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2022.2 A Journey To Knighthood

By Dennis Marquardt Council 10998 and Assembly 1108

Vol. 4, 2016-2017

I was a Lutheran for the first 45 years of my life. As young boy growing up in Milwaukee, WI, and attending a Lutheran school, I used to make fun of the Catholic kids who passed by our house on their way home from school, wearing their school uniforms. My parents, also lifelong Lutherans, quickly pushed my reset button saying that it was wrong to make fun of others who had different beliefs or opinions (the fact that my aunt & uncle, who lived above us, were Catholic may have had something to do with that). Years later, when I met my wife, a devout Catholic all her life, we agreed to attend Lutheran services one week, and Catholic Masses the next. In the long run, neither of us were really happy with that decision, as I knew nothing about the Catholic faith, and Mass didn’t have much meaning for me, and she said she was missing something when attending Lutheran services that I didn’t understand. After our daughter was born, I accepted a commission in the Air Force, and 16 years later, we were reassigned to the Air Force base in Panama. Our children were raised Catholic, and although I was still a Lutheran, and attended Catholic Masses weekly, I began to feel that I was missing something. It was while we were stationed in Panama, that I became friends with the priest on base. During dinner one evening, he asked me why I didn’t take Communion. When I told him I was Lutheran, he asked if I had ever considered becoming a Catholic. I told him I had, but I felt that giving up my Lutheran faith would be like giving up my citizenship. He just smiled and said: “Oh Dennis…you would not be giving up your Lutheran faith, you would bring your rich Lutheran heritage to enhance your faith as a Catholic.” That was like an Epiphone, and all of a sudden, I saw things differently. My wife and I talked that night, and I told her I was ready to make that commitment, but I didn’t think I would be able to attend a year of RCIA due to my job requirements and schedule (and perhaps a bit of anxiety or questioning my decision). She called our priest at 10 o’clock that night and told him what I said. This was two weeks before Easter. He said if I was serious, he could confirm me during the Easter Vigil. I affirmed that I was, so he called two other members of our parish, all good friends of ours, and set up a schedule to teach me about the Catholic faith. After two weeks of intense instruction, I was confirmed. Although I was exposed to everything taught in RCIA, it was not covered in the same depth as it otherwise would have been, but I was now Catholic, and was able to receive the Eucharist for the first time in 20 years. I cannot adequately describe the joy and fulfillment that brought me. Three years later, after being reassigned to a military base in Texas, we attended a Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast after Mass. I had never heard of the Knights of Columbus before, and when one of the Knights sat at our table, I asked him what the Knights were all about. After a short discussion, several other Knights joined us, and I became very interested. During the next two years I achieved my 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degrees, and after four years, became a 4th Degree Knight. When I was reassigned to another military base, my job requirements were extremely demanding, and I became inactive. My subsequent military reassignment was even more demanding, and again I was inactive. I retired in 2001 after 30 years of military service and became very active in our military parish on base as Eucharistic Minister trainer and Parish Council President. During this period, one of the 4th Degree Knights from a local Council and Assembly in town started calling me about coming to meetings. I thanked him, but it had been 10 years since I had been active with the Knights, and had lost interest in getting active again. He persisted, however, and continued calling me every month to remind me about the meetings. When my son in law said that he would soon be going through the 1st Degree Induction, I decided it was time to get re-engaged. Over the past 18 years I have held several officer positions in both the 3rd and 4th Degree, including Past Faithful Navigator. I occasionally still chuckle when I think back to the days when I used to make fun of the Catholic kids walking past my house, but now I’m one of them. Funny how things (I) have changed over the years. One final thought…if it had not been for the persistence of my fellow Knight continuing to call me to remind me of meetings, and my son in law being inducted, I might never have gotten re-engaged. His extra effort paid off. There is a great series of management books that are short but filled with great insight. One lesson is: “Water is hot at 211 degrees, but it boils at 212 degrees, and boiling water produces steam, and steam can power a locomotive. It’s that one degree of effort that made all the difference, and once you realize that you can apply that to anything….jobs, home, friendships, love and faith…” You never know how much difference that one degree of effort might make unless you

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