The Beginnings of
Father O'Neill Council #4011
The Father O'Neill Council is the outgrowth of a visionary State Deputy who saw the need for a Council to service the rapidly expanding Towson-Lutherville area, of an enthusiastic District Deputy and the zeal of a small group who laid the groundwork. The fervor and persistence of these men generated the interest of new initiates, reinstates and transferees to form the Charter group of forty-four. After a lively debate, the name "Father O’Neill", a revered, deceased, former Pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church in Towson, was selected over "Loyola" by a margin of one vote.
The number 4011 was assigned on April 11, 1955, a First Degree administered on April 28th and on May 5, 1955, the Council was officially chartered by the Supreme Council.
During this early period, the inestimable help of the Cardinal Gibbons and Notre Dame Councils is recognized with deep appreciation.
Quoting Emerson, "There is properly no history only biography". This is a truism as the years pass in review. Our history is the story of unselfish and devoted individuals too numerous to mention, not only due to space limitations, but lest some be overlooked, including the unsung who have contributed so much time and talent.
The Council finds a Home...
The Council was first quartered in the Towson American Legion Hall until moving to the Towson Elk's Home in March of 1957. Here were enjoyed, not only excellent facilities, but a most pleasant relationship with our fellow fraternal organization.
In June of 1964, we relocated in the Garden Room of the then Towson Plaza. Meanwhile, realizing the need for our own base, a Building Committee was formed toward that end. In the fall of 1957, the Committee initiated the Century Club with the objective of having each of the then approximately two hundred members contribute one hundred dollars each over a period of four years. Passbooks were issued as a further incentive. The plaque in the Council's Century Lounge bears testimony to our success.
In January of 1958, a Corporate Charter was received and the O'Neill Club of Towson was officially in business. A property search committee, after viewing several sites, came up with a plot of approximately ten acres on the north side of Seminary Avenue at I-83. A portion of the parcel was re-sold and upon the remaining 3.9 acres, our present home was constructed. Ground was broken on October 17, 1974 and on May 4, 1975, the building was dedicated with the blessing of the Auxiliary Bishop, T. Austin Murphy. The building stands as a monument, not only to the dedication, sweat and prayers of the original architects, but equally to the Brothers, who through the years have maintained and improved the complex.
The activities of the Council have generally fallen under the purview of the old "Six Point Program" as recommended by the Supreme Council with innovations, additions and modifications to suit parochial and specific needs.
Father O'Neill Council Activities
Our lives have been enriched by the spiritual activities of the Council. The Chaplain is a vital part of each administration. At least a decade of the rosary is recited at each meeting. We participated in the "Knight at Mass" in which at least one member attended Mass every day of the year. The fifth Sunday is a special day for family union at Mass followed by a meal. No. 4011 was instrumental in the formation of the Newman Club at Towson State and has sponsored seminarians at St. Mary's Seminary. Rosaries have been collected and sent to the missions. We became interested in the Pro-Life movement in 1976 and continue to be actively involved.
We have sponsored the "Keep Christ in Christmas" billboards. The Annual Memorial Mass for deceased members is always an edifying and well-attended ceremony. The duty of charity is regarded as a solemn obligation. The Council fulfilled a pledge of $3,000.00 in sponsoring the Blood Bank when St. Joseph's Hospital was relocated in Towson. Other beneficiaries have been the Deaf Mute Program and the Franciscan Center and through the Tootsie Roll Drives, generous contributions have been made to Down's Syndrome, the special education program at Immaculate Heart, Ridge School and the Gallagher Center.
Christmas baskets are provided for the needy and eyeglasses are provided for distribution. Many other services, in a small way, provide help for the less fortunate, the aged and even among ourselves.
Youth has always been one of our prime concerns. We have conducted poster and essay competitions. We have sponsored athletic teams, participants in the Punt and Pass and Free-Throw contests. We were instrumental in the reactivation of Boy Scout Troop No. 750 at the Immaculate. In 1963, we formed a Squires Circle, which gradually failed due to lack of interest. However, a movement is again afoot to rejuvenate the Circle under the existing Charter.
Naturally, we have not overlooked the social side. Rave notices are always emitted after our Bull Roasts, Crab Feasts, St. Patrick's and Valentine's Dances, the Oktoberfest and the Christmas Party. For several years, we participated in the Towson 4th of July Parade with floats and foot soldiers. Our hospitality room at the State Convention is a must for most conventioneers. Since 1963, our golfers get together monthly when weather permits for nineteen holes.
We are justly proud of our Council monthly publication. Begun in 1955, as the "4011 Bulletin" became the "O'Neill-O-Gram" and finally, the "4011 News" in October of 1968. Currently, it is presented in a very professional format.
Our First Degree Team has always been highly regarded throughout the State and provides an unforgettable welcome to the new members.
The success of these programs is borne out by the numerous Star Council Awards. Father O'Neill Council has always wholeheartedly supported the Supreme and State Councils, the District and the Baltimore Chapter. Two of our members have become State Officers, one has served on the Executive Committee under two State Deputies, six have served as District Deputies and numerous as District Wardens, Chairmen and members of State Committees.
Father O'Neill's Ladies Auxiliary
No compendium of the Council would be complete without recognition of our adjunct, the "K” Ladies. Their contributions to the Council are a memorable story in itself. Certainly, because of them, we are better Knights and our Council is a better Council. To them, our heartfelt thanks and God bless. One of the ladies served as State Ladies Activities Co-Chair-lady for two First Ladies.
And so the beat goes on. As with all human endeavors, the Council has had a modicum of success, and some failures too. With variations of old successful projects and Council volunteers working at the Preakness to earn needed funds we have been able to continue as a viable entity. The labors of the O'Neill Club have taken care of the physical needs of our home. This endeavor has been aided and abetted most graciously by anonymous donors without whom our major improvements would have been impossible. The on-going help of the "K" Ladies greatly contributed to the successful completion of these improvements.
The Council's Vision for the Future
With an eye on the future, members of the Council made a clinical study over a three year period as to where we have been, where we are now and where we would like to be in the future and most importantly, the steps that must be taken in order to reach our goals. After a thorough and elaborate presentation to the Council on Oct. 16,1996, the membership voted unanimously for adoption of the study. The "Su Num Bonum" is summed up in our Mission Statement now appearing on the masthead of our "4011 News" as follows:
THE FATHER O'NEILL COUNCIL OF THE KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS IS A FRATERNAL ORGANIZATION OF CATHOLIC MEN DEDICATED TO THE CHURCH. WE WILL EXPEND OUR ENERGIES TOWARD PRESERVING THE SANCTITY OF LIFE AND MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE COMMUNITY VIA SERVICE AND CHARITY. IN PURSUIT OF THESE OBJECTIVES WE PROMOTE FAMILY, DEVELOP FRIENDSHIPS, ENJOY FRATERNALISM AND GROW IN FAITH.
The actions of every member of Fr. O'Neill Council will determine the degree of success for the future. We are proud of our past and look forward to the next Millennium with great anticipation for greater accomplishments.