Fashion show earns Knights of Columbus international award

Knights of Columbus Council 2269
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Epic is not often used to describe a benefit fashion show. But for a show put on by the Knights of Columbus and ladies' auxiliary at Assumption in O'Fallon, epic is encompassing.

Starting with a theme — this year's was Day at the Beach — every detail was considered for the June show. A lunch of pulled pork sandwiches and mini pineapple cakes, invitations that were created by hand, centerpieces with live goldfish, shells and netting, and hula dancers and mermaids completed the look. Father Mitch Doyen, the pastor, was decked out in a Hawaiian ensemble and a ukulele, ala Don Ho, for a rendition of "Tiny Bubbles."

In the past five years, O'Fallon Council 2269's fashion show has raised more than $58,000 for pro-life causes. For their efforts, they received a first place International Service Award for Culture of Life Activities at the Knights' international convention, held Aug. 2-4 in Toronto. The council was chosen from more than 50 entries submitted via state councils across the United States and several other countries. It was the only council in Missouri to receive a first-place award. The council's grand knight, Michael Catalfano, and his wife, Mauri, accepted the award in Toronto.

Proceeds from the shows have primarily gone to the Knights' Meet Life campaign, a statewide effort launched in 2011 to reduce the number of abortions in Missouri. The state council has raised more than 90 percent of its $2 million goal for the campaign. Thirty-nine machines have been placed in centers across Missouri to date. The Meet Life campaign expands on the Ultrasound Initiative started by the Knights' Supreme Council in 2009, which provides matching funds to state councils for ultrasound machines.

Providing free ultrasounds at pregnancy resource centers plays an important part in helping mothers choose life over abortion, said Rita Thornhill, president of the O'Fallon ladies' auxiliary. "It gives expectant mothers the chance to see their unborn child," she said. "A majority of them either keep or adopt their children."

Thornhill gets teary when she thinks of the impact that has been made through the fashion show. "I have never seen a group of more generous individuals with their time ... but also with their money and the things they donate," she said.

Other fashion show beneficiaries have included Mary Queen of Angels, an O'Fallon ministry that helps mothers in need, Birthright of St. Charles and parish ministries.

"We're all very dedicated to this serious cause," said O'Fallon Grand Knight Michael Catalfano. "The core principles of the Knights are charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism — and the greatest one of course is charity." 

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