Diocesan News

Knights of Columbus Welcomes Family Inductees

Some newer and older members (from left): Frank Falzetta, Inside Guard; James Funaro, NYS Administrative Chairman of Recruiting; Bill Kuil, LI Chapter Chairman; John Lotardo; John Joseph Lotardo; Fr. Fred Murano, Pastor of Sacred Heart, Glendale; Sal Laurenzano, Grand Knight; Damiano Cottone; Vincent Cottone; Bryan Flannery (son) ; Bryan Flannery (father)

GLENDALE — Father-son bonding took on a new meaning on Sunday, July 16, as six new members joined the local Knights of Columbus Council at Sacred Hearts Roman Catholic Church in Glendale. 

In a continual effort to appeal to the younger generation of Catholic men, three young men stood alongside their fathers to be inducted into the Msgr. Sherman Council #5103. Three more members are set to be inducted at a later date, joining a council that traditionally has skewed older. 

These new members include: 

John Lotardo and his son John Joseph Lotardo 

Damiano Cottone and his son Vincent Cottone 

Bryan Flannery and his son, who shares his name 

The members credited their decision to join the Knights of Columbus to James Funaro, a Glendale resident well known in the parish community who has been part of the organization since he retired from the Army National Guard about 20 years ago. In his time, he has seen a shift in the Knights of Columbus, as it is “morphing into a more spiritual group.” 

“It’s a search for God. For meaning, something bigger than them. Purpose,” he said. “It’s not just about working and making money and buying the next car or whatever it is. Those things give you temporary happiness, but something like Knights of Columbus, the work we do and knowing God really well and having Him in your heart, that forever happiness. And I think that’s the search. I think that’s what everybody’s searching for today.” 

Funaro serves as State Administrative Chairman of Recruiting for the Knights of Columbus after spending years as a Grand Knight, and has been trying to get a youth movement going at the council. 

“We’re hoping to keep them and attract them and keep them involved,” he said. “Getting them in, that’s half the battle, but then keeping them interested is going to be the other half.” 

As part of their philanthropy work, this council has volunteered locally with food banks, community events, and charity projects. They will occasionally head to states in need following natural disasters; they went to eastern Kentucky following disastrous flooding, for example, to help in relief efforts. 

Seeing Funaro promote the community service and outreach aspect of the organization, as well as its commitment to brotherhood, resonated with John Joseph Lotardo, 19, a lifelong Glendale resident and next-door neighbor to Funaro. He is part of Greek Fraternity Life at Manhattan College, and he likes to be part of a “nice group of guys who can help each other out whenever.” 

“I know to live through God is the right path to be on,” he said. “My parents always taught me that — my grandparents as well. I realized that is how I should continue to live my life, and the more things I encounter or join that relate to that, the more I will stick with it.” 

Lotardo is excited to be going through this journey with his father, noting that age doesn’t matter when becoming a knight. 

“It’s nice to be part of something that we are both in together. We don’t really have that. It’s nice to do something together in the same group,” he said. 

His father, John Lotardo, 62, has attended a few functions that the council has had over the years. Between that and educating himself about the organization through their website, the elder Lotardo decided that “it was something worthwhile to join.” 

“I am a practicing Roman Catholic, and I think it is a good way to strengthen that faith and that relationship that I have, not just personally but with other people with the same mindset,” he said. 

To date, there are over two million members of the Knights of Columbus. 

There has been an uptick of membership in the Knights of Columbus nationwide. More than 65,000 men joined the Knights of Columbus in 2022, according to the organization’s annual report. The high numbers were credited in part to an increase in online membership since the pandemic in 2020. 

On a local level, Funaro is hoping to rekindle relationships with local high schools in the area, such as Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary, to get some more people interested in the Knights of Columbus. 

Three other members — Vito Gerbino alongside his two sons Joseph Gerbino and Antonio Gerbino — were unable to attend the induction ceremony due to a graduation party, but will be welcomed into the council at a later date. 

“A lot of these organizations will have members who seem to be white-collar members, and what I like so much about the Knights of Columbus is that it covers all aspects, from business owners to your blue-collar individuals.” Vito Gerbino, 53, said. Gerbino, a Whitestone resident, joined this council because of his long-standing friendship with Funaro, adding: “It’s a well-rounded membership.”