful sense of humor that can be
downright disarming. Indeed, the newly inducted Grand Knight’s blue eyes danced
as he spoke passionately of the many ways the organization enriches the lives of
its members and those they serve.
It was a story Joseph Rocha, my editor at the then newly established Ballston
newspaper, wanted to showcase on the front cover of a coming edition.
To this end, I began to conduct interviews with others who knew the Grand Knight
far better than I.
One of the first was Past Grand Knight Mark Phillips who shared that Rich had
been a longtime member of the Saratoga council and was well respected as a
nephew of one of our former Past Grand Knights, the late Richard E. Reynolds. In
addition, I learned that Gorman's maternal grandfather, William Reynolds, and
his late father, Paul, were also K of C members who served with distinction.
“Rich is a great communicator and a faithful member and usher at St Mary’s
Church in Ballston Spa. We all appreciate his humor and his manner to speak
concisely and accurately,” added Mr. Phillips, a K of C member since 1973. “I
have seen many Grand Knights over the years; Rich has the potential to be a
strong supporter and administrator of our council and our activities,” he
predicted – accurately as it turned out.
Also interviewed in 2009 was Past Grand Knight Richard Grimm. He said his
successor possessed "a wealth of K of C experience that makes him an
exceptionally qualified Grand Knight. Rich has served in the position of
Faithful Navigator and was a key factor in organizing our highly successful
Fourth Degree Exemplification ceremony. He has volunteered in a multiplicity of
K of C activities. We expect great things from him.”
By all accounts, Rich -- whose knighthood was inspired by a yearning to help
humanity -- exceeded expectations during his year as Grand Knight when he
represented all Knights from St. Mary’s in Ballston Spa, St. Peter’s and St.
Clement’s in Saratoga Springs, St. Joseph’s in Greenfield Center, St. Paul’s in
Rock City Falls as well as some members from Ballston Lake, Gansevoort,
Glenville and Wilton.
Rich was subsequently elected to a four-year term as a District Deputy who was
responsible for five councils (Council 208 in Mechanicville, Council 237 in
Waterford, Council 246 in Saratoga, Council 10869 in Clifton Park and Council
6862 in Ballston Lake.
This position entailed being the liaison – or messenger – between the Councils
and both the State and Supreme hierarchical structures of the K of C. Other
duties included ensuring the Councils were adhering to the principles of the
order and assisting should any problems arise.
I feel blessed to have had opportunities to interact with Rich Gorman in a
diversity of settings since we were first introduced inside of an Internet café
in 2008. These have ranged from the joyous occasion when Redemptorist missionary
priest Rev. William Tracy was honored at a banquet inside of the K of C Hall in
Saratoga Springs to a moving ceremony when a chapel was dedicated to the memory
of the late Rev. Anthony Maione at Saratoga Central Catholic High School to
funeral services for close friends inside of St. Mary’s Church in Ballston Spa.
He was, without exception, always chivalrous and gallant.
O! What a Knight!
Among the distinguished Saratoga Knights of Columbus members who participated in the dedication of a chapel named in memory of the late Rev. Anthony Maione that is documented on a forthcoming page were (front row, left to right) Mark Phillips, Elwin Rivenburg, Rich Gorman, Rick Schwartzbeck (wearing powder blue jacket), Don DiBiase, John Wagner and Dave Marsh (beige jacket) and (second row) Joe Mendez, Joe Scensny, Roger Lampron (purple feather), Ed Connelly, Mike Planko and John Crooks.
Rich remains proud to serve beside members of the historic organization who have
adapted to the ever-changing times while remaining true to the principles that
were laid down by its founder, the Rev. Michael J. McGivney.
“The K of C is the largest Catholic fraternal and humanitarian organization ever
created, but members are ever mindful of its humble beginnings and the vision
set forth by Father McGivney,” noted Rich. “I find it helpful to reflect back
upon the small group of parishioners that assembled in a church basement at St.
Mary’s in New Haven, CT in 1882 to establish an order that would unite men in
their faith as well as providing for Catholic families in times of need.”
During the year Rich represented all Knights from St. Mary’s in Ballston Spa, St.
Peter’s and St. Clement’s in Saratoga Springs, St. Joseph’s in Greenfield
Center, St. Paul’s in Rock City Falls as well as some members from Ballston
Lake, Gansevoort, Glenville and Wilton.