By Emily Younker
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The campaign to rebuild St. Mary’s Catholic Church and elementary school got a boost recently with a $30,000 donation from the Knights of Columbus.
The Catholic fraternal organization presented the check to the Rev. Justin Monaghan, pastor of the parish.
“Obviously, everything helps, and it was a great gift,” Monaghan said last week. “One of the things the Knights of Columbus are known for is charity, and they do it constantly.”
The 2011 tornado destroyed the church, school, parish center, rectory and other property.
Following the tornado, the group received about $50,000 in donations from other Knights of Columbus councils around the country, according to Scott Lone, a past grand knight.
Because Lone’s home address was listed in a national directory as the address for the Joplin council, most of the donations were mailed to his house, he said.
“I just started receiving random checks to my house with letters addressed to the Knights of Columbus, and the councils wanting to help and telling us to use the money however we felt was necessary,” he said. “It was pretty amazing.”
The organization made an initial donation of $1,000 each to 17 of its members who had been directly affected by the tornado, Lone said. It later donated about $3,000 to officials with St. Mary’s Elementary School as they were preparing their temporary school.
The rest was given last weekend to the rebuilding fund. A new church and elementary school are being built near the intersection of West 32nd Street and Central City Road. The first phase of construction includes the church and a family life center, classrooms, a media center and computer lab, a kitchen and cafeteria, a playground and built-in storm shelters, Monaghan said.
Lone said supporting the rebuilding was an obvious choice for the donations.
“Part of our mission statement is to support the parish and school,” Lone said. “With the school being a private school, it’s often underfunded, so anything we can do financially is of benefit to the school.”