AIKEN—Thomas M. Monahon always planned to join the Knights of Columbus as soon as he was old enough, at age 18, and he did.
It was a family tradition, he said. His grandfather, father and older brother were all Knights.
What he didn’t plan on was rising in the ranks to one day take the helm as state deputy.
“All I knew was that I wanted to be part of this group of Catholic men and serve the church,” Monahon said.
After 39 years as a committed member and eight years as an officer in various capacities, Monahon was sworn in as the new state leader in June and assumed his duties in July.
It was no surprise to the people who know him and have seen his leadership qualities.
As a youth, he rose through the tiers of Scouting to become an Eagle Scout, which is the highest level one can achieve, and is still involved with the program today.
In fact, establishing a more active partnership between the Knights and Scouting is one of four main goals Monahon has set for the upcoming year. He said it is a positive way to promote vocations and faith in general.
“At that age, it’s a good time to learn that Scouting has some of the same ethical values as our Catholic faith,” he said.
Not that most children join Scouts for the loftier aspects — they join for friendship and activities.
“I enjoyed the camping and the cooking. I enjoyed the outdoors. And along the way I learned,” Monahon said. “You know, you join Scouting for the fun of it, but I learned I had some leadership skills and self reliance.”
Those same lessons were brought to light again as a Knight and a lifelong member of St. Mary Help of Christians Church, where he and his wife Kathy are active in various ministries.
Among other things, they are each committed to a holy hour of perpetual adoration, and serve on the stewardship committee and as extraordinary ministers of holy Communion.
Monahon said providing communion to his brother Knights who are in the hospital or homebound is especially moving to him.
“There is a personal relationship with God when we receive communion and it is a great privilege and honor,” he said.
He and Mrs. Monahon were also actively involved with their children in the church’s Scouting program, serving as troop leaders.
Monahon said he and his brother Patrick started the program at the church in 1986 in order to emphasize the close association to the faith.
Both of his sons and all three of his nephews became Eagle Scouts, and his daughter earned the highest achievement in Girl Scouts with the Gold Award.
With his wife, Monahon followed God’s call to serve church, family and community and instilled those values in their three children, all grown now.
He is the personification of the Knights motto: Putting Catholic Faith in Action.
“If we’re not putting our faith in action then we’re not being good Catholics or good Knights,” he said.
He plans to be both, with four specific goals in mind:
Establish a Marian hour of prayer
Monahon said they have an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe to inspire the prayers. The first council received the icon on Sept. 3 and from there it will travel to all 60 councils in the state.
Intensive pro-life program
“The most important aspect is prayer,” Monahon said.
The Knights also have a second-tier goal of raising enough money to purchase five ultrasound machines for pregnancy crisis centers. Monahon said they cost about $20,000 each, and if the state arm can raise half the proceeds, then the national organization will cover the other half.
Support of seminarians
Monahon said they are working closely with Father Jeffrey F. Kirby, vocations director, to make sure every seminarian from the diocese is receiving financial aid. Their goal is to provide $5,000 each year to the bishop, who determines how to use it for the seminarians. Councils also adopt seminarians to support them financially and through prayers.
Active involvement with youth
This includes the new initiative with the Scouts, plus traditional programs such as Special Olympics, the basketball free throw, soccer shoot-out, alcohol and drug awareness campaigns, and more.