About a decade ago, the Harrison chapter of the Knights of Columbus, Council No. 402, made a decision to sell its property on Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard North. The council’s membership was dwindling. Having a large-scale “home” just wasn’t viable. And Grand Knight Thomas K. Dolaghan, a retired Harrison Fire Department chief, made a promise to the-late Mayor Raymond J. McDonough he would see the building’s sale to fruition.
And that’s just what the retired chief did.
The building has since been sold — taken over by the local Portuguese Club — and now that the building’s been completely paid off, Dolaghan and the rest of the remaining Knights from the council — including Faithful Advocate (lawyer) Al Cifelli — realized something: They had to disburse the proceeds from the sale no more than 10 years after the sale became final.
With that day approaching, Dolaghan and company has since given out more than $520,000 to the town’s Catholic Churches (the Knights are a Catholic organization and as such, the churches they were to donate to were also Catholic), St. Anthony’s in East Newark, a local para-olympian and to the Harrison Library Museum, which will now host artifacts of the council, which, though it no longer has a meeting space of its own, will continue to function as an active K of C council.
The Observer sat down with Dolaghan Tuesday, Aug. 30, and he explained where the money went, including a recent $10,000 donation to Our Lady of Czestochowa Church (not the first they were beneficiaries thereof.)
And let’s face it — a lot of people and parishes were made very happy with the inordinate amount of money they received … and it all came at a time when church and Mass attendance has been severely curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With Mass attendance down, we felt it was important to disburse the money to the local churches — since the collections at church haven’t been as strong as they’ve been in the past,” a beaming Dolaghan said. “Because of our donations, the churches were able to do so many things they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do. And we’re very proud of that.”
Aside from OLC, Holy Cross Church was also a beneficiary (and the aforementioned St. Anthony’s.)
Of the disbursements, $10,000 went to make a new floor at the Harrison museum. Another $10,000 went to a Kearny man who participates in the Para Olympics.
But there’s more.
“At St. Anthony’s, we put in new boilers for the church and the rectory,” Dolaghan said. “We also paid for an altar that was in a convent in Kentucky, which ran about $43,000 to get the altar from there, back to New Jersey, lifted into the church.”
Significant cash was given to OLC to put a new roof on the church, install new interior doors to the church and more. Holy Cross received cash to purchase new windows, to paint the interior of the church and to renovate what had become a dilapidated, almost unusable kitchen in the rectory. There were other funds given, too, for general use as the churches.
What’s most remarkable about all of this is that all the work done at the churches would likely have required major capital campaigns that, in the time of a pandemic, are virtually impossible to pull off. Instead, three local churches have had upgrades that would otherwise have been pipe dreams.
And it was Dolaghan & the Knights who made it all possible.
“I made that promise to Raymond (McDonough) and I saw it through,” Dolaghan said. “Now I think it’s time for someone else to take over as the grand knight. My term ends Dec. 31, 2022, so I think I will leave it there and then to someone new to carry on.”
And we’d venture to say those shoes are going to be very hard to fill, no matter who takes over.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.